In my book Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists, I devote about 45 pages to advice to writers. I thought the readers here at Black Gate might like me to expand a bit on some of the points I made there. Let me start with a quote:
There are several distinct skills that go into a good written fight. They are:
- visualizing the fight accurately, to avoid describing impossible actions;
- maintaining dramatic tension and pacing the fight to be exciting;
- maintaining characterization: making sure that the characters’ actions in the fight give the reader the sense of their personalities that you want; and
- serving the plot, so that the fight meets the needs of the story and is not just shoehorned in.
Dramatic tension, characterization, and plot are key skills for a novelist; ask M. Harold Page if you don’t believe me. Visualizing a swordfight accurately is a much less common writing skill.
Assuming that training in actual swordsmanship for a few years is out of the question, here are three ways to get it right, if you want to go into technical detail (which blade goes where).