How to Write Effective Feature Articles
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Transcript of How to Write Effective Feature Articles
Jerry M. NovenoInstruction Specialist III
Philippine Science High School—Bicol Region CampusGoa, Camarines Sur
WHAT A FEATURE STORY IS
• It is simply not a news story The differences being: 1. Treatment of issue (news have no room for opinions, feature stories can be opinionated); 2. The depth of research (news are somewhat shallow, features go in-depth) 3. The style of writing (news are formal, features can be flashy, informal) 4. Structure of the piece (inverted pyramid for news, normal pyramid for features)
• It is not an editorial or opinion piece Features can use either the perspective of a
first person to project engagement or the second or third person to maintain distance.
• It is not an academic paper
Features are written in a way that avoids the use of jargons and complex language that cannot be easily understood by a general audience.
What is a feature article?
• Offers insights about people, places, things or events that we encounter daily but to which we pay little attention
• Often exposes human emotion or feelings
• Focuses on the most interesting, not necessarily the most important, part of a story
• Is always based on facts, not fiction
• Presents and provides the human dimension to an event
• It tends to be original and descriptive; original in ideas and writing skills
• It is based on that mysterious ingredient in journalism called human interest---an event that appeals to us because we can relate to it
QUALITIES OF FEATURES
1. It contains an introduction, body, and conclusion.
2. The contents are based on the writer’s development of ideas.
3. Can have complex narration or presentation, if “suspended interest structure is used.”
4. It often reflects the personality, tendencies, beliefs, and aspirations of the writer.
5. It includes quotations from principal characters, experts, and variety of sources.
6. It can use the elements of fiction and informal writing.
7. It can use photographs, charts, sidebars or boxes, drawings, diagrams, among others to reinforce the message and bring life and color to the subject.
TYPES OF FEATURES
Features are human interest stories that speak of people, places, and situations. They tend to be descriptive and original in ideas and writing skills. But they can go beyond description.
(THERE ARE NO LESS THAN 14 TYPES OF FEATURES.)
1. NEWS BEHIND THE NEWS STORIES An in-depth look at the stories behind a current news.
2. PERSONALITY SKETCH/PROFILEProfile stories of the rich and the famous. Readers want to know the hidden traits and lives of famous personalities.
3. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STORIESThey concentrate on the latest advancement in science and technology with the aim of informing the readers and arousing their interests
4. HUMAN APPEAL STORIESThey are also called “concerned stories.” They expose burning issues which need urgent solutions. These stories show the magnitude of the problem through cases,
anecdotes, and quotable quotes. These features highlight the dramatic condition and experiences of certain groups of people. They are written using heart-piercing presentations which evoke emotional responses the readers.
5. HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL FEATURESHistorical events and sites can provide readers a sense of identity. By comparing the present to the past, they can see how time has changed their environment, culture, values and perspectives.
6. HOW-TO AND WHAT-TO-DO FEATURESThey are educational in essence. They provide knowledge about process or activity.
7. BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT FEATURESThey provide a glimpse and insight on the business world and the development of certain sector or area. This writing requires a working knowledge and special interest on the workings and operations of the business community.
8. LIFE STYE FEATURESChanging fashion trends and life-styles makes an interesting reading.
9. ENTERTAINMENT FEATURESMovie stars, pop singers, and show business events are common subjects. The goal is to entertain and give relief to people.
10. HOBBY FEATURES
They interest the readers who are into exceptional hobbies.
11. CAREER FEATURES
They focus on career guidance, tips or issues.
12. SEASONAL THEMES
These articles magnify the significance and relevance of holidays, anniversaries, and special events.
13. TRAVEL FEATURES
These features highlight the beauty of interacting with people and places. They offer endorsements and guidelines on places where money would be worth spending. Travel feature writers demand exceptional descriptive and narrative skills.
14. INSIDER FEATUREInsiders look at unusual occupations, issues, or events which are hidden from the public. Readers are attracted to unusual details or “well-kept secrets” about procedures or activities they might not ordinarily be exposed to or allowed to participate in.
THE EFFECTIVE FEATURE WRITER
1. Is a keen observer;2. Has an analytical mind;3. Is a wide reader;4. Is a frequent writer;5. Clearly presents the message;6. Is eloquent or able to express ideas in a
grand manner; and7. Is a master of language.
THE STAGES OF WRITING A FEATURE
1. PRE-WRITING2. WRITING3. REVISING
PRE-WRITINGBefore setting the first draft, plan, research, gather data, organize information. Planning involves finding out what you should write about and your purpose. WHAT TO SAY & HOW TO SAY IT.
Limit the topic. Choose the theme. Narrow down and focus. (THEME, SUBJECT, TOPIC)
WRITINGKnow the level of consciousness and knowledge of your audience. Find out if they read for entertainment, information, analysis, or commentaries. This will make your article more responsive and sensitive to the issues and concerns of the reader.
Observe the normal pyramid structure.
THE INTRODUCTIONShould be able to hook the readers. The body should sustain the interest. The conclusion should help the reader remember the story.
AN INTRODUCTION WITH A PUNCH
The introduction serves as a taste test for the rest of the article.
WAYS TO DEVELOP THE LEAD
1.Question lead asks the reader’s questions which the article will try to explore and discuss.
Who’s does not know Facebook?Did you know that shopping malls are not
2. Startling statements or exclamation leads to compel attention.a. Freedom!b. That’s incredible! A college graduate at 12 years old?
3. Striking statement lead is enticing piece of information in a short punchy format. It adds suspense.If you think that children do not understand google maps, think again.
4. Descriptive lead can draw the reader into the story by creating a strong image in his or her mind. The words are colorful and concrete enough for the reader to appreciate and feel the ideas presented in the story.The island wears a human face. Its tranquility is mirrored by the blue ocean. Its white sands and waving palms can comfort a weary soul.
5. Summary lead sums up the general topic of the story (but does not follow the inverted pyramid).At an early age, Andoy and Badong serve as breadwinners for their families by selling cigarettes and newspapers by day and night. They represent the growing number of child workers in poor urban communities.
6. Anecdotal lead relies on a conversational tone to create an intimacy between the reader, the writer and the characters in the article. It is loaded with specific details.David met Grace in a five-star hotel bar in Bangkok. David, in his tuxedo, was mesmerized by the beauty of the Chinese-looking female in red gown. “Can I offer you a drink?” the bachelor asked with confidence. The woman did not refuse the gentle offer. They talked and smiled. That was three years ago. They now have two lovely daughters.
7. Quotation lead relies on an arresting quote. The selected quotes reinforce the message of the article.
“Honesty is the best policy.”
8. Contrast lead, the writer sets off his subject with two apparently contradictory pieces of information. This is to emphasize two contending ideas or events.Three days ago, Mang Kanor was driving his boss to work. This morning, he was seen driving his own car, the very first souvenir he bought for winning the jackpot prize in lottery.
9. Break formal lead leaves to the reader ‘s imagination the things that happened in between events.He said he would. And he did.
10. Character lead, which introduces the central person in a story. These are most common in personality profiles or stories in which you use an individual to represent a larger topic. Here's an example tied in to the national park setting: Marvin Wells always seems to have a smile on his face - even when his truck won't start in the morning.
PARAGRAPH DEVELOPMENTSome techniques used to develop paragraphs and sentences:1. Improve the simple narration strategy by magnifying the
character of a person or an event.Instead of saying that Pedro is happy, sad or angry try to reconstruct the sentence by saying that, “Pedro was so happy that he kissed the forehead and cheeks of Mario and hugged him tight.”
2. Avoid using ambiguous modifiers such as “tall,” “short,” “fat,” “thin.”Say: “Pedro was so short that he had to climb up the acacia tree to see the parading soldiers.”
3. Animate verbs and work for sounds. Add color to the actions of the characters. Instead of “drank quickly,” write “gulped,” walked quietly – tiptoed.
4. Use the active voice.
5. Avoid cliches by reconstructing them.
6. Play with figures of speech.a. simileb. metaphorc. personification
7. Vary sentence length. This is to emphasize thought.
CONCLUSIONIt is a rule that the ending of a feature story should be glorious and must show the reader that the time they invested in reading the piece was well-spent. It must remind them of the main message and idea of the article.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO END YOU FEATURE STORY
1. Summarize the key points of the story.Ex.: Emilia’s message is simple: We, the hope of the future, must prepare our glasses to catch each and every single precious drop of knowledge.
2. The argument conclusion mentions the main point of the article for the first time based on previous discussions.
3. Straightforward question is effective in challenging the readers and making them think through the story.Ex.: Would you let malnutrition take the better of us?
4. Offering solutions and recommendations help the readers make informed choices.
Ex.: It is never wrong to give ourselves some time to relax in this busy world.
5. Forecast or prediction shows a good understanding of the arguments and the implications of current situation to the future. This conclusion offers inferences on the future based on the foregoing arguments.
Ex.: Given his determination to conquer his fears, it is never impossible for Dave to become the person he wants to be.
6. Appropriate quotations are effective in dramatizing the main points raised by the article.
Ex.: Indeed, honesty is still the best policy.
POST-WRITINGEdit your article for clarity and grammatical correctness. Refine your sentences, find better choices for words, cut out unnecessary phrases, ensure your story flows in a coherent manner.
The Importance of a College Education
It is unusual for Southern California to experience an outpouring of rain. Hearing the raindrops pelting my roof is magical in itself, yet is made more special by an outpouring of memories.
(Example of “personal experience feature”)
(This “personal experience feature” was written by 17- year-old Filipina, Dahlia Valeroso, who graduated valedictorian from the Ulysses S. Grant High School in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 1991. The essay, which tells of her nostalgic moments as a child in the Philippines, having grown up with her grandmother, won for her a $1,000 prize and the chance to enroll under a partial scholarship at the prestigious Stanford University in California.)
By Dahlia Valeroso
On rainy days like this one, I sat on my grandmother’s lap as a child. With hot cocoa in hand, I listened attentively to the stories she told. With humble pride in her eyes, she used to recall the struggles she and her children had weathered. My grandfather died early in life, leaving her with burden of raising a family of six. It is evident that even today this would have been a trying situation to anyone. How my grandmother managed to financially support six children with barely an elementary education is still a mystery to me.
Even more impressive was her perseverance in furthering her children’s education. In a small town where most people were content with an elementary education, her dogged pursuit of college diplomas for all of her children was scorned and laughed at by her neighbors. They incessantly asked, “Why would anyone go to the trouble of sending her kids to school when she barely has the money for food? She’s just showing off by trying to do what is out of her reach.”
My grandmother remained undaunted by these cruel and scornful remarks. She sweated and toiled immensely every year in order to assure sufficient funds for her children’s education. Luckily enough, she received full cooperation from all her children, who possessed the same unusual dedication and desire for further education that she had. They did their part by walking several miles to and from school. Rain did not hinder them; they trudged on with nothing but banana leaves to scantily give them shelter. Nevertheless, all the six children refused to allow any barriers in the pursuit of their goals.
My grandmother now has three teachers, one journalist, who is also a published author, one accountant, and an engineer for her offsprings. I regret missing the chance to witness the silent pride in her misty eyes as each one of her children walked across the stage to receive his or her hard-earned and well-deserved diploma. Yet, I can see her expression vividly. Is it because of my mother’s clear description when she recounted the family struggles? No, I must have seen that look in my grandmother eyes myself. It was last week when I told I was graduating as class valedictorian. Her response was simply to take me in her arms and whisper, “Keep up the tradition of academic excellence.”
My grandmother is now 72 years old. It almost made me cry when she pointed out that she might not see me receive my own college diploma. Still, I am heartened by the fact that I will bring joy to her come June 19, 1991, my high school graduation day. Even if she does not live long enough to share my next triumph, I will hold dear in my heart her request and will keep up the tradition of academic excellence in my family.