Margin Notes

CRAFT STUDIO: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT IS A SPORTS DRAMA

Feb
18

What I Was Reading

In “The Queen’s Gambit” Is a Sports Drama, Manuel Betancourt draws parallels between the story of chess prodigy Beth Harmon’s triumph over the trauma of her childhood to become a world-class chess champion to sports dramas like Rocky and Friday Night Lights:

Visually, the drama finds new ways of making chess (yes, chess!) as exciting a spectator sport as anything else. Her match with Harry Beltik (Harry Melling) in that first tournament of hers is shot almost like a fencing duel, each move a calculated strike; a later speed chess matchup feels as dynamic as a squash game; while her later games in Moscow, against the best from the best from the Soviet Union, lean heavily on the pageantry of it as a spectator sport, like a soccer match being watched in hushed silence.

 What Moves I Notice the Writer Making

  • This paragraph contains only two sentences: one short and one very long. The writer definitely did not use a hamburger paragraph graphic organizer for this one!
  • The addition of “(yes, chess!)” to the first sentence addresses the reader directly, making us aware that they know we may have a hard time believing what they are going to say, but they are confident they will convince us if we read on. This small interjection adds energy and voice.
  • The second sentence contains an incredible amount of detail, but it works because of the pattern of an example from the show + an example from the world of sport + a semi-colon. Each specific scene from the show the writer has chosen to support their point is paired with a spectator sport described in a way that a fan of the sport will completely relate to.

Possibilities for Writers

  • Use this paragraph as part of a punctuation inquiry. Ask yourself what you notice about the author’s punctuation choices, what conclusions you can make, and what patterns you see emerging.
  • Model a sentence of your own after this one by incorporating semi-colons and commas.
  • Experiment with addressing the audience directly to show you have anticipated what they might say about your ideas.
  • Read this passage as a writer to notice and name interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.

 

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