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Feedback on my final story of the year

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by HookEm2014, May 5, 2012.

  1. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    Hey what's up y'all this is my last story of my sophomore year and represents what, I think, is definitely my best work yet (most time consuming article at that to), and I would love to get a few people's honest opinion on the piece. Thanks in advance to anyone that takes the time to look it over.

  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The reinstatement process section was awkward at best. You editorialize a bit on the kid and Garrido. You shouldn't do these "changed man" stories a few months after the incident that got the player in trouble. You could focus it on trying to change and battling back, but your position is a bit much.

    This part bothers me as well, because there is no attribution. I'm sure the kid told you this part.

    Do you know he's earned back any respect he may lost? You have to quote teammates on this.

    When you mention Garrido and his DUI arrest, why did the DUI make him a better person? You just can't throw cliches out there.

  3. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    You have some great details in here. I'm impressed you got the kid to tell you what happened in such depth -- figuring he could get lost in the crowd if he ran, ditching the marijuana that was wrapped in a receipt, not counting on the cops' walkie-talkies.

    Too often, you use quotes that simply repeat what your transition said.

    To make matters worse, the arrest took place a night before the team’s first fall game, which he says was the toughest part of the ordeal.

    “Sitting in jail while my teammates were out there playing was the worst part," he said.

    Etier admits that he wouldn’t change much of what happened over those couple of days, because of the improvements he’s made as a person in the months following.

    “I don’t regret it because it’s put me in a good place as far as seeing what I really want in life,” he said.

    That event made Garrido a better person in the end, and he attempted to pass on that message to Etier.

    “He told me it was just like when he endangered people through his incident and that he learned a lot from it,” Etier said.

    Kind of piggy-backing on what Stitch said, I was left wondering what exactly he learned and what changes he made. You allude to it several times, but I never see it spelled out. Did he stop drinking? Does he drink less often? Did he quit smoking pot?

    You throw in a few things that I would have liked a little more info on. They're small things, but they stick out to me because they raise questions that aren't answered. Why didn't he want to go to St. Edward's? Why did they not admit him for the spring? Why did he spend the night in jail (did he not have enough for bail?)?

    Oh, and I just noticed this one! WHY WERE THE CHARGES DROPPED???
  4. Raiders

    Raiders Guest

    A DUI arrest isn't an "event." In the context above, call it an incident. Or, in the bigger picture, an experience. Or something like that.
  5. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    Ok, thanks for the feedback guys, it really is greatly appreciated. Not repeating my transitions into my quote I will keep in mind, and yea looking back on the story there are some holes that should've been addressed.

    But for anyone one that has read this story, do you think, even with these issues, it could still be considered a strong clip?
  6. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    Yes, sorry if that didn't come across, it's definitely a strong clip.
  7. joe

    joe Active Member

    To piggyback on Stitch's selected quotes. You have the meat of the story, but cut the fat and add details.

    "In the meeting, Dodds sat right across for Jordan and looked at him squarely in the eyes to determine if he really had changed as a person." Wordy. Try something like this:
    "In the meeting, Dodds sat across from Jordan and looked him squarely in the eyes. Dodds needed to determine if Jordan had changed."

    Your first phrase needs details, such as: "Although he only hit .238 this season, the intangibles ..."

    How does he display a positive attitude? How does he work his tail off? Details, details, details. And if "working his tail off" isn't a direct quote, cut it and tell us how he works hard. "Working his tail off" is imprecise coach-speak.
  8. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Good job amassing all this information in a story.

    It's a fair clip. Were I an editor looking at it, I'd still wonder why it was so long. You're caught between trying to create a narrative story and then having a quote to back up your narrative. This creates repetition and wordiness.

    Wordiness is a general problem throughout the story. Consider the lead/lede:

    <i>Streaming from the dugout, teammates raced towards Jordan Etier and moments later a massive pile of humanity engulfed him at first base, celebrating Etier’s game winning at bat against Texas A&M last Sunday.</i>

    I turn that into:

    <i>From the dugout, teammates raced towards Jordan Etier, engulfing him in a pile at first base to celebrate his game winning at bat against Texas A&M last Sunday.</i>


    Because teammates don't need to "stream" and "race." And what else is in the pile but humanity? Their clothes? Save the little jokes for TV broadcasts. Personally, I'd dump "from the dugout," too, because the pile is the key visual - not where they're coming from.

    Then take this chunk:

    <i>Like some college students who find trouble on a Saturday, Etier’s issues stemmed from a night of heavy drinking and the bad decisions that come with that. In his case, he made the decision to wake up and attend a tailgate the next morning despite still being intoxicated from the night before.

    At the tailgate Etier continued to drink until he and his friend, a baseball player from Oklahoma State, went down to a ravine area near the tailgate, which many students use as a place to drink or smoke, and even as a crude location for a bathroom break.

    The latter was the reason that Etier and his friend took a trip down to the spot. A few minutes after they arrived a police officer called out to them to come up to the top of the ditch to talk. At that moment Etier had a choice, approach the officer and risk arrest, as he had two-thirds an ounce of weed on him at the time, or run.

    Maybe it was because of the drinking or maybe it was because he thought it was the easiest option at the time, but he knows one thing was true. He was with his friend and he didn’t want him to get in trouble, so he ran.</i>

    Watch what it could become. Not saying this is right. But this is the stripped-down version. The very opposite of the editorializing you've done:

    <i>Etier got drunk Friday night. Still drunk Saturday morning, he went to a football tailgate with his friend, an Oklahoma State baseball player. Etier drank there, too.

    When he had to pee, Etier and his friend walked down to an open ditch. A cop saw them, rode over on his bike and told them to come to the top of the ditch for a talk.

    Etier had two-thirds of an ounce of weed on him, and he didn't want to get his friend in trouble. So he ran.</i>

    We went from 215 words down to 88. It's stripped all the way down. It's not artful. Does it need to be?

    What I'd do with the extra space is get details. What he did drink at the tailgate? How much? What'd the cop look like? What kind of bag was the weed in?

    If you're asking me what I'd do, that's what I'd do. I'd gut the whole story of everything but its essence, look for missing details, and go talk to the sources again.

    Think of a story like a good football drive. Momentum. Efficiency. Hook the reader, pull her, kick her. The goal is to do it so well they want to read again.

    This art has been lost in the last 10-15 years for many reasons. But readers still respond to it. Even long magazine stories do not linger as long as we think on purple prose. They just jam more facts in, tell a bigger story, have more actors on the stage. Based on these sources, you have a 900-word story masquerading as a 2,500 word story.

    In the future, talk to the grandparents. Just call them up. Find out where those Little Leaguers were. Ring up St. Edwards. Go back and dig into Garrido's mess, since there's a bit of a parallel here. Put extra elements on the table. Don't merely puff the elements you have into more than it is.
  9. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    Hey thanks to all that provided me the feedback here, it is much appreciated and will be put to good use. I know that wordiness is an issue with my writing and I'm working to improve upon that. Hopefully the next time I post an article on here I am much improved and well past wordiness. But it looks like I'm getting wordy here haha, so in summary, thanks!
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