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The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Want to Try Something Knotty? Five Helpful Knots to Save Your Heroine's Life


I was going for an interpretation of nobody li...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You've put your heroine in a bind.
Tsk tsk tsk. Why am I not surprised?
Luckily, you write kick-ass heroine's
who know how to leap in and save
the day.

And of course, if she can tie the knot,
she also understands how to untie the
knot and escape.

Here are five easy knots that she might use.

NOTE: I put up a video of my tying each knot, so you can see how quick and easy they are to do. It should be enough information to understand the knot for writing it into a scene. I also put up a quick study with better camera angles, in case you actually wanted to try them yourself.

Bowline knot Português: Nó lais de guia
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Bowline Knot - 

* A bow line knot is an
   essential rescue knot
* Makes a loop that does not
   slide up and down
* Used for emergency
   extraction from holes,
    water, etc.
* Your heroine can then throw the rope to the
     person in trouble. That person can wrap the
     loop around their torso, or grab hold of the
     loop like a handle and be pulled to safety.

A clove hitch formed in the bight and slipped ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Clove Hitch

* This is a knot that can attach an item
   such as a carabiner or stick to a
* Used frequently by characters who are

Deutsch: Zimmermannsknoten, zum Befestigen ein...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Timber Hitch

* When you need to tie a line to an object
   such as a rope to the balustrade so your 
   heroine can climb out of the window and
   away from the bad guy.

4. Taut Line Hitch (also written Tautline Hitch)

English: Taut-line hitch (ABOK #1856)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* This knot slides to adjust
    the size of the  loop
* It is usually used for tent 
* Can be used to throw over
   an object such as a post, 
   then pulled tightly to make
* Good for bringing things up a tree or for 
   throwing over an object then pulling
   toward the heroine if she can't reach it.
* Helpful when making a tarp wind shield
   because it is adjustable.

Sheet bend
Sheet bend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Sheet Bend

* A sheet bend is a secure 
   way to take two shorter 
   pieces of rope and make 
   them into one longer piece.
* This can be used, for
   example with the paracord 
   that your heroine pulls from her 
   paracord bracelet (Blog Link)
Double sheet bend
Double sheet bend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* If someone's life is on the 
   line use the double
   sheet bend for extra
Video Quick Study (4:43 go right to the 1:45 

By the way:
A hitch is a knot that ties a rope to an object
A lashing ties two  ropes together

ADDENDUM: After two authors left questions below about a heroine getting untied, I made this video for them. Things I learned:
* It is actually not as easy as one would think to effectively tie
   someone's hands behind their back. There is a
   fine line between secure and no circulation. Hubby actually had
   to try several times to get it right - while he
   ties knots all the time, he's only tied people to secure/save them
   never to restrain them.
* Room is required for flailing about. LOL
* Certain clothes/shoes would make this move impossible.
* This video was edited to accommodate for your time. I actually
   had to gnaw at the knots for quite a while.
   You're heroine should anticipate this taking time and being

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. These are great ideas to let the heroine get out of a bad situation, or rescue someone. Any thoughts on what a heroine can do to escape from being tied up? Ways to make the bad guys' knots less effective?

  2. Hi Nanci -

    Without knowing the circumstance - the type of cordage makes a big difference in how tightly a knot can be tied and how easy it is to slide the rope. Run by the hardware store and try their display. Is she tied to something? Can it break away? Can she reach the knot with her teeth? Is she tied behind her back? This is how to move the wrists from behind the back to front: Look at left tab - how to save your heroine and scroll down to zip ties for how she can place her wrists for the best chance of slipping out. COuld they use zip ties instead - check ou the duct tape article - maybe they tied her with duct tape.

    Also, does she carry a knife on her as part of her EDC? So those are some thoughts to get going with - if you need more, if you could give me a little more info on your scene...


  3. Can you get your hands in front like that when your wrists are tied together? When I did the prior escapes from a few months back my arms would not go around my hips no matter what I did so my hands remained stuck behind my back. I think I could do it in handcuffs though. I just needed a little more give that you don't get with duct tape or zip ties (or rope I guess) holding your wrists together. I think that's a new fitness goal of mine, to be able to get my arms from being tied behind my back to tied in front.

    It would seem if you can get your hands in front you could undo knots with your teeth. Is that realistic? Seems like it could be hard if the knot is complicated.

    I really need to learn more knots. I learned several different knots when I was a kid but have forgotten all but a couple.

    1. One way to find out :)

      I'll see if hubby will make a video of it this weekend - I know I can do it in a scarf - I've never tried paracord. We shall see - well, if I'm successful I'll show you if I get stuck and flail around on my back like a turtle I'll keep that to myself.

      I like tying knots, too. I need to put more in my repertoire. Do you have a smart phone? There's an app that is on my Save Your Heroine with Her Phone article - so you can play with it. I have a dumb phone (boo). But someday when I am rich and famous...


    2. That's dedicated research. I seemed to recall you said you could do it back when we discussed this last year which is why I asked, not thinking I'd get a video out of it..

      If you can't get out, at least maybe you could kick the snot out of the villain. That might make a more interesting story anyway.

  4. So if you need room to flail around, it would be harder or impossible to pull off the legs-over-the-hands move if you were in a confined space, like a car trunk?

    I figured out why I can't do it though. My arms aren't long enough for my wrists to actually cross under my butt. Either my arms or too short or my butt too big. Or both. But either way, if my hands are tied together behind my back, and I can't get free any other way, they aren't coming around to the front and I'll be tied there for a while. Not good. So I don't know if it's so much I'm inflexible as it is an issue of body shape.

    That could make a good plot action though: the heroine manages to pull off some acrobatic escape, and ties up the villain who can't do it.

  5. Hey Randall,

    I think if I were in a trunk I could do it - it would just take a little longer. (We don't have any vehicles with trunks so I've never tried)

    Are you bending at the knees and curling up like a ball?

    Also, I think that you shouldn't assume you can't get free - you have to try. But there might be a way to do it if you are wearing shoes laced with paracord, and you can reach your feet. Hmmm I may try that.


  6. Believe me, if it was a situation I had to get out, I'd be doing my best. But right now, I wouldn't be escaping. I said it was my butt earlier. but it's the hips that are the problem. My arms get hung on them. If I can pull my wrists apart just a little I can get around pretty easily, which is why I think I could do it in handcuffs.

    What do you mean about the paracord shoelaces? I remember the paracord ziptie escape (which I can actually do now since I have paracord leftover from making the bracelet and I guess the zipties are still around somewhere) but that required having your hands in front.

    1. Hey Randall,

      So try this (bonus points for sending me a video) Lace your boots with paracord. Have your friend tie your hands with rope. Try to unlace your boot - then tie each end of the lacing into a loop. Put one loop on your shoe, string one through ONE of the ropes on your hands, put the other loop on your shoe. Now lay on your stomach and work the paracord over the rope and see if you can get free.

      Proceed at your own risk. Let me know how you do if you try it.


    2. I'm not sure I know how to get the paracord from my shoes to a loop around my feet and threaded through the bindings with my hands tied behind my back.

    3. I saw a man do this from the front (check on Youtube) - I am only guessing it can be done from the back. Maybe if you have your hero lie on his side, bend his knees back -however bending the leg is hard for most men ... Your hero could also try crouching as low as possible and reaching the arms around to the laces OR sitting cross legged and untying the laces with the teeth.

      Once the paracord is free, tying it onto the each wrist is also an issue - maybe wrap around wrists and hold end in hand... You'd have to experiment with your strength/flexibility. It's not going to be pretty, and it's going to take a while.

      Good luck!

    4. Okay to the author who wants to know how to do this if the heroine's legs are tied too.

      No, I will not make you a video, LOL - I don't want people to think this is some kind of fetish site.

      You're going to have to take my word for it. I tried it several times and the best way is for your heroine to get down to the seated position with her hands behind her tied ankles, roll backwards and do a yoga plow position (if unfamiliar with this Google it). Then simply raise your arms up and over the top (your arms are longer than your leg extension. Release the yoga pose. I would untie the feet first if possible. She can run and defend if her legs are free. She isn't much of a threat if her legs are tied. This move takes less than a minute. Untying will depend on the material she's tied with, the quality of the rope, her health status, her anxiety levels. Remember under anxiety fine motor skills are lost UNLESS she is highly trained and practiced at functioning at this level of stimulus.

      Happy plotting!


    5. I finally got around to trying this one out. It didn't work. After taking at least 10 minutes to work the paracord through the rope, taking several more minutes to try to tie a knot for loops for my feet (I went for what I thought was a bowline knot but I know I didn't quite get it; tying knots with your own hands tied is not easy) and a few more minutes to finally get the loops around my feet, I start pedaling for several more minutes and eventually had to give up. The paracord got so hot from the friction it was actually getting painful to touch.

      So, the bottom line? Your heroine is a lot better off if she can just get her hands under her feet like you did, instead of wriggling around for 30 minutes trying to do everything I did for nothing. Or give her a knife.

      On that note, I wish I'd seen it before, but I looked up the plow position just now and tried it. I can actually just manage to get my hands in front of me doing this with my fingers locked, but I can't do it if my wrists are together as they would be if they were tied together.

  7. As an author of a fantasy novel, I found this info very helpful.

  8. I shall tell my Hero to tie her up once just for fun. That way we have a peaceful afternoon. Miss Smarty can figure that out on her own... HA!

  9. Looking back at this, I'm kind of curious now, which knot was used to tie your hands together? I'm guessing the clove hitch would work. I wondered if I...I mean, the villain...tied up the heroine with that if she'd have trouble escaping or if it's a bad idea and she'd slip out and escape and foil the bad plans. It also might be good to know if I ever try the idea you gave me above about how to escape with my own hands tied behind my back. And no, I still couldn't get my hands from behind my back in front of me if they were tied together. Lucky for everyone if the heroine did escape my knots and turns the tables on me.

    1. Hey there,

      To be honest I have no idea. It didn't look like any knot I was familiar with. He found it very hard to secure someone with a rope. So this was like our fifth try. If it was too loose I could just shrug it off. If it was too tight it cut of the circulation in my hands. It's very hard to get to just right.

      So in my books, I won't be tying people up to keep them secure with ropes.


  10. This is a fantastic post. Thank you!