The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Earl and Me episode 4

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I have a complete draft of the story. I’ve completed the research I wanted to do and have segmented the story how I wanted. I predicted 12 pages; I have about 13 for what feels like a 10-page story. But there is a more significant problem: It looks like a glorified research paper.

On about Monday of this week, it started to sound like my internal monologue was a broken record. I kept hearing over and over, “Oh yeah! That’s a great piece of research! I gotta get that in! Great story!” and I was doing little more than proving that I’m a skillful researcher with a talent for developing an informative and amusing profile. That’s not all bad… it is an interesting story and I have had a ton of fun writing it (which usually means the reader will enjoy reading it), but there is another level to explore here, another step to the ladder that will elevate this beyond a pretty good story into an excellent story. I know it’s there; my internal monologue tells me it is there.

So what I have to do with my next draft is to work to find that next level. I’ll start by outlining draft 1. I usually do that by making section numbers and creating a title for that section (for my own edification; I won’t use the title in the story). Then I break each section down by paragraph and list what each individual paragraph is about. This process alone usually leads to rearranging some things. Sometimes I find that a paragraph is too big, or that some of what is in the paragraph is redundant, or that it can go elsewhere in the story. This process will probably knock a page or two out of the story, which will address one of my concerns. I already know in my mind how I want to rearrange some of the story so it ties together better, so that will help. Other ideas will pop out as I make a graphic organizer of the whole piece.

The rearrangement will also help me develop a new angle to the story, an argumentative one. I want to lobby a bit on Earl’s behalf, seeing as his Hall of Fame induction was 13 years ago and he coached his last game 23 years ago, and now 2 generations of baseball fans have little idea about him other than what they can see on the video clips that I’m using as the basis for the story. But I don’t want to tip the scales too heavy in Earl’s favor. I don’t want to whitewash and glorify… hell, he was an ornery cuss. But he was also a genius. I guess I want to balance the scales since I see a huge imbalance in light of those video clips. I want to peel away the outside layers to get a nice view of what lies beneath, the stuff that usually goes unseen.

I’m still concerned, too, with bringing something fresh to the story. When my friend Matt was published in EFQ last year, he brought in a load of pretty fresh stuff on a well-known baseball figure. I see that as a key to my writing, too… which is why I have to go beyond a glorified research paper. Sure, the information he brought for the most part was stuff that many a curious fan could dig up, but it was still stuff that was largely unknown. There’s a small window for me to get fresh stuff, but I’m going to exploit it.

Finally… damn, it’s hard not to load the story with stats. Stats are a big bowl of ice cream to any baseball lover, and it’s easy to keep gorging on them. But your story is going to feel sluggish and bloated before you know it.

Written by seeker70

June 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] a few episodes from when I was writing the story (the serial continues with episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, and episode 5).  If you’re feeling even more daring, you can hear a live reading of story […]

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