Searching for an Olympics-free zone? Perhaps you've sought refuge in music and found inspiration for the Proms contest I mentioned in my last blog. If you're a television fan, the likelihood is that some of your favourite programmes have been replaced by sport. It's also the time of year when many series come to an end too, so you could be feeling withdrawal symptoms. In my case, it's missing The Musketeers and Versailles. But you know what they say: 'If you can't beat them, join them.'
    There are plenty of sport-themed films and novels, such as Rocky or Dick Francis's thrillers set in the horse-racing world, and they aren't limited to 'real' life–fantasy and sci fi are also full of 'sport' such as The Hunger Games or Rollerball. However, writing inspired by sport needn't actually feature sport at all.
    Sport encompasses every shade of human drama, strength and frailty. How do the participants cope with winning or losing? Look at their determination, expectation, doubt, rivalry, jealousy etc. What about the back-up teams around them and the fans' reactions? If you want to know how people behave under pressure, or how they show emotion, watching sport will show you. Put some of these characters and/or situations in a different setting and you could come up with all sorts of new twists on old plots. You could have your characters trying to win the girl/boy of their dreams, or be the first to make a million, rather than winning a race.
    Then there are the commentators? How do they generate excitement? There are the presenters and pundits to consider too. Look at the way they dissect the participants and how they performed both before and after the event. Combine features from two or three and you'll come up with something new.
    Study the Olympics and you could set your writing on a winning track.