Sporting moments can make for effective points in the narrative arc – both the highs and lows – and draw the audience in.
But most often they don’t. The team scores. Everybody cheers. So what?
These moments are too grounded in winning; the immediacy is all that matters. Indeed, one of the weakest moments in my script, Sister Prometheus, is a game of badminton between the Adamantine sisters. Virginia and Willow are the younger siblings and have something to prove.
WILLOW serves the shuttlecock. VIRGINIA slams it back for a winner. WILLOW lobs to LOUISE who serves. DIANE volleys back. LOUISE volleys. WILLOW volleys. DIANE drops. WILLOW volleys. VIRGINIA volleys. WILLOW drops. DIANE volleys. LOUISE slams it for the winner.
Yes, it’s badminton; there’s lots of volleying. I’ve inserted the glares, exclamations, even a bit of profanity, but it’s still flat. And so I took them out again. It was too stuffed and pointless.
The key in these sporting moments is in the stakes, as the script gurus say, making the winning proposition more than a game. Something real.
It’s not the game that matters, but why they’re playing it.
VIRGINIA (Slumping over the shuttlecock): Fucking birdie.