Bringing Your Readers into the Game

Writing sports-themed action scenes provides an opportunity for an author to engage the passions of three different readers: enthusiasts, well versed in the particular sport featured; others unfamiliar with the specifics of this sport, yet athletes nevertheless; and non-athletes not involved with sports in anyway.
Author:
Publish date:

Writing sports-themed action scenes provides an opportunity for an author to engage the passions of three different readers: enthusiasts, well versed in the particular sport featured; others unfamiliar with the specifics of this sport, yet athletes nevertheless; and non-athletes not involved with sports in anyway. To capture these three diverse groups of readers, to pull them into your story, an author must serve up the contest with enough recognizable morsels for each to come away satisfied and fulfilled even having left items on the buffet table unappreciated, or even passed over.

This guest post is by Strat Warden. Warden grew up in rural Nebraska in the 1960s. He was an accomplished high school and college athlete, and served as a corpsman with the US Marines before earning a commission in the US Navy Medical Corps. He completed his training as a general surgeon in the US Navy and served in that capacity until he entered private practice in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Dr. Warden retired in 2005 to spend more time with his children; devote more attention to ZirMed, Inc., where he served as Chairman of the Board until retiring in 2012; and to write Huskers, in hopes that it would help his children, and others, to understand the "true awards" of participating in sports. Connect with Strat at StratWarden.com, or Facebook.com/Strat-Warden, and @StratWarden on Twitter.

Strat Warden-featured
HUSKERS COVER 12

To carry this analogy further, we Wardens enjoy dining at a locally owned family restaurant for their salad bar. My wife crafts her salad from the choices of fresh greens and homemade dressings; I gorge out on the assorted pastas; and the kids empty out the bowls of in-season fruit. We’re all aware of the others’ choices—sorta, but each of us prefers our own selections. When it’s all said and done, we all enjoy our meal and look forward to the next visit.

This is your goal when you sit down to craft your particular sport’s “action scene”: to satisfy your customer, your reader, regardless of their palate, their familiarity with your sport, or even sports in general, to leave them full and eager for dessert, to read on.

[5 Important Tips on How to Pitch a Literary Agent In Person]

For the reader knowledgeable in your story’s sport, the contest must include enough specifics to maintain their interest. Whether it’s football, as in “Huskers”, or curling, or synchronized diving, the contest needs to have a degree of recognizable complexity necessary for the reader, who has participated in the sport, wants to, or is a devoted fan, to believe in its authenticity. It must be real.

For the general athlete, unfamiliar with your chosen sport, the contest must involve those aspects of the sport common to all sports, the competition, the teamwork, the effort, the “agony and the ecstasy”, etc. The specifics won’t matter, if they are captivated by common themes with which they are familiar through their own athletic endeavors.

The last group, the non-athletes, might seem to pose the greatest challenge; not really. Their interest must be captured well before the contest begins through the character development of the players immersed in the contest and the “story” you have woven leading up to the contest. If your reader is invested in the individuals participating in your “game”—who they are, your readers will engage in your players’ struggles, pain, joy, success, or failure; and it makes no difference what the venue might be. The particulars will be background noise, choices they left for others. Though, perhaps, alien to them, your readers will form a gestalt awareness of the specifics of the contest, and this will serve well enough for them to follow their characters through the “game” and share in their passion and grow from their experience.

[9 Practical Tricks for Writing Your First Novel]

When your reader exclaims to a friend the delight they enjoyed from the account of your “game,” it may be the “option,” or the “trap play,” and how well they were conceived and how well they worked; or the pain and exhaustion of the players efforts in the mud and cold of the final moments; or the ultimate triumph of the downtrodden loser, who, through the course of his character’s arc from the beginning of his journey to the its end, achieved the thrill of a victory beyond any of his previous dreams.

The challenge of writing “sports-themed action scenes” is your opportunity to satisfy readers of various levels of experience in your chosen sport, all hungry for what they know and like. Oh! And be certain to serve it up on beautiful china with polished silver. Bon appetit!

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

In the middle of writing your memoir or thinking about writing it?
WD’s Memoir Writing Kit is 6 items rolled into
one bundle
at a steep discount. T
his kit gives simple, yet in-depth instruction
on crafting a great memoir
and getting it published.
Order now from our shop and get the huge discount.

W7839

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

brian-klems-2013

Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic & Adobo, explains how writers can help their main character solve a mystery when they're the prime suspect.

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, invite an unexpected visitor into your story.

7 Tips for Writing a Near Future Dystopian Novel

7 Tips for Writing a Near-Future Dystopian Novel

In this article, debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird explains how writers can expertly craft a near-future dystopian novel.