Re: How does one write a sports match?


Ramingo Wrote: I'm currently trying to write a sports novel, inspired by Galactik Football's Netherball in case you are curious, but how would one write its matches? As a mostly fantasy reader, I've tried writing them as I would with a fight scenes, but the results are complete garbage. It's most likely the result of me being a terrible writer, but I would like to hear about other people's ideas.

Listen and read along with popular narration of North American Football highlights. You'll be an expert within the hour.

Re: How does one write a sports match?

For reference, I've never written a sports match, nor have I read the story you linked, but I'd think it would matter on what the scene is trying to do.

I figure, there's a few questions you have to ask.
Internal or external perspective, how its framed (couched in like two sports commentators) or a more usual third person omniscience?
Does it emotionally validate our protagonist? show how far he/they need to go as a team? Trying to show off a player's resolve, or distractability? 

More practically, you could just do it with an alternating breakdown like the following.

>big play, being very specific on the player actions - gets one team advantage
> go to a general coast with only basic details for the increment of play (inning/outs, periods, quarters, and so on.) -no score changes
> next major play - score gets evened out or advantage is compounded
>more coasting
>twist with a player being fouled/injured?

Mix and max for length, and like how tense you want it to be, how much of a curbstomp on either side, and needed moments. Say make each > a paragraph or so?

are we highlighting one player more specific players performance? skip between an uptime and downtime. Like a baseball at bat vs their thinking in the dugout.

so - lets go through a baseball as an example (has distinct up and down time.)
>1st at bat - strike out
> sitting and thinking about that pitcher
>skip lightly brush over time fielding
> back in teh dugout, thinking about what the pitcher is doing
>next at bat, tries a thing and it works or doesn't, various quality here
>more lightly glossed field time
>more analyzing in their head
>third at bat with Yuuge success.

I'd say most sports matches are like that. Lots of fundamentals and things going according to plan. Couple boring innings, just passing and possession and struggling over the ball, or individual volleys in a game like volleyball. then there's the BIG moments that every one is talking about the next day. There's an ebb and flow to things. I'd say just following that would make it a lot cleaner.

Re: How does one write a sports match?

I'd assume you're focusing on one character per scene, and not using a floating third person. Definitely follow the above advice, but consider what it looks like from the perspective of the one person on the field. I'm not a sportsball fan, but my wife is, and she's forced convinced me to watch several games across two types of sportsball. (I think they were called batball and handegg.) I figure that it's easy for sports fans who don't actually play to not realize what it's like to be on the actual field, without the benefit of high-perspective camera shots. The player catching the doohicky to stop the whatchamacallit has to concentrate on what's in front of him, and doesn't always have the luxury of scanning the whole field. I suspect the most exciting moments will be more like martial arts from that one character's perspective, rather than a description of a wargame or anything similar. 

I'd also suggest looking at Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game for the most famous sci-fi sports description in the genre. There's another zero-gee sport shown in John Ringo's The Hot Gate, but it's not in the sample chapters and it's book three in a series (an entertaining HFY series, though, involving humanity getting completely conquered by aliens only to take back their system because another group of aliens really likes maple syrup . . . no, really, they call it the Maple Syrup War in the books). 

Re: How does one write a sports match?

Well, first of all, thanks for linking to the Netherball vid.  That was a fun watch!

Second, what a great exercise to watch a long-ish scene full of action and tense moments and practical zero dialogue (and none I could understand) whilst thinking about how to articulate it in fiction.

In my opinion, a blow-by-blow "commentator's" approach wouldn't work at all (although dipping in and out of commentary, like JKR does with Quidditch, isn't a bad option).  You should focus on a few key moments of tension.  Most of that video could easily be summarized as "X and Y went back and forth several times, neither managing to gain and advantage or score a goal".  Most of the attention would be one the start (building tension with the arrival of the unknown and unseen opponent), on a couple of incidents (probably the one where the MC gets faceplanted and the one when the opponent shows off his razor spines) within the game itself to establish the characters and their contrasting values and qualities and then the half-time door slam, before a big emphasis on that final moment, building tension to the door's release until the MC displays his perfect timing and insane reflexes to put the ball through the iris.

Re: How does one write a sports match?

I tried writing a random game:

From the cube’s ceiling, a ball fell in Pippo’s side of the court. As it bounced on the metallic surface of the cube, Topolino checked the hour on his watch and from outside said: «Whenever you guys are ready.»
Without wasting any time, Pippo tapped the ball to the side— starting the match. He moved from one side of the cube to the other, looking for any opportunity to move past his opponent who mirrored every single movement of his blocking him like a wall.
“This won’t work,” thought Pippo, as he took a look at the time remaining on the clock, “starting down half a point down is gonna make things difficult.”
With still ten seconds remaining, Pippo, using the outside of his feet, kicked the ball toward the wall, to the side of his opponent.
Like a handball player, Pippo barged his way through his opponent using his entire body’s weight to push him aside. Still keeping an eye on the spinning ball, Pippo lunged his leg forward and, with his toe, tapped the ball into the goal.
«One zero,» said Topolino.

Would something like this work? Just for context, the matches are divided into 10 games where the attack side, the one with the ball, changes every 30 seconds or every time somebody scores. Scoring as an attacker grants 1 point; successfully defending grants 0,5; while scoring as defender grants 1,5 points. The player with the most points wins the match at the end.

Topolino and Pippo are Mickey Mouse and Goofy's name in Italian and you can just ignore them.
Handball is just that world's version of American Football.