Okay, so you probably saw the headline and groaned about how much you hate sports or were completely on board with this train. Either way, I will give you all the tips and tricks from sports writing so you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Trust me, it’s a long process. So here is everything you need to know:
Headlines in sports writing have two jobs: to get the reader interested and to clue them into what is happening. One headline I wrote was ‘Streak Starts From Scratch.’ This line states that something is starting and also clues the reader into the dynamics of what will be discussed, that the team started a winning streak. I am a big fan of alliteration or repeated sounds in headlines. (My most recent headline was ‘Combatting Controversy.’) Make your headline active–it immediately raises questions in your reader. What controversy? How are they combatting it? If you can do that you are already winning half the battle or game or match-you get it.
You need a strong opening line to pull your reader in. I like to start with strong, active lines that immediately identifies what team I am talking about. In creative writing your team will be your protagonist. A couple hooks I have written are: “Underestimating Hamline men’s hockey team is a mistake” and “The Pipers’ women’s gymnastics team does not believe in missed opportunities.” Again, readers love action. Applied to creative writing, would you rather read about a protagonist who goes out there and defeats their enemy in a game of basketball or someone who maybe kinda thinks about stopping the bad guy but gets sidetracked by a football game? I’d rather read the basketball battle…but that’s just me.
3. Offense and Defense/Balance
You have to have a balance between covering defense and offense. If you simply write/report about touchdown after touchdown, the story is going to be boring. But if you add in defense, the story has another layer and is more interesting. So how does this apply to writing? Well if your protagonist is always successful it is going to make for a pretty boring story. But if you add in antagonists or conflicts that challenge your protagonist and force them to make a decision, then your story will have an engaging plot. Just imagine Harry Potter, without a Voldemort. By talking about Voldemort and the Death Eater, J.K. Rowling adds layers of risk and intrigue that keeps us reading. Plus quidditch would be pretty boring if Harry did not have to fight off Draco while trying to catch the snitch.
Sports stories are written with urgency to show how each team is battling for a win. Your writing has to show this urgency between your protagonist and their conflict. If there is no urgency or pull in your writing, readers will put it down. We want to suck readers in and have them cheering and yelling like their favorite football team just won the Superbowl.
While sports may not be your thing, sports writing offers great examples of effect techniques. So pick up a newspaper or open up a tab in your browser and look at a sports section. Just look at the mechanics-trust me, it’s a quicker read than Burroway and you will come out with a lot of great tricks.
Meet the blogger:
REBECCA HIGGINS is a senior in Hamline University’s B.F.A. in Creative Writing program. Her work can be found in Canvas, The Fulcrum, The Oracle and American High School Poets. Rebecca has worked with Red Bird Chapbooks, Redleaf Press, Sparkhouse Family, and now, Runestone. She can often be found cuddling with her cat, Remmy, while watching ‘Parks and Recreation.’