If you want your story to be inspiring and interesting and valuable to other people – you have to make it about more than what happened when. A good story is not a history report as ESPN professional sports storyteller and executive producer Mike Baltierra told us on the Athlete Story Podcast in the beginning of the year.
I feel inspired to bring this up again. Why ?
Because I just finished the book « Off Balance.» It’s a memoire of US Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Dominique Moceanu. I would have loved to say, I couldn’t put the book down – but I listened to it on Audible.
I was really captivated all the way through as Dominique read her own book out loud.
(I’m still a slow reader – and now a glasses-wearing one, so I’m a big fan audiobooks. And it’s even better when the author reads it herself.)
So it got me thinking again about what makes an athlete story great
I mean, we already know that Dominique Moceanu eventually won Olympic Gold, so that kind of suspense is not in play. I actually think the book would have been just as good had she not won the medal because she really didn’t put the emphasis on that.
It’s more the intimacy, the journey, the atmosphere, the time we get to spend with her and share her experience to some degree. We almost learn the lessons she did through her experience. This is what makes it relatable even if you’re not really into sports.
So how do you create that when sharing something from your own athlete story?
I’m no storytelling expert but to me it’s in the little details. Describing a glance, a reflection a comment or even a lack of a comment.
It’s also in details about other people involved in your story. Who are they, what’s their relation to you, why are they important to the story you’re telling.
This is probably the most overlooked when athletes share their stories. It’s also a little delicate because how much can you share about other people. But stories with only one character are hard to make real and relatable. That’s just not how life is.
So think about this next time, you are about to share some of your story. Let us in just a little bit. Let us see some more pieces of the puzzle. You decide which. And don’t assume we know. We might know some of the facts but a good story is about more than listing the facts. Take us to the setting, let us understand what’s at stake, who’s involved and then how you went about the challenge at hand.
In the next episode on Athlete Story we’ll be meeting a filmmaker for a chat about her upcoming sports documentary called After The Game. Can’t wit to bring it to you !