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sports writer in Idaho looking for some feedback

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by stemeyer, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. stemeyer

    stemeyer New Member

    I've been at my first gig for about eight months now, and here's a girls basketball story I wrote this season. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    BOISE - It didn't come at the Idaho Center, but for the seven seniors on the Twin Falls girls basketball team this was a fitting ending.
    Each took turns posing for photos with the third-place trophy after the Bruins' 47-42 victory to give the program its first since 2005.
    "I'm so proud of our team to bring home some hardware," said Jazlyn Nielsen. "This just shows that all of our hard work the last four years paid off."
    Together with head coach Nancy Jones, who took over the program when this crop of seniors were freshmen, the Bruins rose from a 4-20 squad in 2008-09 to the third-best team in the state.
    "I'm so proud of this group. They are a special bunch - on the basketball court, yes, but off the court too. They are all tremendous individuals," said Twin Falls coach Nancy Jones. "I'm going to miss them."
    The quartet of Nielsen, Alyssa Soloaga, Allie Kelsey - who joined the program last season from Preston - and Mallory Jund scored all but six of the Bruins' points Saturday in a game that looked like a rout from the onset, but turned competitive in the second half.
    After staring up at a daunting lead all game in their loss against Middleton, the Bruins flipped the script Saturday and raced out to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter against the Knights.
    "The girls came out ready to play and we were shooting so well in that first quarter," said Jones. "I thought we did a great job setting the tempo and playing our kind of game."
    Unfortunately for Twin Falls (19-8), the rest of the game didn't go quite
    as smooth.
    They scored only four points in the second quarter, shot just 57 percent from the free throw line and the Knights twice cut the Bruins' lead, as large as 12, to one in the fourth quarter.
    Michelle Violette and Megan Rebholtz each hit one of two free throws to pull Bishop Kelly (15-11) to within one at 36-35 and 40-39.
    Kelsey however responded with a tough, contested runner and Jund easily scored a layup on the press break and Twin Falls sealed the win.
    "I think we got a little bit complacent and stagnant," said Nielsen, who scored 10 points. "We were still confident though and believed in ourselves and we found a way to win."
    Kelsey led the Bruins with 14 points, Soloaga added 13 and Josie Jordan scored six. Randi McReynolds led Bishop Kelly with 10, also pulling down 13 rebounds.
    The trophy is Twin Falls' first since beating Centennial 40-39 for third place in the Class 5A state tournament in 2005.
    "We didn't want to travel to state for nothing," Soloaga said. "We wanted to bring something home and this is a great way to go out in our final game."
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    Several tangles in the writing made for a fairly taxing read. I think you need to sit down with a good copy editor who can help you avoid these habits in the future. I'll give you some examples:

    The top was confusing because the antecedents were unclear.

    In the lead: what are you referring to when you say "it" and "this?"

    In the second graf, the team is posing with the third-place trophy - which you say is the first something since 2005. You mean it's the first time they've earned the third-place trophy since 2005? If so, is that really noteworthy? Maybe it's better (and clearer) to say it's the team's best finish since 2005.

    Some other examples that I'm surprised the editor didn't catch: "Unfortunately for Twin Falls (19-8), the rest of the game didn't go quite as smooth"... "smooth" should be smoothly. Also, you should avoid showing bias with words like "unfortunately." Assume fans of both teams are reading your story.

    On a positive note, the story was organized logically, and that's not always easy.

    I often recommend reading William Zinsser's book "On Writing Well," and I think you'd get a lot out of it. It will make you see very quickly how to create the clearest, cleanest sentences. Good luck! And let us know how it's going.
  3. MartinonMTV2

    MartinonMTV2 New Member

    The story is organized well.

    Other than that, I have to agree with the previous post. There are so many examples of non-agreement with pronouns/nouns and subjects/verbs that this one would be a good editing exercise. You can't refer to a team and call it they or worse, say they and have the reader wondering who you're talking about until eight words later, when you then refer to the team.

    One other thing: I guess I'm not sure that saying "unfortunately" shows bias. If the events of the game were unfortunate for a team, then that's telling the story.
  4. stemeyer

    stemeyer New Member

    Thank you for the feedback. At the smallish shop I'm writing for, it's rare to actually sit down with someone to analyze my writing - it's more "Just get us copy by deadline," so I appreciate the comments.

    Usage of pronoun/nouns and subjects/verbs is something I've struggled with, especially while writing quickly. It's definitely a habit thing, but fortunately I've been able to catch myself (most of the time).

    As for the lead, I was trying to set up the image of the girls posing with the trophy etc. The "it" would be the end of the team's season and "this" is the image of the girls. I don't know, made sense in my head.

    Yes, I should I have been clearer explaining the significance of the trophy as it was the school's first of any kind since 2005 (which is explained at the end of the story) but I understand how it comes across unclear.

    I will check out Zinsser's book. One huge thing I've taken away from this site is to read as much as I can get my hands on.
  5. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    You used to be on my staff in college, Stephen, and I always enjoyed editing your leads because they were usually really good. Even as your editor, I felt like nine times out of 10 they were better than mine.

    Hope all is well in the Magic Valley.
  6. stemeyer

    stemeyer New Member

    Matt! Thanks man. Coming from you, Mr. winning awards and such writer, that means a lot! haha

    Congrats on the gig. Glad another former Collegianite landed a job. You'll do great things. Keep us posted on how it goes!
  7. gutenberg

    gutenberg Guest

    Is that what the story looked like AFTER it was published?

    If so, yikes!

    Horrible copy editing ... your writing is really raw but you aren't going to be able to improve much if the copy editors are that poor.

    This leaves the impression that you also work for a very lazy sports editor.

    Good luck and get yourself to a paper that will work with you and help you get better. Careers are too short to waste time at subpar newspapers.
  8. gutenberg

    gutenberg Guest

    I second ringer's comment about Zinsser's book.

    It is one of the best writing books you can read.
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