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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Angola!, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    I haven't done this in a while, so here is a football feature I did the week of the state championship games.

    SEATTLE Jack Smith had heard the sound before.
    A curious pop coming from his knee.
    He had just had his legs taken out during a play against Nowhere High.
    Smith's first thought was, “Oh, no, not again.”
    “It broke my knee brace,” the Somewhere senior said. “It scared me. Feeling a pop in my knee the same as when I tore it, but it turned out to just be scar tissue.”
    The center and linebacker tore his ACL in the first scrimmage of the year prior to the 2005 season. After missing all of 2005, Smith rehabbed and returned as a starter and captain to the 2006 team.
    But he thought it was all for naught when he was hit by the Nowhere player.
    “It scared him to death,” Somewhere head coach John Doe said. “We thought he had torn it again.”
    Smith started at center his sophomore season and was elected a captain for the Cougars before the 2005 season, so losing him was even more costly for Somewhere.
    “It was really hard having to watch from the sidelines,” Smith said. “Working so hard during the summer just to tear my ACL was kind of devastating.”
    Smith tore his ACL on a freak play as he went to cut to follow a running back and his cleat caught in the grass and he felt the infamous pop of his ACL going.
    “When I was laying there last year, there could be nothing worse,” Smith said. “You know something is wrong and you can’t do anything.
    “Then rehabbing, you just want to come back and help out your team.”
    He rehabbed for a couple of months and returned in time to play on the Somewhere baseball team last spring.
    “He was very involved,” Doe said. “He tried to come to practice and was at every game on the sidelines.
    “Sometimes when an injury like that happens, it is hard to come (to the fieldhouse). But he did a great job of being a team leader from the sidelines.”
    Smith said it wasn’t in his personality to not participate with his team despite being injured.
    “It’s my team and I felt like it was still mine,” Smith said. “I’m not the kind of person to walk out on my team. It wouldn’t feel right.”
    With Smith back and working just as hard as ever, he has helped lead the Cougars on the most memorable run in school history.
    “It’s amazing,” Smith said. “It’s hard to describe. The only way to say it is, it is amazing.”
    Much like his quick return to a football team he loves.
  2. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Ola,

    Re Somewhere ... strikes me that he knew exactly when and where he heard it before. I doubt he was trying to place it but couldn't. In fact it was a sound he likely never quite got out of his head and dreaded it. I would like the lead sentences if they were high descriptive to what just happened and then working back to past precedent.

    But that's just me.

    YHS, etc
  3. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    FotF - Crap, the Somewhere is in place of the original dateline. Let me fix that.
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Ola,

    My mistake.

    I stand by what I say though ... I think that a little more description on the just-happened play before going into the sound that he first heard and dreaded thru months of rehab. Even if you wrong-foot the reader --

    1. Watching players get hurt, we think about what it feels like, but they talk about sounds.
    2. Him describing the dreaded sound. The most recent bit.
    3. A lot don't know what to expect, don't recognize the sound.
    4. But he had heard it before, thought about it ...

    Maybe something like that.

    YHS, etc
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    So you think it would have been better to lead with the original injury and then come back to the new one? Interesting. I hadn't thought of it that way.
  6. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    I think the beginning does need revision.
  7. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Ola,

    If it's a news story, I'd think you're bound to put what happened most recently in first.

    If it's a feature go with what hits the eye and ear best, whatever the order.

    My suggestion isn't so much about order--either way you can make it work. But I think you have to evoke (or have the pts of the story evoke) more.

    i.e., the dread aspect--more than oh no, not again.

    Not again under the surgeon's knife, not again the hospital bed, not again months of rehab ...

    YHS, etc
  8. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    I see what you are saying. So, I left it too vague about what the "oh no, not again" was. Good point. Thanks for the advice.
  9. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    haven't done this in a while, but here goes:

  10. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    disregard my post...attempted to start a new post but hit the wrong button.

    didn't mean to thread-jack
  11. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Hey Ang,

    I like the story, but I think I agree with the ever astute Mr. Friendless here... I really like the idea of an athlete coming back and encountering -- or seemingly encountering -- his greatest fear all over again. With a bit of fleshing out, this could be one of those cold sweat stories, a holy shit sort of thing.

    As for structure, I think it's helpful -- especially with short stories -- to take a few minutes to think about how you would tell the story if you were talking to somebody, as though you were pitching it as an idea for a movie, say.

    In this case, I'd think you'd say something like, "Well, there's this kid. Last year, he blew out his knee, and he was really broken up about it. But he worked hard and came back for the start of this season. Except, after all that work, in the first game of the season, whammo. He hears this pop. And he thinks he's done. But after everybody takes a breath, it's just a scare. And since that moment, he's been leading his team to their best season ever. It's as if coming so close to disaster freed him somehow."

    That's probably the most natural way of telling it. And when you're cramped for space, telling a story in its most natural way -- just passing it along to your readers the way it seems happy to hang on its own -- is probably the best way.

    Not bad work at all, though. Just a couple of things to think about for the future.
  12. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Ola,

    Mr Jones's note about "cold sweat" is on point. To max the drama:

    1. Hearing the sound now, most recently.
    2. Transported back to when he heard it first. How it happened that first time.
    3. The repercussions/consequences/fall-out from that severe injury. Surgery. The months of rehab. Dread and fear on return.
    4. Dread and fear being realized not with impact or pain but a sound.
    5. Relief that it could have been worse.
    6. But no lasting relief. Nothing that he can take confidence in. Anything but. The sound is out there. Not like the sound of a ball hitting a sweet spot. Not a sound that he can hear when others get hurt. Just something that he and others have to live with, play through, to all but hubris-ridden, on borrowed time.

    YHS, etc
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