East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Cackling swords

The things one does for the sake of plausibility…
Anyone that witnessed the Great Swape Debate probably knows that I sometimes can go at weird lengths to find the right words to describe plausibly what’s happening in my stories.
Language is the main tool of anyone who’s writing, and it must strike a balance between elegance and function.
That’s the tricky bit, if you will.

Now, a few days back I read a page from a book in which the sound of swords being drawn was described as a cackle.


This sort of surprised me because… Continue reading

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Writing prompt – an old poem

Fleur-de-jadeTalking of masterless men, last week, I was reminded of this poem by Jia Dao, a Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty.

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;
Its ice-sharp edge has never been put to the test.
Now I am holding it and showing it to you, sir:
Is there anyone suffering from injustice?

It sort of gets you in the mood for a story, right?
Something with action and elegance, maybe?


Firm-breasted lawyers

593x800_7883_Red_Sonja_2d_fantasy_oil_painting_warrior_female_red_hair_picture_image_digital_artOnce again about female characters in fantasy.

The painting here on the right is by the great Donato Giancola.
It’s my idea of a fantasy sword-woman done right.
She has character, she projects strength and toughness but she has class.
OK, so maybe there’s no reason in the ‘verse to handle a sword like that (or so they told me) but who cares – I can believe she’s a real woman.
No brass bikini, no empty, inflatable-doll-like curves to please an adolescent audience.

And the adolescent audience is what’s making me nervous.
And a quick survey of the fantasy and sword & sorcery field in my country* has been dis-heartening. Continue reading


Swords (and much more)

researchI’m doing a quick post, here, to point out to interested parties three excellent resources I found about ancient (and not-so-ancient) combat.
But also shields and daggers and polearms.

I believe in plausibility when writing my stories – plausibility over overkill.
I’m not writing handbooks, I’m writing fiction – and I want my stories to be believable without clobbering my readers with too much detail.

One thing I learned is, listening to someone passionate about a subject is often better than going through arid web-pages and treaties.
And mind you, I love doing research for my stories, but as I said in the past, there is such a thing as too much research.
So I apply the old Doc Savage methods for becoming an instant expert. Continue reading