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My articles

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by randomhero423, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    I really would thankful for any writing tips, or overall knowledge you can share with me. I've never taken a journalism class in my life (I am the sports editor at my school), but I will be purchasing a journalism books to sharpen my schools for college.

    edit: my latest article is posted below.
     
  2. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    would appreciate any feedback!
     
  3. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    Several things jump out at me:
    1) It's a little long and wordy. A word count show it's 777 words, which translates to about 22 inches. That's not terribly long, but you probably could've gotten it down into the 16-17-inch range without much trouble. There's a lot of fluff in there.

    2) You have some AP style issues. Things like this sentence:
    Although his stats are not extraordinary, 8 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, he had a profound impact on the game.
    Numbers under 10 are almost always spelled out, unless you're dealing with distance. In another spot you say "40%". You always spell out the word "percent".
    You need to get an AP style guide and familiarize yourself with it.

    3) Try to avoid using parentheses. It's acceptable in some quotes, but you really should work around it where possible.

    4) Parts of the story look like you got a Thesaurus for Christmas and were damned determined to justify its existence. Adjectives and synonyms are good, but try to have a reason for their use. Don't be afraid to keep it simple.

    5) The general tone of the piece seems quite gushing, and really reads like an SID release. In other words, it's something I would give a good rewrite to if it were turned in to me. Not saying you have to criticize, especially with a 23-point win, but try to take a more even-handed tone.
     
  4. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    thanks for the feedback.

    i will def get a AP style guide soon. i didn't know about the numbers or percent thing, so that's good to know.

    what would you say i should limit myself in terms of words? if it's a 15+ pt win should it be under 700? what if it was a close game, then should it be below 800?

    the reason why it's focused primarily on Iona prep is because on nyhoops we don't really focus too much on non-NYC division teams, so i assumed readers would want to know more about what Iona prep did, then the game itself.
     
  5. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    There's nothing wrong with focusing on Iona Prep. I didn't even realize you were writing for a general web site, and instead figured that was just the local team. And with a 72-49 final, there's not even anything wrong with featurizing it like you did. Some folks will tell you that's what gamers should be anyway.
    You just need to tighten it up a bit. Go through the story and pick out words and sentences that seem unnecessary or repetitive.

    There were some other style things I noticed, but those were two that jumped out at me. Besides reading an AP style guide, pick up a paper for a week or two and read some of their game stories. You'll pick up on some more style things.

    In general, gamers should be between 12 and 17 inches (400-600 words). If you're writing for the web, or it's a bigger game, or something big happens, you can go longer. There's no hard and fast rules. But in general, shoot for that 400-600 word range.
     
  6. pseudo

    pseudo Active Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    Second the acquisition of an AP Stylebook. It will serve you well.

    You also need to watch the attributions for your quotes. You keep bouncing between present and past tense, and a lot of editors would rip you for using anything other than "said" without a good reason. See point 4 above.

    Most important: read everything you can get your hands on, write as often as you can, and keep working to get better. Having the guts to post a story here, and making the effort to learn from the suggestions you receive, is a good start.

    Sound like good advice? I thought so, when I read it in this thread. Thanks again, jgmacg.
     
  7. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    thanks i appreciate everything.

    when i buy the ap book, and look it over, and then write a story. i'll post it here.

    this is my first year really writing game articles and everything so i just hope i'm off to a good start. when i'm in college nxt year i hope to be ahead of people w. my experience of writing, interviewing, etc.
     
  8. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    alright so the sports writing books are in the mail now.

    i feel i've already seen a bit of progression from my articles by reading the newspaper more thoroughly. here are links to my last 2. tell me wat u think.

    http://nyhoops.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=419:mission-accomplished-for-gary-acquah&catid=34:nyhoops&Itemid=71

    http://nyhoops.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=426:lyde-leads-gaels-past-mountaineers&catid=34:nyhoops&Itemid=71

    thanks
     
  9. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    Much better, although there's still a few style issues to work out. Like calling someone "coach Lods" on second reference. Just using the last name is fine. Only use a title like that if there's someone, such as his son, that's already been mentioned in the story.
    You also used way too many commas in the first story. Really interrupts the flow. When you're reading, think of commas as pauses. Sometimes they're required for grammatical reasons. But every time you use one, the reader pauses. Use too many, or use them in the wrong spots, and it's like listening to someone stutter.

    Nice try on the callback finish, but it's rather out of place here. The story is long, and you went a long time without referencing Acquah. That quote could've been dropped altogether, or worked in closer to the lede. Then just go into your game recap.

    It also seemed like you were trying to mention what everyone on the team did. I admire your thouroughness, but that's not really necessary. If you were writing for a newspaper, I guarantee you'd get an angry phone call from someone in the Nunez family wondering why you were picking on their boy. If it was a key to the game -- it sounds like it might have set Nunez straight, since he had a good second half -- try to ask him or the coach about it and throw a quote in there. Or maybe keep an eye on his situation. If he calms down and plays well over the next few games, it might be worth a story in its own right.
     
  10. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    Your second story continues one of your other problems -- you're pretty wordy. And most of it is unnecessary. It reads like an immigrant learning English for the first time.
    For example, this lede paragraph:

    Could easily be edited to this:

    See how much easier that reads? The meaning is the same and you don't feel like you've run a marathon after reading it. And by putting what he did in the game you're writing about immediately after the lede, you have an easy lead-in to your main quote. Your next couple of paragraphs were good. They provide a sort of "fresh start" for the reader.
    When you're writing a gamer, it's OK to tell a story. But you still don't want to wander too far from the path. A good rule of thumb for a beginner is to write so that the first 4-6 paragraphs can stand alone as their own story. If you read nothing else after that, you'd know who won, why they won, and what the participants thought about it.
    After those first few paragraphs you can get into more detail about what happened. Quotes are good buffer zones between sections of a story. If you wanted, you could have followed that first quote with a quick paragraph with the stats, mentioned a key run, or thrown in a key stat like the winning team outrebounded the losers 50-30 (or vice versa). Follow that with another quote, and all of a sudden you've got almost 300 words with the nuts and bolts. After that, you can go into your play-by-play and analysis.
     
  11. randomhero423

    randomhero423 Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    thanks for your insight. i appreciate you spending your time.

    usually my articles have been around 800, so i'm happy i've been able to cut it down 100 words.

    seems like my main problem (and assuming that's what all young journalists struggle with...i hope) is getting the article to be tighter. i've been reading two sports sections a day and i've seen improvement already so i'm a bit satisfied. but when i'm in college in sept, i want to be as polished as possible.

    I'm definitely going to be more cautious of:

    -- less comma use
    -- summarize game better
    -- focus on the story but still incorporate the game enough.
    -- short, smoother paragraphs.

    i'll be back! (but not until i'm confident it's flawless, so i can get constructively criticized :) ) thanks a lot.
     
  12. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Re: HS Basketball Game Story: No Pope, No Problem for Gaels

    I'm trying to answer this in segments so some of these things stand out better. Bear with me.
    In your second story, your lede isn't too far away from being decent. The rewrite I showed you is effective enough. But you had a golden opportunity for a narrative lede. This graph:

    ...was a pretty good anecdote. The guy gets his face kicked in during practice and shrugs it off? That shows the guy's tough. You could have worked something about his toughness into the lede and really grabbed the reader. Maybe something like this:

    Others here could probably do it better, but it's short and to the point and grabs the reader.
     
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