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The Friday Five: How I Write The Friday Five

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Well, here we are at the end of 2016! As I said last week, the prevailing thought for many of us seems to be that it’s been a tough year, and in the last seven days alone, we’ve lost some beloved entertainers. Looking ahead to 2017, we can only hope for better times, and resolve to do all that we can to be productive, happy, and healthy, and to look out for one another. I was originally going to look ahead and make plans for next year in this week’s Friday Five, but looking back at the column I wrote last year, I realised that many of my goals are similar. To that end, I’d prefer to simply focus on putting in the work to move closer to achieving those goals in 2017.

Instead, I thought that I’d end 2016 on a somewhat meta note with a Friday Five about how I write The Friday Five. Yes, really! After missing a couple of columns here and there last year, I resolved to make sure that I posted a Five each and every week in 2016, a resolution that I also made with the NLSC Podcast, Monday Tip-Off, and Wayback Wednesday. I hope to continue that trend next year, and look forward to providing you all with more opinions, trivia, retrospectives, and other original content. In the meantime, here’s an “inside look” at how I write my weekly Friday feature!

1. I Have a List of Topics

LeBron James with the layup in NBA 2K17

Before I can write any Friday Five column, I obviously need to have an idea of what I want to write about. To help out in that regard, I maintain a list of the columns that I’ve already done, as well as topics I’d like to cover in future articles. I’ll add ideas to the list as they come to me, but every so often, I’ll take some time out to try and think up at least five new topics so that I’ve always got a healthy amount of ideas to work from. I’ll also look back at the Fives I’ve already written to make sure that I’m not repeating or rehashing topics, though I’ll also consider if any of them can be revisited, since times and opinions do change.

The list of completed Friday Five articles is in chronological order, while the list of ideas for future columns is roughly organised by when I think I might want to cover them. Sometimes I’ll plan a series of articles, and some ideas I’d rather hold back because I’d like to spend more time organising my thoughts on the subject (especially Top 5 countdowns and favourites lists). I also like to give myself leeway to skip ahead and jump around in the list, or write about something that’s unplanned but more topical, should any significant news break. As outlined by the next point, however, it probably wouldn’t hurt to do a bit more planning in the future.

2. On the Friday, Occasionally Last Minute (Or Close Enough)

Anthony Davis dunks the basketball in NBA Live 16

Since we’re all in different time zones, and aren’t all online at the same time, you may be wondering when exactly I post The Friday Five. Yes, Friday, obviously, but I meant the time of day. It’s usually Friday evening Australian Eastern Time, so that it goes live Friday morning in the United States. If I’m on the ball and have been able to set aside some time to get a Five (or two) written in advance, I’ll have the post scheduled and can relax a little on Friday night. However, I have to admit that there are many times when I’m still writing the Five – or indeed, still considering what to write – when Friday evening rolls around.

This isn’t ideal, as I’d prefer not to do things last minute. In fact, something I’d like to do next year is build up a bit of a buffer with all of my features, so that I can spend extra time working on them and not have to rush anything out at the last minute. With that being said, some of the Friday Fives that I’ve had to write in a hurry and worried wouldn’t turn out well as a result, have actually ended up being some of my favourite articles that I’ve written; oddly enough, it often happens with topics that were also a last minute decision. It’s not an approach that I’d recommend when you have a deadline – self-imposed or otherwise – but it has worked out for me at times.

3. Sometimes, Completely Out of Order

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K17

I don’t always sit down and write a Friday Five in the order of the intro, the five points as organised, and then the summary. Aside from the first paragraph of the intro, which I copy and paste each week, I’ll sometimes leave it until last. I’ll also often write the five points out of order, rather than going from one to five (or five to one, in a countdown). I’ll sometimes jump back and forth between points, perhaps writing a line or two at a time as it comes to mind. For the record, and just to illustrate the point, this week I wrote the intro first, and then started with this very item.

There’s a reason I’ll sometimes do this. If I have stronger opinions about one point, I’ll probably begin with it. Other times, it might be case of writer’s block, and starting at the end or the middle actually helps me break through it. If something comes to mind for another part of the Five, I’ll write it down so that I don’t forget it when it comes time to write that bit. It can also make editing less of a chore, as it feels like I’m looking at the article with fresher eyes. To anyone who’s looking to write, I say don’t be afraid to break sequence while drafting. It can help get the framework in place, and you can always polish things up later.

4. I’ll Struggle Over the Most Unexpected Parts

Current Golden State Warriors jerseys, as worn by Stephen Curry in NBA Live 16

When I have an idea for a topic, I usually have a general idea of what I want to say about it. However, there are times when I struggle to elaborate on a point, or properly finish a thought. There are articles where the intro and/or summary are actually the hardest parts to write. Sometimes that’s because the five points have been more difficult to write than expected, and I’m feeling a bit burned out on the article. At other times, I simply find myself at a loss for words in summing everything up succinctly, or writing what I hope is a captivating introduction that I can flesh out to a couple of paragraphs.

Some articles seem to write themselves, and it’s certainly nice when the words are flowing easily. There isn’t really any rhyme or reason, or a consistent theme, when it comes to the topics that are particularly easy or difficult. Apart from the inevitable random bout of writer’s block, some points simply turn out to be more difficult to talk about than I first anticipated. There are times when I’ll rework articles and rethink lists on the fly – 5 Basketball Game Features Ahead of Their Time is one from this year that I remember changing a lot – either because I’ll change my mind, remember something I’d forgotten, or a better idea occurs to me. If I’m struggling, it’s usually a sign I need to change things up.

5. With Enthusiasm & Enjoyment

Jimmy Butler in NBA 2K17

I’ll be honest. There are times when Friday rolls around, and I wonder just what in the world I’m going to write about. There are articles that turn out to be more difficult than I thought, topic ideas that just don’t pan out and I end up abandoning, and fruitless brainstorming sessions where I just can’t think of new topics. But you know what? I really do enjoy bringing you The Friday Five each week. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was very young, and since I started the Five way back in January of 2013, it’s been a great outlet for indulging that passion and sharing my thoughts and opinions with my fellow basketball gamers. It’s also very rewarding when I feel that an article has turned out really well.

When I took over the NLSC in 2001, adding some original content is something I always wanted to do. I’d tried doing it with the NBA Live Domain, and gave it a shot again during the early years of running the NLSC. Some of the articles did well, but there was no regular schedule, no consistent format. With The Friday Five, I feel that’s something I’ve been able to achieve, and subsequently expand upon with our other features. Modding, Forum discussions, and covering the preview seasons will always be a big part of what we do here. But I really like being able to express myself, analyse basketball video games, and start discussions with our features. I look forward to continuing to do that in 2017.

And that’s going to do it for 2016! Thank you to everyone who has checked in every Friday throughout the year, and added their thoughts in the comments section or in the Forum. As I’ve said before, my hope is that our feature articles can start the conversation, and not be the final word. I certainly encourage you to get involved in that discussion, and if you’ve got any topic suggestions for future Friday Five articles, let me know; I’ll certainly consider them! In the meantime, that’s all for this week, so thank you once again for checking in, have a safe and happy New Year, and please join me again throughout 2017 each Friday for another Five.

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