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A couple feature stories I've done recently...

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by ewebeck, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. ewebeck

    ewebeck New Member

    I'm about to graduate and hit the job market, so I'd love to get some constructive criticism on a couple pieces I put some time into recently. Thanks in advance!

    The Process: How Ray Anderson has made nine home-run hires
    Ray Anderson sits in his office, the northeastern most point on the sixth floor of the Ed and Nadine Carson Student-Athlete Center, looking out over Sun Devil Stadium. To be more precise, he’s hunkered over the polished, wooden negotiating table, between his desk and bookshelf, where titles preaching leadership from the likes of Brian Billick, Tony Dungy and Dennis Green are displayed.

    The athletic director has been on the job fewer than three months, and across the table sits the head of the United States Olympic wrestling team, Zeke Jones. On Jones’ side is senior associate athletic director Don Bocchi. In front of Anderson is a yellow legal pad.


    Jones is the only man Anderson and Bocchi have even considered for the position to lead a once dominant program that had fallen on hard times.

    Continued: The Process: How Ray Anderson has made nine home-run hires - The State Press

    Meet the first ASU women's hockey recruit: KC McGinley
    There were no distractions. KC McGinley had just entered an airplane that she would have no escape from for six hours, as it hurdled through the air across the country. Six hours alone with her thoughts. Cramped with people but nobody to talk to.

    On this early January day, it was her duty to think. She had a week to consider her options. As she stepped onto the jetliner at Logan International Airport, McGinley wasn’t in a good headspace. After a year and half of majoring in hockey and minoring in school at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, McGinley was about to get her priorities straight.


    McGinley took the moments of isolation to put her thoughts on paper. Everything that went right the first year. Everything that had gone wrong in her second. She at first tried to escape her thoughts. But there were none. Just a book to read and her own imagination.

    Continued: http://www.statepress.com/article/2...asu-womens-hockey-recruit-kc-mcginley-journey

     
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    Only had time to skim the first piece. I like your approach, and the writing is vivid.
    Just a couple things:
    (1) Somewhere at the top, you really have to say that the meeting you're writing about in the lead is/was to hire an ASU wrestling coach. All you say is that Jones is the US Olympic wrestling coach. Don't assume that people know what he's interviewing for. For all we know, he could have been applying for a football conditioning position.
    (2) The story needs a "nut graf." After your colorful opening, you need to tell readers what the story is about: the fact that this guy has hired 9 ASU coaches and they're all big deals. I saw it later in the piece. Just move it up and make it flow. Every feature editor would tell you this.
    (3) Eliminate all cliches: like "shoot for the moon"..."nobody can put a finger on"..."a fatal blow"
    (4) Also please eliminate ridiculous word choices, such as he "fancied" a dinner out... "nothing pressing on the docket" or... (getting technically worse here) "large majority"...and finally, the one that made me spew my coffee: "Humbly braggadocious."

    All that is easy to fix. I'm just surprised that your editor didn't tell you the same things.

    I think you're on the right track.

    p.s. After I posted this, I skimmed the lead to your second piece. I'd reiterate points 3 and 4 and I would highly recommend reading Bill Zinsser's book "On Writing Well." It will enable you to quickly spot and eradicate your own empty word choices and cliches. It's a fun book, too. I promise you won't regret it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  3. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Active Member

    As a reader and not a writer, I would stress points 3 and 4. I stopped reading the second piece before the end of the first paragraph. Just too much. Also, it is 'hurtled', not 'hurdled' and 'hurtled' isn't a very good choice for a commercial plane ride.
     
  4. YorksArcades

    YorksArcades Active Member

    To really go cliche -- I think you have the lightning, but not the bottle.

    But I think you could fix this easily. Keep the lively writing, but harness it. For example, you have the hocker coach entering the plane, trapped on the plane, and then back to stepping onto the plane. Keep time and place unified.

    Also, you might think it is really obvious that we should know Ray "Not Jamal" Anderson is the AD when we start the second graf. It isn't. Whenever I have to "jump" backward to get details, I cringe. Unfortunately, this is a common flaw in sports articles.

    If you fix the sequential things and scrap the 20-dollar words, you might have something. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
     
  5. ewebeck

    ewebeck New Member

    Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I'll definitely pick up that book and keep working on everything you mentioned.
     
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