August 29, 2011

I Think He Knows Which End to Hold

"So killing things mends a broken heart?"
"No, but it's good fun."

When I began to write "Take One Lump or Two?" I was simply going to do a basic getting-to-know-your-character post, but instead it turned into a more specific post on the subject of tea or coffee. There are many good posts out there about interviewing your character, so instead of doing that (since it doesn't work for me anyway), I wanted to do something more in depth and out of the ordinary. Something in the line of Jenny's recent clothing post. The other day I used the personalities of tea-drinkers versus coffee-drinkers; today the subject is


A fun subject for those of us who enjoy a bit of violence in our stories. Indeed, there are very few stories that can get away with not having any violence in them at all; the world is hardly a peaceful place, after all. In many cases your main character will have to fight at some point or another (because a novel without bloodshed is incomplete), and when they do it is likely that they will have a weapon. Rather like clothing, weaponry is one of those things that authors tend to hand their characters on the spur of the moment, not giving much thought to it or seeing much need to do so. But, like clothing again, the kind of weapon that suits your character can say a great deal about him. Is he a bull-in-the-china-shop kind of person? Then it is doubtful that he will be comfortable with a rapier. Is she a well-bred city girl who grows queasy at the sight of blood? Then she will probably not rush into battle with a hatchet.

Before starting on the barroom brawl or the climactic battle, stop to consider what weapon your character would use if given the choice. Naturally he or she will not always be able to pick and may end up with a weapon with which they are uncomfortable, but knowing what their ideal choice would be will help you as a writer know how they fight with what they have.

bare hand clobbering

Tip Brighton is a bare-hand-clobbering type of character: hot-headed, plain, and with the ability to pack a punch. In general this would be the more savage kind of person, the sort who enjoys a good fight and gets into them frequently. On the other hand, even a generally laid-back individual, if bred in the backwoods of a nation or the outskirts of an empire, is likely to prefer the use of either his fists or some heavy weapon to something light like a bow. It also implies that, when it comes to appearance, the character is at least moderately well built; a very slight person is unlikely to make a good boxer. A character who loses his temper frequently will probably be passable in the use of his fists, unless of course he always travels with a knife or a dueling pistol.

two inches in the right place

What is the weapon of the stereotypical villain? The dagger, hidden in the boot and withdrawn at the most inconvenient moments. There is something sly and underhanded about a dagger, making it a good weapon for conniving females and deceptive men. If your character is a plotter, the kind who can spend hours sitting and thinking, the kind who rarely loses their temper but hates with a cold hatred, a knife would be a suitable weapon. This is also a good weapon of necessity, as it can be carried and hidden easily. For a dash of pizzazz, throwing knives are always good.

I don't want a knife, I want a bow and arrow!

The longbow is a graceful weapon, which is probably why Elves always seem to use them in fantasy novels. This is a good weapon for a woman who must take part in a fight but does not wish to get in the thick of things; it takes a cool mind, however, since the character's hands have to be steady for him or her to hit anything. A man who isn't heavily built enough to wield a broadsword or wear full armor might also use a bow and arrows. Though the bow seems to take no effort at all, however, keep in mind that it takes a strong arm to draw the string. The longbow isn't a weakling's or a child's weapon.

The gun is a little like a modern-day bow, only a lot bloodier and less of a woman's weapon. All right, so the only similarity is that it allows the character to keep the opponent at arm's length at least, allowing them to stay fairly clean. A pistol is a good weapon for someone too slight for anything heavier, but still clear-headed and of a cool disposition. This would be Charlie Bent's choice; he does not have the build to fight with only his hands, and the pistol is a gentleman's weapon: sophisticated, pretentious, but deadly as well.

This list is not exhaustive, but it covers some of the more common weapons that characters might use. Again, keep in mind that they will not necessarily be able to get their preferred weapon and that this can be used to illustrate their characters; going back to Tip and Charlie again, Tip is forced at one point to fight a duel - something that is totally opposed to his nature - and Charlie gets into several brawls. Determine what the character would like to use, then decide whether or not to give them what they want.


  1. Very interesting! I think I (if I was a character in a novel) would use a dagger or Crossbow. Weird combo, I know. I would love to be a villain in a novel. Except, they always lose. :-/

  2. "'Course, there are other schools of thought."

    Thanks for the post, Abigail! You did it better than I could. I just want to throw in the remark that weapons also aren't cheap, so a character will either have to inherit, buy, borrow, steal, yoink his weapon and stick with it, unless he has copious amounts of money and can afford whatever he prefers.

    When all else fails, clubs and fists. Good angry mob weapons. Gets them every time.

  3. Ashley - I think I would prefer a longbow myself, although I doubt I could wield it well. Long-distance, not so bloody and traumatic. Throwing knives would be fun, though.

    Jenny - "Mighty fine shindig." Yes, it's awfully annoying when characters just have their weapon of choice. I want to read a fantasy where the main character can't get a weapon because he has no permit...

  4. Hey. I just wanted to let you know that I gave your blog a special mention on mine. I didn't want to re-award the Liebster Award to people who had already been given it, so I made a separate post acknowledging blogs by my friends that had won the award previously. Here's a link:

    Love Ajjie >'.'<

  5. Aw, thanks, Ajnos! I appreciate it. It's nice to know people enjoy Scribbles.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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