Home Forums Fiction Writing Genre-Writing Fantasy Arrows, spears, and other pointy things…

This topic contains 18 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Emma Flournoy 1 day, 8 hours ago.

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  • #59710

    Elizabeth
    @that_writer_girl_99
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1645

    Alright, peoples, listen up. I have questions.

    One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed writing in the sci-fi genre is that you don’t have to know much about fighting styles or weapons. It’s sci-fi, and no one expects you to be realistic the entire time, so you can just…make stuff up. Which I do. A lot.

    But, in the days since my old sci-fi WIP kinda…went haywire on me, I’ve been drawn to the realm of fantasy, something that, until recently, has thrilled me. Then I realized something important: my two MCs are both archers. And as much as I’d like to invent a new kind of bow and technique to cover up my lack of knowledge on the subject…I’m not going to. Because this WIP, while in several ways fantastical, is also realistic on several points.

    Here’s where y’all come in. I know that several of you on the forum *cough* @ethryndal @kate-flournoy have picked up bows and arrows, swords and things, much more than I have. So lay it on me, KeePers. Tell me how to realistically use a bow and arrows, sword, and…a spear, if you’re interested in that. Otherwise, I might have to consult the Google.

    Oh, and also, if you’ve a question related to a different WIP but you don’t want to use a separate thread, feel free to use this one. We’re writers, not archers, swordsman, and… spear-people, so we’re bound to have questions. Feel free to reach out if you need to.

    Thanks!

    @dekreel @mnvalentine @hope @daeus @anyone

    https://www.wonderingwriter.com/

    #59712

    Aislinn Mollisong
    @aislinn-mollisong
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 379

    @that_writer_girl_99 I need help with this too. Trust me, the Google isn’t very helpful at finding swordfighting stances or even just types of swords.

    Signed, Aislinn of Aethasia.
    *salute*

    #59713

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 4073

    @that_writer_girl_99 I have fired compound, recurve, and longbows before, but I’m certainly not an expert on them. If you have any questions on handheld weapons though (especially swords), I’d be happy to help.

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    #59714

    Elizabeth
    @that_writer_girl_99
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1645

    @daeus Anything you can give me on swords, fighting styles, etc. will definitely be helpful.

    https://www.wonderingwriter.com/

    #59717

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 4073

    @that_writer_girl_99 Okay. Well, if I just spewed out everything I could possibly tell you, we’d be here for quite some time. Could you narrow things down any? What do you need to decide on for your novel?

    Also, if you haven’t yet, check out this article I wrote.

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    #59720

    Elizabeth
    @that_writer_girl_99
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1645

    I’ve actually read that article, ha. @daeus

    Ummm… *sighs* Okay. The swordsmen in my WIP use them to fight monsters, so…um, I know nothing and if you could maybe just start with explaining the different kinds of swords?

    https://www.wonderingwriter.com/

    #59723

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 4073

    @that_writer_girl_99 Okay. Well, there are a lot of swords, but this will cover all you need.

    • One handed sword. The handle is only big enough for one hand. You’re probably going to use this in conjunction with a shield.
    • One and a half handed sword. The handle is just the right size to fit two hands, but it can also be comfortably handled with one hand. Longer than a one-handed sword.
    • Two-hander. Requires two hands. Don’t try to use one unless you’re super strong. Very long, like six feet or more.
    • Saber. A one-handed sword with a slightly rounded blade, generally with a bell-shaped handguard too. Think calvary swords and cutlasses.
    • Rapier. A long, slender, one handed sword. It can be maneuvered quickly and is excellent for duels. Not made for hacking, but for thrusting and “draw cuts”, which I can explain if necessary.

    My opinion is that your warriors will most likely use one or more of the first three.

    Also, if they’re fighting monsters, you’re in luck, because that’s a lot less complicated than if they’re fighting someone else with a sword or sword-like weapon. They probably won’t be blocking very much at all. The main thing you’ll have to understand is timing and distance. Your characters are going to need to know how to attack at just the right time and how to retreat out of distance just in the nick of time. Timing and distance. They may also need to work together to distract the monsters.

    Have you ever competed in martial arts or any other sport?

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    #59737

    Jackson Graham
    @warrioroftherealm
    • Rank: Loyal Sidekick
    • Total Posts: 107

    @that_writer_girl_99

    Yay! The topic I wanted to write about today! @daeus nailed the various types of swords (excluding some of the more strange swords, ie. Messers, Falchion, etc.).

    I’ve recently gotten into HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and have done quite a bit of research for sparring with friends. I am mostly interested in German Longsword (which would utilize the Hand and a Half sword as Daeus mentioned, and possibly even a two handed sword…). Here’s a good link to where you can download some medieval training manuals.

    http://www.thearma.org/manuals.htm#.WlaR9SOZOCQ

    Youtube is also a good place to find info about combat. I don’t know how much research you’re willing to do, but it can be quite fun to research medieval weapons/combat (and can be quite useful in sibling rivalries, hehe). However, be aware that extensive detail in fight scenes can very well slow things down and disinterest the reader. It took me quite awhile to get that in my noggin. Suggesting moves is what I’ve found best. As Daeus mentioned, fighting monsters can be easier than fighting intelligent beings, but making them challenging enough for the reader to fear is the hard part. Do your Main Characters only use bows? Or do they resort to some sort of sidearm (Arming/Waister sword, etc.) for dire circumstances? Are you basing this off a real historical period? Sorry for so many questions. I’m geeking out here. 🙂

    Disclaimer—I am no expert. Just an enthusiast who has swallowed as much sword lore as possible in the past two to three months. I apologize if anything I have said is inaccurate/dead wrong.

    Jackson E. Graham

    http://jacksonegraham.wixsite.com/jackson-e-graham

     

     

     

     

    #59747

    Ethryndal
    @ethryndal
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 940

    @that_writer_girl_99 Ah. Ah ha ha. Hmm. Keep in mind that while I do own a long-sword, a short-sword, and a compound bow, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a master at using any of them. (Particularly the bow, because when one lives in an urban area, there’s no SPACE.) But while I do lack actual EXPERIENCE, I have researched the subject of archery quite a bit. (My MC is an archer too.) So here’s what I know:

    Cancelling out the compound (it’s too modern, I think, for fantasy), there are primarily two types of medieval bows: Longbow and Recurve.

    That’s a longbow. They’re super tall (generally as tall as a person), have amazing range, and are very stable in terms of aim. But they’re pretty big and clunky, so they’re more of a siege and wall-top defense sort of weapon. The kind of thing that’s only meant to be used if you’re standing still.

    That’s a recurve. This is probably what your characters should use, because it’s smaller and WAY more mobile—AKA you can run around in forests and castles and stuff and they won’t impede movement. (All the archers in books and films—Legolas, Susan Pevensie, Katniss—use recurve bows.)

    Bows are typically made out of yew. Other types of wood can be used as well, but I am not aware of what they are.

    Now, on the subject of arrows: Most arrows have three feather fletchings (sometimes four, but that’s not as common) generally made out of turkey, goose, or peacock feathers. (Where people get peacock feathers from is beyond me, but there it is…) And arrow head aren’t necessarily shaped like an arrow. Observe:

    Now, at the end of the arrow, there’s a small notch….

    …and when loading the bow, you slip that notch onto the bow string. (Fyi, loading a bow is often referred to as nocking, or notching, an arrow.) You use three fingers to draw the bow; the end of the arrow goes between the first two fingers, and the third is just to help pull back the string.

    That’s the archery stance. (Arrow can go on either side of the bow, I think—resting on your thumb or your knuckles. I’ve seen people do both, and I’m not sure which is the correct way.) To aim, you close one eye and line the arrow head up with whatever you want to shoot. (Duh.)

    Then you let go of the string and the arrow kills an orc. (Double duh.)

    (Oh, and arrows twirl as they fly, so when a person gets hit by one, it virtually drills itself into their flesh. Yanking on it is the very worst sort of idea—you have to twist it, sort of like you’re unscrewing it.)

    Now, the thing is—and I think a lot of people forget this—but the thing is, bows are heavy. And drawing them is INCREDIBLY hard. My bow is actually a very small one, with a draw weight of 18 lbs, and for a short, wimpy girl, I find THAT challenging to pull back on. But most recurve bows go anywhere from a draw weight of 25 to 70 lbs, which means THEY’RE HEAVY, OKAY? So unless someone has elvish strength, or has been practicing this their entire life, there won’t be a whole lot of… well, this:

    Nocking a bow takes time. Pulling it back takes time. (And strength. Archery is not a sport for wimps.) And drawing a bow and holding it in that position for hours on end is just stupid. No one can do that. (Besides elves.) Your arms will get tired and fall off.

    Range varies from bow to bow, but it’s typically 50-80 yards, depending on the size and draw-weight.

    Aaaaand one more thing. Archers wear braces and wrist guards to protect their arms, because sometimes, when you fire the arrow, the bowstring will snap against your arm. And speaking from experience here, IT HURTS. Like, a LOT. Like, pain. Like, huge red swollen mark. Like, monstrous bruise.

    The point is, make sure your characters wear arm guards. They’re important.

    Soooo… yeah. Forgive me if all this stuff is obvious, or you already know it. That’s basically the mechanics of archery, but as far as how it works in combat, I really have no clue. And as far as sword fighting and stuff… listen to Daeus. He knows way more than me.

    And I have absolutely no idea how to wield a spear. Sorry.

    https://thesarcasticelf.wordpress.com/

    #59749

    Skredder
    @skredder
    • Rank: Wise Jester
    • Total Posts: 59

    @that_writer_girl_99

    I concur with everything that @ethryndal said about bows and arrows. Bows are very difficult to pull back, and longbows are much harder to pull back than a recurve bow (hence the longer range). Many movies and shows have a character holding a bow at full-draw for several seconds up to a few minutes at a time. This is impossible! Even the best archers can only hold it for about eight seconds at the max.

    On that note, there is a very old Persian (I think it’s Persian) style of holding and firing arrows. In this style they hold about three arrows in the hand that they pull back with and use their thumb to pull the string. This allows them to load and fire at a much faster rate. There was even a comparison between someone using this technique with accuracy and timing it against the Legolas clip featured in the gif above. The person using the new (which is actually centuries old and is featured on pottery) was faster and hit the bullseye each time.

    #59755

    Ethryndal
    @ethryndal
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 940

    @skredder First off, hi! I don’t think we’ve met.

    And second, YES, the Persian technique is really cool. I actually forgot about that. (Though I do disagree about only being able to hold a drawn bow for eight seconds. I know a girl who shoots with a standard recurve, and she says she’s able to hold it fully drawn for at least a minute.)

    And @that_writer_girl_99, depending on how long your characters have been doing archery, they’ll be faster accordingly. (Obviously.) If they’ve been practicing it for ten years or something, they quite possibly CAN be as fast as Legolas.

    https://thesarcasticelf.wordpress.com/

    #59760

    Jackson Graham
    @warrioroftherealm
    • Rank: Loyal Sidekick
    • Total Posts: 107

    @that_writer_girl_99

    I also forgot to post this:

    https://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/support-files/trueswordsman.pdf

    This is a good starter ebook on German Longsword. Hopefully this helps!

    Jackson E. Graham

    #59771

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 4073

    @that_writer_girl_99 Research English longbowmen. They were the best of the best and traditional bowmanship was a bit different than today. Like English bowmen sometimes used 100lb draw bows, which just makes us all look like epic wimps basically.

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    #59773

    Rochellaine
    @rochellaine
    • Rank: Loyal Sidekick
    • Total Posts: 116

    @that_writer_girl_99 I agree with @daeus that the English longbowmen were amazing.  This is my favorite description of a demonstration of the use of the longbow.

    It is from a book by G. A. Henty called By Right of Conquest (About the conquests of Cortez) and is in the public domain, so I copied it from gutenberg.org to a google document.  An Englishman demonstrates to the Mexicans how much superior the English style of archery is.

    G. A. Henty was a very well-researched author, so I trust everything he wrote had almost perfect historical accuracy.

    “Sylvester – Sylvester!”

    #59796

    TheAcornman
    @theacornman
    • Rank: Loyal Sidekick
    • Total Posts: 122

    @daeus Go England!

    @that_writer_girl_99 If you research the Battle of Agincourt, I think. Or just the One Hundred Years War you’re likely to stumble across mentions of longbowmen prowess.

    I think it is worth mentioning the crossbow as an alternative to the bow. I don’t know how much you no about them so. Rather than arrows they use short bolts. And are sort of a hybrid between a gun and a bow. (Have a trigger but propel via bowstring) Generally crossbows are a lot easier to use than bows. They require less skill to master and again in general are easier. However, the reload time is a fair bit slower than if you used a bow. You many know all this already but just in case its been said.

    I’m not sure whether your fantasy will have plated armour. But that brings a few different approaches to combat. If you’re interested I’m happy to explain.

    That one English guy.

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