Double Dribble

You know . . . that's a basketball term.

I probably connected with basketball today because I just read an article about San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker getting injured last night in a game in Europe. A thigh bruise and a sprained ankle. So in the way my brain works, here's today's writing article.

Dribble is what a player does with the basketball while he runs or jogs or walks down the court. He or she bounces the ball. That bounce is called a dribble. If you hold the ball and move, it's illegal. The ball must stay in motion.

Think about a dribble while you write. It will do you double duty. But not a double dribble. That's illegal, too.

Dribble One

Think of your story as a basketball. During a game, the ball bounces thousands of times. Each bounce moves the game - and your story - forward.

Sometimes it will be a plot bounce, sometimes a character bounce, but each bounce is necessary for the ball to reach the destination the player wants.

When a player is blocked by the opposing team or when one of the player's teammates becomes open or when the player has a shot at the basket, he will stop dribbling and pass the ball or shoot for the basket. Think of this as a complication (blocked by opposition) or plot twist (pass to teammate) or major plot point (shoot for the basket).

Then it's back to the dribble - keep your story moving.

Dribble Two

Another definition of dribble has nothing to do with basketball. It's a trickle, a drop, a small quantity.

Think about Dribble Two when you're giving the reader information they need to know, but that doesn't move the story forward - such as backstory. Don't dump it all like a truckload of mulch. Use a spoon. Dribble it in. A spoonful here, a drop there. A little goes a long way.

Here's a short example from one of my published stories titled "Champagne
for One." This is the opening paragraph:
The aroma of fresh coffee opened my eyes and pulled me into the kitchen [all dribble]. I filled my favorite Galveston Wild Life [Dribble Two - the story is set in Galveston] mug with the fragrant brew, then stepped onto the patio and settled in the swing with the morning paper [more dribble]. The three-column headline made me shiver, and my mouth went bone dry:
[SWISH! We have a score. The ball went through the basket.]