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Another Shot at a Feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by biggy0125, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. biggy0125

    biggy0125 Member

    Figured I should take my lumps on another feature and see where it stacks up with my last piece I put on here. I'd love to hear what you guys think, good or bad. Thanks.

  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    What you've got here is a really fantastic 1,000-word feature story. Unfortunately, it took you 1,800 words to tell it.

    You've got a lot of natural ability. Really. But you're trying to be more of a stylist than your experience justifies. It took Jeff MacGregor and Tom Junod a decade or two to write like Jeff MacGregor and Tom Junod. Reel it back and get your basics down before you try extending metaphors through paragraphs or writing 60-word sentences on a consistent basis.

    I'm curious as to how you planned out this story. Did you organize an outline at all? It doesn't seem that way. Stream-of-consciousness can lead to bad places for feature stories. I think you had a great idea near the beginning to start with this concept of them coming up with the idea on a dorm-room floor (assuming that's a concrete detail; you can't make shit like that up, so I hope you're certain of it). But the paragraph you built that on was overwrought. The birthing metaphor didn't work. I can't figure out how gypsies are relevant, and stillbirth isn't something to toss around lightly. Moreover, you were burying the plan itself.

    Build your story arch before you start writing. Concentrate on accomplishing the story arch, not writing for the sake of writing. You show a lot of talent, but you're burdened by the meandering thoughts and unintentional repetition and unfocused details. Hitchcock had a theory that developed into the concept of MacGuffin: Don't include anything that isn't directly relevant. Don't mislead your audience. As you write more and work with good editors (I'm guessing you've got little in the way of editing at Rant Sports), you'll learn when you can throw in a detail for the sake of a detail. But for now, it's best to consider economy of words and thoughts. There's no space limitations online, but that doesn't mean you should be writing such long pieces. I'm guessing very few people will make it to the end of this piece, but a tightened, 1,000-word version could be outstanding.
  3. biggy0125

    biggy0125 Member

    I value and appreciate the feedback, and you're probably right about the length. I get kind of caught up in the amount of material I have versus what is truly necessary. A couple of people have mentioned to me that there is a noticeable divide between the print work I do and the online stuff. I'm self-diagnosing a bit, but that probably has a lot to do with the pressure to be more colorful on the internet.

    The anecdote about Matt LaWell developing this road trip on his dorm room floor is true. He sat down with a road map and pinned every minor league stadium in the country. I'm young and I definitely have to work hard to develop sources and create the opportunities to write pieces like this, but I would never embellish anything like that.

    Like I said, I really appreciate the critique, and I hope this, in some ways, is an improvement from the last feature I posted here. Looking forward to hearing what you think next time I post a piece here.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    It was a major improvement. That anecdote would have made a terrific lede, written in a more straightforward style.
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