July 7, 2016

What Wimbledon can teach you about story-telling

A power struggle happens at this time of year. For control of the telly.

Left to my own devices I will watch tennis for seventeen hours a day while Wimbledon is on, including the doubles and mixed doubles.

Linzi believes that watching any matches other than the men’s final is essentially ‘pointless’. Even watching the ladies final is a waste of time, in her opinion. “They only play three sets,” she says. “It’s stupid.”

I sort of half-agree. Five set matches completely change the nature of the game because it allows time for proper momentum switches.

The best tennis matches share many of the same ingredients as a good story. The match starts off with some kind of pre-conceived emotional connection to the players. We ‘like’ Roger Federer. We ‘dislike’ Andy Murray, although we still like to see him win. There is a context to the match, or a back-story.

The appeal of watching a five set match is watching the huge momentum changes that happen. Roger Federer would have lost yesterday had the match been three sets, but the five set match allowed time for the momentum to slowly turn.

The ingredients that make up a good tennis match are the same ingredients that make up a good story.

A good tennis match is un-rushed. Nobody ever harks back to a ‘three set classic’. We talk about the classic five set matches; the ones where after four hours you still didn’t want the match to end.

A good tennis match has ebb and slow. The momentum of the match will flow one way, then the other.

A good tennis match has suspense on the big points.

A good tennis match has a dash of conflict; perhaps between player and umpire, or more commonly internal conflict. Goran Ivanisevic used to smash about one racket per set.

All of these are timeline elements you can use to strengthen your own writing. You can learn more about the timeline in my Nurture Email Mastery course. It’s a modest investment for great writing skills.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.