by Piper Bayard
of Bayard & Holmes
Everyone loves a good fight, and a good fight scene is arguably the lifeblood of every thriller. Since my writing partner, Jay Holmes, is a forty-five-year veteran of the military and intelligence communities, we are often asked what weapons we prefer for fights.
In truth, Holmes and I both advocate firearms training for the best self-defense, but shooting too many people in books tends to make for boring books. So we’re going to explore a bit more about how common objects can be used in a fight scene.
A nightstand lamp can be one of your character’s most handy weapons. They can grab it by the pole and smash the base into someone’s face. Even better, if the lamp has a long enough cord, the character can jerk off the lampshade and shove the bulb straight into the attacker’s face.
The broken glass of the bulb will cause bleeding, and if it is still plugged in, your character gets the added bonus of delivering an electrical shock.
Your character can grab it by the narrow end or, if it’s a pitcher, by the handle and smash the vase into the opponent’s face. If the vase breaks off, that’s okay. Then it will be like a broken bottle that can be used to slice the face or shove into the neck or groin.
Your character can throw jewelry in someone’s face to distract them for the next blow. Also, if a necklace is long and sturdy enough, your character can use it to choke their target.
Pendants can be especially useful in that they can be used to smuggle poison. Also, if your character is like Piper, they have a long, needle-like fashion metal pendant on a sturdy chain that can be worn to the office, on a plane, or into any building. That long, sharp needle can do some damage to the eyes, throat, groin, or ear. A nice cloak pin or an old-fashioned hat pin can serve the same purpose.
Note that if your character shoves a needle-like pendant or anything else into an ear, they have to go more than a couple inches in to do serious damage or even kill. It is not a move for the uncommitted.
Small desk drawers that come out quickly can be thrown at an opponent to distract them and give your character a chance to run or use follow-up blows.
A wide drawer can be used as a shield. If a character is very strong and a desk rather light, they might be able to flip the desk over in a sudden move to startle someone. It’s not a first-choice move in real life, but it could be fun in a book.
What a desk is not especially good for, though, is a hiding place. Not only is it entirely too obvious, but if your character is hiding under a desk, they are as good as painted into a corner when their stalker finds them.
It’s difficult to fight effectively when squatting on the ground, surrounded on all sides. If one of our characters is hiding under a desk, we’re going to make sure they have a loaded firearm at the ready.
Your character can grab a sturdy picture off the wall and drive the frame into their target’s face to stun them for follow up blows to the groin or instep.
Something commonly seen in fiction that is a bad idea is breaking the glass over the target’s head. It’s not likely to disable them, and it is just as likely to cut your character.
Your character can grab a candlestick and shove it in their target’s face. If the candle is in a jar and has been burning a while, your character can flick the hot melted wax into the face of the opponent and follow up by smashing the glass candle into their face or temple.
Be sure to follow up with some debilitating blows, though. If the opponent already wanted to kill your character, they will certainly want to kill them even more after they get wax to the face.
A lit candle can also be used to start a fire, but keep in mind that, unlike in Hollywood, most real-life fires take a few moments to actually catch and be helpful.
We don’t recommend that your character hide behind curtains if there are other viable alternatives for the same reason we don’t recommend them hiding underneath a desk. It’s too obvious, and it leaves your character pinned down when they are found.
However, if they have time, your character can tie curtains to something solid and use them to escape out of a window. Also, if your character knows someone is coming into a room, they can light the curtains on fire and hide behind a door. When the person comes into the room, they will be immediately riveted to the fire, giving the character the opportunity to smash the stalker with the door and follow up with blows as the target enters the room.
If your character is attacking, they can twist the curtains into a cord to use to choke their target.
A good, heavy curtain rod can be wielded like a staff to poke, jab, smash, or block. Some curtain rods have fashion points at the end for stabbing at the face, groin, or ribs. If your character stabs into the ribs and hits a bone, don’t worry. The weapon will usually slide off the bone and into the body.
Your character can throw a blanket over an opponent like a net and then either run or follow up with blows.
There is also always the tried-and-true method of lighting a blanket on fire while someone is sleeping in the bed. It generally takes the sleeper a few moments to realize what is happening, giving your character either time to escape or time to follow up.
Like all arson methods, we recommend that your character does not do this in their own home.
Holmes’s favorite method of using a cell phone in a fight is to call in an air strike. However, if your character does not have an Air Force in their bedroom, they can use the light on their phone to flash in someone’s eyes. They can also use the phone to emit a distracting noise, or they can throw it at the opponent’s face.
If they have time, the character can use the phone to call 911, but that is not especially effective in an active fight. As the saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”
A bed can also be used as a weapon, but we’ll leave that one to the romance writers.
On a general note, notice the frequent suggestions of targeting the face. Face wounds tend to stun and slow people. If someone is stabbed in the eye or through the cheek, they will have to mentally reset. Also, face wounds bleed. A lot. That and the fact that it’s lots of blood coming from a wound they can’t see tends to freak people out.
This gives your character time to follow up with a knee in the groin, a good stomp on the instep, or another stab or jab. Also, the target might feel compelled to put one hand over the wound, especially if it is an eye, leaving them to fight one-handed.
Always remember that with any fight, the greatest weapon your character has is their mind. Your character must be in a mindset to do what it takes to survive, or all the weapons in the world won’t help them.
What bedroom objects would your characters choose to incorporate into a fight? What questions do you have for us?
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Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes of Bayard & Holmes are the authors of espionage fiction and nonfiction. Please visit Piper and Jay at their site, BayardandHolmes.com. For notices of their upcoming releases, subscribe to the Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing. You can also contact Bayard & Holmes at their Contact page, on Twitter at @piperbayard, or at their email, BayardandHolmes(at)protonmail.com.
SPYCRAFT: Essentials takes the fiction out of spy fiction, covering the functions and jurisdictions of the main US intelligence organizations, the espionage personality and character, recruitment, tradecraft techniques, surveillance, firearms, the most common foibles of spy fiction, and much more. Available in digital format and print. See Bayard & Holmes Nonfiction for links to your preferred bookseller.
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