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New Story from Royalewitcheese

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by jgmacg, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I took the liberty of starting a thread for your story.


    Here's a story I recently did for the paper I freelance for. Any comments would be nice.

    Cooke heading for the other ocean

    Dominic Cooke won't let paralysis slow him down.

    That mentality has led him to ride a special bicycle 3,000 miles across country to raise money and awareness for people with spinal cord injuries.

    Cooke, 26, left St. Augustine on Wednesday in his black, arm-propelled cycle on a 45-day trip to San Diego. Joining him are two of his childhood friends, Tommy Vierra and Andy McIntosh. They plan to cover between 80 and 100 miles a day and will occasionally stop to hold fund-raisers.

    "Just because you're in a wheelchair and you have a spinal cord injury, there's a lot of stuff you can do," Cooke said. "Life is still good."

    But Cooke's life wasn't always this good.

    In college at the University of California, Cooke played on a national championship rugby team.

    "I was in the best shape of my life," Cooke said.

    On Dec. 20, 2001, Cooke went out with his friends. He came back to a friend's house for a few hours, then decided to drive home. It had been raining heavily that night, but his parents lived in the same neighborhood, less than a mile away.

    On the way, he spun on wet grass, whipping his sport utility vehicle around into a tree. The crash caused a spine separation, paralyzing him from the waist down.

    "You don't really think it's happening to you," Cooke said. "It kind of just feels like a bad dream."

    Going back to school and only being able to watch his team play was the hardest thing to deal with, he said. A year in France, living on a sunflower farm, helped him see his situation differently.

    "Before I was looking at all the things I couldn't do," Cooke said. "Being away from all of the people who felt sorry for me and wanted to help me, I realized there is a lot I actually can do."

    Cooke returned to San Diego and found a few foundations that help paralyzed people. They sent him skydiving, snow skiing and paragliding, and one organization bought him the hand cycle he is using on his cross-country trip.

    In 2004, he decided to start his own nonprofit organization to help victims of spinal cord injuries, Try For Others. He now tries to lead by example.

    "People look at disabled people and they see the wheelchair, and it's obvious the struggle." Cooke said. "But everyone has their handicap. Ours just happen to be in plain view."
  2. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr macg,

    I really don't like the first sentence.

    Can we show him not being slowed down or somehow impress us with his sticktoitiveness.

    Just one thought.

    YHS, etc
  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Not my story 1/2miler, but I'll take a crack at it on behalf of RoyaleWC.

    I agree with the comment about the opening line. I think the story itself proves this fella doesn't let his injury slow him down. I'd rather see a scene near the top with him plugging away at his charity ride. Or, perhaps, a lede in scene describing the night of his injury, which then segues into his coast-to-coast ride. Again, further proof that he hasn't been slowed down.

    Also, I was intrigued by the sunflower farm in France. But I'd suggest doing one of two things when a near non-sequitur like that crops up in a story: either explain it further, or cut it. As it appeared I was very curious about it, but wasn't told how or why he came to be there. If it's a signicant enough detail to include, it may be a significant enough detail to explain. On the the other hand, of course, if there isn't room sufficient to explain it, you have to consider cutting it, so it doesn't sidetrack the reader, as it did me.

    Thanks for posting.
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr macg,

    Sorry about the miscommunication.

    What Jones says on another thread about writing the ending first ... well, I go along with it only so far. I want to have an idea of what the lede should be before going anywhere and the wording of the lede is critical. You have to build a defence of your story ... pull out the freakin' stops ... don't let a reader put the story down or move on. Soft ledes are death to features. I think it's hard to get the rest of the feature right if it starts wrong. There's just no recovery.

    Just my philosophy.

    YHS, etc
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Endless Friend of the semiMiler -

    I completely agree. With you both. I think it's possible to reverse-engineer a great lede from a great ending already written, a la The Jones; but like you, believe utterly in the necessity for the strongest openings possible.

    There's an aphorism from the world of stand-up comedy that does nicely when talking about literary matters architectural:

    "Always open with your second-strongest piece of material. Close with your strongest."
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