Hello from the Keystone!
OK, so let’s think fantasy. Actually, we need something more specific. Let’s think Lord of the Rings. Legolas, right? He’s the super-cool Elf bowman who stands on careening oliphaunt tusks and never misses. Now lets think Wayne Thomas Batson. Nock and Bolt from The Door Within. Ariana from The Errant King. Now lets think C.S. Lewis. Susan, the archeress. Then there’s Katniss from The Hunger Games. Then Hawkeye from the Avengers. Robin Hood. Many more.
Wow! Archery is so cool! It’s like a renaissance gun! It’s even cooler if your upside down or falling when your shooting an arrow! I want a bowman character!
Get real, people. Archery is done. Too many people have used it. It’s *gasp* cliche.
Let’s focus on something else. Something simpler, like the sword. Aragorn. Alistair. Inigo Montoya. They’re the masters. The unbeatable. Champions. They feint, they parry, they flick their wrist. They spent years dedicating themselves to the craft. They’re noble, and they’re heroes.
Yes! Aragorn is so cool! I love Inigo! I want one of them!
Too late! They’re all sold out. They too are cliche.
Ooh, let’s do one more. The brute. The axe-wielder. The hammer meister. The giant. The musclebound dwarf. Fezzik. Mallik. Gilmi. Countless more. They endure. They stampede. They force themselves to say “ouch” when hit.
Yikes! Those guys are exactly what I need! They’re comical, they’re strong, and they’re smelly! And who doesn’t want to have a character who can lift a tree out of the ground like it’s a twig?
You guessed it. Cliche.
Oh no! What’s a writer to do? All the famous characters of literature are taken! Gosh, can my character be original at all? Can they not be cliche?
No and yes. There is not an original thought in the world. All plots, all character traits, and basically everything in your book is from somewhere. But it doesn’t have to be cliche.
I’ve compiled a list of non-cliche weapons that can turn your character into the epic-est warrior you’ve ever seen.
Throwing knives: Many characters in fantasy use these amazing weapons, but nowhere as much as they use the bow. It can still be a really good talent to have in war. It’s just like an arrow. A flying projectile. Plus, much like the bowmen of common fantasy, the people who use throwing knives are usually stealthy and ninja-like. A note: usually, girls do not use throwing knives as much as men. Break that rule.
Here’s a useful video to introduce you to throwing knives.
The mace: Create un-stereotypical characters with this unique weapon! Trade out the axe, club, and hammer with this equally brutish weapon. Maybe it’s a two-fisted mace, or simply a single, but nevertheless, it’s worth your time to create a more original character.
The crossbow: This weapon is used much less than it should. I view the crossbow as the pistol of castle fantasy. Strap it to a girl or boy’s hip and have them shoot the apple of their son’s head with style!
Throwing hatchets (tomahawks): Often simply called “hawks,” this is the perfect weapon for your hunstman or ninja-character. They’re fast, they’re fun, and they’re unique. Again, I’ve never seen a girl use them. It’s about time.
Darts: Whether from a blowgun or from a sleeve on the forearm of your character, darts are the perfect weapon for you ninja or mystical native character who seeks to save all of nature from the evil humans (speaking of cliche…). They can be drugged to make the victim sleep, or poisoned for death. When I think of a dart, I think of a needle without any feathers on it, driven only by momentum into the target. That’s a little un-stereotypical. Or you can use feathers, weather straight or downy.
The spear (javelin): Go Greek or Roman with this epic weapon. The javelin, a throwing spear, is a unique weapon that isn’t given it’s due in fantasy writing. The standard spear can be used like the staff that your awesome mentors use, plus have a deadly point at the end. You can use a spear as both a javelin and a held weapon if you want.
The bola (boleadora): What the heck is a bola? Don’t be surprised if you don’t know. Have you ever seen How to Train Your Dragon? A bola is the thing they throw up in the air to catch the dragon. Here’s a picture if your still confused:
To use this weapon, you swing it around your head, giving the stones at the end of the rope momentum. Then you let go, and hit whatever target you want, probably killing them. If you want though, you can have your bola-character aim at the legs, tripping a runaway antagonist or something. Here’s a useful video on bolas.
The whip: Though this isn’t technically a killing weapon, Indian Jones makes do and so should you. The whip is something to give to your skilled griffin rider or whoever you want that can trip, spin, and spank the bad guys pretty bad.
That concludes are discussion on fantasy warrior cliches and their antidotes. I hope you enjoyed this and benefit from it.
“Just shoot me already!” The antagonist cowered to the floor with his hands covering his face. “Just do it.”
The protagonist dropped her bow. “I don’t shoot,” she said. She pulled a narrow blade out of a sheath attached to her belt. She lifted it behind her head. “I throw.”