5 Ways to Add Sports to Fiction for Non-Sports Fans

If you met me in real life, you would not accuse me of being an athlete. And you’d be right! Aside from NFL games featuring Peyton Manning as the quarterback, I’m just not a sports fan. Give the choice, I’ll almost always select Hallmark Mysteries & Movies over ESPN.

The main characters of my books aren’t really into sports, either. If they were, then I’d have to know about the sport, which would mean watching it. No thanks!

Eliminating sports from my books, however means eliminating potential readers. Here are five ways that I have either used or plan to use to introduce sports into my books to add interest.

1. Cheer for the Home Team – Cozy mysteries take place in small towns. Small towns typically have some kind of local sports team or league that requires participation. A local ball field doubles as the perfect venue for looking back at a childhood memory to show more insight into a character. Or finding a dead body.

2. Opportunity to Create New Sports or Teams – My cozy mystery series takes place in the fictional town of Treasure Pines, North Carolina, which was founded by a notorious female pirate. Of course they’d have a pirate for their high school’s mascot. I don’t have to know much about baseball to include lines like:

The town was abuzz with everyone talking about the Pirates’ win over the Martindale Gophers, a victory that put them in the running for a regional title.

This line shows readers that the Treasure Pines Pirates are on a winning streak and the town of Marindale (whose mascot is the gopher) is geographically nearby without blatantly telling them. It’s even better to flesh this out with dialogue.

3. Minor Characters as Sports Fans or Athletes – Just because my main character isn’t a sports fan doesn’t mean she won’t have friends and relatives who are. The less they feature in the book, the less I need to know about sports, right? Perhaps, as long as the ski pole Elmer Jones uses as a walking stick doesn’t wind up wrapped around the neck of his lifelong enemy, Cam Livingston. Or if Tucker

4. Include Non-Traditional Sports – Maybe my main character dislikes professional sports but she participates on a bowling league. Other sports and activities in this category include:

  • fishing
  • archery
  • martial arts
  • auto racing
  • horseback riding
  • kayaking
  • yoga
  • dancing

There are really too many to list in this blog article, but the activities referenced above can help you get started.

5. Create a New Sport – Make up something new. Include rules for playing and other details in the back of your book. You could unknowingly invent the next big pastime.

Do you like reading books that mention sports and athletics? Are you a fan of sports? If you’re a writer, then do you incorporate them in your works? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!

Why I Kissed Blackbeard Goodbye

Here’s a plot twist I never saw coming.

During the 2015 MAFWI conference, I attended a workshop led by Jim Rada, an author who hails from Pennsylvania. He stressed the importance of research when writing historical novels. This is also important, however, when writing any works that mentions a real person, trademark, or other type of brand.

I knew this would mean quite a bit of rewriting for HAUNTED WOMEN OF THE APPALACHIANS, my collection of 13 strange and inspired by true stories, but surely I’d be smart enough not to let it happen again. Right? Absolutely!

It was more like absolutely not. It started when I read How to Use Brand Names in Your Fiction (Just Like TFIOS), a guest blog article written by Kathryn Goldman on the Better Novel Project blog.

Imagine my dismay at realizing the way I displayed Blackbeard in my book could bring up some serious issues. The fictional character based on the real person didn’t show in the best light. There was only one thing to do.

I kissed Blackbeard goodbye.

Then I went in an exploration into the past to find a new pirate. Hours later, when complaining about the dilemma to my husband, he asked, “Why don’t you just make up a pirate?”

Excited, I returned to my research. Because I’m only about 1/3 of the way into my book, I don’t need to rip it out and start over. And because my new pirate is a fictional female with a sweet back story, I won’t feel obligated to force my plot to follow someone else’s facts.

I’m more excited about my book every day, and can’t wait to share the final product with you all.

Confirmation in Unlikely Places

After attending the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writers conference in August, 2015, I was on my way to take possession of a rescued crested gecko when I got the idea to write a cozy mystery that would delve into some of Blackbeard’s history.

I’m about 2/3 of the way into the book and the worst thing happened. I lost focus. For a few weeks my book stayed closed. The pages began gathering dust. Terrible thoughts entered my head, like: Should I scrap what I have and rewrite everything in limited first-person point of view?

In case you’re wondering, I posed that to my fellow Mountain Scribes (my writing group) at our First Annual Christmas Party and the answer was a resounding, “No!”

Then two wonderful things happened. The first was that I confessed my fears to my friend David. He quoted lines from a NaNoWriMo Pep Talk by Neil Gaiman. Knowing that Neil Gaiman suffers from these same qualms actually made me feel a lot better.

The second thing happened when I was randomly looking at bits of analytical information from the Becky Muth Author Page on Facebook. When trying to decipher who in the world (literally, places like Nigeria and Las Vegas and Australia, even!) liked my page, I saw this:

There you have it. One of my fans speaks pirate. If knowing that Neil Gaiman suffers from “I’m not good enough”-itis wasn’t enough, then having a fan who speaks pirate is more than plenty. Whoever you are, you pirate-speaking-fan of mine, than you. I so needed this.

Are you a writer who found confirmation in unlikely places? Do you feel like your train of thought derailed around Chapter 8 and you’re not sure how to get back on track? Let me hear about it in the comments section. I’d love to talk about this with you!