Writing Exercise of the Week: Let’s Talk About Sports!

Hello, sports fans and non-sports fans!  This week, I thought we’d dive into more description exercises using sports as our topic.  Baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, badminton, horse racing, the list goes on and on.  No matter who you are, you can find some sport or game that piques your interest, and that is what this week’s exercise is all about.

Let’s get started!

Exercise #1

Pick a sport.  Go on YouTube and find a short clip of that sport being played with the sound off.  It can be a greatest moment highlight or a blooper, doesn’t matter.

As you watch, jot down notes on the following:

  • What’s the sport?  Is the clip professional or amateur?
  • What happens in the clip?  Jot down the beginning, middle, and end of the clip.  Does it have a narrative arc?  
  • What’s the general tone of the clip?  Are fans and players excited?  Disappointed?  Angry?
  • What sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations are related to the game and clip?
  • How would you describe the location where the game is being played?  
  • How would you describe the uniforms?
  • Are there any fans that stand out in the crowd?  Why?

Write a detailed descriptive narrative (500 words) about the clip.  You can have it on hand for reference.  Paint a picture with words and describe the scene as it unfolds.  Make readers feel like they are at the game, taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells around them.

Exercise #2

In the same clip, choose a player.  Any player. 

  • Describe their uniform, the colors, the team they play for, and if they have a name and jersey number.
  • What are they doing?
  • What’s their body language telling you?
  • What do you think they are thinking during this moment?
  • Where do they start the clip, and where do they end it?

Write a first-person narrative and have this player tell us what’s going on from their perspective.  Give us their emotions, actions, and reactions to the events unfolding during the game.

Exercise #3

Find a clip of a sport or game you know little about.  Don’t look up anything about the sport or game; just watch a few times without sound and answer these questions:

  • Write down your first impressions.
  • What do you think the basic rules are?
  • How do you think the game is played?
  • What are the players wearing?
  • What are the fans doing during the game?
  • What is the general mood at the game during the clip?

You’re a reporter who has to fake their way through writing about this game, but you have to do all you can to make yourself seem like you know what you’re talking about.  Can you write about this sport or game, then hand what you wrote to someone else and be confident they’ll know what you’re talking about?

Why Am I Doing This?

Often when we write, we like to write about things familiar to us.  But sometimes, we have to step outside the box and write about something new and different that we may not understand but need to describe in a way that makes us seem knowledgeable.

This is especially true regarding locations we write about but have never traveled to or objects we’ve seen in pictures but never encountered.  It’s our job as writers to paint a picture with words that place the reader in that location, even if we’ve never been there ourselves.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

Writing Exercise of the Week: Describe an Object

Description. When it comes to a story, it can immerse a reader, giving them the sights, sounds, and smells of the world you’ve created. From modern cityscapes to medieval villages, describing what you want the reader to see can have a significant impact.

But let’s start smaller than a city or village. Let’s start with something simple: an object.

The Assignment

Pick an object, any object. It can be something on your desk or table, something in the room; pick something out.  

Examine it. Really get to know this object. If you can hold it, like a coffee mug, feel the weight and texture of the item.

Take notes about the object. Jot down the basics using your five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel (you may skip taste if you didn’t choose a food or beverage as your object). How does it look from different angles?

Once you have your notes, write a descriptive paragraph about the object. How detailed can you get and still craft a compelling paragraph about this random item?

Bonus Assignment #1

Describe the same object in a few words or a single sentence, but give the reader enough detail to know the exact object. 

Bonus Assignment #2

Get technical. Research precisely what materials were used to make the object and give the reader an in-depth profile of its components. Plastics, metals, rubber, and wire. Get into the nuts and bolts that make the object what it is.

Final Thoughts

While not all objects and items mentioned in a story have meaning, there are times when you’ll want the reader to focus on something particular for a specific reason. Practicing descriptions of basic objects can help you strengthen your writing skills and give you another creative tool to work with.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

Writing Exercise: The Greatest Gift

Like most people, I enjoy getting presents on my birthday and holidays.  Whether you receive them for traditional annual events or just because gifts are a nice gesture to give and receive.

Thanks, I Love It!

Make a list of the five best gifts you have ever received.  It can be something you got when you were a kid, something special a relative or loved one gave you recently or something you gave to someone they loved.

Describe the moments leading up to opening the gift.  Were you excited?  Anxious?  What did the wrapped gift look like?  What was your initial reaction to the present?  What did you do with it after you opened it?  Do you still have it?

Take some time to really describe this gift-receiving/giving moment.  Use the first-person POV to express your feelings in detail and be as descriptive as possible about the gift.

If you gave a gift that was loved by someone, still use the first person to describe how you felt about their response to the gift and why you knew they would love it.

Three I can think of from childhood are the original Nintendo, my new 10-speed bike, and our first family computer with a dot-matrix printer (1994).

BONUS: Thanks, I Hate It!

The same concept, but for a gift you received that you absolutely hated.  Did you mask your dislike when you opened it?  What did you do with it once the giver left?  Do you still have it out of guilt?

Again, use the first-person POV to detail your feelings about the gift and describe the gift in detail.

If you gave a gift that was hated by someone, still use the first person to describe how you felt about their response to the gift and why you thought they would love it.

One that pops to mind: I got the parody game of MYST called PYST, and I wasn’t sure if it was a gag gift or a real one.  I enjoyed MYST, so I was confused.

Final Thoughts

This is a great exercise to practice using first-person POV and describing internal and external emotions.  And it’s always good to work on detailed descriptions of objects – like the gifts in this exercise – to give the reader a clear mental picture through words.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

Writing Exercise: Clothing Details

I’ve been reading the Game of Thrones novels, and one of the things that stands out to me is the detailed descriptions of each character’s clothing. One to two paragraphs are often dedicated to how a character dresses, which makes sense given the era. Attention to detail can signify a character’s rank, status, and class within the story’s context.

With the unfortunate passing of Queen Elizabeth II and her upcoming funeral service, the images of the Royals and their clothing for key events gave me an idea for a writing exercise.

The Exercise

Pick a member of the Royal family or the Royal staff and write as detailed as possible about what they’re wearing in one to two paragraphs.  

Pay specific attention to the clothing, don’t worry about who’s wearing it.  

This exercise is to work on how detailed and intricate you can describe what your chosen individual is wearing.

Now, suppose you don’t want to use someone from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. In that case, you can find Google images of Meghan and Harry’s wedding and pick someone from that event.

Bonus Exercise

Find another person wearing one of those intricate hats at the wedding or funeral and describe it in one or two paragraphs. Again, the more detailed your description, the better.

Fine-tune your paragraphs and read over them a few times.

Final Thoughts

A character’s clothing can give us insight into who they are. By showing and not telling, the reader can get a sense of who the character is before a line of dialogue is spoken.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!