S4S at Westercon 69

Westercon 69

Join us this weekend at Westercon 69 in Portland, Oregon for three Swords for Scribes workshops–Victorian Self-defense, Arms vs. Armor, and Rapier Fighting.  And join Academia Duellatoria for many more martial arts classes all weekend in addition to all the fabulous programming going on!

What’s New at S4S

New beginnings

New beginnings

We’ve been taking a break from our workshops around here.  We don’t have a schedule set up for the next workshops yet, but now seems like a good time to revitalize the blog.  I’ll be sharing some posts about writing and related topics. If there’s something you’re interested in hearing more about, drop us a note and I’ll work on writing up a post to share whatever information I have.

Okay.  Now the formalities and business bits are out of the way.  What’s going on in your writing life?  What are you working on?  Do you have any fight scenes?  Tell us what’s new with you!

S4S: Steampunk!


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S4S Collage


Due to some personal issues, we’re going to be putting the S4S workshops on hiatus for a while.  So sorry for the last-minute notice!  If you have writing and/or sword related questions, we’ll still be around here and on Facebook.  Thanks so much for your interest!


Do you write Steampunk?  Would you love to know more about what weapons and martial arts would have been readily available to your characters?  Would you love a chance to try out some of those weapons?

Sign up for Swords for Scribes: Steampunk! to learn about Victorian weapons and fighting, common language in Victorian literature and Steampunk literature, and get plenty of hands-on time with the weapons your characters will surely want to use.  Register below to join us in our exploration of Steampunk weapons and fighting techniques and how to write about them.

Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Time: 12p.m. – 4p.m.
Where: Academia Duellatoria, 4755 SW Oleson Rd., Portland, OR 97225
Registration: $60

S4S: Steampunk Registration is Open!

S4S Steampunk Poster

Newsletter subscribers–check your inbox for a note with the link.  Everyone else, a link will go up next Monday for you.  See you in class!

Swords for Scribes: Steampunk!

It’s been quite a while–that’s the hazard of having two creative people who are interested in and involved in all sorts of cool stuff.  Sometimes there’s not quite room for it all.  But we’re back and getting ready for a new Swords for Scribes class.  I think this one’s worth the wait.

Matthew Victorian Circle

Matthew in his finest Victorian getting ready to demo some of what we’ll be learning in this S4S workshop.

Announcing Swords for Scribes: Steampunk!  Class will be Saturday, August 23, 2014 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.  Canes and garrottes and hatpins and fabulous Victorian clothes!  And, as always, plenty of produce carnage as we practice the finest late 19th century fighting techniques.

Save the date.  More info and a registration link will be coming after the July 4 weekend.

Famous Fights


Faire in the Grove 1

I ran across this fun article from io9: 10 of the Most Awesome Sword Fight Scenes Ever.

Let’s face facts. No weapon is more badass than a sword. Fight scenes are often great in science fiction and fantasy movies, but fight scenes with swords? They’re the stuff of legend.

It’s true, isn’t it?

So what do you think?  Is this the real “most awesome” list?  Have they missed any of your favorites?

Let us know what your faves are so we can keep adding to the list.

How’d I Get Here?

What drew you to swordfighting and writing fight scenes in your stories (be they novels, short stories, or scripts)?  I don’t remember when I started loving this stuff, but I’m pretty sure it all started with movies for me.

There’s something so romantic and thrilling about swordfights.  They stir the soul and the imagination, and if we are storytellers we inevitably want to put them in our own tales.

So what’s so special about swordfight stories?  It’s hard to pinpoint.  Maybe it has something to do with swords not being something we see every day.  Maybe it’s something to do with romanticizing the past.

Whatever it is that makes them so, swordfight stories are special. And swordfighting is a pretty specialized skill, too.  Which of course means we need some specialized knowledge to get it right.  (That’s where we come in, in case you were wondering.)  And getting it right is important, but I don’t think those old stories and movies that don’t get it quite right are useless.

While we are working to get our fight scenes and sword lingo as realistic as possible, I think sometimes we also need to look at the classic stories that made us love swordfighting tales in the first place.  We need to learn to capture that thrilling feeling we got when we first saw or read a swordfighting scene.  Our fight scenes should have good technical info woven through them, but we need to put that magic, that stuff that got us fascinated in the first place, in there as well.

Where it started for me:

Yep, it all started with movies for me.  What’s your list of where it all began?

Fighting Through NaNoWriMo


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It’s almost November.  For some people that means getting ready for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.  For a lot of writers, it means it’s almost time for NaNoWriMo.

NaNoShieldNaNo is great for getting your words flowing.  It’s great for turning off that inner editor and just writing, letting the story get told from beginning to end.  Sometimes, though, you can get hung up on details if you suddenly find that you need to know something you didn’t research ahead of time.

So what do you do if you’re writing an historical story, or fantasy, or some other story where swords show up and you haven’t reasearched them?  First, don’t stop to reasearch!  Save that for later.

Instead of stopping to find the proper weapon type, losing time and momentum, use this trick.  Where the type of sword and possibly a description should go, put in a bracketed phrase that you can use for a search-and-replace sweep later.

Here’s an example: “Barney drew his [type of sword and description of blade] and charged forward with a bloodcurdling scream.”

Later, once your story is ended and you’ve had time to study up on your weapons, you can search for “type of sword” and replace the bracketed phrases with proper names and descriptions.

In January we’ll be starting a database of bladed weapons to help with this kind of reasearch.  If you can’t wait or can’t find what you need there, you can also drop us a line through our contact page or by leaving a comment on a post, and we’ll see if we can help you get the information you need.

Happy writing!

Here’s my page on NaNo Planning if you’re still gearing up: NaNo Planning 2013

Swords for Scribes: Legends of Horror




Swords for Scribes: Legends of Horror
Freddy, Jason, and the Wolf Man

Date:  Saturday, October 19, 2013
Time:  12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Place:  Academia Duellatoria, 4755 SW Oleson Rd., Portland, OR 97225
Tuition: $60 early-bird registration until October 10; $75 after October 10

Registration opens September 27 for announcement list subscribers and October 1 for everyone else.  There are only 10 spaces available, so sign up now to get first dibs on a spot in class.

About the class:

Join us for an examination of some of the best known, most feared and enjoyed icons of horror.  This year, we will examine Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jason from Friday the 13th, and the classic half-man half-wolf from The Wolf Man of early Hollywood.

We will discuss natural weapons vs. chosen weapons vs. weapons of convenience and how the different kinds of weapons affect your character.  We will discuss the fear factor associated with different kinds of weapons.  And, of course, there will be carnage as we slay pumpkins with a variety of horror-worthy weapons.

Will we see you there?