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What do you do when a story falls flat?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jackofalltrades, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. jackofalltrades

    jackofalltrades New Member

    This is a simple question, but I don't think it has a simple answer.

    I found a story I thought had a chance to be special. It was compelling material, the players were willing to make themselves available as much as I needed to tell the story, there was art to accompany the words ... everything you need to make a solid piece, I had. I reported it, wrote it and sent it in.

    As I waited for it to run, I thought to myself, 'Man, this is the best thing I've ever written.'

    Then it ran and ... crickets.

    So the question is: Has this happened to you? And, if so, what did you do when a story you were sure would be a hit fell flat?
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    shrug it off and move on. It happens - more than you'd like actually.
  3. Babs

    Babs Member

    The fact that no one wrote to you to tell you how great it was does not mean it wasn't a good story. People usually write to complain more than praise. You have to just assume it was good if you didn't hear anything.

    If you need a pat on the back, send it to your friends to read. I'm not trying to be snarky here, but it's the truth.
  4. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    I have written stories that I thought were great and received little feedback. I have written stories that I thought were pretty mediocre and were well-received. You just never know what's going to strike a nerve. But you should know what makes a good story. Even though you don't get a lot of feedback doesn't mean people didn't read it. Sometimes no response means you did a good job of telling the story. More people complain than praise.
  5. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    I'll echo the others: It happens more often than most of us would like, so you just have to move on. If you're happy with your work -- if it's solid reporting, if it's entertaining on its own merits, if it does what your publication needs, if your editor is pleased, if your words didn't harm anyone who didn't need harming -- you've done your job. Sometimes no news is perfectly fine news.

    You can take solace in the fact that tomorrow's another day and another newspaper and another chance to produce something just as good. For those of us who dabble in the magazine world, where the lag time between today's work and your next effort can be a week, a month or even a year, I think the "falls flat" syndrome hurts a little more ... but the principles are the same. You just keep truckin' until someone tells you to pull over.
  6. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    I know how you feel. But there can be so many reasons that you didn't receive feedback that are unrelated to the quality of the story. I think most readers just don't think of e-mailing/calling a writer, leaving a comment online, etc. It might have been one of the best stories they've ever read, and you could still hear nothing more than you would for a nuts-and-bolts gamer.
  7. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Seriously, Jack, you usually only hear from readers when they have something to complain about. If you think you're going to get swamped with priase you're sadly mistaken.

    Don't worry about it, just keep moving forward.
  8. funky_mountain

    funky_mountain Active Member

    could be worse trades ... i have a subject i love. feel i have good information after plenty of reporting. but the story i have written sucks. don't feel i have done the subject justice. i'll take your situation over mine right now.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Actually, funky, it probably doesn't suck. It's probably very good but you think it should be perfect when that is not possible.
  10. funky_mountain

    funky_mountain Active Member

    it's probably not as bad as i think it is; don't know if it's very good. this is one i wanted to hit out of the park (or least off the wall in the gap), and it didn't happen. i have an excellent editor, so i'll continue to work on it for another day.
  11. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    Happens all the time. We're not in this business to get a pat on the back. We're in this business to tell the story, and it seems like you did.
  12. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Which leads to trying too hard -- not a bad thing -- instead of just letting it flow.
    The better you think it should be, the tougher it is to reach your standard.

    Take a step back for a day, if you have the time, then go back at it again. First, you'll see it's better than you originally thought. Then, you might see more clearly where it can be better.
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