058 How to Write Believable Fight Scenes with Carla Hoch

Here are the show notes for the most recent episode of the Christian Publishing Show.

You can listen to this episode here.


Often Christian books get a bad rap in the general market. Part of the reason for this is that there are certain aspects of a book where readers expect a certain level of quality, and they don’t find it.

One of those areas is fight scenes.

One of my goals with this podcast is to help elevate the quality of Christian writing. Which is why I am particularly excited about today’s guest.

Our guest, Carla Hoch, is a martial arts practitioner and she literally wrote the book on writing fight scenes for Writers Digest (Affiliate Link).


  • Let’s start with the basics, what is a fight scene and what is not a fight scene?
  • Is it a sin to put a fight scene in your book?
  • How are fight scenes different for Christian books?
  • What makes a fight scene a good fight scene?
  • What are the most important elements of a good fight scene?
  • Let’s talk about weapons: What do authors get wrong about swords?
  • What do authors get wrong about bows?
  • What do authors get wrong about guns?
    • A significant number of US readers know about guns. There are more privately held guns in America than there are people.
    • Guns of all kinds are much louder than you realize. Even silenced guns are louder than portrayed on TV.
    • Guns are a lot heavier than you think.
    • You can tell by looking if a modern pistol is empty.
    • No one holds a pistol with one hand if they intend to shoot it.
    • Pistols have a very short distance. Writers who play a lot of video games can get this wrong.
    • Recoil hurts and it messes with your aim.
    • It is terrifying to have a gun pointed at you.
    • The color of the gun doesn’t change its lethality.
  • Now you wrote the book on fight scenes, What compelled you to write about this topic?
  • What mistakes do Christian Authors make when crafting fight scenes?
  • What have you learned about God while writing fight scenes?
  • What is the one common myth about fight scenes that you want to debunk?
  • Softball Question Time: Where can Christian authors go if they want to learn more about writing fight scenes?
  • We are almost out of time, any final tips or encouragement?


The post 058 How to Write Believable Fight Scenes appeared first on Christian Publishing Show.

10 Responses to 058 How to Write Believable Fight Scenes with Carla Hoch

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 28, 2020 at 7:42 am #

    I’ve been in a lot of gunfights, perhaps more than I have been in cinemas, and one thing writers nearly always gets wrong is the bile-tasting dread that is engendered just before the off.

    Entering now unto the fight,
    one thing hangs in the air;
    it’s not manhood and Old Spice
    but the smell of dark despair.
    You cannot know the outcome,
    whether you’ll outlive the day.
    Whatever God you come from,
    you have got to pray
    that your hand is steady
    and your aim is true,
    for the other guy is ready
    to deal death unto you.
    You will find no romance here,
    just simple faith, and blinding fear.

    When battle commences, one is generally too busy to ‘feel’; it’s all in the ‘do’, and being shot can initially feel more like a hard blow with a cricket bat rather than a bloody violation. The pain can be deferred (the same goes for being stabbed, or blown up; I’ve been there, all three). But it does come.

    The afterglow is generally a nervous exhaustion, coupled with a sense of disblief that it’s actually over.

    The worst, the absolute worst, is hand-to-hand, the ear-biting eye-gouging insanity of being reduced to the basest animal existence. It exposes a side of one’s person into which one would prefer not to look.

    It’s a horrible way of life.

    And the most fulfilling existence on the planet.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 28, 2020 at 8:32 am #

      If I may, a PS, as to why it’s ‘fulfilling’.

      You don’t fight for abstracts, a cause, or ‘the guy next to you’.

      You fight for the rush, and it’s addictive. Not because of the chemicals stirred up in the brain (though this probably plays a role), but because while you’re in the game, you’re better than everyone else. You live on a higher plane, sitting on God’s shoulder on His Valhalla-days.

      And it’s something you don’t talk about, just as you don’t discuss abstracts, or use words lie ‘warrior’, unless you want to be laughed out of the hootch.

      Self-deprecation is the key, among those who’ve been there. You can say “I was scared ****less” because everybody’s been scared. Everyone on the inside.

      You don’t talk about it to outsiders. You don’t TALK to outsiders, period, because, coldly, they are not worth talking to. They haven’t been there and back again.

      And it stays with you. Before cancer, I was useless, a door swinging in the wind.

      Now I have a fight, and though at the end of six years it’s going badly for me, I love my life more than I can say. (Can’t say much anyway, because tumours got my voice.)

      I’m where I’m meant to be.

      For I have come home.

  2. Bryan Mitchell January 28, 2020 at 9:11 am #

    I enjoyed the podcasts. You mentioned that soldiers didn’t carry pistols into battle. This is generally true, but not always the case. While I was in Iraq, I carried a pistol and an M series rifle. I worked closely with Iraqi security forces on a 12 man team. You can probably imagine why we may choose our pistol over our rifle even with a collapsible buttstock. I really appreciated the knowledge you shared. Thank you!

  3. Maco Stewart January 28, 2020 at 9:32 am #

    What most people get wrong about fight scenes, especially those with guns and knives, is how very short a time they last. There are numerous videos “out there” that show video recordings of actual assaults/confrontations, and they’re usually over in seconds, one way or the other. Hence the enormous advantage for the attacker.

    • Brennan S. McPherson January 28, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

      Totally. Try to keep a guy intent on killing you with a sword from lobbing off one of your limbs in about two seconds. You’ll have to lob off one of his limbs to keep him away.

  4. Jane Maree January 28, 2020 at 4:19 pm #

    I actually love writing action scenes! They’re so much fun, and I’ve always enjoyed them.

    These are all such great points! Ronie Kendig (author of Brand of Light + many other books) writes the most amazing action/fight scenes I’ve EVER read. They’re incredible!

  5. Courtney Sherlock January 29, 2020 at 2:01 pm #

    This was SO helpful! Thank you so much! I had just been wondering about a few of these things, and this episode came along at the perfect time!

    I was hoping to hear a little more about bows in the episode (I only caught a brief mention of crossbows), but what was included was very good confirmation to what I’ve already researched/experienced myself. So far, I know I’m on the right track!

  6. Tim Shoemaker February 1, 2020 at 1:17 pm #

    Thanks, Thomas! A great interview–and so helpful. I loved all the insights that both of you shared. The podcast flew by! Thanks again!!

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