Whoo-hoo! It’s Friday! And I have a treat for you–a guest post by Charles E. Yallowitz, author behind the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series. Book 7: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue is now available on Amazon, along with his newest release, Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, a short 27-page short story for only $0.99!
For those of you who don’t know Charles, he’s a writer, father, and all around funny guy, who happens to enjoy D&D, fantasy films/books, and foods that would make my stomach turn. He’s an awesome person who is very supportive of other Indie authors. If you’re not connected, do so on Twitter and WordPress.
Okay, now that introductions and promos are out of the way, let’s move on to the post. Today, Charles will be discussing weapons and armor–primarily women’s armor–and the impracticality of them in fantasy fiction. As a proud feminist and fantasy writer myself, this post was right up my alley. I know you’ll enjoy it too. Without further ado, here’s Charles:
Thank you, Kylie. I think one of the issues with fantasy can be summed up with this video from Collegehumor on Youtube:
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but people don’t always think in practicality when it comes to character protection. NEVER give a female warrior a chainmail bikini as armor. A bizarre medieval beauty pageant? Maybe. Warrior woman version of lingerie or a specific fetish for your world? Go right ahead. But actual bikini armor is ridiculous and you might as well put her in a dress or naked for all the help a metal studded thong will do. Remember that the key point of armor is protection and not to look sexy. Maybe you can get away with sexy leather armor, but you don’t mess around once you go chainmail or higher on the protection food chain. A bare midriff with platemail is a way of saying ‘this character will be stabbed in the stomach’. Oh and no magic tassels or pasties of protection for EITHER gender!
Remember mobility with armor too. No high-flying stunts in platemail unless it’s magically enchanted to specifically allow for that. If you want a character to be flexible and agile then you need leather or something that is bendable. Know the limitations that come with your armor or you’re going to lose the reader.
That small rant brings me to a small point of fantasy that doesn’t get much attention: Gear Maintenance. I’m only going to go over a few points here that can be seen as pet peeves, but they really are important.
Dents and Dings
As I said, armor and shields are designed to protect. That means they’re taking hits and getting damaged. If your hero has armor on and isn’t getting hit then you’re doing combat wrong. Even without some protection this situation is rather iffy. After a while, the polish wears off and the armor should look like it’s seen better days. Shields can be broken and replaced if hit too often or too hard. For example, I have a character who uses a wooden buckler and he’s already gone through a few of them over the course of a book. These things were designed to take hits and get some wear and tear, so put that into your story.
Here is a quick list of what can happen to armor and shields: dents, dings, cuts, holes, punctures, splintering, slashes, gashes, tears, and whatever else is a type of damage to a surface.
What do you do when the armor is dented or the shield is broken? There’s a person in fantasy settings that is used specifically for this. He or she is called a blacksmith and all you have to do is have a character say ‘I’m going to the blacksmith to get my armor fixed’ or ‘I’m going to the blacksmith to buy a new shield’. You don’t even have to write the scene. Have the warrior leave, focus on the others for a bit, and then have him/her return with repaired gear. A simple ‘look at my new stuff’ line and you’re golden.
Clean Your Sword
The above picture is a whetstone, which is used to sharpen a blade that is going dull or is nicked from use. Swords get nicks and gouges in their blades when striking anything. If it is not taken care of then the weapon will shatter at the worst possible moment. That moment would be in battle when you prefer to keep your vitals non-punctured. A whetstone and sword oil is very easy to include. After a battle, have your warriors sitting around a campfire and write ONE sentence about them sharpening their blade. Examine it for nicks and issues then you’ve done your part. The hero’s blade has now been fixed and maintained to add a little more reality to them. You can always overlook this by having time pass, but there is one thing that irks me. I’m probably guilty of it too without realizing it.
CLEAN YOUR BLADE! There’s a scene in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe where Aslan tells Peter to clean his blade after killing a wolf. The comedy of the scene in the movie is that the blade was already immaculate, but it’s Disney so shut up. I’ve read and seen a lot of scenes where the hero stabs someone with their sword. Then they sheathe the blade without cleaning it. I always want to yell ‘No! Clean your blade! Use a rag, your glove, the face of your slain enemy! Anything!’ The reasons for this is simple. Blades can rust and dried blood is disgusting. Even worse is the idea that the sheathe is now coated in blood, which will erode the blade. Easy way to fix this is to have your character carry a rag and clean it. You don’t even have to do it a lot. Set up the habit in the beginning of the story and then people will assume that the hero does it later on, so you don’t have to write it.
Those are some helpful armor and maintenance tips. Hopefully they help and remember . . . chicks in chainmail only work for a calendar spread. In battle, they’re about as useful as curvy scarecrows.