HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Niall Harkiss
    Guest

    Writing sports history

    I am currently in the beginning stages of writing a book about a football team formed in my town in the late 1880s. My intention is to tell the story of the club from 1880 to the late 1930s when the war started. However, I don't want to write a dull statistical bio with a series of results, facts and (to the casual reader) boring info. Instead, I'd like to take the angle of looking into the lives of some of the key people in the club's history.

    However, I don't know quite how best to do this. I've never read a book that I'd say falls into the category of a non-fiction period sports story.

    I've contemplated blurring the lines of fact and fiction by dramatising the key events and thereby glamourising the participants involved. In this particular example, the town's history is generally not well documented anyway and I'm conscious of the fact that I am writing about a period of time that no living person will have a recollection of. That being said, I'm proud of the research I've carried out and would like to maintain its integrity when putting it to paper.

    I suppose what I'm looking for here are some suggestions of books to read that sound like they are along the lines of what I'm trying to do, or alternatively, some suggestions for an approach to take.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Australia - for now ;)
    Posts
    598

    Re: Writing sports history

    I think, it would be great if you could write this as a historical-fiction, perhaps from a 'sideline' person's position. I'm thinking perhaps a waterboy or even a greens-keeper? Someone who can be entirely fictional but who would know the 'feel' of the players and even some of their personal issues?

    It is difficult to write non-fiction and appeal to a large community unless it is a 'current' event. But taking all the facts you have collected, you could easily make this something enjoyable and factual - I could even see this making a great movie script?

    JMHO - see what others say
    if the wine is sour throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    90

    Re: Writing sports history

    So you're writing narrative nonfiction. There are a number of books about writing narrative nonfiction out there; start with Jon Franklin's Writing for Story. Google the term. It's a major writing category.

    I read somewhere--don't know if it's true--that well-written narrative nonfiction sells better than fiction. "True Crime" is a big genre. Heard of "In Cold Blood"? Subject matter is secondary--story is about people. So don't overthink or overemphasize the "sports history" angle. You're writing about people.

    One advantage to writing narrative nonfiction is that you're given your raw data--characters, settings, events, conflicts, etc. Saves the writer a lot of time--you don't have to make that stuff up! But you do have to consciously and deliberate apply literary craft to creating a story. If you haven't yet developed the craft, the technique, then keep working at it until you're ready.

    Tom Wolfe, David Halberstam, Tim Egan, Gay Talese--hundreds of fine writers write/wrote narrative nonfiction.

    Edited to add:
    Here's one of a thousand links:
    http://www.writersandeditors.com/nar....htm#bookmark1

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    461

    Re: Writing sports history

    There's a book out there called Ball Four that's supposed to be a pretty good narrative nonfiction tale about baseball. You may want to take a look at it. And here is an excellent list of all kinds of narrative nonfiction:

    http://www.wrl.org/books-and-reading...iction-writers

    Hope that helps.

    If you don't understand the form, it's important to read quite a few representative examples to help you shape your own work.

    Jeanne

  5. #5
    Niall Harkiss
    Guest

    Re: Writing sports history

    Thank you to everyone so far.

    I particularly liked the idea of a waterboy/spectator telling the story from a non-essential character's point of view. However, what puts me off is that I want to keep this as close to 100% factual as I can.

    In terms of structure, I am considering telling the story of each element of the club's history, one chapter at a time. Rather than writing it chronologically, I thought I could perhaps cover it, for example, as follows -

    1 - Club identity/origins

    2 - Evolution of the club as a community group

    3 - Competitive success and trophies

    4 - Key people

    5 - Statistical records of competitive games

    I suppose what I'm looking for here are the thoughts of those who have experience either writing or reading books that are written in this style. I can't think of many myself, and I wonder perhaps if it would be confusing to jump back and forth between decades, for example.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    508

    Re: Writing sports history

    Naill,

    Hard to say, but just looking at your topics list, I want to yawn.

    Try looking for the narrative thread in the information you've accumulated. Look for a story structure, evolution, tension with the facts and within your relationship with the facts. Oftentimes, there's an organic structure just waiting to be discovered. What intrigues you about this team? What's the narrative thread in the team's history? Try finding the story, thinking of the team as the protagonist, in the data and your reaction to the data.

    I've done a couple of work-for-hire nonfiction books on sports figures. I researched and researched, until I started get a sense of the narrative threads that ran through each person's life. These then became the organizing structure of the books. I would think writing about a team would be much the same, although perhaps more difficult to ferret out the threads.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Southern Georgia
    Posts
    1,756

    Re: Writing sports history

    Niall, there was a book written about the Rockford Peaches, an all-woman baseball team. They came in existence while all the men were fighting in WWII. It also morphed into a movie, "A League of Their Own," that starred Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Gena Davis, Madonna, and others. Check it out and it might help you learn how to write an "interesting" non-fiction sports book. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Niall Harkiss
    Guest

    Re: Writing sports history

    C K Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------

    > Try looking for the narrative thread in the
    > information you've accumulated. Look for a story
    > structure, evolution, tension with the facts and
    > within your relationship with the facts.
    > Oftentimes, there's an organic structure just
    > waiting to be discovered. What intrigues you
    > about this team? What's the narrative thread in
    > the team's history? Try finding the story,
    > thinking of the team as the protagonist, in the
    > data and your reaction to the data.

    That word evolution helps me build a clearer idea of how I want to structure this. Regarding thinking of the team as the protagonist, I know this has to be the case but I am concerned that by following the evolution of the team alone, I may omit or not adequately cover the contribution of certain people, simply because elements of their character did not directly affect or involve the team.

    That being said, I like the idea of looking at an evolutionary structure, especially in this case as I am taking things from the team's creation right up until their full existance pre-war.

    > I've done a couple of work-for-hire nonfiction
    > books on sports figures. I researched and
    > researched, until I started get a sense of the
    > narrative threads that ran through each person's
    > life. These then became the organizing structure
    > of the books. I would think writing about a team
    > would be much the same, although perhaps more
    > difficult to ferret out the threads.

    I have a good year-by-year record of the team, and several pieces of information on some of the people involved.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    99

    Re: Writing sports history

    I don't know of a book.. but there is a tv series called "Friday Night Lights" and although I really have no interest in football, I love the show. Great acting, great story lines.It is entirely a drama but I could imagine that you could write a novel based on the club and time period and make it desirable to a larger audience that way.
    Great idea - go for it! B)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts