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Feedback appreciated on my first game story

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Arion Armeniakos, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. Arion Armeniakos

    Arion Armeniakos New Member

  2. Chef2

    Chef2 Well-Known Member

    Didn't make it through the first paragraph.
    Quit now.
  3. garrow

    garrow Well-Known Member


    Place the final score much higher up in the story. Same for first quote.
  4. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    Hey, thanks for posting.

    There’s a Writers Workshop area on this board. That’s the place to bring stories for feedback.

    But, while we’re here ...

    Broad strokes:

    — Do yourself a favor and rewrite this as 250 words. Keep that version, then cut it to 100. Learn how to tell people a lot with as few words as possible.

    — The final score is buried deep in the story. That’s pretty mich the second most important piece of information besides who won.

    — Cut every phrase that does not mean a specific thing: resilience, good defense, set to face adversity. Show, don’t tell.

    — Keep tuning your ear for quotes. You included a lot of quotes that fans hear night after night. Wait for something that tells you why this game was different, or adds useful details to key points in the game. Avoid hat-tipping (“We’ve got to give credit to...”). Answer why with quotes. If it doesn’t tell you more about what happened, don’t use it. You’re writing for the readers, not the players or the coach.
    Arion Armeniakos likes this.
  5. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    You've basically regurgitated the game recap sheet, start to finish. Boring. In a situation like this, try to explain how they lost, supported by good quotes. Was there a key play that made an impact? A dramatic finish? Lead with that.
  6. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Dude, he's a student.

    Arion, @jlee has given you some good, constructive advice. Main thing with a gamer is to convey who won and the final score. I don't subscribe to tons of rules about writing, but the first score you mention should be the final score, and it shouldn't come later than the third sentence of your story. Then the rest of your story should be about how the game ended with that particular score. Play-by-play can help a little bit, especially if there was a particularly gripping sequence, but it shouldn't be all play-by-play. You should include analysis—the why that @jlee is talking about—so that someone who didn't see the game understands why the game ended the way it did. Did it turn on a specific play? Because of the performance, good or bad, from a specific player? Because of coaching? And then the interviews you conduct and the quotes you use should help you illustrate that point.

    The most important thing is your desire to get better. And read—read a ton of other stuff and try to figure out why you liked it (in which case learn from it) or why you didn't (in which case know what you shouldn't do).
    Arion Armeniakos likes this.
  7. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I'd second everything except the "quit now" stuff.

    The game ended with a 13-0 run. That's the story.

    Shorter sentences, shorter grafs, shorter story. Chop up long complex sentences into separate standalone ones.

    Score at the top, then work backward. Get a good quote up near the top.

    Get both teams' records in fairly high up. Was this a surprise, or pretty much expected?

    Talk to both coaches, even if only for a minute. What was the key behind the big 13-0 run?

    Dump all the play-by-play, except for really crucial sequences.

    Practice a couple rewrites now that you're not under game pressure.

    Try to do a 400-word version (about 12 inches in old style column width) and then a 200-word version (a 6-inch capsule). Boil it down to the basics.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  8. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member


    Good luck.
  9. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    As much as possible, imagine telling a written story vocally to your buddy. If he asks you who won a game and how, how would you tell it to him? You’d want to hook him, keep him listening. Not much different in writing. It’s just storytelling on paper instead of around a campfire. And yeah, put that final score and the first quote up much higher.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    Arion Armeniakos likes this.
  10. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I could really rip this thing apart if I wanted to, but since it's your first time I'll be gentle and echo what a lot of others have said:

    • Imagine you're telling someone about the game. When they ask, "What happened at the game?" what's the first thing you tell them? That's your lead.

    • With rare exceptions, the first 200 words or so should be able to stand as its own story. If you took a meat cleaver and chopped it right there, you should know who won, what was the score, who were the key players, and why was this game important in the grand scheme of things.
    There's a general formula that AP stories use that's a good template to follow: Lead-Nut graph (the main facts of the story)-quote-why it's important paragraph-second quote. Following that has served me well over the years. It also allows you to hit those main points I mentioned in the first 5-6 paragraphs or 200 words, and then you can get into the nuts and bolts of how you got to the result after that.
    Since it was a playoff game, I'd lead by mentioning it was the end of Las Positas' season; talk about the 13-0 run being the decisive factor and a couple of leading scorers in the second graph; a quote in paragraph three; a quick recap of the season (record, historical significance, any big streaks or stats that shed some light on whether it was a good or bad season) in paragraph four; and then another quote backing all of that up in paragraph five. THEN you can dive into the play-by-play of the game.

    • Always remember that if it's a close game at halftime your story probably has not been written yet. A 43-39 halftime score in basketball is pretty meaningless except as a starting point for the second half. That four-point lead can be wiped out or turned into a double-digit deficit in 60 seconds. Given that, start with the most important stuff (the late run, which isn't mentioned until 500 words into a 1,000-word story) and work backward.

    • This sentence:
    and this one:
    Are like fingernails on a chalkboard because it's 100 percent the wrong style. The first sentence should say, "... with the Hawks trailing 43-39."
    The second sentence should say, "The game finished with Santa Rosa on top 88-75."
    The bigger score ALWAYS comes first. And unless it's some big numbers in the hundreds or thousands, never use "to" when writing the score. Use a hyphen in between the two numbers.
    Arion Armeniakos likes this.
  11. Twirling Time

    Twirling Time Well-Known Member

  12. Twirling Time

    Twirling Time Well-Known Member

    The style deficiencies don't bother me so much — those will be learned. Seriously, the best way to improve is to read voraciously other sports writings, learn the patterns that are common and apply it to your own work.
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