Skipping a year

So as most people here know, I’m writing a biography of a legendary football player who enjoyed a lengthy career.

Debate of the day: Is it OK to skip years? Maybe not skip entirely, but jump past a couple of seasons in a paragraph or two? Like, seasons when he played well and the team was OK, but nothing otherworldly happened? Thoughts …

Truth is, I have about 160,000 words to work with. I’ve written 109,646. And he’s not nearly retired …

Like too many closers, it’s a good problem to have.

But it’s still a problem.

PS: Serious question: Do y’all enjoy when I get into the writing process here? Or is it dull?

15 thoughts on “Skipping a year”

  1. Definitely OK to skip months or years … include the good stuff, leave out the boring stuff … it can be as much about off field as on anyways

  2. I find it most interesting when you talk about the writing process. As a writer (of sorts) myself, I’m curious to learn about the techniques and thoughts of other writers.

    Skip those seasons. If the author doesn’t feel they are interesting enough to write about (and you KNOW the whole story), then the audience won’t find them interesting to read about.

  3. I’m really hoping (and suspect you are) writing about the guy I hope it is (wow, did that even make sense?!)

    Anyhow, I think it is ok to skip a year here and there. Granted it isn’t as detailed as a book, but movies like “Walk the Line”, “Malcolm X”, “Ray” etc…all skip years here and there.

    Of course, depending on the subject, I might be inclined to want to read about every season–if nothing else, than to see how said player matured, learned, and grew from year to year.

    Perhaps in the seasons you’re looking to gloss over, the player developed a new workout plan, or developed a friendship that lasted a lifetime (not that you would necessarily skip this in your book).

    Man, looking back on my answer, I don’t think I helped at all Jeff. Sorry about that. Hope the book is going well, don’t stress out over it too much. Enjoy the journey!

  4. i enjoy the info when you write about writing. i moonlight as a writer so like your other commentors, i appreciate the nuggets of advice and experience you go through.

    plus, its YOUR blog. you write what you wanna write about. if people dont like it, they can stop reading or leave idiotic comments like they mostly do.

  5. I assume this is the STORY of a man’s life, not merely a CHRONICLE of his life. So, yes, skip a year, if the events of that year do nothing to propel the narrative forward.

  6. I’d like to echo the comments above and say that I enjoy your ramblings on the writing process.

    If it makes you feel better Jeff, in my first book I had a 120,000 word limit and my subject didn’t retire from professional sports until the age of 46 … so it can be done.

  7. I like the comments on the process. I’m not a writer, nor do I have anything resembling that type of independent creative drive so I like hearing from those who do. It doesn’t hurt that your perspective colors how you write about it all.

  8. What’s important is the story. It’s not necessary that you recount every moment of his life. Your job as an author is to find the threads that run throughout.

    And I enjoy hearing about your process. We all have different styles and benefit from having the conversation. Best thing you’ve ever posted at your blog was the story of how you reported your SI.com piece on Anthony Latham.

  9. Are you sure it’s boring or are you trying to take the easy way out?

    I don’t write this as a way of being mean or ripping you or anything, it’s a legit question.

    I’m not sure whom you’re writing about but if this person is interesting enough to have a book written about them, I’m sure that you can find something interesting to write about them in the “boring” years.

    Maybe you won’t go into excruciating detail, but part of your job as a writer is to make dull things interesting. I wouldn’t skip entire years if I were you, it would seem like your research wasn’t complete.

    BTW, I like the entries about the writing process. Keep them coming.

  10. Oh, duh, now it’s obvious who the mystery player is. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while, haha. Anyway, yea, I say it’s fine to skim over, but maybe a page instead of a paragraph.

  11. I agree with the theme of most of the comments listed above: if it isn’t interesting, leave it out. I’ve read too many sports biographies that are too overly-detailed in describing seasons, with each game of seasons being described in painful detail. These biographies have, for the most part, been, to quote Mark Twain, the written equivalent of chloroform. For the interested and motivated reader, game summaries should be easy enough to find online; I’d much prefer reading about important life events that I didn’t know about than game-by-game summaries of each season, with a few off-season details being sprinkled in. Robert Creamer’s biographies on Babe Ruth and Casey Stengel, are two of the best biographies, not just sports biographies, that I’ve ever read, and weren’t overly detailed when it came to describing season performances.

  12. Skip. It’s like when someone tells a story w/too many points/parts/facts or when a movie isn’t edited well. Less is more. Concentrate is good; diluted is bad. I clearly need to take my own advice!

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