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MAKING SWORDFIGHTS SEXY - Starships & Swordfights

Does anyone think sword fights aren’t already sexy!

Hollywood does! You don’t have to write Historical (although they are coming back into fashion) or Time Travel, or Fantasy, or action adventure… sword fights are in outer space, too.

SWORDS ARE INHERENTLY SEXY

Swords are phallic symbols:
because of the shape of a sword, and what one does with it, (thrust, penetrate, impale, slash, swallow, sheathe)not to mention that some ancient sword names and sheath names (Gladius and Vagina) are clinical names we use for body parts.

WHY ARE THE JEDI, THE ELVES, URUK-HAI, GLADIATORS ETC SEXY?

Because they are good at it! After good looks, intelligence, a sense of humor, power … a basic competence is sexy
So, your hero (or heroine) has to have at least a latent gift or talent. He or she may start out as an apprentice, or a padwan, or a squire, but by the climax of the romance, he or she has to be an exceptional and noble swordfighter.

Your fights must be plausible. 
Rules must be followed.

Who saw The Revenge of the Sith

Did you think about the logic of the fights? Why almost every fight ended with someone’s arms or legs being cut off?
If the lightsaber is a weapon of energy that can cut through cement and steel, how could it not sever limbs?  (By the same logic, it seems to cauterize wounds, doesn’t it?)

If you’re writing about swords in outer space, maybe you don’t have them in armor. Or maybe you do, if they dress like imperial storm troopers.  Or like Darth Vader!

What do Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, Roger Moore in Moonraker, Sean Connery in Highlander, Chris O'Donnell in The Three Musketeers, Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro, and Liv Tyler in LOTR have in common?

According to Richard Cohen in By The Sword, the sword fighting consultant for all those great movie swordfighting scenes was Bob Anderson. A tidbit that interested me most was that it was Bob Anderson himself in the Darth Vader costume during that steamy light saber duel with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.
Apparently, in order to keep the steam-effect (from carbon freezing Han Solo), the stage had to be kept very hot indeed, which was especially uncomfortable for a man in a helmet and long black robes plus heavy cloak.

Did you know that as part of the world building for  LORD OF THE RINGS Peter Jackson hired Tony Wolf to be the first Fighting Styles Designer?  The premise was that immortal elves would fight differently, as would Orcs, as would Men.

Great interview at: http://swordforum.com/

This --movie trivia-- is especially helpful to me in my research for a swordfighting hero for my next alien djinn romance, but it gives me a new respect for Hollywood.

SCHOOLS OF DRAMATIC SWORDFIGHTING
"romantic"
"swashbuckling"
"pain of it"

WORLDBUILDING AROUND SWORDS

If you are building a world where some form of swordfighting is the preferred method of conflict, you need to know WHY? Like the ancient Japanese (and like Obi Wan Kenobi in ROTS) did they reject guns and blasters as being uncivilized? Might projectile weapons be dangerous to space craft hulls… leading to a latter day Pyrrhic victory (where the victor dies too)? Or might the environment (gravity/sand/air quality/magnetism/centrifugal force) make some weapons unreliable.

You’d need to think about what the hero and his enemies wear
Where they fight
What the temperature is like
Whether gravity is a problem for one or the other of them.
What wound care is like … environmental problems if they bleed out… maybe evisceration would be a very bad idea (environmentally) … think of those floating droplets of Klingon blood.
Well, that’s not sexy!

Before I researched Medieval warfare, I had thought --briefly-- that Knights in Armour probably did not smell very nice, but I had not considered how long they'd spend inside a metal suit of armour (like all day long) or how hot they'd get on a sunny day. I wonder whether warrior Kings timed their quarrels to avoid fighting in July and August? Finally, TITLES are sexy, whether of the nobility or of the military.

MY HANDOUT IS A TIP SHEET WHERE TO FIND USEFUL RESOURCES
googling “Sword” will also do the job!

My advice:

  1. Read as much (and as widely) as your time-budget for Research allows
  2. Watch the movies, there are three (or four, if you include Crouching Dragon) schools of style, check the credits to see who was the fight choreographer.
  3. Find a swordmaster at your local fencing school or club, or on line, to check your scenes. Watch out for conflicting sources… rapiers for instance may have been a lot more unwieldy and heavy than 19 century literature suggested.
  4. If you can find the Minutes of university fencing teams, use those to help you soak up the “Voice” and slang of modern swordsmen… Then adapt it.

Sword Play for Romance Writers
(a listmania list created for you on Amazon)
http://tinyurl.com/3bt6hz
http://www.amazon.com/Sword-Play-for-Romance-Writers/lm/R1FE9J7F1RQ71X/ref=cm_lm_pdp_title_full/104-0894422-3679117

OTHER LISTMANIA LISTS

SO YOU’D LIKE TO… ORCHESTRATE A SWORD FIGHT
Click here

EN GARDE!!!
Click here

DUELS WITH SWORDS
Click here

SO YOU’D LIKE TO… BUILD FANTASTIC WORLDS FOR YOUR FANTASY NOVEL
Click here

Books:

  1. By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions by Richard Cohen
  2. Harnessing Anger: The Inner Discipline of Athletic Excellence by Peter Westbrook
  3. On Fencing by Aldo Nadi
  4. The Book of the Sword: With 293 Illustrations by Sir Richard F. Burton
  5. The Secret History of the Sword: Adventures in Ancient Martial Arts by J Christopher Amberger
  6. Fight Directing for the Theatre by J. Allen Suddeth
  7. Fight Direction for Stage and Screen by William Hobbs
  8. Swashbuckling: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Art of Stage Combat and Theatrical Swordplay - Revised and Updated Editi by Richard Lane
  9. Actors on Guard: A Practical Guide for the Use of the Rapier and Dagger for Stage and Screen by Dale Ant Girard
  10. Sword Play (Seer) by Linda Joy Singleton
  11. Cold Steel: The Art of Fencing with the Sabre (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science) by Alfred Hutton
  12. Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use by John Clements
  13. Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword by David Lindholm
  14. Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Arts of Combat: Sword and Buckler Fighting, Wrestling, and Fighting in Armor by David Lindholm
  15. Fencing: Techniques of Foil, Epee and Sabre by Brian Pitman
  16. The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Fencing (The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Sports, 10) by Robert G. Price
  17. Iai: The Art of Drawing the Sword by Darrell Craig
  18. The Woman Fencer by Nick Evangelista
  19. Running with Swords: The Adventures and Misadventures of an Irrepressible Canadian Fencing Champion by Sherraine MacKay
  20. Spada: An Anthology of Swordsmanship in Memory of Ewart Oakeshott by Members of Wordplay Syposium International
  21. Secrets of the Sword by Cesar Lecat Bazancourt
  22. Fighting With Sticks by Nick Evangelista

MUST SEE MOVIES

Star Wars - Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars - Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 
THE PRISONER OF ZENDA with Stewart Granger
Mask of Zorro
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King
Duellists (Ws Sub) DVD - Keith Carradine
Die Another Day
Moonraker
Highlander

Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Universally Used Fencing Terminology: With Approval of the Joint Board of Accreditation of the United States Fencing Association Coaches ... and the San Jose State Univ. Fencing master by William M. Gaugler

A Complete Bibliography of Fencing & Duelling: As Practiced by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day by Carl A. Thimm

The Encyclopedia of the Sword by Nick Evangelista

TYPES OF SWORD
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightsaber

OTHER REFERENCES

http://swordforum.com/
All areas of sword collecting and usage, articles and active discussion forums.
Article on how heavy and slow rapiers are
Interview on the Martial Arts of Middle Earth

For Basic Parts of the Sword, and links to view weapons for sale
http://www.armadilloarmory.com/hxsword.htm

http://www.thehaca.com/pdf/JakobSutor.pdf

Mediaeval Sword
Information and illustrations of European swords of the Dark Ages and the Viking Age with a virtual museum and forum.
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/

Sword and Stone –
Custom made historically accurate props, armour, and weapons for television, film and the serious collector.
http://www.swordandstone.com/

Sword Swallowing To The Hilt
The definitive site on the ancient art of Sword Swallowing and the Internet's most comprehensive lists of Sword Swallowers of the past and present.
http://www.swordswallow.com/index.php

The Sword Armory –
Medieval swords, Japanese katana and Samurai ...
Over 325 swords, katanas, and armor from Paul Chen, Marto, Iberia, and Gladius.
http://www.swordarmory.com/

Higgins Armory Sword Guild
These photographs show members of the Higgins Armory Sword Guild demonstrating the techniques of medieval martial arts at the Higgins Armory Museum in ...
http://www.higginssword.org/

Howstuffworks "How Sword Making Works"
The centuries-old art of sword making involves incredibly intricate metal work, and it's still being practiced today. Get a rare glimpse into the creation ...
http://www.howstuffworks.com/sword-making.htm

NetSword: The Internet Sword and Medieval Weapons Discussion Group ...
Discussion group for Medieval and Renaissance weapons of war as well as modern replicas of historical swords and other types of weapons.
http://www.netsword.com/

WIKIPEDIA ON MILITARY RANKS
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Admiral
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Military_ranks

Author’s note
My own sword-fighting hero is ’Rhett, aka Prince Djarrhett. His story begins in FORCED MATE, it continues in INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, and he finds his love in KNIGHT’S FORK





© 2005-2017 Rowena Beaumont Cherry
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