Friday, May 04, 2007

A night on the rim

Welcome to the first annual* weekend e-forum here at the Manor. Here's how it'll work. We post some background information and an editing challenge. Then anybody who wants to can kick in suggestions, solutions, comments or what-have-you. If it works, we'll have more.

Ready? Here's the scene. The zombie/slasher/vampire court story of all court stories has just risen from the grave again. Now in its seventh big year, the case has everything: Rich people! Movers and shakers of local society! The sort of lawyer who can add three zeroes to the end of anything just by picking up a pen! NASCAR! (part of the fortune in question comes from owning the Charlotte Motor Speedway.) Divorce! And, erm, money! Lots of money. Some $19 million of it.

So nearly two years after you thought it was buried, the settlement in the Smith divorce case is back in the news. Here's the lede that lands in your basket:

It is a divorce case that never seems to go away, with as many turns as the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Your move?



Anonymous Amy F. said...


Was the speedway a road course at one time or something?

Well, clearly, the track only has four "turns." Perhaps "more turns than a race at the speedway" or "more turns than the Coca-Cola 600" could help preserve the writer's voice and the paper's credibility at the same time.

Also, if it landed in my basket *tonight*, I'd have to change the reference to Lowe's Motor Speedway and probably throw on the Concord dateline that a few writers have been known to forget.

12:45 AM, May 05, 2007  
Anonymous Ray said...

First, I'd look for the alleged editor who approved that, then have a full and frank exchange of ideas about using half-priced ledes. It ought to be redone: it's passive. it's unrelated to ANS' life or death (unless she was once "Miss Charlotte Motor Speedway or some such banner-wearer, tho her life was a bit racy -- another cheap shot). And "turns" is a soft word that most readers would expect to be "twists" or "twists and turns." And speedways are ovals with a straight-away so, maybe two turns? Hardly a simile for the ANS melodrama. Since she's dead, it's no longer a divorce case, it's an estate case or custody case. Also, I'd ask why we'd want to run anything on this in the news pages.

9:20 AM, May 05, 2007  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

"Passive"? What makes you say that? The lead is absolutely not passive. The mere presence of the verb 'to be' does not a passive voice make.

That said, it is indeed a bad lede. h

10:01 AM, May 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really didn't have to tell us you were kidding about "first annual," dude ...

RE: bad lede. Great. Now I'm going to have Billy Preston song stuck in my head all day ... "Will It Go Round in Circles"

1:01 PM, May 05, 2007  
Anonymous Ray said...

I'd say it's passive because there's nothing happening in it. Nothing done? Passive. The thing is limp as linguine.

9:11 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger fev said...

OK, let the record show that the aforementioned lede is indeed sort of lying there like a linguini. That's a case of passive soul, but it isn't one of passive voice. Come to that, the verb in the complementizer clause _is_ active; it's just an awful verb.

I trust we can all agree that, properly handled, the copulative verb can make for a kick-ass lede:

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife"

"It was love at first sight" (and the Sunday night prize goes to whoever provides the next line).

Lowe's (nee Charlotte) Motor Speedway is indeed a "quad oval." And if you too were there for the August Jam, just, erm, send in your AARP card.

10:12 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger Strayhorn said...

CMS/Lowes can indeed be set up as a road course. I've driven it on several British Car Days (insert joke here about aging drivers in aging Brit sports cars).

As for August Jam - Allman Bros followed Emerson Lake and Palmer (not the most outstanding segue in musical history) on the day Nixon left office.

I was asleep in the back seat of my car because ELP were obviously bored and the surviving Allman Bros were just as obviously drunk.

All you kids get off my lawn.

9:20 AM, May 07, 2007  
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