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Help me on an article

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Minnesota4Ever, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Minnesota: If you're a reporter your opinion doesn't matter. No one cares. Keep it out of the story.

    Can you make observations? Sure. The best writing, however, will have quotes and examples supporting those observations. Rather than say they did a "great" job of scoring, which is a highly subjective word, show me. 49 percent? Let the reader determine for themselves if the scoring or defense was so great.

    Your observations will also help you ask better questions and get better quotes. Let the coach say they had a great job scoring and if in another game he tells you they did a great job scoring by shooting 33 percent call him out on it ... no one expects a reporter to be a stenographer but trust me, no one wants your damned opinion either.

    Use whatever knowledge you have of the subject to write a fair, balanced and accurate story. Not commentary.
  2. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Minnesota, I don't want to sound harsh, but you have a long way to go. That's all right, because we all started somewhere, but there's too much here for any one of us to critique. We'll have to make it a group effort.

    I'll throw in two easy pointers, though, to add to the already good advice that's been given.

    1) Forget that you ever heard of the word "got." Read over your story. How many times does it appear? "They got" is a terrible construction. Strike it from your mind. For you, it no longer exists.

    2) If you end a sentence with one word, and you start the next sentence with the same word, there is always a better way to write those two sentences.

    For instance: The Pioneers started the second half with a 11-2 run. This run propelled them to lead 47-35.

    Instead: The Pioneers started the second half with an 11-2 run, propelling them to a twelve point lead, 47-35.

    And make sure you read a bunch of game stories before you try again. That should help with your structure, things like where to put quotes in a story instead of piling them up at the end.

    Again, kiddo, you've got a long way to go. You're really going to have to work at this. Might as well start now.
  3. CradleRobber

    CradleRobber Active Member

    Try to avoid sentences like that, for multiple reasons.
  4. MC Sports Guy

    MC Sports Guy Member

    Clearly this is a near-virgin effort, at least that's the hope. You have very basic grammar problems here. For instance, Fairleigh-Dickinson is not a "they", it's an "it."

    Two, the lede was WAY too long. Your first graph should be punchy, one sentence or two very short sentences at the most. When you start a story out like that, people just aren't going to make it through to the end.

    The third thing is the quotes. You simply must have a quote somewhere within the first five graphs, even better in the first three. Readers love quotes because they provide an insight to the game. Your quotes all come at the end, when they should have been sprinkled throughout the story to add color.

    Lastly, keep opinion out of it. It's been stated, but nobody cares. Your job is to simply report what happened, that's it. Make observations, sure, but back those up with quotes and pertinent statistics. Shooting 49 percent is hardly "great."

    Dont' give up, though. It seems like you have a passion for doing this correctly, but it will take a lot of work. My suggestion is to find a friendly, experienced editor who's willing to work with you on a one-on-one basis. If I'm just being honest, I would completely rewrite this story before it ran in my paper.

    Just try to make each story you write better than the one before it. That's the best advice I can give you.
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    GopherIV -

    You've been given some sound advice here. Heed it as best you can as you move forward.

    It takes a brave soul to post their work here, and I want to thank you for doing so. Please feel free to come back as often as you like.

    I'd also like to thank everyone for taking their time and posting their solutions for this young writer. It's what this workshop was meant for.
  6. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member


    While you have a lot, A LOT, to learn about this business, but that's OK. You're new.

    I'm not sure where to start with you only that these are the essential tools in learning how to write:
    1. Turn off ESPN. Reading this gamer sounded eerily similar to how a ESPN moron would talk over highlights. How we talk, how ESPN does highlights and how we write good game stories is not the same.
    2. Keep opinions out of game stories.
    3. Read as many newspapers as you can get your hands on. Note how they write game stories.
    4. Purchase an AP Stylebook.

    Coming here will also help you. Feel free to ask us questions, PM us (or me) and allow us to work with you to get better because, well, you have a long way to go. Coming here is a good early step.

    Once you start with these things, then we can help you with how to write ledes, use quotes, limit play-by-play and more advanced things.

    My question, was this for a school paper?
  7. I write for SportsPageMagazine.com

    I want to thank you for the support and the help that I have seeked here.

    It hasn't been a fun week. I want to be a good writer and I am not getting the job done which is why I came here to ask for lot of help. Your ideas are very useful and I plan on applying those principles that you folks suggested. I hope I will get better.

    I am pretty sure my editor will not tell me to write any articles on FDU and on the Big East Tournament due to my horrible work. It's his call and he is doing the right thing. I am not going to cry about it. I am going to get better and earn his trust. What I will do is go to two FDU games this week. I am going tommorow night after work as they are at home to play Central Connecticut State and then I will go to see the women's hoops team Monday night against Monmouth. What I will do is write notes and then write about them for practice so that I can get better at it. I am definitely going to sit in my hands and do nothing. I hope this helps.

    No question I got lot to learn which is why I am here.

    Thanks again.
  8. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    What did I tell you about "got," Minnesota? It doesn't exist.

    "I HAVE a lot to learn, which is why I'm here."

    Thank you.
  9. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    Basically, if it sounds like a verbal construction that would come from the mouth of Rocky Balboa, hit the backspace key and try something else. As in, "Yo Adrian, I got to fight Drago. I got to defend Apollo's honor." Or, "Yo Paulie, I got to tell you, your face is starting to look like Butkus' dead ass."
  10. spud

    spud Member

    Just curious, Minnesota... how old are you?
  11. I am 27 years old, Spud.
  12. I’m nobody. I’m sure someone can do a better job than below, but...

    No one wants to read a blow-by-blow account of the game like you have provided. Get tighter. MUCH tighter.

    Instead of getting cliche quotes about “playing good,” or “working together” show me color. Tell me about Amanda Pape. What makes her a good rebounder? Is she mean under the glass, but rescue kittens off the court? Tell me stuff I don’t know and can’t know unless you tell me. The game really doesn’t matter much to your story, actually.

    If you don’t have time/space to write something with color, then a straight game piece might look something like this:

    Hackensack, NJ – February 13, 2007 -
    The Sacred Heart Pioneers moved into second place in the SEC Northern Conference with a 69-50 win over Fairleigh Dickinson University Monday.
    The win improved the Pioneers record to 16-9 overall and 11-3 in the conference. With the SEC tournament only a few weeks away, Sacred Heart now trails first-place Long Island by two games.
    Head coach Ed Swanson said he was impressed with the play of the Pioneers.
    “Our offense looked good,” said Swanson. “We did a good job of playing up-tempo.”
    Swanson said the play of seniors Amanda Pape and Jasmine Walker was key in the win.
    Both women had a double-double. Pape finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, with Walker putting up 12 points and 10 rebounds.
    The Pioneers started strong, going on a 15-3 run to open the game. Although Fairleigh closed the gap to 36-31 at the half, Sacred Heart never trailed.
    Actually, that was as close as the visitors would get. The Pioneers ripped off a 11-2 run to start the second half, putting the game almost out of reach.
    Next action for the Pioneers is next Monday, when they host St. Mary’s.
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