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?