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Kudos to Patrick Hruby, ESPN.com...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by OnTheRiver, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. bob

    bob Member

    I can't stomach "you" and avoid it at all costs. why should we presume we know what "you" feel or are thinking?
  2. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

  3. silent_h

    silent_h Member

    This is an interesting discussion. I think it demonstrates that there's really no one right way to write that works 100 percent of the time for every possible story ... trust me, I considered and wrestled with the approaches and questions all of you are talking about. How do you write a narrative about a disintegrating narrative? How do you act as a guide for the reader when you are, in fact, lost? A million sausage-making problems with this one.

    I suppose this is what makes this job so hard and draining, but also satisfying and worthwhile.
  4. How much of an influence is J.R. Moehringer? To me he has perfected the first-person narrative feature ("Resurecting the Champ," "Twenty Reasons I Can't Write a Feature Story About Pete Carroll").
  5. silent_h

    silent_h Member

    You know what? He's a rather large but unconsidered (until you mentioned it) one.

    "The Champ," to me, feels like something that fell from the sky, awe-inspiring and otherworldly. Makes me want to give up. Is it the best long-form piece of the last 15 years? You could make a strong argument. Meanwhile, the Carroll piece feels like something I personally could (and would) write, though not as well. Makes me want to keep going.

    It's good to read stuff that makes you feel like you're doing things all wrong, and stuff that makes you feel like you have a clue, after all. Too much of one or the other is probably bad.
  6. Thanks for stopping by and shedding some light on your thought process. To echo an earlier post, it's nice to have at least one thread going that has something to do with the craft and not the business.

    From what I do know about your article (I haven't had time to read it yet, unfortunately :(), I'm wondering if you were at all influenced by Tom Junod's Esquire piece, "Mercenary." He experienced a similar situation in that his original narrative fell apart on fact-checking and he found a way to save the piece anyway. He also used first person, but not from the start. Just shows, as you said above, there are always different approaches a writer can take, even within the boundaries of how to use first person.

    I agree with your last statement, too. I'm very familiar with reading stuff that makes me feel like I'm doing things all wrong. But I'm still looking for some that show me I have a clue. ;)
  7. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    Thanks for popping on here and sharing your story (of your story); For those of us younger types, it's good information to see. And it's definitely a credit to you than, in a story you seem to have felt fought you through most of the writing process, you turned out a damn fine read. Thanks again.
  8. silent_h

    silent_h Member

    Wow. I do remember "Mercenary," very, very powerful story. A type of anti-narrative. Also probably an unwitting influence, though I'd give a limb to be able to write one smart, clean sentence like the hundreds that populate Junod's pieces.

    I am sad to have to think of myself as an older type. Good lord.
  9. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    My only hard fast rule is: be accurate. But if you do go with first person narrative, it better be damn good. This one qualifies. And in long form articles where the narrative breaks down like this one did (and like it did in Merecenary), it works well.

    But second person narrative ... the writer better pull it off so brilliantly that the reader never notices it. Fenian once said that reading second person made him feel like someone was poking him in the chest.
  10. Gary Smith is the only person I've ever read who can consistently pull off second-person. Almost anyone else who does sounds like a wannabe Gary Smith.

    Also, question for magazine writers: Don't magazines encourage first-person narrative? I wish Jones and some of those guys were still around these parts to answer. Or even a guy like Posnanski who wrote the Buck O'Neill book in first person.
  11. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Well done, Patrick. Much of the debate on here is valid, but before it was discussed here, I felt that Patrick was probably struggling with exactly how to best present this story and admitted as much right away. I question if too many casual readers understand this dilemma, but without question, many journalists and/or critical thinkers could sympathize.

    Some feel this is weakness or poor writing. I think it's nothing more than a writer being human in print.
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