[Last updated: 27th January 2020]
What is skateboard fiction exactly?
Skateboard fiction is a story which centers around the actions and events of skateboarders.
The skateboarding world holds Truth dear to its heart (Did he make it? Did she land it? Where’s the footage? If not, do it again, etc.) and Lies far from it.
Skateboard Fiction is the most elaborate, detailed, and complicated skateboarding lie you can think of.
All lies have value when written down. It’s called Fiction.
Writing Skateboard fiction is so fun as anything imaginable can happen, and as sound as it is written down its permanent, sharable, and you can get paid for it.
If you have an active, vivid imagination, or if you have a voice in your head all day long, and ideas which you never get asked about, then maybe you have the perfect mind for writing fiction? You’ll never know until you try.
So whether you’re writing for yourself for fun, writing stories for your friends to laugh about, or want to publish on Amazon’s Self Publishing platform you’re going to need some tips to produce a great story.
Here’s my checklist for writing realistic skateboard fiction (ignoring the fact that you should already know what the tricks are!):
Story is about 3 things:
The beginning, middle, and end.
Think of the beginning as the Who (characters) and the What (do they want to do); the middle as the How (they achieve it); and the end as the Why (everything happened the way it did).
The beginning should be exciting, so…
Start with a bang.
Start the story as quickly as possible, preferably in a skatepark or some sort of skating related text.
Don’t hold back.
Traditional advice is to not confuse the reader with terminology which they won’t understand. You don’t have this problem if you’re aiming the story at skaters. They will know trick names, so including them helps the reader connect and visualise the scene. Don’t leave the skating out, which leads me to…
For skate fiction, travel is crucial to the action. No skater moves from A-B without throwing down their board somewhere in the journey. Make sure your characters do too!
Keep it simple.
Don’t plan to write an Epic if you have never done so. Start with a small story and achievable.
You must finish what you write
Most writers never finish. Hence the above tip of keep it simple. Maybe start with the end? But don’t get overwhelmed and keep going. Starting is exciting, but that excitement will leave you, and the work will feel laborious. This is normal. Writers get to the end by keeping going, one word at a time.
Keep it realistic.
The reader will want to connect quickly with the story and your characters. And if you’re planning a skateboard fantasy, you’re going to have to do a lot of world building which may lose the reader. Help yourself by keeping it set in today’s time and place. You can experiment later once you’ve got a good grasp of story.
You need an enemy
All good stories are about conflict. If you want to do A, and your friend wants to do B: you’ve got a problem, you have to resolve. Someone is going to be the good guy, and someone the bad. Make sure your story has a bad guy. Luckily, skateboarding is full of bad guys: security guards, teachers, neighbourhood watch pensioners. Just about anyone might have a reason for not wanting a skateboarder around. As long as you’ve got one bad person in your story you’re good to go.
Characters make the story.
It’s fine to think up cool things to do – that gets a reader hooked – but reader love interesting / exciting characters! For this reason, try not to write a character ‘like you’. Think about the most incredible / cool / badass / funny / lunatic you can and plonk them in your story.
If your character is paranoid, what would happen if Mi5 or the FBI needed them to track someone? Try to use polar opposite characters wherever you can. Put smart people alongside dumb ones, or quiet skaters with loudmouths. What happens? Good stuff, that’s what!
Give the skaters a big goal.
It’s fine if you want your characters to go out and have a great day skating, but that won’t make for a compelling story unless it’s really hard to achieve. Make this goal clear in the beginning of the story, but save approaching it until the very end.
Cut the Waffle
You’re not impressing anyone by trying to sound smart or intelligent with fancy words which people need to look up in a dictionary. Use everyday language. If your words sound like someone trying to write, remove it and try again.
The middle is the real story.
The middle bit of the story is easy because it’s all about the struggle to get to the end goal, and it’s also about the internal struggle of the main character. This means you’ve got to give your main character a big personal problem! They have to learn to overcome it, and once they do, they can finally reach the end goal.
Use your senses.
Writing action is fine, but you also need to be descriptive. So before jumping into a scene, shut your eyes and imagine it. Build a picture in your mind, look around (in your day dream): who is across the street? what shops are there? what are people wearing? what does it smell like? what can you hear? This isn’t wasted writing as it help immerse your reader. Once the reader is immersed they will likely enjoy everything you write.
Planning saves you time.
If you want to finish what you start quickly. You’ll need a plan. Make sure you have these things in place:
- Your beginning needs to have an inciting incident (start fast, exciting, and introduce a big goal),
- Your entire middle of the story will be full of complications (for that goal) which get harder and harder to achieve.
- The middle of your middle needs to have a massive crisis for your main character, and it will involve their personal weakness which they must ‘get over’!
- The End of your story will need a Climax (reaching the goal, overcoming it, or failing massively!), so make it exciting.
- The end of the end needs a resolution, so wrap up everything nicely. The reader will want to know what happens after the Climax. Yes, it might feel slow to write, but the reader will be annoyed you don’t tie up all the loose ends.
Tick all these boxes and you will have created a damn good story.
Grammar and spelling matters.
Good writing works best when the reader is immersed in the story and not trying to figure out your sentences. This is why grammar and spelling matters. It’s all about hypnotising your reader! Tip: you’ll never be able to spot all the mistakes in your own writing no matter how hard you try because your brain will skip over the errors. Get other people to read it and ask for help: finding errors will make you better! You can use a free service like Grammarly to find all the simple mistakes if you don’t have anyone to help you.
Share as you write.
As long as you’re not crippled by embarrassment, your friends will be interested in your stories. Tell them about it as soon as you can (a couple of pages will be enough, or even just a scene!) The sooner you tell people the sooner they can start getting excited about it and tell their friends. The people who don’t care about your writing will ignore you anyway. You can also publish chapters on Wattpad as you write for friendly feedback.
Break all these rules.
If you’re confident, you can write anything, but don’t expect anyone to read it, and/or enjoy it! There are no rules to writing fiction, but there’s a lot of things you can do to lose readers. Once you’ve grasped the basics above you should experiment as much as you can. Nothing is off limits!
Mark Mapstone is a skateboarder, a writer, and author of the Ethan Wares Skateboard Series books.
Follow Mark on Instagram: @7plywood
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