Writers! Draw your Rapiers, Katanas, and Claymores!
Listen closely. We are entering the realm of conflict. Your job is to be a weapon. It doesn’t matter what kind—physical, emotional, philosophical—whatever it is, I need you to do your job because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Be My Sword
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
The first place my mind goes to with this prompt is the idea of a protector. Someone saying to someone else who is stronger, and/or more skilled than them “be my sword.” As in “protect me, because I cannot protect myself.” It reminds me of the game Ender Lillies, in which you play a little girl, and all your “weapons” are spirits who fight for you—even the bosses you fought can become your swords. Mulan choosing to fight in her father’s stead is another example of someone being another’s sword for noble reasons. Even someone who can protect themselves might still need a protector—that could be a particularly touching take on the prompt: someone who is usually very strong breaking down and admitting they need someone to help them.
It could also be taken in the opposite direction. A villain might hire a henchman, or multiple, to do their dirty work out in the world. Such as the Evil Queen sending the Huntsman to kill Snow White. They might do this because they can’t be bothered with the everyday aspects of villainy, or because they don’t want the evidence to lead back to them. Is the henchman more than willing to help their master? Or are they forced into this role unwillingly? Could someone forcibly be made into a sword?
“Be my sword” could even have “please kill me” connotations. In The Case Study of Vanitas vampires can become “curse bearers.” When the curse takes over completely, they lose themselves, and turn into bloodthirsty monsters. When Vanitas promises that he will kill one of the other characters if she loses herself one day, this is a relief to her, not a thing of horror and sorrow—especially because this is a job she has had to do for others, and she realizes how necessary it is. Perhaps you could write about this sort of situation. Many stories have the hero saying to their sidekick, best friend, or lover, “if I get captured, I need you to kill me.” A request to “be my sword” might be a request for a mercy killing when the time comes. Is the person able to be the sword in the end, or do they not have the heart?
You could, of course, take this prompt more literally. Perhaps you want to write about someone on the path to become a knight picking out their first sword. Or a blacksmith’s apprentice making the sword that will be their faithful partner for years to come. You could even write about someone in a shop finding a sword they like, and whispering to it “be my sword.” …Or you could write about another customer in the shop hearing this and thinking they’re crazy.
Continuing with the literal direction, you could play with the material a sword is made from. Sokka in Avatar: the Last Airbender using the meteorite to make a sword is kind of like him saying to the meteorite, “become my sword.” What other strange materials might one want to make a sword from? Or perhaps it’s less about the material of the sword itself, but a jewel put on the hilt, or a mantra inscribed on the blade that one wants made into a sword.
You could even write about sentient swords. I can’t think of sentient swords without thinking of Ahrah from Dust: an Elysian Tail. In that video game, the sword with which you fight baddies is also very much a character in the story—something of a mentor. Perhaps you want to write about this sort of situation. How different would buying a sword be if they were all sentient? If you were choosing a companion instead of just a sword? Just how sentient are they in the first place? Can they talk, or do they just seem to have an aliveness about them that’s hard to quantify? It could be a “the wand chooses the wizard” sort of idea. Perhaps the sword resists its new master until they request nicely “Would you please be my sword?”
Rather than the sword itself being alive, someone’s consciousness could be trapped within a sword. Going back to the unwilling henchman idea, perhaps a villain literally turns someone into their sword to punish them. This could be a moment of true horror, as they become the blade used to kill the good people they once fought beside. Maybe you want to write about someone going on a quest to free their loved one from their sword prison. A more positive take on this idea is the regalia from Noragami. In that anime, spirits become the weapons of the gods. Literally, they can transform into a blade, and back into a human form. This is an honor, especially because, if not chosen by a god, they might turn into corrupted phantoms, and lose themselves. Perhaps you could write something more along these lines.
I’ve been rewatching Once Upon a Time lately, and that show has what could be a very interesting take on this prompt. In the show, there is a title: “The Dark One.” The Dark One’s powers are given by a dagger, (which, if I remember correctly, was once a full sword), and their name is written on the dagger. If you hold the dagger, you can control The Dark One (going back to that unwilling henchmen idea…). If you kill The Dark One with the dagger, you become the new Dark One. The dagger is also the only thing that can kill them. In this way, the Dark One sort of is the dagger. At least, their power and life are tied fundamentally to it. Perhaps you could use this sort of take on the prompt. A villain might not make someone into a literal sword, but could they tie their life force to one still? Could a sword grant more power to its wielder than a simple blade, and if so, how difficult would it be to let go of it?
You could take it in a “the pen is mightier than the sword” direction, in which the pen is the sword. Perhaps you want to write about a character walking up to make a speech, internally praying that their words can be their sword so they don’t have to truly fight. Negative words—an insult or broken promise—could be a sword as well. A secret could even be intended as a sword in the back. Perhaps, later, when the character tries to take it back, the insulted person says something like “you wanted your words to hurt.” As in “you wanted your words to be your sword.”
What happens when the sword rejects the call? The prompt is “be my sword” but speaks nothing of the response to whoever, or whatever, is being commanded/requested. Perhaps you want to write about the person, or sword, resisting. Perhaps, for that sentient sword idea, someone could bow and politely say, “Would you please be my sword?” …only for the sword to blatantly reject them and start attacking.
On last Saturday’s stream, we discussed the horror of everyday objects. Lee Strangely wrote a story of a typewriter that very much seemed alive, and Arith likened it to the Tell Tale Heart. It made me think of how an object seeming alive (but, especially if it is not) has this interesting layer of spookiness to it that horror stories of a living killer or monster don’t have. Something acting alive that shouldn’t be in the first place is a special kind of scary. And someone fearing something inanimate often creates a special kind of character that seems (or is) mad. Because this prompt has an inanimate object right in the title, I thought I’d make it the challenge: use the unique brand of horror an inanimate object can have in your story.
Remember, these challenges aren’t mandatory! They are meant to be a fun bonus if you’d like to have a little extra challenge. But, if you don’t want to use them, please don’t feel obligated to!
What are you doing?! I didn’t order you to be a knot on a log! Get moving! Go go go go go!
—Pearce & Kaylie
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.