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Feature for Thursday ... PLEASE read!

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by pressboxramblings07, May 23, 2007.

  1. OK, I took a little risk with this feature story on local high school baseball player. The photographer showed up and shot a sweet picture of the kid with the baseball on fire, so I went the whole "hot" route with the inclusion of lyrics. I hate rap music, mind you, but I threw it in with this story.

    So if any of you have critiques, ideas or changes that could make it better, let me know. Just imagine the story with a photo of a kid holding a flaming baseball.

    OK, here goes:

    PRICE — Cannon Coleman doesn’t own an iPod, but he gets his hands on one every so often to pump himself up before a game.

    His favorite track: “What They Gon’ Do” by Lil’ John.

    Coleman laughs, and rightfully so.

    He knows that — by looking at and listening to him — it’s funny to hear a 16-year-old Carlisle sophomore with a strong East Texas drawl be a hip-hop fan.

    Question his taste in music all you want; it’s semantics. But when it comes to his season on the mound, perhaps a better song choice would be, “This Is Why I’m Hot” by Mims.

    That, simply because Coleman is on fire this season — and not because his first name is Cannon, even though it’s a strange irony.

    “I’m just going to do what I have to do,” he said. “I love baseball and I love pitching. I do what I can to get pumped up.”

    Let the song’s lyrics explain Coleman a little better for you:
    This is why I’m hot.
    This is why I’m hot.
    This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot.
    The Indians’ ace is 12-1 on the year with 96 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA in 71 innings pitched. He’s a combined 20-3 since his freshman year, which was the first time he ever pitched 60-feet, 6 inches from home plate.
    This is why I’m hot
    This is why I’m hot
    This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot
    Oh yeah, Coleman loves his fastball.

    “I love bringing the heat. I love to get up there and just throw it by ’em,” said Coleman, who also bats cleanup and sports a .363 average. “But it’s not all about speed. It’s about hitting his spots.”

    Carlisle coach Wesley Colley said Coleman, who weighs about 160 pounds dripping wet, keeps his heater around 84-88 mph, a solid speed for a sophomore and at Coleman’s size.

    But just like his fastball, Coleman plays bigger than he looks. You can tell by his demeanor on the field.

    “I stare ’em down,” he explained, “and you can tell in their eyes when they don’t want to be in the box. I know I’m fixing to shut ’em down.”
    I’m hot ’cause I’m fly
    You ain’t ’cause you not
    This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot
    Coleman knows how good he is, too. When asked if his pitcher was “cocky,” Colley just smiled and nodded his head.

    “You have to be cocky to be a pitcher,” said Coleman, who said he also throws a two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and the occasional changeup. “When I hear the catcher’s mitt pop and (Daniel Cassell) lets out a scream to pump me up, that’s what keeps me going.”

    As “cocky” as he is, Coleman still keeps a team-first attitude. He said he never turns around when a fly ball is hit behind him. He trusts his defense that much.

    It’s all about enjoying yourself, he said.

    “If you go out and practice hard with your teammates and just have fun, no one can stop you,” he said.

    And teams have had a hard time stopping Coleman and Co. this season. Carlisle, which owns a 23-4 record and is two rounds from the state baseball tournament, is putting all its trust in Coleman at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

    Size, age, cockiness — nothing — is a liability when Coleman takes the hill in a one-game Class A regional semifinal playoff against Grapeland at Jacksonville High School. Colley has total faith in his young star.

    “I’m completely confident in Cannon,” Colley said. “He’s one of the reasons I wanted to play just one game. He’s mentally tough as well as physically, and he’s a smart player.”

    Carlisle is already one round ahead of where it finished last year. Just a freshman, Coleman lasted only three innings in the Indians’ 8-4 loss to Rice in the regional quarterfinals at Mike Carter Field. It was his second loss of the season.

    “I was so tight and nervous that game,” Coleman admitted. “My back hurt I was so tight. It’s not like that this year.”

    Coleman also confessed that the game at Mike Carter Field was the nicest and biggest venue he’s ever played in. Not to take anything away from Tyler’s ballpark, but he would much rather play at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, which can hold almost 12,000 fans and houses the Triple-A Round Rock Express.
    They love how I move crowds from side to side
    They ask me how I do it, and simply I reply
    This is why I’m hot
    This is why I’m hot
    This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot
    “That’s our goal,” said Coleman, whose jaw dropped when told of Dell Diamond’s capacity. “I’m ready; I feel no pressure. We’re gonna win.”
  2. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Nooooo!!! x 100.

    I understand why you wanted to go that route, but reading that, it felt like you forced the song lyrics into the story. And that's probably because, well, you did. Had he referenced the song then I could see you using it, but clearly he didn't. The lyrics don't add anything to the story, at all, in my opinion. Really, it breaks up the flow.

    Also, you are a dash freak.

    Not a bad effort overall, but I would ditch the song lyrics. I applaud you for taking a chance on something like this, and maybe it will work for some readers ... maybe people who stop in on the workshop will like it, too. It just didn't do much for me. Sorry.

    ALSO: this graf (below) doesn't make sense. Is that last part supposed to be in quotes?

    “I love bringing the heat. I love to get up there and just throw it by ’em,” said Coleman, who also bats cleanup and sports a .363 average. “But it’s not all about speed. It’s about hitting his spots.”
  3. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I think I have to add a second no. I like that you tried to take an ordinary profile and make it something different, but I agree with the moose that the lyrics serve more as speedbumps than anything else.

    I could be wrong there, but for me, it distracted from the story.

    I'm always curious when I read a story like this: Did you ask the kid why he can throw fast?

    And the catcher yelling out -- that's good stuff. I would have liked to have seen more there, including, maybe, a quote from that kid.

    There's lots of good stuff here, though... Enough that you don't need to get cute with it, I don't think.
  4. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    Agreed with the two posters above. There's no need to involve lyrics, especially ones as repetitive and simplistic as "This is why I'm hot"
  5. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    A fourth no to this, but I definitely respect you taking a different idea and running with it. Perhaps it is because I just hate the chorus to that song so much, but the insertion of it in the story made me realize that reading it is almost as annoying as hearing it.

    You have some great insights in this one, and I think mentioning the songs/lyrics in the beginning could work, but after that, cut to the meat of the story and move away from the lyrics.
  6. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    I think you forced it. My first impression is you went to interview this kid, he talked about his fastball and cockiness and on the way home on the radio or on your iPod you heared "This Is Why I'm Hot" and you decided to force it upon this story.

    The kid never mentioned that song. He did mention “What They Gon’ Do” by Lil’ John. Perhaps there were a few lyrics in that song that pertained to his "hottness" if you will.

    But you have plenty of good stuff in here, you can just tell the story.

    This kid is cocky and admits it. How about from the point of view of an opposing team? What did they think of this skinny sophomore bringing it almost 90 mph? How frustrated were they and how much enjoyment did Cannon get out of frustrating opposing hitters.

    You have to watch the cutsy stuff like inserting lyrics. It's a fine line between it working and not working. If you can tell a good story, keep it simple and descriptive, I think you would do the story subject and your readers justice.

    Dropping lyrics like,
    I’m hot ’cause I’m fly
    You ain’t ’cause you not
    This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot


    I'm even a hip hop fan, but songs and lyrics like this are awful and even more so when seen in print. "You ain't 'cause you not"? Nice.

    By the way...
    The dude's name is "Cannon" and his best pitch is a fastball... anyone else catch that... is it his real first name?
  7. MilanWall

    MilanWall Member

    Just a quick comment: It's "Lil Jon." (No "h") I only know this because he's a fan of the Thrashers, my favorite pro team.

    And the local softball team played that aggravating "This Is Why I'm Hot" song all the time.
  8. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Two things I learned today:

    Lil' Jon likes hockey.
    The Atlanta Thrashers have fans.
  9. Not even close. I hate rap/hip-hop or anything else of that nature.

    Yup, that's his real name.

    I ended up taking out most of the lyrics. I left a couple in there, but I really appreciate the feedback. The photo/design package turned out pretty good, too.
  10. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Nice try. It takes courage to open you r stuff up to critique. I too don't like the lyrics, especially if he didn't use them or volunteer the song.

    Best advice I got in J school was, "You are never better than your material."

    When you try to be better than your material, that is how you get stories that are over the top and sometimes ridiculous.

    There is a lot in that story which is good stuff. What did you end up going with.

    It's too late I know, but he seems cocky, and I love that about high school athletes. Let his cockiness come through. It makes a great read. This kid doesn't seem boring at all.
  11. I realize this is too late to help you for your deadline, but I'll post anyway because constructive criticism is never a bad thing.

    I will join the growing legion of posters who don't like the lyrics in this story. In addition to making the story construction clunky, they just don't fit. You're jamming a round peg into a square hole here. If Coleman had told you that his favorite song was "This is Why I'm Hot," then I could understand and maybe even grudgingly accept the placement of the lyrics in the story. But he told you his favorite song was "What They Gon' Do," leaving me, as a reader, wondering: "Why in the fuck did he reference one song in the lede and then quote from another in the body of the story?"

    To me, that's the equivalent of dropping a teaser about how much Coleman likes to throw his mid-90s fastball, then following it with a quote from some random coach about how great Coleman's curveball is. That wouldn't make any sense.

    I do like that you at least tried something different. That's the mark of a writer who wants to improve his craft. I'd be interested to see how the finished story turned out and would also like to see the design package if you can post it.
  12. Appreciate the help man.

    I'm out until Tuesday, but I'll put up the page then. It turned out all right.
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