Friday, May 31, 2013

Found Article: "Fight Write: Art, Sport, Subdual, and Lethality"

Tumblr bears great gifts. One of them from today is an article by bloggers ObsidianMichi and StarkeRealm, which rolled across my dash. It can be found at their Tumbleblog, How to Fight Write.

This is such a useful reference because it breaks down Martial Arts (MA) in terms of the intent behind the style: Art, which is primarily about introspection and spirituality; Sport, which is pretty self explanatory; Subdual, which is about injuring and incapacitating; and Lethality, which is about killing, quickly and effectively.

Though this is a great reference in and of itself, it also makes a good point about all characters who incorporate training or fighting into their daily lives, regardless of whether or not it has to do with Martial Arts. Based on their situations and their lives, they would look at fighting differently.

For example, my two main characters are a mix of subdual and lethal. Brother No.1, who was exposed to fighting early in his life, started out with a sport-based outlook; he was made to fight for money. But after some plot-related things he became more entrenched in a mindset that has two options: defend and run, or, in the event that escape is impossible, stand and kill. Brother No. 2, on the other hand, exists entirely in a subdual mindset and is trained with only that in mind. I wouldn't have considered the nuances of their mindsets without this article.

In short, it’s a good read. Go take a look.

Arms and Armor: Let's Talk About Triremes

Apology/Preface: This is very late, and I am very sorry. I will try to have another post ready on time tomorrow! But now, on the what you're really here for: Triremes!

Possibly one of the most iconic Greek war assets was the Trireme: long, thin ships built for ramming. They had sails for cruising, but were actually operated in battle by 170 oarsmen – you heard me, 170 oarsmen - in three tiers. They had named ranks, with the thranites on top, zygians in the middle, and thalamians at the bottom. They sat on small seats, not benches, and were packed in so tightly that “Each seat was level with the shoulders of the oarsmen below” (31). The ships were fast, maneuverable, and equipped with a bronze-covered ram at the prow built specifically for breaching enemy hulls. The one pictured, on the reconstructed ship the Olympias, weighs 440lb (200kg).

As though that wasn’t a large number to accommodate already, there were also around thirty other crewmen, including marine hoplites (those fellows you see forming phalanxes, named for the shield they carry, which is round and called either an aspis or a hoplon) and archers, as well as a helmsman to work the tillers; there were two tillers, and they were normally operated by the same person. On triremes “There was room to carry only a few basic supplies and insufficient space for the whole crew to sleep on board” (30), so the solution to fitting all those people was simply to overcrowd them.

However, all the oarsmen were free citizens, people who had chosen the work and were compensated for it based on their seat. For example, the thranites had the toughest job because of the angle their oars entered the sea, so they enjoyed higher pay.

And it makes sense, in a way, for the free citizens of Greece to want to row for a trireme – Greece was famous for its navy, and it’s not difficult to understand why:

“In action, a trireme with a skilled helmsman and a disciplined crew could ram an enemy vessel or ride over its oars, then reverse and leave it crippled in the water. If its own hull was holed, a trireme would not sink because it was made from buoyant wood such as pine, poplar, or fir.” (30, emphasis added)

In short, the Greeks had a navy that could mess up your navy and sail away from it, even if they’d suffered what would, to other ships, be considered serious damage. And that is pretty badass.

I am currently reading Military History: The Definitive Visual Guide to the Objects of Warfare, with senior editor Gareth Jones and published by DK Publishing with the cooperation of the Smithsonian, ISBN 978-0-7566-9838-6. In case you wondered where this information was coming from. 

Photos of the Olympias found through Google at

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Thoughts on Ladies' Armor

Thinking about arms and armor a lot lately, as those are the topics I am beginning to research for my novels. These are a couple of resources on armor, specifically ladies' armor, that I found on Tumblr. I hope you enjoy, and maybe I'll have an original arms and armor post for you next week.


Martwhim's "Why do you hate the shape of breasts in plate armor so much?"

"Since people often ask “Alright, well this is fantasy!  Why can’t we have boob shapes in plate armor?!”  I decided to make a post about it.  My frustration has nothing to do with historical inaccuracy and I’m all for imagination and freedom— but I’d like to (very quickly) illustrate this for you..."

And, along the same lines,

Emily Asher-Perrin's "It's time to Retire "Boob Plate" Armor. Because it Would Kill You."

"Never mind the chainmail bikinis—what about those awkward breast plates in armor that we see frequently in fantasy artwork and at the Ren Faire? Whenever women complain about this convention, they are usually shot down for trying to erase women’s true bodies, for insisting that women make themselves more “male” in order to appear strong and capable.
But here’s the thing: those shapely bits of armor would actually get you killed. So the complaint is entirely valid! Now, let’s talk about why..."

This is not to say that one cannot or should not envision armor this way. If you, for example, own some of said armor and feel fabulous in it, by all means! But when it comes to designing characters who are in need of physical protection it's typically a good idea to know the rules before you break them.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Promised You a Schedule...

...and it's been over a month. Oh dear.

Since I am clearly not very good at this yet, I am going to start by proposing weekly updates: for now, provisionally, they will be on Saturdays!

As an outline, in these updates I will probably talk about what I am reading at the time of the post, what I'm writing, (some art if you're really lucky,) and any other writing related things I find amusing. Hopefully you will too.

I would also like to reinstate Observations as something that actually happens. Observations are daily (daily here being the ideal) writing exercises, in any format or genre, designed to keep the creative muscles limber. They're based on Kelly Magee's Finding Frequency Project, as I first learned about them and began writing them in a class she taught at Western Washington University. Perhaps Observations can coincide with use of a new app I've been looking at...

Anyway I wanted to post something new here just as a heads up, I will do my best to have material posted on Saturday and every Saturday henceforth! Cheers everybody, and have a couple fandom motivational posters for your time.

 (Yes, I overlaid the text. The images are screenshots from the Anime Princess Tutu that I found online and DO NOT BELONG TO ME, REPEAT, SOURCE MATERIAL DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. Thanks.)