Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Examples of great writing from across the newsroom

Buffy gave us the following challenge for our Living meeting this week:

"Hey gang don't forget to bring a phrase, sentence, graf of good writing that you have seen in OUR paper to today's staff meeting. just looking for some examples to share. thanks mucho"
So we went 'round the table with our examples which represented several different departments and types of writing.

Here's what we brought:

Emileigh: From Joe Maldanado's story, "Manchester family hit by arson trying to rebuild"
"In another photo, the family is preparing to cook a holiday meal using its brand new stainless steel stove and refrigerator. Today, both stand damaged beyond repair. The kitchen windows are broken, with only thin sheets of plastic in place to keep out the winter cold."
Emileigh liked the comparison of the new stainless steel appliances to the broken kitchen windows covered in plastic.

Sue and Leigh: From Bill's story, "Doc Rodeo: When a rider’s down, he’s in action"
"The bull hopped and bucked across the floor of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex arena, trying to throw Sean Kampmeier from its back.

The 30-year-old from Petersburg, N.J., clung to the seething half-ton of cattle flesh with his legs and one fisthold on a rope. The rest of his body flopped and slapped the animal’s haunches.

Seconds ticked by. Then, the mount kicked up its back hooves, and Kampmeier’s chin bashed the animal’s skull."


Leigh and I both liked the strong verbs: hopped, bucked, clung, flopped, bashed. And also phrases like "clung to the seething half-ton of of cattle flesh." Leigh thought that Bill sounded like some sort of rodeo expert -- she could tell her did a lot of reporting to understand the sport.

Ellen: From my story "DIY Exorcisms" (she's totally trying to kiss up for that letter of recommendation she wants me to write)
"Unfortunately, our editors didn’t agree. The cost of tuition and airfare (even though we promised not to check any bags) was just too great.

They suggested community college. We’re sure you’ll be shocked to learn that HACC doesn’t offer so much as a seminar addressing how to dispel evil spirits from a person. So we did what any industrious wannabe demon-slayer would do — we surfed the Web."
Melissa: From Frank's column, "Weekend at the beach helps to mend heart"
"We layered sweatshirts and winter coats and walked the beach, laughing as the wind tried to blow us to pieces.

We alternately cranked the car heater and rolled down the windows as we patrolled Assateague Island, watching for wild ponies, tiny deer, giant herons.

We walked the island marsh trails without crowds of bugs or people.

We combed for seashells wearing gloves and mittens.

We were sunburned -- or maybe wind burned or even freezer burned?

A pony sneaked up on us and stuck his muzzle through our open car window, hoping for a handout.

Then, two pint-sized sika deer suddenly appeared around a bend, munching grass as the sun started to dip. I loved watching my wife watching them, standing among them, her camera in hand.

Finally, it was too dark and cold to do anything else."

Erin: From John's story "Fog lifts for York Catholic's Michael Sperring"

"Somehow Michael Sperring played basketball that Thanksgiving morning. His head was pounding, the pressure inside it building. He did not know that time was running out.

The headaches had persisted for a week now, heavy and unrelenting, and during that time Michael had lived in a steady fog. He had hardly been able to eat or sleep, much less lift up jump shots.

That was about to change. When David Sperring walked out of his bathroom around 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, he found his son seated on his bed, gym clothes already on.

"I'm going to practice."

If the how was hard to understand, the why wasn't."
Erin (and the rest of us) loved the last line.

Laura: From Erin's upcoming FlipSide Weekend story, "Make believes most wanted" (read it Feb. 12)

"Character: Goldilocks
Crime: Trespassing, burglary
We know you’re only a minor, but the three bears had a right to press charges. You tasted their porridge and probably double-dipped. Gross. Then you slept in their beds, which is just creepy. You might be a curious little girl .¤.¤. or a bear stalker."
Laura thought the idea behind the story -- how fairy tale characters would fair in the justice system -- was really clever and Erin has just the right tone to match.

Jess: From teen staffer John Villarose's short story "Embracing the Cold"

"Another winter meant more snow. Dreadful, dreadful snow. Odd lumps of white and gray infecting the ground like a disease, spreading their rash over everything."

Kara
: From Scott Fisher's editorial, "On balloon dogs and Peter Cetera"

"The courts will have to sort out whether artist Jeff Koons has a valid claim in a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement over "balloon dog" bookends that look like his famous sculpture.

But from the outside, the suit by the Dover-area native seems a bit frivolous - as frivolous as balloon dogs themselves.

After all, balloon dogs all look pretty much alike. The big balloon dog statue Mr. Koons made (and made a good deal of money from) looks suspiciously like every balloon dog twisted by every clown at every circus in America for decades."
Kara said that it's difficult to write editorials, because it can be hard to write with authority. Scott not only does this well, but he makes them fun to read as well.