The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 144 – Write Better Fight Scenes with Carla from FightWrite
Play • 55 min

You've researched how to ride a horse, maybe how to shoot a bow or what that fiddly bit on a sword hilt is really called, but have you considered how combatants actually FIGHT? Or how long it takes a bruise to heal... and what exactly is the impact of adrenaline post fight?

Join Autumn and special guest Carla Hoch from FightWrite as they tease apart what so many authors get wrong about fight scenes, how to write a great fight scene, what Wonder Woman got wrong, and why dragon smoke is actually white (not black!).

Visit FightWrite at and follow Carla on Instagram at

Tune in for new episodes EVERY single Monday.  

SUPPORT THE AM WRITING FANTASY PODCAST! Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review.  

Join us at For as little as a dollar a month, you’ll get awesome rewards and keep the Am Writing Fantasy podcast going. 

Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).

Narrator (2s):
You're listening to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now on to the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.

Autumm (30s):
Hello, I'm Autumn. And this is episode 144 of the am writing fantasy podcast. And today Jesper is on break. And instead I have a very special guest with us. So Carla, who is the host of the FightWrite Podcast. Plus you have a website and classes and so much more. So I want you to introduce yourself,

Carla (55s):
Okay. I am Carla Hoke and I am the purveyor, I guess that's the word for the fight? Yeah, the fight right brand. I have the website fight, right? If I G H T w R I T, and it's kind of a one-stop shop for everything that has to do with fight, right? Which helps writers write fight scenes action, and violence. And I have a book with writer's digest and it is fight right. How to write believable fight scene. And I have class with a writer's digest university. That's always in their library and hopefully we'll have more in the fall. Oh, I guess it is fall. We'll have,

Autumm (1m 35s):
That's fantastic. This year,

Carla (1m 36s):
I'm telling you this year has been slow and fast at the same time. It's either in park or it's in full speed ahead, right? Exactly.

Autumm (1m 47s):
Yeah. And in some ways, days can be, have elements of both. And so I'm not sure where we are.

Carla (1m 55s):
Yeah. Well, you know, they say that the days are long, but the years are short. Oh,

Autumm (2m 1s):
It's very, very true. Well, that is awesome. I remember, I think your website has actually won something for reader writer's digest too. Like best law

Carla (2m 12s):
It has. So it has it's it's in there top 100 websites for writers and they have different categories. And I think mine was in the category of writers helps writers. So three years and I have won a brand award to twice with can Christian authors network.

Autumm (2m 35s):
That's so brilliant installations. Yeah, that is fantastic. And so I do want to give a shout out because it was actually the secret of how we met is a joint listener. Stephen recommended that I see if you wanted to come on the am writing fantasy podcast because he thought we would just be cool. It's like dream diner duo. Oh yeah. Big shout out to Steven as a thank you for introducing us and making this podcast happen.

Carla (3m 6s):
And what's his last name?

Autumm (3m 7s):

Carla (3m 10s):

Autumm (3m 12s):
All right. Well, I, you have quite the background in fighting yourself. So I Think that is really interesting. So this came about because you're also a writer end of fighter.

Carla (3m 27s):
Yeah. It, well, it came about because I was a writer and this is a classic case of the days being long, but the years being short, because it seems like I just kind of started, but it's, it's been like 10 years, 10 years since I started martial arts. I can't believe that, but it all started because I was writing a work that had fight scenes in it and I didn't know how to fight. And so I, my kids, I had my kids in TaeKwonDo. I think they were in like first grade and yeah, kindergarten, first grade. And there was a self-defense class that was at the TaeKwonDo studio. And I went to a couple of classes. I thought, you know, how much really do I need to know one or two classes, surely I'll know everything I need to know to write fight scenes.

Carla (4m 12s):
And I got in there and I kind of loved it. And it just, it just kinda snowballed from there. And the strange thing is I was asked in a podcast one time, and this was the hardest question I've ever been asked. He was like, what's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to you? And I'm like, where do, where do I even start with that? But one of the weird things, my life tends to backpedal. Like it's, you know, circular, like I taught at a high school that was the Raiders and then moved to a whole new city, whole, whole new state and the Raiders, you know? And it's like this person I knew. And then boom, this person I knew with the same name, coaches, exact same names.

Carla (4m 53s):
And I'm like, I don't, I'm not planning this, but I went to a writer's conference and I had the work with me that I started taking self-defense for the whole reason. I started wanting to know how to learn fight scene was this particular work. And I went to a writer's conference and I presented it to a man named Steve lobby, who I did not know. I had no idea who he was. It turned out he was Steve lobby of the Steve blobby agency. He was the head of a, a writer's agency. And I presented it to him and he, he didn't really, he, he didn't like it, you know, which I'm okay with that. And he said, I don't like the work.

Carla (5m 33s):
It's not right for me, but I do like you, so let's keep in touch. And so year after year after year, we would see each other. If you don't go to writers, conferences, writers, I highly suggest it because it's, it's the adult version of camp. You see the same people. It is, you see the same people year after year after year. And so I kept up with him and anytime we saw each other to writer's conference, we would make time to kind of sit and chat. Cause we get along really well. And when I wrote the book, I got in touch with him and I was like, you know, what would you like to read this book? He's I, of course I'd like to read it. So he read it. And he said, because he also has an imprint of small house publishing for craft books.

Carla (6m 14s):
And he goes, I do love this book. He goes, I don't have it in my budget right now. And I'm like, well, you know what? I, I sent it to writer's digest and he goes, you did what? I said, I sent it to writer's digest. And he started laughing and he was like, okay girl. He said, you go for it. And he goes, what he said, you know, just be patient, it'll take about six weeks for them to get back to you. And if you haven't heard from him by then, then just, you know, reach out. And I said, I'll do that. And it was not six weeks. It was six days. Oh my gosh, I know miraculous. And so I sent him a message back and I said, would you be interested in representing a writer's digest author? And he said, may be. And so the first person, I really pitched this book to the whole reason I started writing fight scenes is now my editor.

Carla (7m 3s):
I know my agent for a book about writing fight scenes. So circle

Autumm (7m 8s):
Really good kismet there. That is really

Carla (7m 13s):
Is, it really is writers don't give up writing honestly is just a war of attrition. It's about successful authors. Aren't necessarily the best writers. I mean, come on. We've we've all read some books. They were like, wow. I mean, I've read books. I'm like, how is this person got this book out? And I don't have this book out, but it really is. It's the difference in who, who gave up and who didn't. I was a high school teacher and a track coach for awhile. And there was a psycho psychological study done that when two runners are running side by side, after three strides, one of them will probably give up, oh. So I used to coach my runners and say three full strides and at time and time again, and I think that's how it is with writers.

Carla (7m 59s):
Keep the strides. Somebody is going to give up and you're going to be the one left standing. So just, just don't give up, keep pushing.

Autumm (8m 7s):
I love that. And I think that is so true because it's, I know I've read recently that it's 10 years and 1 million words before you can really start seeing your career take off.

Carla (8m 17s):

Autumm (8m 19s):
That's a long time I would lose a lot of authors, one or two books, and that's their feeling. They're feeling it. Then they want to see something then, but to really come into your own 10 years in your words,

Carla (8m 33s):
Right. And, and the average book and its lifetime in its lifetime, a published book only sells 2000 copies in its lifetime. Wow. So if you look and you think, okay, I've self published this book, or I've traditionally published this book and you know, I've only sold a hundred books this first year. Well, yeah, that's right. I worked, you know, people who are rich from writing, first of all are probably lying or, or they have, you know, a ton of books or they are just kind of, you know, this kind of lightning in a bottle kind of situation, you know, the JK Rawlings, you know, that just hit it big.

Carla (9m 15s):
So if, if you, you know, if you're struggling, if you're not selling as many as you think you should sell, if you're like, well, I still have my day job. Well that makes you a writer. Correct? All of those things.

Autumm (9m 28s):
Yeah. You might get one series of cells and you might get, you know, three years later it might die off and it might be one, one, a new one that doesn't sell it. It's also, I love Joanna Penn for that. She's very practical saying it's not a linear curve. You don't hit it big and stay up there for, you gotta work for it every day

Carla (9m 45s):
And write. And one of the reasons why I love what I do is because I do love fight training, and I do love writing and they, they have so much in common when you are a fighter martial arts of any kind, you're not going to walk onto the mat and immediately be a success. You have to, you have to take your lumps for a very long time. And, and it's, you feel very defeated a lot. I had a, a new white belt SAIS. I've been doing Brazilian jujitsu. I've done a wide swath of things, but the one that I just, I really am sticking with. Yeah. I have as Brazilian jujitsu, I've been doing it about seven years, including, you know, quarantine and time off it's surgery and stuff.

Carla (10m 27s):
And, and the kids, this white belt said, well, I just feel lost all the time. And I was like, yeah, me too. And she was like, what do you mean? You feel lost all the time. I'm like, that's just how it is. And that's one of the things I love about this art. So you really just have to keep plugging along. You have to take your lumps and not, everybody's going to give you a good review and that's okay. I call those. And some people will give you a negative review simply because they're a negative person. Don't always assume it is about your book. Especially if it's ugly, you know what some, what someone says may be based on our actions, but the way they choose to say it is about them.

Carla (11m 11s):
And so, yeah, you're going to have some people will give you a one-star review. You're going to have some people who are very snarky and they may be fellow writers that, you know, and that's okay. And I liken that to, you know, people who aren't your fans, you know, when I'm competing, not everybody's cheering for me. That's okay. They're not my fans. I don't expect them to cheer for me. So, you know, when you, when you do have people that are critical of you for, in an unproductive way, criticism is incredibly important. You don't get better without somebody showing you, you know, where you need to improve, but I'm productive criticism. That's not about you.

Carla (11m 51s):
It's not about your work. Those are just not your, that's not your team. That's not your fans. So when you write, keep your team in mind, when I compete, I'm not competing for the people who hate me and what my opponent, it to win. I'm competing for my teammates and my coach. So you just kind of have to have that, that same attitude when you write just, yeah, don't give up, don't give up. Don't take the easy way out.

Autumm (12m 15s):
Exactly. And it's so true. And I do know it is human nature that we for, what do they say? Like you can have 10 good reviews, but it's that one bad review out of the 10. That is the one that sticks out in your mind. It's just like, well, if you look at the numbers, you probably have more good reviews than bad. So focus on

Carla (12m 34s):
Differences. Yeah. Right, right. And you know what? I actually learned a lot from a review. I got on good reads. One of the reviews. I forget how many stars it was. It, I mean, it wasn't five stars. I think it was like two or three. And the lady said that I just, she told me the subjects that she wished had been in my book. Oh, that's, that's helpful. One of the things she, yeah. One of the things she asked was, but how does a person fight when they don't know how to fight? And I'm like, oh my gosh, that's a brilliant question. And so I actually reached out to her and I thanked her for her review. And I said, you know, I had never even considered that. And so I wrote a whole blog post about it. So that's brilliant reviews are all negative reviews.

Carla (13m 17s):
Not necessarily negative critical reviews are only bad if you don't learn something from them. But again, if they're ugly and mean-spirited, it's not about you.

Autumm (13m 25s):
Yeah. It's not about you don't even let it bother you and move on.

Carla (13m 31s):
Move on. Exactly.

Autumm (13m 33s):
So my big question for you, and I want to get into like tips and other things, you see authors doing wrong, but why should an author care if they're writing a fight scene correctly?

Carla (13m 45s):
That is a very good question. And I liken it to how a boxer reps, their hands before they fight. You know, you see boxers with these gloves on, but what people don't know is you take off those gloves and you have yards and yards of cloth. There are people who work for the fighters sometimes, personally, or they work for the event and their job is to wrap hands. It's that important. And what you do is you wrap a hand tightly and you pull all the bones together so that when contact is made, the force is distributed evenly over all the bones. If you compromise that and you break, you get what's called a boxer's break.

Carla (14m 26s):
And it's a break in the pinky on this very, very edge. It'll take you out of the fight. It doesn't matter how many other amazing bones you have or how great you punch that one, tiny crack compromises the whole. And so that's kinda how I see, you know, with fight scenes. If you have done your work, if you have done your research and you are proud of this, why not give your fight scene as much importance as everything else because you have to serve your story. And I was asked recently what that means. And it was like, you only put things in the work that further the work, if your fight scene is in there, there's a purpose for it.

Carla (15m 6s):
So, you know, make it believable, you know, don't make it absolutely corn ridiculous because when you do that or just don't do any research at all or anything like that, you're letting yourself sit open for a boxer's break. And though it's the tiniest bone and it may just be a tiny crack. It compromises the entire works ability to pack a punch pretty much.

Autumm (15m 32s):
And I do agree. I mean, we sit there and Google, you know, that, that lovely meme that it's like, when did you become a neurosurgeon? Do you last night? You know, we research now and it's true, but a lot of people assume they know how to fight and they assume how fighting goes. And I mean, I see this a lot because I'm a big hiker and backpacker and I go into, especially fantasy of blast. Yeah. You go into a fantasy test and like, they're not carrying a backpack. They have no food with them, but they said, I'll do fine for two weeks. And I'm like,

Carla (16m 4s):
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. Fighting is just like that. You know, hiking is its own language, literally its own language. There's little symbols that, you know, there's things that can know to take. They're really hard. They're really are, you know, and my daughter and I went, we learned this the hard way. We went on a short little jaunt in Colorado and I am in Houston. We are below sea level here, you know? And you get to Colorado, Colorado is super stingy with this oxygen. I don't know what the deal is, you know, Colorado share your oxygen. It's okay. And we got maybe a quarter mile in and I have a picture of my daughter leaning over, supporting herself on her thighs, just breathing.

Carla (16m 46s):
I was like, yeah, we probably should have gone into this whole thing differently. But it is fighting. Fighting is like a foreign language. And people like hiking people at well, I know how to walk, not a hike, you know, and people will, I've seen fighting on TV, you know, I know, I know how to throw a punch. So you know, it, it it's akin to, well, I speak English, so I guess I can teach it. No, it is. It is. It really is fighting like hiking is its own language. It really is. And so, you know, when you watch people on TV fight and it looks so easy, there's a reason for that.

Carla (17m 26s):
They've been practicing

Autumm (17m 29s):
Choreographed. I mean, there's a lot going into creating a fight scene that you're going to watch. It looks so effortless. Yeah.

Carla (17m 36s):
Oh yeah. And I mean, even like in professional fights you watch a professional fight and you're like, well, that's not so hard. Oh my gosh, you have no idea the work that goes into it. And you really don't until you start. And you're like, oh, okay. Knowing how to punch is only this much. It's the timing and the movement and knowing how to defend and you know, setting up different things. So it's harder than it is harder than people think it is. And yeah, I do have a lot of people come to me with fight scenes and I'm just like, or here's another thing, you know, they have a person in their work. Well, this person does such and such fighting style. I'm like, oh cool.

Carla (18m 16s):
How long have you done that? Oh, I've never done it. I'm like, oh, I mean, I respect the challenge, but it's like, why would you be willing to write an entire scene in Portuguese? If you didn't speak Portuguese? You know, I really don't think you would just trust Google translate. You just want somebody who actually spoke Portuguese. Yeah. Don't as a foreign language teacher, former full language, don't, don't always trust it. You know, you would want somebody who actually speaks that language to look at it and say, well, that's not really how this works. You know? So yeah. It's not, it's not as easy as it, as it looks. And if you read a fight scene, that's done very well. It didn't just flow out.

Carla (18m 58s):
You know, Chuck, Palahniuk the writer of fight club. He's been writing a long time and he, to this day, to this day, if I'm not mistaken, he's still in writing groups. He still has people critique his work. He still has the beta reader, you know? So the learning never ends it doesn't and the easier somebody makes it look, the more work has gone into it. Guaranteed.

Autumm (19m 24s):
Yeah, I can go. I can definitely go agree with that. And so what are, what do you think are some of the worst things you see or maybe the most 10 things authors tend to use that is just not true in a fight scene. So are some of the worst offenses you've seen

Carla (19m 41s):
The worst offenders, the greatest offenders. I also write for writer's digest blog. I do a monthly fight scene kind of blog post for them. And the one that I recently did was about writing authentic, oh, fight scenes, everybody. One of the things I see is everybody wants it to be authentic. Oh, well, that's not true. Okay. No, you don't don't want it to be authentic if we wanted everything to be exactly as it is. When we walk outside our door, there would be no fantasy. There wouldn't be no scifi. Cause we don't see those things around them. And it was Ernest Hemingway said it is a writer's job to write the truth. And that is, that is true.

Carla (20m 24s):
But I don't think he meant true as in factual. I think he meant true to the human condition because if you've read old man and the old man and the sea, clearly he didn't make life because you had this old man for whom the short stories name named Santiago, because fights a Marlin, a Marlin that is longer than his skiff by just holding the fishing line. Okay. Nevermind. All the things that come after that, the man is dragged for three days, he ends up fighting off sharks and I'm like, okay, that's not authentic. You know, authentic is the Marlin takes it and he grabs it and it pulls him overboard and snaps at the same time.

Carla (21m 6s):
So right. It is. And the true thing you want is truth to the human experience, the human condition, you know? And so I think sometimes people get so bogged down with wanting their fights seem to be authentic, that they don't serve the story. It's like, they'll make it authentic to the point to where they'll sacrifice the scene if they have to. But here's the truth of actual fights. And I'll just use fights on the street. For example, most of them are over under 30 seconds and that's a generous estimate. Okay. There is next to no banter and talking well, that's no fun.

Carla (21m 47s):
I know. And most of the people involved don't know how to fight violent offenders. The majority of the time they pick their target and under seven seconds. And it's not about their height, it's about the way they walk, you know? And so it's all these things that if you're going to make your fight scene completely authentic, it's may not work for the story. If Hemingway had made the old man in the sea completely authentic, Lily would have ended after the first 10 paragraphs or, you know, so what you want rather than striving for complete authenticity, just like the title of my book fight, right? How to write believable, fight scenes.

Carla (22m 29s):
You want it to be believable. And I don't think that betrays the art because how many times have we watched movies? And we were like, oh man, that was so real. But we know it wasn't right. We know for a fact, what we saw was not real, but we believed it in that moment. And that's the writer's job, you know? So number one, don't aim for 100% authenticity aim for believability too. Don't ride so much, honestly, writers care more, more than what kind of fight it was. What kind of work went into the sword, plane, everything, what they care about most is the impact it has on the fighters, on the story as a whole.

Carla (23m 16s):
That's truly what matters. And I don't edit fight scenes very often, but every now and then I do contract work for different people and, and publishers. And I worked with a lady who her fight scene. I forget one scene was I forget how many thousands of words w not thousands over a thousand. I do remember that. And I highlighted a few things and I said, you know, these are great. Everything else just kind of needs to go. And she was kind of surprised. And I said, it's not serving the story. It's really not. You have to think of it like a navigation app. You know, if you're driving and the navigation app says, here's a mailbox, here's a road.

Carla (23m 59s):
There's a two story house. Now here's this road. If it tells you all those things, it's going to divert your attention to your destination. You know, you can't put too much into it. And so I tell people a good rule to kind of think of is only write what you would see illustrated in a comic book or graphic novel, because real estate in those is so prime. You know, every single page of a comic book and graphic novel is major money, every single page. And so they have to make the most of it. And so what they do is they highlight the major portions of the fight.

Carla (24m 40s):
They leave the rest of it to the reader's imagination and our readers are smart. They can do that. And they also make it a very much sensory experience. And which leads me probably to another thing. I think people are focusing more on the actions than the impact of the actions. You really want to focus on the sensory details because that's what everybody can relate to. Not everybody can relate to being stabbed with a Katana. Thank heavens. Yes, but we can identify with searing pain. And by the way, in my book, I go over diff I've I mean, firsthand account from people who've experienced different wounds to tell you kind of the, yeah.

Carla (25m 29s):
Kind of the entire spectrum of different things experienced, you know, people know the blood, they know what blood looks like. They know what a scream sounds like. They can understand looking down and seeing your own blood on your hands and it freaking you out. So you really want to hit your reader, make them feel it. It's not what you say. It's how, how you make them feel. You know, you can look back at books. My judo coaches is taking some type of class and every now and then he'll say, Hey, have you read this? Have you read this? And he said something about Anton checkoff. And I don't remember what by Anton check-off I read. But I remember thinking I liked that.

Carla (26m 10s):
So I don't remember the words, but I remember the feeling connected to it. And Maya Angelou said people, and this is so important thing. Remember this, as you walk throughout the world, people, people will forget what you say, but they won't forget how you made them feel. And so in your fight scene, they will forget the grip. You had, you know, the caliber, caliber of bullet, what type of sword, the foot movement, but they're going to walk away and remember how they felt. And I use Chuck Palahniuk again, as another example, there's a young man at my gym who wants to write and he's really good.

Carla (26m 50s):
Like he has a blog. And I, I mean, this kid is like 16 in our blog. And I'm like, I'm a terrible writer. This kid is so much better writer than I am. He asked me one time, well, what, you know, what are some writers you like? And I said, you know, for a sensory experience, Chuck pollen, it hits it pretty hard. And the kid read one of his short stories and I warned him. I said, now Chuck, Paula, Nick is gritty. He's not a nice and tidy writer. And he goes, okay. And he came back and he told me, you know, the short story he had read, I think it's called guts. And he goes, I'm still horrified by it. And I want to take lots of hours. And I was like, right.

Carla (27m 31s):
Isn't that awesome. So even though he doesn't, you know, years from now, he may forget the words of that story, but he's going to remember that when he got done, he was like, oh my gosh. So, you know, that's what you want to read with. You know, lastly probably is less as more. It really is. You know, I think we've all seen somebody who had on too much makeup, you know, and you look at them and you just think, oh my gosh, with half that makeup, you would look amazing. You know, sometimes too much is not enough. It's like, and my coach asked me yesterday, Hey, do you want to spar? And I'm like, yeah, I want to spar.

Carla (28m 11s):
That's like Starbucks asking me if I want whipped cream. Don't insult me. Yes. I want whipped cream. Yes, of course. I want whipped cream. The rule should be, if you don't want it, say it, there should never be a question about it. So, but when it comes to writing, especially in the time that we live in, if you read more classic works like, you know, Jane Austin, Bronte, DH Lawrence, oh, I love doing Florence. They tell you everything. They tell you about the pebbles on the walkway. They tell you everything about the daisies and the sun. Okay. But those were also people who didn't have TV. And so books where their TV, you really have to get into all the details.

Carla (28m 55s):
And we're a different society now for good and bad. I think they said that humans officially have a shorter attention span than goldfish kidding. And which is one of the reasons. Well, I mean, it's true. I mean, w we're multitaskers, we jumped to so many things. And for that reason, they do suggest that we make our chapters shorter. You know, if you're a Y a author, they tell you, Hey, make short chapters. Because teenagers that read Y a which actually the audience for why a is like 18 to 35, they want to feel that feeling of progression. You know, oh, I got this chapter done. I got this chapter done. And so we live in a very short attention span society.

Carla (29m 40s):
And so you have got to make the most of every single word Michelangelo. They asked him how he created David. And a lot of people have heard this. He said, I just took a rock, a piece of stone. And I took away everything that wasn't David, you know? And, and that's how, that's how it is. You have to edit, you have to edit, what is it? They say, edit with a knife or edit with a sword or something like that. But you know, you, you write, oh, well, Hemingway again, he said, write drunk, edit sober. Yeah. You have to be willing to really cut things down. Even if it's something you love, which reminds me of another thing about fight scenes.

Carla (30m 22s):
I think some, and I'm guilty of it as well. I think sometimes we write to teach rather than reach and that's the wrong way to go about it. We want to show the reader, look how much research I've done. I'm not a surgeon, but I play one in this book. You know? And when, if you're teaching your, unless you're writing a craft book, the, okay, I'm talking about fiction and informational nonfiction, your goal is to reach your reader, not be teaching your reader. If you have to constantly be defining things in your work, you've made an error.

Carla (31m 3s):
And you know that when you use technical lingo in your work, you risk losing your reader. You know, it can take, it can take, when you send in your work to an agent or an editor, they asked for the first 50 pages they used to, I don't know what they ask for any more, but usually it's first 50 pages. So in their reading, their, their idea is if you don't have me in that 50 pages, you don't have me. So it can take, you know, a ton of time to really get a reader in your work, but it can take a page to lose them, you know? And, and you don't want that. So don't isolate your readers, you know, and again, sometimes you have to use technical lingo.

Carla (31m 44s):
And I think print the princess bride, the book is absolutely a perfect example of that. Just like the movie, which is one of those that the book and the movie really do each other justice. You know, it's not one that like, oh, this is so much better. You know, they're really both, very tongue in cheek and funny, but the fight between Wesley, as the dread pirate, Roberts and Inigo, they starts the very first one where they're spitting out all that technical lingo. Yes. It's the same thing in the book, same thing. But it talks about the foot movement and about, and not he steps, right. But dust coming off the ground, okay, that's a picture. You told me how fast they're moving.

Carla (32m 26s):
And you realize that they're shooting out this technical lingo to outdo one another. So in that case, it matters. Technical lingo also matters. If you have someone who has an expertise or proficiency with a something, it makes sense that they're going to use some words, you know, a police officer wouldn't call the trigger, the pew pew thingy. You can do that. Somebody who works with knives, isn't going to call it the sticky part, you know, the stabby end. So yeah, you need to know the technical lingo there, but at the same time, you need to show the reader. What's that means you don't tell them.

Carla (33m 6s):
You don't tell them that, but you show it. So don't worry, aim for believability rather than authenticity. Number two less is more three, right. To reach rather than teach. And I think I've missed one in there, but yeah, start there. And, and honestly, I give you permission to not write so much, that burden has been lifted off of you. You do not have to convince your reader that you are an expert in this. You only have to convince your reader that the character is an expert at this.

Carla (33m 46s):
Okay. And Unless they aren't, which is statistically more likely, it is strange. How many people in books know how to fight when the average population does not. They absolutely. Don't when I'm at writing conferences, one of the things I do is I'll say, okay, make a fist and hold it up. And it's shocking. The majority of people don't know how to make a fist. And I'm like, that's why would you know how to make a fist? Nobody's taught you? So I give you permission to not know something it's absolutely. Okay. You know? And when it comes to fighting, there are some great resources out there. There are some great fighting resources.

Carla (34m 27s):
Mine happens to be a fighting resource from the perspective of a her, which is, is very, very different. So I think I answered your question. If I don't answer the question, say Nope, circle back.

Autumm (34m 41s):
Great. So yes, you listed definitely some things that authors are doing wrong. And I agree, because I think there's often a tendency to focus on the wrong aspects. I'll see descriptions of like the sword hilt coming towards you. And you're like, you wouldn't know the emblem as it's about to knock you in the forehead.

Carla (35m 0s):
Oh, you would not. You would not. Absolutely not.

Autumm (35m 5s):
You know, there a wound is mentioned, but not the pain that goes with it. And then it seems like a chapter later, the character is fine. And I'm like, well, if you'd focus on how it's going

Carla (35m 16s):
To feel to

Autumm (35m 19s):
Hold holds,

Carla (35m 20s):
These people heal so fast. Yes. If you want to go into the tiny nuances. Yeah. Healing time is a thing, people. And if your character is on the battlefield a lot, just because you don't get knocked out, doesn't mean you don't have a concussion just because you're knocked out. Doesn't mean you do have a concussion. And when you do get knocked out from a punch, you're not out all day, it's sometimes 10 seconds, sometimes 30 seconds, you know? So you don't have time to have a whole scene. You know, now, I mean, of course, when it comes to the human body, there's going to be variables that, you know, it depends on the age, the person and all that on my Instagram, I'm on Instagram at Carla C a R L a dot C dot Hoke, H O C H.

Carla (36m 9s):
Or you can just hashtag fight right. Once a week, I do like a little fight, right? Tip or I put a blog post that you might want to read. And one that I have coming up, I don't know when it's scheduled it. I think it's sometime this month, but it is the healing of bruise, bruise, healing time, and the different colors and the spectrum it goes through. And one of the things I say is, you know, this is dependent upon the age of the person, the health of the person. And don't think you're going to see all of those particular colors, but for reference, you know, this is what you have. So definitely I think it's important to focus on the pain of things.

Carla (36m 49s):
There's no greater motivator of man than pain. Everybody can relate to pain. So really I'm laser focused in on the things every reader can relate to versus only the readers who have held a bastard sword, or who have swung a mace. You know, how many people really have done that. So focus on the human experience, essence of the scene, which is the pain and the sensory details of it. Oh, I think that's the emotional impact. Yes. I was going to mention the other thing. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Very seldom. Does somebody, it, it seems so easy to kill people and you would, you know, we look at crime statistics and we think it's no big deal.

Carla (37m 38s):
You just, you know, shoot somebody, you go about your day. It has a lasting impact. It really does. And even if the person just kind of goes blank, that's an impact. That's not normal. It's not normal to feel absolutely nothing. And one of two things is, is going to take place either that person has some psychopathic or sociopathic issues with their brain, which is not normal, or they're going to put it in a little box in the side of their brain and not deal with it. In which case it's going to come up somewhere else in their life and just nightmare. And I cannot to, it is so common from what I've seen when people kill somebody else that they, they dream about that person again and again.

Carla (38m 19s):
And I mean, these are even people in jail who have killed multiple people in world war two. They did a study. There's a book called on killing by SLA Marshall. There's a lot of it. There's a subtitle with it too, but the main is on killing and, and he did a study of the soldiers and the Pacific American theater and how many bullets per kill. And it was an obscene. I forget like 60 something bullets for every one kill. And there is one instance where they had an enemy combatant running over, running through an empty clearing. And you had all these American shoulders shooting at them.

Carla (39m 2s):
And none of them hit them. It was very star wars, very, very norm trooper aiming. And they were all shooting over their head or they were shooting in front of him on the ground. And it's because inherently killing another person is not a normal place to exist. It's not our homeostasis. It should not be right. And so between world war two and the Vietnam war, that's the one that came next. Yet the Vietnam war, they started operant conditioning and it's the same thing they have to do with police officers. And it, they literally not only train soldiers to kill from a technical tactical standpoint, they train them from a psychological standpoint.

Carla (39m 43s):
And so they went through operant conditioning and all these little, all these things, you know, when you hear policemen talk about criminals that may have been killed, they don't, they don't say the person may say the perp, they say the target and that is distancing themselves from the other. And it's the other. And it's not a matter of coldness it's to help their brain process everything they've been through. So, yeah, and, and my book focuses a lot on that. I think people expect my book to be all about punching and kicking. And I would say a good half of it more than half of it is not, and is divided into five rounds. And there's chapters within those rounds, the rounds are sections.

Carla (40m 25s):
It's five rounds like a championship MMA. And the second round is all about the human experience. You know, it's, it's what happens to us psychologically when we kill another person, it's about what adrenaline does to you, what a surge does, what a dump does. It talks about mental manipulation and all that kind of stuff. So, you know, little things like that, that people don't realize. I'm also amazed how many characters though. They are soaked in adrenaline. Just think so clearly. So, and their hands are steady. And I'm like, I have had people ask me to sign things just after practice. And I can't, I mean, my hand is shaking.

Carla (41m 8s):
It's the adrenaline it's, it's what it does to your body. So yeah, I think the opportunities that writers are missing are actually the opportunities that number one are the easiest opportunity to, to take. And they make the most lasting impression. So step away from the technical aspect of it. I'm not saying make it completely crazy. You know what I'm saying? Look, there's some things that just, ain't a thing, picking up somebody by their neck and talking to them in the real world and a thing not possible Even then, because I did. Yeah. Oh, I know because my husband works in oil and gas and he's had to go to companies that do, they rent large equipment everything.

Carla (41m 55s):
And I asked him something about cranes and there is actually a formula. They go through to create a crane so that you know how much weight you can lift before that crane topples over. Right? And so then if I am strong enough to hold you up, your weight is going to topple me forward. And that was something in the wonder woman movie. I have so many issues with the one. I love gal Gadot as an actress. I think she does a beautiful job, but there's one scene in the most recent movie where she's holding a man over the balcony. I think she's holding him by his foot and she's leaning over and talking to him.

Carla (42m 37s):
And I'm like, gal Gadot is what a buck 25 with weights on. And she's holding this 200 pound man. She may be strong enough to do it, but physics isn't going to let that happen. Physics is going to pull her over the edge. So it's true. Make it, make it easier. And just remember physics is a thing the majority of fighting is physics. So,

Autumm (42m 60s):
Oh, I think that is actually a fantastic note to wrap up on because that is, that is something. So, you know, even though we're talking about fantasy, even though we can play with magic or maybe tweak the physics of our world a little bit, there's things that are real.

Carla (43m 15s):
We still have gravity. Magic has rules. You have to establish the rules of your magic. You have to establish reality for your reader immediately. Okay? If everybody on the planet has superhuman strength, it's not superhuman anymore. It's the norm. So you better know the rules of your world and you better print them out and keep them on the wall so that you can just glance at them. So you don't have to open a file. Cause let me tell you, who will remember the rules of your world and that's your readers? Absolutely. So I like it. I always say don't cross the streams. Meaning from Ghostbusters at the original Ghostbusters, at the beginning, don't cross the streams.

Carla (43m 56s):
Everything in the world will go into nothing. And then what do they do to get the stay? Puft marshmallow man. Yup. But we love the movie they had to, but they broke their own rules. So just, if you're going to put, if you have little rules to remember that you keep on your wall, behind your computer, put up, don't cross the streams, keep the rules handy. Do not defy the rules of your world. Do not defy the rules of your magic. And I'm sorry if we're going over time, do I just go for it? Okay. Okay. You have to have characters that can be beatable. They cannot be invincible.

Carla (44m 36s):
That's very true. Oh my gosh. If they're invincible, then the story's over the first page. Even Thanatos can be beaten. Superman can be beaten. And a lot of times what your care, if you're having a hard time figuring out, well, how can you beat this person? Okay. Well, a lot of times their strength is, is linked to their weakness. They knows who's super, super, super huge. And so what defeated him? Tiny little nanobots. They were able to drive. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. Another one. Superman. Why is he so strong? Because his home planet, you know, they have the sun and they have different gravity.

Carla (45m 19s):
Okay. Well what's his weakness. Something from his home planet kryptonite, you know? So look at, and while we're talking about fantasy, let me just, I'm going to digress super quick. Oh sure. Dragons, dragon dragons. I love dragons. I think we need to do them justice. You ain't going to stand on the back of a dragon while it's fine. You're not going to do that. It's like standing on an airplane. It's not going to happen when people think, oh, you've just got rains. And I'm like, okay, have you ever been on a horse? Do you know when you stand up on a, when you stand up on a horse, it's considered trick riding for a reason.

Carla (46m 4s):
So if you are riding, I should have gotten into the fantasy stuff straight off the bat. I apologize for that. If you are riding on the back of the dragon and you're like, what weapons should my person have? If they're on the back of a dragon, you're on the back of a dragon advantage. You, you don't need a weapon. It's like being in it. You are on the weapon. It's like, well, my person is my soldiers in a tank. What weapon does he need? He's in a tank. You know the dragon. Absolutely. If you need your wag, you know your dragon to do something, have them drop something from their claws. Oh, brilliant. Or have them use their, use that tail for heaven sake.

Carla (46m 45s):
Now they can't use it so well while they're flying because they need that tail while they're flying. Yes, it's a rudder. And you have to remember when the dragon takes off, it doesn't take off like a helicopter. You know, it's going to have to flap. And so the person on top is going to be, I'm not saying you can't ride a dragon. I'm just saying, I want to see that saddle. And I also don't think you're going to be able to keep your eyes open because of how fast they're moving. Oh my gosh, you're going to need goggles. Also. I don't think dragon smoke is black. I think it's white. And here is why. Whenever you see you have a fire and the dark smoke comes out of it, the dark smoke is what could not be burned off.

Carla (47m 32s):
Okay. It is what could not be efficiently consumed by the fire, a dragon, whatever is the source of their flame. Pretty sure it's going to be efficient enough to not have anything leftover may seem steam. It, yeah, you may seem steam in the air because the heat, you know, the humidity in the air. But I don't think there's going to be elements of that flame that aren't going to burn. That just doesn't make sense to me. And I talk about dragons in the book and I, and I call it my, my dragon soap box. Oh, the dragon soapbox. I love dragons.

Carla (48m 14s):
I, it's hard for me to imagine. And you know what, call me crazy. Don't care. Clearly I don't care. Every culture in the world has had a concept of a dragon. And so you're telling me nothing like that ever existed. How can the Vikings and you know, the Chinese who had never encountered each other, both have dragons, you know, you have CATSA. Quadel Exactly. So I, and you know, there, there are descriptions in the Bible that you're like, oh, okay.

Carla (48m 53s):
Maybe there were such a thing. So also, yeah. Get your dragon, right. People get your dragon, right. If it is a water dragon, it's construction is going to be different than if it's an ice dragon. It's going to be different than, you know, and not all dragons may have wings. Some of them may not. So, but I'm sorry. I love fantasy. Love it. Love it. Love it. And so that's one of my hangups.

Autumm (49m 20s):
Well, I'm not going to complain about that hangup. I think it's perfect. I already could talk to you for like, there's just so many nuances that I would love to get into and oh my God, this would be, this was so much fun. So yeah, I think we would carry on here for the next two hours.

Carla (49m 38s):
Yeah. Don't get me started about armor. I can go off on armor. I can go off about the weaponry. Armor is determined by the weaponry. It's not the other way around the armor that existed at the time of crossbows is not going to be the same as the armor that existed before, you know, crossbows armor from Japan is going to be different than armor from Europe. And that has to do with the availability of natural resources. So again, I could go off on that, but I know you we're running out of time. I apologize.

Autumm (50m 7s):
You know, we, we, like I said, I don't think that any listener is going to complain one bit. It's so true. I think, just to think about things like that, like you have different cultures, even if you're not using China, you're not using the earth. Think about the technology, the weapons and the different, depending on what's it, this is an as…

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu