7 Tips to Making a Fictional Sport: Mouth Guard Not Included

Last year, I made a post about various sports and activities that can be done around Windemere.  From what I can tell, I never went into any advice or tips or comedy about how to design fictional sports.  One reason is because I don’t really know what I’m doing here.  Another is that nobody asked.  The third is that I didn’t consider it until now when I was looking for a post idea.  So, here we go!

(Side Note:  My first time uploading a video clip that isn’t from YouTube.  Got it off Vimeo and there was a download option.  Watch this backfire.)

  1. It helps to base it off something real.  This can be a professional sport like baseball or a game like tag.  Others take an even easier path by taking a real activity and adding tons of extras too it.  For example, take racing and put in weapons, obstacles, and death to create Deathrace.  This method happens a lot more than people realize.
  2. Make a clear set of rules that is explained when the characters first watch or play the game.  This has to include scoring, techniques, defense, penalties, equipment, and maybe a little history.  Once all of that is done, you demonstrate how the heroes can get around the rules without actually cheating.  If not that then a bunch of ‘bad guys’ openly cheat without getting caught and the heroes manage to win by sticking to the rules, which makes very little sense when you say it out loud.
  3. Never forget that tension is important even in sports.  A way to accomplish this is creating a system that has back and forth.  Sudden Death rounds being the only way to play can make a scene quick, but you don’t get a lot of oomph from it.  A great example of how to do this is Quidditch, which I probably spelled wrong.  Yes, there’s that way to win with one act, but most of the game has a back and forth that can be used to create tension.
  4. Uniforms make the team.  Seriously, it gets confusing for the players if everyone is dressed differently.  Gets even weirder if you have the heroes in regular clothes and the other team in uniforms.  It really isn’t that hard to do either.  Shirt, pants, and shoes are the basics.  Headgear and pads if need be.  Add a cape if you want there to be a lot of choking to death.  Seriously, who wears a cape in a sporting event?
  5. If this sport is going to be popular then you need to create fans and have people talk about it in passing.  Even those who don’t watch football, baseball, and basketball know they exist.  A hero can be a fan of a certain team or another could have played it in school or tried to go pro, but failed.  You can create some famous players that appear in a few scenes as background or minor encounters.  There are various ways to subtly add this part of the world building.  Also unsubtle by having giant arenas in some of the big cities, which can double as action scene locales.
  6. Come up with a catchy name.  Then again, many sports seem to have ‘ball’ in the most, so you can keep it simple.
  7. After putting in so much work, you need to do something with it.  Video games use mini-games and side quests.  Movies and TV shows have events as background scenes or meeting places.  So, what can books do?  There’s both options that you can go with, but also a third.  Short stories that involve the sport.  This flushes out the creation and adds to the world-building.  You create a synergy (ugly word) where the sport and the world build off each other to give a new facet that can be used for other stories.  After all, everyone likes entertainment and sports are one of the most common.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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20 Responses to 7 Tips to Making a Fictional Sport: Mouth Guard Not Included

  1. Geez, where were you six months ago? (Teasing.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I do not have your energy in construction a fictional sport, I applaud your thought process here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are some good and interesting tips for any author who is looking to increase the character’s world. It’s certainly something to think about, if you wanted to add a sport that draws the reader in further. Or just to be able to say, my book has Squashball in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I think Harry Potter definitely showed there’s a big use for fictional sports. Squashball sounds interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I think Rowling was very successful in that Arena. It would be interesting if I knew what it is and how it’s played. Something to ponder over anyway.

        Like

      • I’m also reminded of Final Fantasy games. You had the Chocobo Racing of 7 and Blitzball of FFX. I do wonder if the fictional sports work a little better for more visual mediums, but it probably depends on how you use it. Hard to get such a thing into anything other than character and world building.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think if you’re a properly skilled author, and that if can take your time building this fantasy sport. It’ll make your book just that much more interesting to a reader.

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      • True. Though it does get tough when it isn’t connected to the plot. Having it just as a passing mention probably doesn’t require as much work as showing a game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, but then what would be the point in mentioning the sport in passing, when it’s fictional? Surely a reader of your books would want to know what this fictional sport is all about. Unless you can’t come up with a realistic way to include the sport with the plot-line. If you couldn’t then maybe it shouldn’t be mentioned in passing. I guess it’s a matter of personal opinion.

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      • That’s part of the problem. Things like sports and hobbies can help flush out a character. To avoid everything that has no plot connection means you lose a dimension of the character. They exist only for the quest/adventure instead of as a viable being with other aspects. Sports is simply one of the most common things you can use as a small detail like the character being a fan or trying to go pro. The sport isn’t introduced more than a brief explanation, but it expands the depth. You get into a lot of trouble here with fictional worlds because the chances of them having real world sports are slim.

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  4. L. Marie says:

    Great tips, Charles! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I like making up my own board and card games, but haven’t gone as far as making up a sport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still need to decide on if I’m going to do a full book on Clutch Ball. It came up as a side thing for the Legends of Windemere video game. That bombed and now I want to use some of the pieces.

      Like

  5. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here are some great tips from Charles Yallowitz from his Legends of Windemere blog with tips on making a fictional sport in your writing.

    Like

  6. Pingback: 7 Tips to Making a Fictional Sport: Mouth Guard Not Included – The Jenny Mac Book Blog

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