Writer Research: Swords

Are you interested in writing medieval based fantasy? Historical fiction? If so, there’s a good chance your characters will be using swords. Read on for a few tips and tricks that will help you portray them accurately.

Basic Sword Anatomy:

Diagram of a sword

Of course, not all sword types will have all of these parts, but at the very least, they should have a blade and a grip. Depending on the sword and the wielder, one or both edges may be sharpened. The fuller is a channel in the middle of the blade. Its purpose is to make the weapon lighter.

You will often see mention of a sword having “perfect balance”. A sword, like any object, has a place where it will balance if lifted at that spot. There is no universal correct point of balance. This varies by type of sword, intended use, preference of the user, etc.

Fighting swords typically weigh 2-3 pounds but can weigh up to 7 for two-handed weapons. Designs usually focus on either slashing with the blade or stabbing with the point, but many types combine the two with varying success.

Key points to remember:

  • Swords must be carefully maintained. This includes immediate cleaning after use (blood will eat away at the blade, as will the oil from one’s skin). Regular sharpening and straightening is a must.
  • Blades are quickly damaged by contact with hard objects such as an opponent’s weapon or shield. The wielder should always aim to strike flesh – if they aren’t successful it’s entirely possible the sword will break, even if it is of good quality.
  • One sword isn’t going to slice right through another. It’s also not going to slice through a training dummy, armor, or a shield.
  • Flexibility is not a desired trait in fighting swords. Bending a blade will weaken it and cause it to become misaligned.
  • Gold is soft. It shouldn’t be used for sword-making unless it is purely for show.
  • There is no type of sword that is inherently stronger than others.

There are entire worlds of knowledge beyond this, so you might want to do further research. Here are some resources you might find useful:


Author: Dee

Dee is a moderator and blogger for Story Scribes. In her downtime she tries out various crafts, plays video games, and makes music. Currently, she’s working on a fantasy story that’s been trying to escape for a few years.

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