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Rip away, friends.

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by goplayintramurals, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Just craving some constructive criticism.

    I'm about a year into my career and still kind of at that point where a heavy dose of suggestive critique could save me from developing into an epic failure. Unfortunately, the only two people whoever read my stuff for me are my girlfriend (who nods her head, and says OH ITS SO GREAT IM PROUD OF YOU) and my boss (who I'm quite close with, but seems a little gun shy when it comes to critiquing).

    I personally dislike this story, which is why any pointers on making it not suck would be more than welcome.


    By Goplayintramurals
    PODUNK — Dick Butt still remembers the play that ended his season.
    It was just the second game last season, and the Podunk High quarterback was busy leading his team to a 21-8 win over Washburn Rural.
    The call was a speed option — the kind he'd run time and time again over the course of his football career. He took the snap and spun out towards the sideline. He checked his pitchman. Covered. He stopped, cut back to the inside and tucked the ball as the defense bore down on him.
    The first hit came up top, smacking into his shoulder pads and sending him reeling backwards. The second, just a split second later, came in low to his thigh from the other direction.
    Butt's body went one way.
    His left ankle twisted the other.
    "I kind of felt something burning in my leg," Butt said, rubbing the middle part of his shin as he spoke. "I was like 'Wow, this is kind of weird,' so I put pressure on it to get up and I just couldn't do it. I had to lift myself up, and then I tried to walk it off. I was like 'Okay, I need someone out here.'"
    In a flash, his season was over.
    This year, though, Butt is ready for redemption and, in tonight's opener against Overwhelming Opponent, will again step on the field as the Indians' starting quarterback.
    His ankle, complete with the metal screws surgically implanted just days after the injury, is healed and 100 percent. His understanding of the game is better than ever.
    After a year on the sidelines, he's just happy to be back.
    "I could put him at middle linebacker and he'd play right now," said Indians head coach Grizzled Oldman. "He's ready to play, and we're ready to watch him play."
    The road to a triumphant return, however, was hardly a cake walk.
    At first, Butt thought it was just an ankle sprain. A broken bone at worst. When he went in for x-rays soon after the injury, the medical staff couldn't find any evidence of a break.
    Good news, he thought.
    "I got the x-ray and there weren't any broken bones," he said. "When he was doing the x-rays, (the doctor) couldn't see anything, but then he kind of grabbed my leg and pulled it in opposite directions with his hands. Even on the regular x-rays, you could see it spread apart."
    That "it" was the interosseous ligament — a long sheet of connective tissue that connects the entire length of the tibia and fibula from the knee to the ankle. The injury's official name is a syndesmosis tear, which, in its most mild form, basically equates to a high ankle sprain.
    In Butt's case, the ligament split down the middle — the small fibers ripping like a piece of string cheese — all the way up to the middle of his shin.
    "They told me I could do two things," Butt said. "Try to play on it and see if it heals or not, but then if I didn't get the surgery now, there'd be a chance of it never healing correctly and I wouldn't have been able to run or play any sport again. My first thought was 'He, he said I can play, so I can play.' Then I started thinking about it and — it's pretty deep stuff."
    "Everything came at me so fast, and before I knew it I was waking up from surgery and had a screw in my ankle."
    So Butt, hobbled by crutches and an ankle splint designed to take the weight off of his foot, made his home on the sidelines and watched as the Indians won their next game against Highland Park — and then lose four of their next six to miss the playoffs.
    "It was tough on him, being on the sidelines and trying to keep busy, but he weathered through that," Oldman said. "He stood there on the sideline that whole year. It takes a lot of guts to do that."
    Over the months he healed, eventually getting healthy enough to play baseball over the summer. The activity only furthered his rehabilitation and, by the start of fall practice, he was ready to take over the reins.
    Minus a little tentativeness, of course.
    "There was a little rust," he said with a smile. "It was kind of hard to get used to that day-to-day grind. There was that little bit of hesitation. Then we put the pads on and I got that first hit in and it was just fine. It's like you're a little nervous until the first hit comes and it's like 'Oh, this isn't so bad.'"
    Butt's return bodes well for Podunk, who played most of last season with Richard Head, then a linebacker, filling in on short notice under center.
    "He brings confidence to the offense," Oldman said. "He radiates confidence when he's out there talking to them. He gets them jacked-up a little bit. He's the team leader, and they all look to him like that — as their quarterback."
    Butt, meanwhile, plans on savoring every snap during his final year with the Indians.
    The long road back was much too arduous not to.
    "It definitely showed me how much I love the game of football, the guys that I play with, competing for my school and for the town. This is a tight group of guys. We've lifted together, we've bled together — I've done everything with them. It's going to be an exciting year, and hopefully we're going to show everyone what Podunk football is all about again."
  2. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    My observations are in bold. The first thing that jumps out at me is you only have two sources. If you are going to do a big feature like this, try to get three.

    I think the story is there. I think you chose the right thing to write on, you just need to work on a better lede and you need to do more explaining. It reads like you wrote this really fast and either didn't want to invest the time or just didn't have the time to get a more indepth response from the kid and his family.

    You have to be careful about glossing over big chunks of time in a story like this, at least get something in there like this: After football finally ended, he spent the next 227 days waking up at 6:30 a.m. to go to the rehabiliation clinic before school or work.

    Something like that to explain what happened in the 6 months you pretended didn't exist.

    Also, you are a bit weak on your transitions and get a little cliche happy. Be careful with those. Transitions can definitely make an average story into a great story.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a glutton for punishment.

    To be honest, the whole thing was painfully rushed and I regret it terribly. I think it was like one of five stories I ended up turning around in a 24 hour period. I might should have saved it for the long term.

    I really had no idea I was this bad on cliches, either.
  4. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    Speaking as someone in the same boat (cliche intended this time), they are a bitch to get rid of. If you're used to writing them, you don't even realize you're doing it. I'm good for at least one per story even when I consciously try not to use them.

    Hmmm, that may even make for a decent thread on its own here, so as not to distract from your story: "How to avoid cliches like the plague."
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