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Lay some heavy hits out on my work..

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Troy, Apr 28, 2007.

  1. Troy

    Troy New Member

    I just wrote a quick article on the St. Louis Rams' first round, 13th pick, selection. I would love to hear some feedback on this (upcoming) article, especially since I'm looking to really improve my writing vastly. Feel free to send out as many tips you'd like. I want all of the constructive criticism I can get over my writing just to improve. Thanks in advance! Oh.. and now the article:

    Just about an hour and 30 minutes ago, the Rams drafted Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska. I sat through the first two hours and thirty minutes being very anxious to see who my team would pick up, for our first new college alumni addition. It's Carriker. My initial thoughts were that we just picked up one hell of a player. Actually, my initial thoughts were more-so that I was getting tired of hearing Berman and Mortensen ramble on and on, with Kiper doing his hand spread, wing out, hair slid back like a jet type of style talking in an aggressive tone, so I switched over to NFL Network.

    We truly needed a defensive tackle. Not just any guy, but a run stuffer. Currently for our team at the depth of tackles we have that are eligible of playing on Sundays are Jimmy Kennedy, Victor Adeyanju, Claude Wroten, and old-and-out La'Roi Glover. I'll break these 4 guys down in a quick and brevity nutshell. We drafted Kennedy in 2003 at #12 overall, expecting the man to be a physical run stopper. However, just like Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett (both former Rams), he didn't pan out, and has been completely non-existent and as well at times a distraction. I believe this year will be his last chance to really show us what he can do.

    With Victor Adeyanju, I like the guy; he has his moments where he shows strength, but he doesn't have the movies nor the speed to take running backs down and force them to eat grass. With him being bulky, he's good at overloading on top of players and forcing his weight on them, which is good, but he's not as athletic as you would really want in a run stopping defensive tackle, and that's his major flaw. There's another season, and more time to improve. While I'm not big on him as a starter, I like him over Kennedy.

    Then there's Claude Wroten. We took the guy in the 3rd round last year, and he had a lot of brouhaha riding on his back, but he apparently didn't pan out. His rookie year, he appeared in 15 games; however, only 1 sack, and get it -- 9 tackles. Yes, only 9 tackles. While he had a bad season, there's more to come, and more to play where he can progress. As athletes do have a few bad seasons of sort, they may step it up later on their careers. Wroten was only a rookie, and he was still getting his feet wet. Alex Smith, of the San Fransisco 49ers, only had 1 touchdown in his first year; his second year, he tosses 15, even after losing Brandon Lloyd. Wroten could do the same. I mean, Claude is in extremely good health, good weight, good condition, he's ready to play some football, he wants to prove that he wasn't a bust, and wants to show the world that the Rams got him as a steal in that 2006 NFL Draft.

    Oh, and La'Roi Glover. His best years are way behind him. That is why the Dallas Cowboys dumped him, and the Rams got an idea to pick him up in last year's off-season, and ultimately didn't make a big mistake, but he's still not the ideal player at defensive tackle to be a run stuffer. He had a decent 5.5 sacks last year, which helped, but he's not getting any younger, and he has a lot of issues with his health that isn't known to many people. He has short breaths at times, and has many difficulties at staying on his feet when he's knocked off balance. He's good for a mentor, and can still play, but where is THE tackle we wanted to see in the guy?

    Now, today, the 72nd annual NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams at 13, select Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska. Who knew? The question lies now as, who didn't? With knowing Amobi Okoye's stock was skyrocketing, it was pretty obvious that we wouldn't have a chance at Okoye anymore. So our selection basically slid into two guys -- Adam Carriker and Alan Branch. Many Rams fans wanted them to draft Branch; however, I did not. Leaving out my Michigan (U) bias and how bad I absolutely hate Michigan (U), Carriker had the more upside and versatility and I liked that over Branch. Alan isn't a quick guy, and in my mind, he would just be another Kennedy/Lewis/Pickett. I like Carriker because of his height, and the speed at the way of his height, even though Carriker isn't quick turning the corner, he can get into the interior on the defensive end side of the ball, and disrupt not only the running game, but also quarterbacks. Not only that, but I also have to mention how he has such skill at dropping back into coverage, and being able to strafe over and stop quick players 1-on-1, which will help us when we play teams with a scrambling quarterback such as the Atlanta Falcons with Michael Vick.
  2. mikemccall

    mikemccall Guest

    I didn't read the whole thing because, no offense, I just dont care about the Rams. But I'm sure the audience this is for cares, so I don't matter.
    Don't say "we" or "our". You don't work or play for the Rams, so distance yourself. A lot of people turn off when they see that.
  3. Troy

    Troy New Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I'm use to the "our"/"we" gig from being on forums so much, and speaking of that way when the something pertains to the Rams. I haven't thought much of that issue. Thanks for pointing it out; I appreciate it!
  4. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Thanks for posting, Troy.

    Giving it a decent glance, it looks as if you do not have much formal writing training. You write how you talk. This is hard to describe, but there is a difference and that difference separates bad writers from good writers.

    My first question is who is your audience? Blog? Newspapers? Team website? Team periodical? Message board?

    It looks as if you have good analysis of the players, but it is presented poorly. Poorly in a sense that it is not written well.

    For example, let's look at your first graph or lede (I picked this one because, frankly, I don't have time to sift through the entire piece).

    "Just about an hour and 30 minutes ago, the Rams drafted Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska. Again, what is your audience. How is "just about an hour and 30 minutes ago" relevant? I sat through the first two hours and thirty minutes being very anxious to see who my team would pick up, for our first new college alumni addition. As a writer, it is not about you. As a reader, I don't care how long you sat there, hell, if I'm interested in the NFL Draft and the Rams, I probably did the same. So what? And here is where it shows you're lacking in the writing department, "being very anxious" is a poorly written phrase. It's Carriker. My initial thoughts were that we just picked up one hell of a player. Actually, my initial thoughts were more-so that I was getting tired of hearing Berman and Mortensen ramble on and on, with Kiper doing his hand spread, wing out, hair slid back like a jet type of style talking in an aggressive tone, so I switched over to NFL Network. First off, saying your initial thoughts were "we picked up one hell of a player" well, why? Tell the reader why Carriker is a good player. As for your dig on the ESPN crew, I've read it like five times and it still doesn't make sense.

    I wish I had time to go through each graph with you, but time is a factor.

    Again, it seems as if you need to study the basics of journalism, writing and grammar. I don't mean to sound harsh, because I can tell you know about the subject you're writing about, but it simply isn't presented in a good fashion.
  5. Troy

    Troy New Member

    Thanks for the feedback, dawgpound! This article definitely wasn't one of my best as I rushed through it, like I do a lot. It just seems as sometimes I think of "what can I do to make it better" in a quick way, where I want to be efficient and consistent when I get my work done that I usually rush it.

    Sometimes I believe I include too much into my entries; too much unnecessary stuff as you pointed out (thank you so much for doing so). However, then I include my later-voided opinion, yet don't go further in elaborating my point. I think in my "initial thought" part of when we first drafted Carriker was a little ignorant of me, due to I changed the whole meaning of what I was writing, by going off-topic to ESPN.

    I'm a big Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy; ESPN.com's Page 2) fan. Whenever you get time, I'd love to hear your opinion of him. I just admire the way he became a writer, where he was just a blogger and a bartender at a club, to becoming a featured writer on ESPN.com's Page 2.

    I know you don't have a lot of time on your hands as you mentioned, but I would love to hear more from you, if you have any good sources/tips for aspiring sportswriters much like myself. I've been a member of this site for two weeks (I believe), yet haven't posted a lot at all until this past week. After reading over a lot of tips on here, and reading more constructive criticism on my own work, I'm sure by the end of my on-going tenure here, that I will have learned more.

    Once again, thanks. You weren't harsh at all. Like I said in the original post of this thread, I want my work to be criticized in every way possible as long as it's necessary and constructive criticism.
  6. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Troy, I'm a bit busy right now, so perhaps I can offer a bit more of a full critique later in the week, but let me say this in reference to Bill Simmons: He didn't develop his style by reading people like Bill Simmons (if that makes sense). For all the pros and cons of Simmons (debated often on this site) he cares very much about the history of sports writing, and he has a mountain of sports books that he absorbed as a kid. That is why he got where he is. Bill has written this several times, and though he and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, this story is relavent to you: He says that people come up to him all the time and tell him they want to be a sports writer. They want to do what he does. "Ok," he asks them, "What's your favorite sports book?" The kids don't have an answer. They don't read books. They just want to read his stuff and be like him.

    It doesn't work that way. To do what Bill does, to write in his casual, fan friendly style but still make it readable, you have to learn the rules of writing first so that you can know when it's ok to break them, and which ones you can break. Bill wasn't just a blogger. He earned a masters in journalism from Boston University. He worked for awhile at the Boston Herald. He read, literally, hundreds of books by accomplished sports writers. That helped him nail down the basics, and then he was able to develop his own style from there.

    If you're serious about wanting to do this, and do it well, I would suggest journalism school. That will help build a base you can work from. If that's not possible, I would suggest simply reading as much as you possibly can, books, newspapers, essays. When you write blog posts, read them aloud to yourself before you post them. Do they make sense? Does the point meander? Does it lack focus? If you were having a conversation with a friend and he said this...

    ...would you have any idea what he meant?

    Are you in school? What level? I need a little more information before I know what advice might be best for you.
  7. Troy

    Troy New Member

    Thanks for the feedback, Double. I'm currently a sophomore in High School, so I believe I have a while to build on my writing even further. Some example of the sports-related books that I've read are:

    Of course... "Now I can die in Peace" by Bill Simmons
    "TO: The Terrell Owens Story" by Terrell Owens and Jason Rosenhaus
    "LeBron 'the King' James" by Ryan Jones
    "The Sixth Man" by Chris Palmer (ESPN the Mag. writer)

    I just picked up "The Best American Sports Writing of 2006" last week, so in my spare time I've been reading bits and pieces of it.
  8. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Double Down beat me to the Simmons post... he put it much better than I, well done, DD.

    For all the ripping Simmons gets on this board, he is an original. He got in on the ground floor of this Internet thing, found a style that suited him and a style that was original and went with it.

    If you want to be successful, you have to find your originality... is it being a humor guy about St. Louis sports, is it being someone fans can look to for great analysis about their Rams... what?

    Even before you get to that point, I, like Double Down, need to know something about you. Where are you at in life? This will allow us to give you some direction.

    But, that doesn't mean you can get out there and start reading, reading, reading some of the great sports writers... just do a Google search or a search this board, you'll get some names.

    Reason we want you to read is because from your first post, your biggest problem is the basics of writing. Good news about this, it can be fixed.
  9. Troy

    Troy New Member

    Reiterating what I've said: thanks a bunch for the replies, guys. While they're small upgrades, I've written a couple of things down on some paper of what I should/not do, and will create a bigger and better guide as I progress.

    This school year, my current English teacher made everyone form into a group to write a research paper. She improvised a list of topics, and chosen each group to write about, and cover, a certain subject. My group was given the topic of the war in Afghanistan. While it was a broad topic, we shortened into the pros and cons of United States soldiers in war.

    Finalizing the paper, and after the post-grading, she told me that I had potential writing skills, but I didn't present my argument of the war in Afghanistan clearly, and lacked knowledge of it. It was more of a school-only project type of assignment, and my group and I were unable to write the paper at home.

    Anyhow, that's irrelevant. What I'm trying to get across here is, I want to know if I have a potential career in writing? While English teachers of the past two years have acknowledged that I could very well be on my way to a career in writing (this year's one included), I have now found myself asking the opinion of you, dawgpound, and as well as (when you get time) you, DD. I'm not relying on your opinions to be the deciding factor; I'm just wanting to see what kind of hits and misses I have; the "jabs and uppercuts" that I show.

    It's pretty clear now that I'm very willing to learn more and more of sportswriting. I think I have a decent amount of knowledge on sports, and know what I'm talking about most of the time, even if I do sound like a "homer" on the occasion. Looking over, I think my writing, spelling, and punctuation is overall appropriate. However, I lack the persistent literary terms and an overall value of words in my lexicon.

    As I mentioned in my last post, I do read. I happen to read an awful lot from the books I pointed out; I subscribe to ESPN the Magazine, as well as Sports Illustrated; I read several stories on ESPN.com a day. However, the fact exists, I need to have a whole new outlook on the way I write sports articles, and a new mentality when I am writing.

    If you guys have any recommendations or suggestions of other books, or maybe even a website, please do inform me. Thanks!
  10. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member


    Writing is something you don't become good at overnight. When I look back to the stuff I wrote when I was a high school sophomore, it wasn't that good... I thought it was good, I had people tell me it was good... it wasn't, but there was potential, like you have.

    When I look at stuff I write now, I think it's pretty good and I've had people whose opinions I respect tell me its good... I know when I look back in 10 years, I'll think it could have been better.

    You're always going to think you can do better, and for me that is what I love about writing. When you're working on that enterprise, profile or game story, try to make it the best you can. Once it's done, try to make the next one better.

    I do this by listen to advice given by people in this business I respect and who know right from wrong.

    You have to ask yourself if you enjoy the art of writing... not if you like sports or if you suck at math and there's nothing else you think you can do... do you enjoy writing? If the answer is yes, then grab that passion with both hands and go for it.

    Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep asking for input about your writing. These are all important traits. If you can learn from mistakes and don't do it again, you'll be on your way. (I used "walk-off" once in my story and my editor was horrified. I sure didn't do it again.)

    That is interesting you English teacher said you lacked focus... it seems like that in the two pieces I read. You had a topic, but the focus was fuzzy.

    Rick Reilly is one of my favorite columnists, today. Some hate him, and he's had some misses (we've all had) but I think he's hit some home runs. You mention you think you "lack a persistent literary terms and overall value of words in you lexicon." You don't need fancy words to show the reader how smart you are. Reilly's column on the truck driver who lost his father (in the draft preview edition?) is a perfect example of how to tell a story without using big words.
  11. Troy

    Troy New Member

    Again, excellent tips, dawgpound.

    I've been googling writing tips, "what makes a good writer", "what makes a writer good", "what makes a great writer", etc.

    I've been putting the things I've lacked into focus, and I've been trying to zone in.

    I think if I hold onto a focus, and keep a writing mindset, while taking my thoughtful time in making the article sound respectable, I should slowly but surely improve.
  12. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    The biggest thing for you right now is trying to keep it simple. I take it you're a Cardinals fan? Ever try watching a game then, without quotes, writing a basic gamer... like something you'd see in a round up.

    Keep it simple, get the basics down and from there you can starting throwing in some humor, or being witty... but it's important to develop a solid, fundamental and basic knowledge of writing.
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