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Feedback on delicate story, por favor.

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Sean Smyth, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. Sean Smyth

    Sean Smyth Member

    Hope life finds all of you well. Here is my story from today's paper. I really struggled with the lede, as I didn't have much room to work with. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


    Boston Herald
    Saturday, Sept. 8

    By Sean Smyth

    For South Boston, it has been a month of mourning and maturing.

    The sudden death of football coach Robert Lerro left the Knights without a leader. Lerro, a Southie fixture for more than 30 years, was an assistant coach under two regimes before taking the reins.

    Southie dedicated its season to Lerro and opened in style yesterday, rebounding from a sluggish first half to defeat Latin Academy, 30-6.

    Knights junior running back Derick Willis (11 carries, 168 yards) reminded teammates about their pledge at halftime.

    “I told them, ‘We came out here to do this in the name of coach. We don’t want to let him down,’ ” Willis said.

    Latin Academy dominated the first half, allowing Southie just two first downs and taking a 6-0 lead at the half.

    That’s when Willis, new Southie coach Sean Guthrie and assistants James de Mello and Victor Pereira said their piece.

    Southie took the ball to start the second half, and Willis rambled 20 yards on the first play. Two plays later, he scored on a 9-yard run.

    He added a 54-yard touchdown run later in the quarter, then capped his day with two 24-yard scoring runs in the fourth quarter.

    While the day was not a formal tribute to Lerro - one will be held on Oct. 12, before South Boston’s game against Hyde Park - he was on everyone’s minds.

    Southie players are wearing No. 49 on their helmets this year, a nod to Lerro’s number when he played Park League football, and coaches are wearing the number on their hats. A pep rally was held before the game, with players giving testimonials to their beloved coach.

    Guthrie, 28, who joined Lerro’s staff midway through last year, said Lerro made him feel welcome.

    “He was willing to take advice, no matter how young (I was),” Guthrie said.

    Lerro’s warm, caring personality also stood out for Latin Academy coach Jim Williams, who spent one year as a teacher at South Boston and knew Lerro from their work together at summer sports camps.

    “We had a lot in common. We loved discipline; we loved sports,” Williams said.
  2. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    I thought it was a pretty clean piece of work. I especially liked how you started and ended the story with Lerro and put the game action in between. I thought your lede worked. For a gamer like this, you have to start with something like that, but get to the score quickly to. I thought you did that.

    I'm sure anyone in your area already knows this, but I found myself asking when/how did Lerro die? It probably goes without saying for anyone who knows the team, but as someone who has no idea where Southie is, that stuck out.

    I'm not sure if "said their piece" is the right way to say it or not, but I would avoid it because it sounds a little cliche. Also, after you said that, you didn't say what "their piece" was. What did the coaches say?

    I can definitely tell you didn't have much space to work with, and that's too bad because a story like this can really turn out great with more inches behind it. But for the little space you did have, I thought you used it well. Nice job.
  3. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Brother Smyth,

    I dunno. It sounds goofy but hear me out. We start with him dead. ("Mourning" is, well, a mournful word and though it might get black-hearted Irish hearts fluttering, it will kill some readers' interest from the get-go. A downer.). Maybe in the lede we could evoke ye olde coach as he was ... y'know, after a win like this, and gawd knows he had hundreds of them, ye olde coach would be smoking a cigar and slapping backs ... he wasn't around for it but that doesn't mean he wasn't in their thoughts. It has a dirge start. Could we make it an Irish wake, maybe?

    YHS, etc
  4. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    When did the coach die? I think that helps govern how you treat a game story under these circumstances.
  5. Sean Smyth

    Sean Smyth Member

    Thanks for the feedback, fotf, Ty and tap. It was a tough story for me to write for a few reasons. I covered Bob for a few years when he was the school's assistant football coach and head baseball coach. I moved away from the area for a few years, and I just moved back this year -- and this was the first story I wrote since being back here. So I knew him a little more than Joe Blow. Lerro was found dead a few weeks before the season started, and I've heard a few different stories on how long it took to find him (one day, three days). We'd covered the story when he first died and in season previews, so I didn't wanna rehash too much.

    And fotf, I went with mourning in part since I have an affair going with alliteration. I really need to cut back on our evenings together.

    Take care,
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