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Chris Drewry 05-10-2008 01:54 PM

My First Article
 
I am no writer by any means, but I am trying to become semi-proficient in it for the sake of being able to properly convey my messages.

I recently wrote an article on my blog titled [URL="http://www.crossfitalpha.com/index.php/Main/Comments/physical_confidence/"]Physical Confidence[/URL]

How is my structure and content?

I have a bad habit of straying off topic, so I tried to keep this one short haha!

Ivan Wolfe 05-10-2008 02:48 PM

Re: My First Article
 
I teach writing at college, and I do some work as a freelance writer. What kind of feedback exactly do you want?

I have a few suggestions:

1. Your overall point seems clear. Your post contains great advice, and you have a strong, clear viewpoint that few readers could misunderstand.

2. However, I noticed quite a few grammar and punctuation problems (for example [I]"the [B]bodies[/B](your) physical limitations" [/I] should read [I]"the (your) [B]body's[/B] physical limitations"[/I]). You also use the semi-colon incorrectly in the first paragraph (you should just use a comma instead of semi-colon). This may seem like nit-picking, but small mistakes like those can add up and lower your ethos with your audience. I won't detail all the problems, but you might want to drag out your old grammar book from college composition in order to refresh your mind.

3. Another critique (I mean all this as constructive criticism, so don't take this as an attack) pertains to your style: you use "is" as your main verb in nearly every sentence.

Now, CrossFit embodies active, outgoing, and energetic qualities. It deserves active, outgoing, and energetic verbs. Frankly "is" contains no action and serves only to make any subject seem more "blah." The overuse of "is" (or any of its conjugations: be, are, was, were, been, being, am) creates a bureaucratic feeling (look at bureaucratic prose - almost nothing but "is" verbs). Your opening paragraph succeeds (despite the few mechanical errors) because of its active, energetic verbs.

I would never say "never, ever use [I]is[/I]" - but one can nearly always revise it away. For example, your post said [I]"It is a simple fact that our aging generations, generally, are scared to death of breaking a hip or simply lack the motor development to lift an object of any size over their head. This is something you used to only see in advanced age, but is becoming more common in younger generations, even starting as young as 45."[/I] A good rewrite of that sentence might read: [I]"One simple fact: our aging generations, generally, fear breaking a hip or otherwise simply lack the motor development to lift an object of any size over their head. You used to only see this in advanced age, but it has become more common in younger generations, even starting as young as 45."[/I]

Often, this idea of eliminating the "is" verbs can cause even the most dedicated of writers to go insane, but in the end it can mean the difference between a merely okay writer and a pretty good one.

There's more that I could discuss (such as eliminating unnecessary and repetitive words and phrases), but I don't want to turn this into a lecture. Consider it friendly advice (and, if you have the time or resources, read the book[I] Revising Prose[/I] by Richard Lanham. It explains a lot of what I've discussed in greater detail - plus Lanham has a breezy, easy to understand writing style that makes his book fun to read).

Hope that helps. Remember, this advice is worth what you paid for it!

Chris Drewry 05-10-2008 08:08 PM

Re: My First Article
 
Thanks so much, this is the kind of feedback I am looking for. A few of my friends read the piece and had little to no advice. That leads me to believe they either did not read it, or are as illiterate as I.

Now that you point them out, the elementary mistakes are glaring... at least the ones I can see.

There is much work to be done with my writing. I will also look into your literary suggestion.

Thank you again Ivan

Kirez Reynolds 05-11-2008 02:02 AM

Re: My First Article
 
Chris, great start. One of the strengths of this article is its brevity. More importantly --- your content. What you say is important and you say it warmly and with charm.

Writing takes a lot of work --- the work is in the revising. Go through your article and shorten it. Make the sentences quicker and leaner. I saw several clauses that could be removed or dramatically shortened. Let me give you an example ---

[quote]This is one of the intangibles of physical fitness training, yet one of the most important aspects that we, as athletes, could ever hope to garner.[/quote]

This could be shortened:

[i]Confidence[/i] is one of the intangibles of physical trianing, yet one of the most important qualities an athlete can hope to garner.

(You'll want to replace "this" with a more substantive word, especially since it's the beginning of a paragraph.)

Good luck and feel free to hit me up any time if you want to discuss writing. I admire your effort and goal.

On the matter of defining confidence --- I'm an obsessive stickler about this --- I might define it as a "positive belief in or estimate of one's ability to perform".


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