For those of you not into sport in general or so-called colonial sports in particular, this weekend saw both England winning the Six Nations (a rather important tournament for Northern hemisphere rugby) and some more matches played in the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.
Erm, OK, so what does that have to do with writing? Quite a lot, I promise, so please bear with me.
Firstly, sport often is a common ‘lazy’ indicator of gender in fiction. Men like to watch football and women like to shop. Right? Plenty of both my male and female friends would argue against that. Why? Because stereotypes are, for lack of a better word, rather stereotypical. Look at the stands at a football match and you’ll see women and girls. Drive by a cricket pitch in the summer and there’ll be some women in their whites bowling at the stumps. Ignore them in your fiction at your peril.
Then there’s fandom. It makes people act in unusual ways. There’s that quiet, reserved individual that works in accounts and spends every weekend as a travelling fan hurling insults at the opposition. Fiction that delves into the psyche of your typical multifaceted person fares a lot better on the characterisation front than fiction that doesn’t.
Of course, there’s always the teamwork angle. Well-written relationships in fiction always look at the varied interactions between people. And there is no simpler way to engineer a group of friends for your lead than to make them part of a sports team. Just make sure the sport fits your location, time period, and social strata.
There’s a lot more to go on. But, just for kicks, the last one I’ll list is a firm favourite. Money. Do top athletes get paid too much? Just enough to compensate for their talent? Power, corruption, lack of trust… It’s almost too easy to mine for inspiration.
So, there you go – just a few ways sport can influence and add layers to your writing. Go on, play a little.
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