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This is a course on how to write about sport.
I never finished high school, never finished any higher learning, never worked for a newspaper, had no real contacts, started without knowing anyone in the sport I was writing about and without a single friend who was a journalist. And so, like the Unabomber, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote my way into a weird job – global writer – at one of the world’s biggest sports websites, ESPNcricinfo.
I wrote like no one else because I didn’t know there were ways you were supposed to write about sports. I wrote about things that I cared about because I didn’t understand about news cycles. And I wrote with a piece of me in each article, because no one was around to tell me not to. This all means that I have built a career on writing about sport that isn’t like the careers of others.
This course is me reverse-engineering my writing.
The course is part theory and part practical. There are over two hours of lectures, but there are also many checklists and tips to show you how to think, plan, and write, and also a practical component where you have to mesh my teachings with who you are.
I have tried to make it as practical as possible, so that if you find yourself in a press box the next day or writing a feature from your living room, you could take what you’re learning and apply it.
This is not a course on how to get into the industry; most of those are a bit scammy and I don’t want you to think you can take my course and suddenly become the Times chief sports writer. This course is aimed at taking who you are as a fan, and showing you how to use it to become a sports writer.
The areas covered:
Who you are as a writer
How to think about athletes and teams
What kind of articles you can write
How to find sport stories
The tools of modern sports writing
A guide to interviewing
A start to finish guide on long-form writing
Data and writing
And Giant Lizard Theory
It doesn’t matter to me if you went to Oxbridge, now work at the Guardian covering Premier League, or are an uneducated 57-year-old plumber who has always wanted to write her thoughts on trends in Handball, this course is for everyone. This course is for anyone who wants to write better about sport.
While I am mostly a cricket writer, the things I have learnt can be used in any sport, and in truth, probably outside sport too. I have won a prestigious award, helped present a Guardian masterclass this year, written for an arseload of major publications around the world and am hopefully still in my prime, not some old guy with patches on my elbow talking about how sports writing was great when people chewed cigars and worked with one finger on a typewriter.
I am a working writer, learning every day, striving to get better, and using my work, my failure, as a way of helping you.
Sports writing, with the birth of internet and cable TV, has never been better. I want each and every one of you to write something as good as you can write. It doesn’t matter if you don’t all become David Remnick, but it does matter to me that you get that rush when you finish a story that you’re so passionate about on the page.
Let us write.
- Getting Started (4:38)
- Why sport matters to you (2:49)
- The players (6:14)
At the game
- The pressbox (11:20)
- Game day (7:57)
The story of sport
- Sport is narrative (6:11)
- Types of pieces (10:16)
- Pieces to stories (0:40)
The Afghan Garfield
- Afghan original (1:00)
- Afghan Redux (2:08)
- Afghan Garfield (1:54)
Searching for truth
- News (3:41)
- Data (3:28)
- Interviews (7:32)
- Specialisation (3:25)
- Try different things (3:26)
- Find your group (1:17)
- Pitching (4:11)
- Contacts (4:30)
- Other media
How to find stories
- Finding stories (5:19)
Features – planning
- Read Greg Norman Piece (0:42)
- Idea, mindmaps & research (6:02)
Features – writing
- Actually Writing (4:28)
Features – editing
- Editing (5:11)
- First Lines (4:19)
- Shooting the shark (1:30)
- Structure (3:05)
- Giant lizard theory (5:44)
The final 100 words
- Final 100 words (1:35)
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