Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Tuesday, 26 March 2013

PLAYING THE GAME by Gill Stewart




As an avid watcher (but less avid participator) in sport, it struck me over the weekend how many similarities there are in a good game or competition and a good novel.  I was following the Women’s World Curling Championships in Riga (obscure, I know, but younger son is a keen curler so I end up watching an awful lot of curling).  The competition was won by the Scottish rink, skipped by young and very photogenic Eve Muirhead – see picture.

At the beginning of the completion, the Scottish girls were doing well – winning 9 out of 10 ‘round robin’ matches.  The only match they lost was against Sweden.  So interest was running along nicely, ‘my’ team were doing well and all looked good for the finals. 

Then Scotland lost the play off (also against Sweden).  This meant they had to play Canada.  If they lost to Canada they wouldn’t get Gold or Silver, might not even get Bronze.  All through the Canada game they were losing, tension was high – and then they won it on the last stone.  Jubiliation! 

Now to play Sweden again, this time for the Gold or Silver medal.  Surely, having lost to Sweden, twice, they had no hope?  Or was it going to be 3rd time lucky?  It was – a win again on the last stone!

Now all that might not be of much interest to the non-curlers or non-sports-enthusiasts among you, but it was the way the event progressed that made it so fascinating.  The generally positive start, the set back, the almost-failure, then the winning against apparently insuperable odds.  Doesn’t that sound like the plot of a novel that draws you in, infuriates you, but has you engaged to the last page?

Unsurprisingly, I have more than once had the idea to set a novel against a sporting backdrop, with the hero and heroine not necessarily being the sports stars but the events of a tournament – say Wimbledon – being the setting and providing a parallel story.  As I’ve said before, I need any help I can get to up the emotion in my writing.  I haven’t done anything with this idea so far, but if Andy Murray wins Wimbledon this year, with the guaranteed highs and lows along the way, maybe that will be the time?

Andy Murray showing emotion

12 comments:

  1. "The generally positive start, the set back, the almost-failure, then the winning against apparently insuperable odds." ... actually, I'm hoping it's the story of my road to publication, Gill!

    I like parallel stories, journeys through life that mirror - and add to - what's going on in the heroine's emotional life.

    Thanks for this post. I'm pleased about the curling result, and crossing my fingers for Andy, of course!

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  2. They're not insuperable odds Jenny - you're going to win! Maybe I can make a story or it...

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  3. I like the analogy, Gill, although I don't watch curling. Must have been on-the-edge-of-the-seat stuff (as is Wimbledon sometimes)!

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    1. Thanks Rosemary, definitely very tense. I never realised how stressful it could be watching a curling game!

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  4. I think it's so true. How often do you hear a commentator talking about 'tearing up the script' in relation to a sporting fixture, or describing 'a fairytale ending'?
    I'm a big sports fan and I believe that part of the reason is that most sporting events, sometimes a single fixture, sometimes a season, have elements of what makes a good story. Thye have heroes (some of them claled Tim!) and villains. There's the player coming back from injury top score the winner, the little guys winning the cup, the bad guys trounced by the good guys....
    I'm surprised there aren't more great sporting novels, now I come to think of it.

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    1. I agree - there should be more of these books! Really must give it a try. After I've finished current wip.

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  5. Blast, write my response then had to go and sign in and when I came back it had gone! Maybe it wasn't very interesting. It was to say I thought it was a great post and I think there have been some recent books on ice hockey. Plus I think I might be too scared to watch Wimbledon this year.

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    1. Yes, I've read some Rachel Gibson (I think) books with an ice hockey background. Very good, but it is more background than a mirroring of suspense - again, I think, can't remember exactly. Ice Hockey definitely has more testosterone in it than curling!

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  6. I'm reading you, Gill, kind of understand where you're coming from with the analogy, but I HATE watching sport of any kind - which is odd because I actually played a lot of racquet sports from a young teen until I hit my early 40's. But watching it (especially team games).....never. I did see about ten minutes of Olympics.. . so don't string me up!
    Excellent post....will FB and Tweet....:)

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    1. I loved the Olympics!

      But maybe there is a difference between those who watch and those who do. Son who curls - seriously, at U21 level although he's only 16 - isn't nearly as keen as me on watching. Either way, i still think it works from a writer's point of view.

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  7. Great analogy, Gill, and I like watching sport too, especially the fast and furious kind like ice hockey and F1 :-) As a half Swede, I suppose I should be sorry they lost to the Scottish girls, but it sounds like the Scots thoroughly deserved the win! Love books with nail-biting endings too!

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  8. Oooh yes, I forgot about F1. Also a fan of that. No wonder I don't have much time to write...

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