I am not a sporty person. When I told my kids and some friends I was running a Get Sporty Writing Program, they laughed. I pointed out that you don’t have to be sporty to write about sport.
A number of years ago, I wrote a story that features a kid who plays Aussie Rules football at school. It’s still in draft stage, but the fact I know little about Aussie Rules football hasn’t stopped me from writing this story.
This isn’t the first story that features a sport or activity I am not overly familiar with. Here are some things I’ve learned about writing sport stories when you’re not sporty:
- Do your research – you don’t have to research so much that you know every little detail about the sport, however it does help to know that Aussie Rules and Rugby balls are different…
- Have someone check – for my story, my Aussie Rules mad son was able to check and correct my terminology. This is something that sports fans will pick up on and getting simple details wrong can take readers out of your story
- How much of the game – in your story, decide how much detail you are going to include. Writing about sport doesn’t mean you have to include every single bit of the action, it can be just enough for your readers to fill in the details. Decide on what is important to move the story forward
- Is it serious? – for many sports fans, the answer is yes, however in your story, the answer may be no. If your story is not serious or you’re putting a known sport somewhere odd (imagine the Olympics on the moon), then you have a bit more leeway with your storytelling, however it still pays to get the basic details right
- Use your own experiences – in one story I’m working on, I’m using my experience of being a Mum helping out at AusKick as part of the story. For this, the ins and outs of Aussie Rules Football isn’t as important as the relationships with the other parents who are standing around waiting for their kids to finish their game
Whether or not you’re sporty, sport is a big part of community life. If you’re not sporty, don’t let this put you off including sport in your story, you never know where it might take you.