Monday, January 28, 2013

49ers Going to the Harbowl

It’d be an understatement to say that it’s been a great sports year where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In baseball, the Giants won their second World Series in three years, and now in football the 49ers are going to the Superbowl for the 6th time in their franchise history. Needless to say, people have been wearing a lot of sports apparel around here lately.

This also marks the first time that two brothers are head coaches of both football teams in the Superbowl, Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh, and as a result the sports writers have dubbed the event the Harbowl.  The brothers themselves say the story is really about their players, not the coaches, but the sport writers are filling the gap nonetheless with anecdotes about the two brothers. Since it’s often a sports writer’s job to make a story out of nothing, it got me thinking about how much fiction writing often asks writers to do the very same thing. Make a story out of nothing.

Maybe you’ve written about actual events in memoir or based your novel on something that happened, but we all need to make up quite a lot of material in order to make a story truly engaging for the reader. Perhaps, change events to happen closer together in the plot or condense three characters into one. Stuff like that. So how do you go about generating the additional content you need when making up a story? What sticks and what doesn’t?