Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Like all novelists, I get my characters in trouble. They get in fights. Sometimes knives or guns are involved. But like many novelists, the closest I’ve come to fighting is watching my sons’ karate lessons. Carla Hoch, on the other hand, is the real deal. She does Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and she does it well. And she teaches about fighting to novelists! I am super-excited to hear about Carla’s book, Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes!
Carla, please tell us about your book.
Fight Write is designed to help writers with all facets of creating a fight scene. Broken up into five “Rounds,” Fight Write teaches what to consider before writing the scene, the biology, psychology, and terminology of fighting, as well how to choose a fighting style and weapon for your character.
That sounds fantastic. What inspired you to write this book?
I have training in both fighting and writing. A fellow writer who knew this put me on a fight scene panel at a writer’s conference. I was alongside seasoned writers, a doctor, and a soldier. I expected to just sit there and smile nervously. As it turned out, most of the questions were directed toward me.
The next year, at the same conference, I was asked to teach a class. After the class, I was approached by an editing firm to be their contracted fight scene editor. It was then that I started to see the real need for my knowledge in the writing world. So, I began my blog: FightWrite.net. I had no idea if folks would read it. But, as the cornfield whispered to Costner, build it and they will come.
Why did you write this book?
After seeing so much interest in the blog, I thought, hmmm, I wonder if anyone would read a book about this. I bounced the idea off of a friend who writes for Writer’s Digest and he said I should give it a go.
What is the primary focus of your book? The book is about all facets of fighting, not just the punchy/kicky stuff. It’s about pre-incident indicators, what people do to signal they have evil intentions, body language, the effects of adrenaline, injuries, stages of decomposition, how women kill versus men. `
I need a copy. Now. So, what was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
My biggest challenge was three challenges! Those were: research, word count, and self-doubt. A massive amount of research went into writing this book. I was often overwhelmed and completely distracted by all the information. Two, when I turned in the book, Writer’s Digest asked me to add 20K words. I said, “sure!” then hung up the phone and literally laid down in the floor where I had been standing. I didn’t think I could do it. That fed into my third issue—self-doubt. I am a trained fighter. I am blessed to have learned from professionals who have forgotten more than I will ever learn. As I wrote, I kept feeling like I didn’t know enough about fighting to write about it. And, for that matter, did I even know enough about writing to write about it? To be honest, I felt like a fake on all fronts.
At some point I had a literal “come to Jesus” moment. I was sitting there in front of a computer screen as a trained fighter, writer and educator. How blessed was I to be standing in such a microscopic intersection of a Venn diagram! Plus, I had a contract with Writer’s Digest! I mean, are you kidding me? I had no catalog for them to look at to see if I was a worthy risk. All they had was my manuscript. They actually said “no” to me at first, they just didn’t know it. That’s a whole other story.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
Writing is very “elastic waistband!” It’s not romantic, it’s not easy, it is hard work. The better the writing, the more work went into it. And getting anything written isn’t as much about writing as it is re-writing. Then after you re-write, you read and re-read a passage so many times that your brain starts correcting issues that your hands haven’t amended, meaning your brain will see “cantt” as “can’t.” Or maybe that’s just me. Is it just me? I have to read the work out loud to catch errors.
You are definitely not alone. Do you have any touching moments with readers that you’d like to share about?
I am forever humbled by writers who tell me that I have helped their work or stop me and show me passages in their book that my book helped create. It makes me tear up now. I think the most touching moment in particular was at the Realm Makers Writer’s Conference. Bob (Robert) Liparulo and Ronie Kendig went with me to a restaurant and just encouraged me. My book had just come out and I was wondering what should come next. Robert kept snacks in front of me and just let me talk. It meant the world to me because these were what I considered to be “real authors,” writers with a catalog.
The next day I took a young writer to dinner. The more she and I talked, I realized I was her “Robert and Ronie.” She was looking at me and talking to me like I was the real author! She had written many more books than me. But what I had written in book and blog had resonated with her. It meant a lot. She’s now a sweet friend with whom I communicate regularly.
From now on, at every conference I teach, I will take a writer out to eat or for coffee. Nobody gets anywhere alone. Be a part of somebody getting somewhere.
I love that! What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I work as a shadow with the special needs program at my church, Faithbridge United Methodist. They have a total inclusion ministry that means a great deal to me. I have a child on the autism spectrum and there were years when my family struggled to go to church. We either didn’t go or had to go individually, not as a family. If we went as a family, my child was with us, not peers. The program at Faithbridge allowed our family to go to church like normal. Thankfully, my child has grown to the point that a shadow isn’t really needed. They even ask Bible questions in their small group! I know what a program like this means to parents, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
What a great ministry! Now, do you have any talents aside from storytelling?
I’m a singer. I sang in shows in college. I’m also told I’m funny, but I’m not sure I trust that. I’m an upper belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and my skill level is continually rising. But I don’t see that as a talent. When I think of a talent, I think of something you are naturally good at. I’m not sure I am naturally good at jiu-jitsu. Any prowess I have is the result of very hard work and ibuprofen!
Love it! Tell us what’s up next for you!
I am teaching at the Realm Makers Writer’s Conference, July 16-18, Atlantic City
What fun! I’ve heard such great things about that conference.
To learn more about Carla and her books, please visit Carla’s website, Fight Write.
Writing for Him,