Creating New Worlds: Part Four: Military and Weapons

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

This entry is going to be pretty general as you can go SO many ways with it - the main point here is research! Know what you are talking about!


Military is military! Yea right! There are different ranks in different branches of the military for one thing. And there are differences between say the US Navy and the other navies of the world. This depends on people and technology. If your characters are in a third world country, it is unlikely that they would have a huge army with a full navy and air force at their disposal. But if you have a major power (government research again here!) then you would have a large military force.

Not every story will need to do research for this. It depends. I have a notebook of just research notes that has a list of military ranks (for each branch - Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force). I don't use them all the time but I did have to use them when I was writing "The Kinir Elite". As the title states, they are a band of warriors thus a form of military. I had to do research to figure out what rank the hero of the story would have being in charge of this group. Of course, since they are elves I didn't follow the chain of rank exactly but I couldn't have done it at all without a bit of research into how the military works.

Then of course, the Military has it's own lifestyle, slang, and attitude. I grew up with an Army Dad so, I knew a little about that already but not everyone does. For this research I suggest talking to an actual military soldier. Internet research is great and can give you some great information but nothing like the real thing! I call my Dad quite often with questions but you can call or get in touch with any one in the armed services. Every town has a recruiters office that can help you with basic things of the military (especially with what certain units or jobs entail). I would love to be able to talk to a British soldier just once (no my stories don't require this, but I'd still like to just once!). But I'm weird like that I guess - besides, I could always use it in a story down the road right?

Talk to people as much as you can and don't be afraid to ask questions! Every interaction has the potential for being written about! Seriously. Don't discount anything that happens to you or is said to you by another person. You never know when it can be used again!


Name 5 weapons right now! Sword, Dagger, Pistol, Rifle, and Axe. Guess what, there are different types of each one of those! I love weapons but even this sort of research gets pretty boring, really fast. I'd rather learn hands on than read about it!

Knowing the weapons that you characters use is very important. Even if it's hand to hand combat, you need to learn the moves, the style. (Boxing, Karate, etc) There are SO many different things you could spend a week just on this topic and probably not make a dent in the expansive list! So be selective on what you are looking for (like don't google search "guns", you'll get a bazillian links - research rifles or semi-automatic rifles - something more specific to what you want.)

Think about all the possible weapons your character could carry on them. In my novels, it usually consists of a sword or a bow of some sort. Daggars are a must. In "The Story of William Archer" I even have some black powder pistols come into play. So I have done extensive research on swords, daggers, bows, and recently black powder pistols.

The best thing about this is usally my research also uncovers the history of the weapon (which may not have anything to do with my story, but I still like to know - it's interesting) and it also tells how the sword is made and how strong it is compared to other things. That gives me a reference point when writing. Or maybe spurs a scene with a blacksmith/weapon maker - gotta know how they are made before I can write a scene about it right? Exactly. Knowing the strength of the weapon gives me a reference point so that when he hits the blade or whatever against something, I know what will happen to it. (A broken sword could mean trouble!) Researching black powder pistols I learned how hard it was for people to keep up with the weapon as any moisture in the powder would prevent the gun from firing! Every little detail that gets you really intune with a weapon is great - you can write a better more realistic fight scene, the more you know the weapons your characters are using!

You never what hidden gems you'll find during your research. I went looking for some more indepth information about Medieval Knights Code of Honor and found a treasure trove of information about the Medival Ages - clothing, lifestyle, nobility titles, castles, weapons, food, etc. I mean it had every thing! I went on a copy and pasting and printing frenzy today people! Sure, I may not have needed all of that right this second, but I could just see the potential for having it. I mean - castle terminology - super important to me as pretty much all of my novls medieval style castles in them. Details about a Knights armor - also important to my work. I just found stuff that I never thought to look for, but realized I really should know about! It was a great day!

2 Responses to "Creating New Worlds: Part Four: Military and Weapons"

Dawn Embers Says :
April 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Weapons are fun to do quick searches for. Still need to work on the weapons used in the mutant novel, but I try to put in specific types even in first drafts. I find looking at different swords, knives and such to be fun. Used a katana in an elf story and think it turned out really well based on the choice.

Another good post.

Harley D. Palmer Says :
April 30, 2010 at 4:58 PM

I love weapons too. It's a guilty pleasure of mine. I collect knives in real life anyway thing appeal to me. Thanks for keeping up with these posts!

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