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World Cup soccer feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Ralph Smith, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. Ralph Smith

    Ralph Smith New Member

  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    My Dear Mr. Smith,

    Thanks so much for posting here. We live to serve.

    I've posted a very hasty line edit above.

    While the story is structurally solid in every way that newspaper sports stories need to be solid, I'd point out these quibbles - which may be entirely personal. There are several sentences in the piece that each have several clauses and seem swollen with information. My instinct, especially when dealing out necessary exposition, boilerplate, is too keep those sentences short. Easier to read. Easier to comprehend. Easier to remember.

    There were a couple of word choices - but pounced, particularly - that call attention to themselves.

    I'd also recommend, and often do, that pieces like this include some brief physical and/or psychological description of the subject. I got to the end of the piece and he still felt like a stranger.

    My main squawk, however, isn't mechanical, but rather literary.

    What's the occasion for story here? What's at stake? Why am I reading about this guy? Is this a triumph over adversity? A story of persistence rewarded? The tale of a boy left who home to find his fortune, and then discovered his fortune had been at home all along?

    As goofy as all that sounds for a newspaper feature, it's what you and I are here for - to tell stories. And even short profiles like this one need some sort of narrative arc.

    Which brings us to one of the most vexing problems facing any journalist, but especially sports writers: Where's the dramatic arc in a profile? They're hard to find, and require some thought in advance of the writing. But there are at least two in this story, and you made a pass at them both: Triumph over Adversity and the Return of the Prodigal Son.

    If you were inclined to do this story again, I'd suggest you build the piece around one or the other. It's just a matter of choosing what to emphasize.

    You're a good enough writer that you don't have to worry too much about bolting the sentences together. You've reached the point, and it's a liberating moment, where you get start to wondering why you're bolting them together.

    Hope this helps. Thanks again for posting.
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Smith,

    As usual, Mr macg has given a nice pt-by-pt blow-by-blow. I'll go to one big thing. Mash up the two and I think you'd see a difference.

    Question: What was his opportunity? Exactly what did it look like? How did it happen?

    You use that as your springboard but really move past it way to fast ... give us a sense of what he did, how he looked (perfect time for facial, physical description).

    Then say it was one moment that came at the end of a bunch of moments--in the tournament, in his career, etc.

    Anyway, consider it or not.

    YHS, etc
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