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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by HookEm2014, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    This is my last story of the semester, and I was hoping to get some feedback on it from a few y'all. It didn't come out quite as I imagined when I sat down to write it, but I would still love to hear from people on how it could have been better. Thanks for anyone who takes the time to help out. (Oh and I’m not sure if I'm allowed to post a hyperlink or not, but if I'm not supposed to I will take it down and copy and paste the story.)

  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Pet peeve: "including" can't have the whole list. Including should be for part of the list. So if you're going to list all four, do it as a list. "When the four members of the recruiting class of 2008 came to the 40 Acres, they were a mixed bunch, hailing from all over the country: Hawaii, Ohio, Illinois and Texas."

    To that point, is the next recruiting class more than three people? If it is, then including is fine there. If not, "Texas volleyball has taken a clear step forward in its level of play and in recruiting since their arrival, as evidenced by the 2011 recruiting class with three of the top 15 recruits in the nation."

    Overall, it's a pretty good feature. I mean, it's not award-winning, but it's a solid story about four seniors going into the NCAA tourney. My only suggestion would be to work on your transitions, making them a little smoother and not so much of the "transition, quote, transition, quote" formula.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    It would be good to identify the sport within the first paragraph or two. You really never explicitly say it. And always include a team's record and ranking early in a story when readers are likely unfamiliar with the team's caliber.

    Watch out for parallelism issues. For instance, "senior class" is singular. The senior class has "its goals" not "their goals." There were several similar mistakes in the article.

    And this entire paragraph came across euphemistic: "Winning championships is something they have certainly done. This year’s senior class has won three Big 12 titles. However, they still have their eyes set on a more meaningful banner to hang in Gregory, bigger than the ones commemorating the Big 12 championships and the Final Four appearances."

    The first sentence didn't have any meaning at all. The second stated a fact, then the third tried too hard to make an obvious statement vague. Don't overwrite. This would have done the trick: "This year's senior class has three Big 12 championships but is still seeking its first national title."

    Finally, the quotes weren't very good, but you relied heavily on them to define the story. If you were a beat writer for the team, you didn't really show it. If you've been watching the team all season, offer analysis or context for its success. If not, you still could have provided a stronger backbone through statistics or an explanation of the challenges ahead. Texas is No. 1, sure, but who are the other top teams? Has Texas done well against those teams?

    It's your story. Be forthright, fair and objective, but don't allow poor quotes to make it boring. Have a voice.
  4. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    Thanks guys I really appreciate the feedback, and it will definitely be put to use the next time I write a story.
  5. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    I took the liberty of copying your story, pasting it down and editing it.
    I tweaked a lot of stuff, but it's a lot of small stuff.
    Over time, you'll find your voice and your stuff will become more distinctively yours.
    Aside from that, here are some tips, some of which I addressed in the editing.

    When you find yourself stringing prepositional phrases together, there has to be a better way.
    For instance, "of the most successful runs on the court by a class in Texas history." I changed it to "one of the most successful runs in Texas volleyball history." Anyway, two prepositional phrases instead of four. Just makes it easier to read.

    A couple of times I shortened a quote because I thought that read better. I often say, don't let a subject's bad quote harm your story. You can always cut your subject off. The last quote, for instance, "so, so sweet" is ending the story with flourish. By running "showing that our hard work in our time here did pay off" at the end of that was only letting her repeat herself. It's fine that she does it, but it doesn't mean you have to run it. You can't put words in people's mouths, but you sure as hell can cut them off.

    And a couple of times I added a little more punch, with a verb like "forged" and referring to their impact as "immense." I believe that's allowed as long as it can be defended and it certainly can be in this instance.

    Last thing: most of what I've just described here is simply stripping away what doesn't have to be there. I tell my writers that I want the longest story they have, as long as every word's required. I find it to be perpetually good advice. Below is your story after I finished with it.


    When the four members of the 2008 recruiting class came to the 40 Acres, they were a mixed bunch from all over the country: Hawaii, Ohio, Illinois and Texas.

    Despite geographical differences, they came together quickly. Rachael Adams, Amber Roberson, Sydney Yogi and Michelle Kocher have forged one of the most successful runs in Texas volleyball history. They've been to three final fours and will enter their final NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.

    “It’s pretty special. It’s very rare for a class to go to four Final Fours in four years.” Kocher said. “We’re an interesting bunch coming from all parts of the world, so we have a good mix and get along real well and I feel that really helps us on the court.”

    When the four players entered the doors of Gregory Gym their freshman year, there were high expectations.

    “I came here with the intent of winning championships, and that is part of the reason why I picked Texas, because I believed [coach] Jerritt [Elliott] and the rest of the coaching staff was capable of winning a championship,” Yogi said.

    Already, they have led the program to three conference championships. Now, they want more.

    “I still feel that there is plenty of room for at least one or two more banners up there,” Roberson said with a grin, looking up at the empty space next to the program’s sole national championship banner, claimed in 1988.

    National title or not, the group's impact has been immense. Texas volleyball has lurched forward since their arrival. There are the final fours, but also what that success has inspired, like a 2011 recruiting class that included three of the nation's top 15 prospects.

    “It’s definitely crazy to think that’s what we’ve done because we walk around thinking it’s normal, but really it’s not,” Roberson said. “We have to take a step back and realize this is what you are doing and what you have done for the program. It’s nice to know everyone appreciates that.”

    Their is one more legacy they wish to leave.

    “Winning a national championship would be a huge accomplishment," Robertson said."We’ve taken a step each year as far as growing as a team and this is the year to put it all together. It would be the ultimate conclusion to our four years."

    Lighting the tower orange would be the sweetest reward of all for the lumps and bruises the quartet has taken, but also delivered.

    “It would show how much our hard work pays off,” Yogi said. “We have stayed all summer the past three summers training early in the morning and doing things on our own to get better. I think the reward of winning a national championship will be so, so sweet."
  6. HookEm2014

    HookEm2014 Member

    Thanks for the feedback sprtswrtr10 I really appreciate it, i will definitely put the advice to good use.
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