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Most of this got cut, but i want to know what you guys think

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by YoungGun7, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. YoungGun7

    YoungGun7 New Member

    All Jimmy Palmer wants to do is play basketball.

    He’s fascination with the game began when he was 5-years old, as he watched videos of Pete Maravich, the floppy socked wonder from LSU. From there, Palmer’s obsession grew.

    “My grandmother brought me tapes of Pete, and I really liked what he did with the basketball,” Palmer said.

    Getting the opportunity to play basketball hasn’t come that easy for the high school senior.

    Since he’s been in high school, Palmer has been to three different high schools and has had question of his eligibity hinder him from seeing time on the court. After Palmer’s family left the Columbus area, he enrolled at Desoto County High School, where he began to practice with the varsity squad as a seventh grader.

    “Playing at Desoto had its good and bad moments,” Palmer said. “I didn’t get the chance to play much early on, but by my ninth and tenth grade year I was more involved. Playing with the older guys really helped me mature a lot faster, and I became a harder worker.”

    After his 10th grade year though, Palmer was on the move again. He ended up at Hernando High School and felt like Hernando would be the perfect fit for him.

    He worked out with the team, went to practice and really felt like he could have made a difference for the team, but four days before his first game, he was found ineligible for the season.

    Found through a loop-hole in the transfer rules, Palmer’s former school found a way to block his eligibility for the season, which was tough for him.

    “It wasn’t that hard having to change schools, they were in the same area and I could keep the friends I had,” Palmer said. “What was tough was not being able to play basketball. I found out I couldn’t play four days before our first game, and that was hard to handle. I felt like we were going to be a pretty good team.”

    Hernando High coach Josh Brooks feels like Palmer’s presence would have had an impact on a team that needed depth.

    “Last season, having Jimmy would have helped out a lot for us. We needed a little more depth at the guard position, and he could have provided that.”

    So, as he spent his free time shooting hoops at a local place titled ‘The Cage”, Palmer seemed trapped in just that, a cage.

    He faced two scenarios, sit out for his entire junior season, or transfer yet again. Palmer’s devotion to the game was far too strong for him to sit out for a season and with that he left what felt like home, for Marshall Academy, which only proved to bring great things for Palmer.

    At Marshall, Palmer had to earn a spot on the court.

    “When I got there, the team was already deep off the bench, but I was determine to show the coaches that I was better than the guys on the court,” Palmer said. “I got into one our games at the FedEx Forum and scored 13 points in six minutes and I started every game after that.”

    Palmer help guide Marshall to a 32-12 record his junior campaign and was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game.

    Even though he may have been the leading scorer, Palmer takes pride in improving his defense.

    “The coached there made me realize, if I wanted to be a great player, I was gong to have to play at both ends of the court, it’s not always about scoring, good players play defense.”

    The biggest achievement for Palmer however, is still to come. Because of his play at Marshall, He has been selected to play with the national Jr. Nationals team in Columbus, Ohio. 50 players were chosen from try-outs at Milsaps College in Jackson, and Palmer said it’s a great honor.

    “It felt really good to know that I was chosen out of 200 people to compete on the Nationals team. After all I’ve been through, I feel like I have really accomplished something.”

    Susan Palmer, Jimmy’s mother, says that being his selection to the Jr. Nationals, is well deserved.

    “I’m excited for Jimmy,” she said. “He deserves this. He’s done such a good job of staying positive through all the adversity he’s had to face.”

    But due to prior engagements, Palmer, who’s not quick to talk himself up, will skip the Jr. Nationals, which is about individual performances, and will instead spend his summer with his AAU team, the Desoto County Warriors. The Warriors will be competing in the 17-under AAU Tournament at the Wide World of Disney in Orlando, FL., July 26- Aug 1, which features some of the best up and coming players in the country. Jimmy plans of impressing college coaches who may be looking for the services of a 6’2, 175 lb shooting guard.

    “It would have been great to go to Columbus, but I promised my team I would be there, and I didn’t want to let them down,” Palmer said. “Hopefully while I’m there a few coaches will give me a look at.”

    Palmer plans on moving back to Hernando High this year, hoping to increase his chances of catching the eye of a few college coaches. And while he may not be a college coach, Brooks says Palmer has what it takes to compete at the next level.
    “Jimmy is an outstanding 3-point shooter and he will play in college somewhere,” Brooks said. “What people don’t understand is, to play basketball at any level, you have to be pretty good, and Jimmy has all of the potential to make it at the next level.”

    To Jimmy however, all that doesn’t really matter, just as long as he can play basketball.
  2. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I feel like I need to be harsh here for you to get better: There are three typos in your second paragraph alone.

    No one -- not your editor, and nobody here -- is going to look favorably at a story with that kind of start.

    A career in journalism is built on selling yourself. If this is how you submitted your story, it's as though you've gone to a job interview at a bank wearing Daisy Dukes and a flannel shirt.

    You're making it too easy for people to dismiss you -- or, in this case, what sounds like a chunk of your work.

    Your first goal, Gun, should be clean, readable copy. That's the foundation. Now read this story again, carefully, and be honest with yourself: Is this as good as it should be?
  3. Chad Conant

    Chad Conant Member

    I was a kid, fresh out of one of the best journalism schools in the country, and I knew everything.

    Then, I wrote a feature on a brother and sister who were the best soccer players in our area. I wasn't sure about the story, but thought it was fairly decent. My editor read it and refused to run it. He told me it was terrible and knew I was better than that.

    I completely rewrote it and it turned out to be a clip that helped me advance to my next job.

    What my first editor did for me, Jones just did for you.

    Here are the basics:
    You have a quote with no attribution in here. That quote also pretty much repeats the sentence before it.
    There are a ton of things that look like you're trying to use verbs, but misusing the word like "He spent his free time shoot hoops ..."
    There are other things, like spelling out numbers that start a sentence.

    On a feature like this, you should have time to read it after you write it. This looks like you spent the time getting the information, then put the story together in 10 minutes.

    Jones is right. Read it again. Cut your name off the top and ask yourself if it's any good.
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Young'un -

    First, and as always, thanks for posting with us.

    And while I often visit the bank in Daisy Dukes and a flannel shirt as a matter of personal preference, I'm going to echo the comments made above.

    The piece seems hurried and poorly organized. While the writing of newspaper stories is a deadline business, the stories themselves should never reflect the rush in which they're written. One of the ways to avoid this is to have the outline for the story forming in your head as you do your research and get your quotes. By the time you sit down to type, the blueprint for the story should be vivid in your mind. The ability to do this will come to you with time and repetition.

    Equally important, as The Jones points out, you must try, every time, to deliver a really clean, correct manuscript. Make it a career habit - if not an obsession - to deliver pieces that are immaculately error-free. Your editors will thank you - and you'll find that they cut a lot less.

    Thanks again for the post.
  5. YoungGun7

    YoungGun7 New Member

    thank you for the responses. i know proofreading is something i have to get better at. but besides that, what makes this story so bad??? i guess go into more detail. what did you like what didn't you like.

    this kid doesn't even live in my paper's coverage area, his grandmother or someone thought it would be nice to have his story in his hometown paper even though he hasn't lived here in over 8 years.
  6. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Y -

    I applaud your persistence - writing is hard - and I offer you my collegial encouragement to keep at it.

    That said, I ran through this very quickly for you, to better illustrate what we're talking about. The piece is riddled with basic grammatical, structural and typographical errors. I probably caught half of them. As to the content, you never explain why a reader should be interested in this kid, or why he moves so much, or why basketball is important to him. We need to know all of that, even in a short piece.

    I'm going to recommend that you go online and start reading the sports profiles that appear in major-market daily papers. Let those be a model to you as you move forward. I'm also going to advise that you start inculcating good writing habits at all times. So no more lower-case posts, please.

    Buy, and commit to memory, a copy of the book "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. All the microscopic proofreading in the world won't do you any good if you don't know what to look for.

    Please take our criticisms in the spirit in which we offer them, and keep posting your work here. We'll help as much and as often as we can.

    Thanks again for letting me take a look at this.

  7. Chad Conant

    Chad Conant Member


    The biggest thing to me is you leave questions that seem material to the story unanswered.

    Why does he change schools more than Urban Meyer?
    What has he been through that's so big? If transferring is all, that's of their own doing. You completely leave out the hook.
    What is the loophole in the rules that allowed his former district to block his eligibility?

    That, and the typos/wrong verbs/fundamentals errors make this difficult to read. One of the sentences jgmacg highlighted for you has six commas. No one has the patience to read one that long.

    When I was an editor, I had a lot of young guys under me. One of them always tried to be flashy without being fundamentally sound first. You have to do the fundamentals (punctuation, verb usage, answering the right questions) before trying to be flashy.

    The hardest writers to read are the ones whose fundamentals don't exist.

    I really like one of jgmacg's suggestions: Write well at all times. It's like playing how you practice.
  8. daemon

    daemon Member

    Y -

    Your story is nearly 1,000 words long. Try writing the same story in 500 words.

    I know that can be frustrating for a new writer to hear, and believe me, I'm not an advocate of cutting for the sake of cutting.

    But start over, take all your notes, and try to write this thing in 12-15 inches. I think you'll find it will force you to make wiser decisions about content and syntax, thereby making the story a more enjoyable read.

    It's good that you talked to the kid's sister (or mother, I forget), always talk to more people than you think you need.

    One other suggestion: be choosy with your quotes. Don't feel obligated to throw as many quotes in there as possible.
  9. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    Not to pile on, but Millsaps College is spelled incorrectly in the story as well.
  10. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I would second (third?) the suggestion that you try to write well at all times... Look at the post you made here, the second one. I know it's just a message board, but it's a message board for journalists. Your fundamentals need work -- so, like a basketball player who can't hit free throws, you need to practice. Everything you write, you should try to write cleanly and properly, even if it's an email or a grocery list.

    Good writers never treat words as though they don't matter.
  11. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    And that's why Jones is a good writer. Print out that last line and tape it to your monitor.
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