Here’s a question: how many different types of swords are there? Yeah, I don’t know either.
I don’t write a lot of weapons into my fantasy because, so far, warfare has not been a focus of my work. This will be changing for some other stories I have slated, and when I get there you can bet I will be doing quite a bit of research. But here’s the thing, I probably won’t be using many swords. They are over used, for one thing. For another, they are BORING. Fantasy writers use swords for the same reason that they use a medieval setting: it is expected. Give your protagonist a sword (though if she’s female she HAS to use a bow just like the effeminate elves – duh*) and give your supporting characters a few other *unique* weapons – you know, an axe or a bow or a couple daggers. That will make the story shine!
WRONG. First off, those weapons are not unique anymore. Second of all, give your characters unique weapons in order to make them stand out is as bad as giving them funky color eyes or hair. If they have to have something that isn’t very common, have a good reason for it. Maybe all the people born in a certain month are taught to wield a certain weapon, or maybe it has to do with the village they were born in (of course, I see this as being in a very martial nation and don’t really see how it could fit a more general fantasy novel, but do you see my point?).
The problem with swords and similar bladed weapons is that they go right along with the medieval scream of fantasy. There are whole other time periods and continents to draw from. A quick search of “types of weapons” brought me to a list of Premodern Combat Weapons on Wikipedia. It isn’t that hard to do the research and find what works in your story, and for your characters. And that’s important, to make sure that you know how the weapon works. Maybe you can’t take a class, but for goodness sake don’t learn from movies – they are WRONG. Do the research and try to unlearn everything that you’ve gotten from movies, video games, and other fiction books. It won’t help you. (Some books might, but you can never be sure if the author did the research or not – best to assume not and do your own.)
Good luck on your quest and take care, fellow travelers.
*Note the sarcasm.
- Pointy End Goes Into The Other Man (legendsofwindemere.com)