How to Write a Feature Story

A newspaper, or any news-delivering source, has a vastly selection of stories. How does one organize them all? The answer is that they are split into sections. For example, heavy news such as international or political stories can be found in the news section; any stories that revolve around the topic of sports can be found in the sports section, naturally. The art section is similar except this part of the paper is responsible for stories that are involved in the arts. The feature section, however, is different. When compared to the other newspaper section, the feature story section is unique.

The feature section of the newspaper is not …by the topic of the articles but rather by how the article is written. This section is distinguished by the quality of the writing instead. “Ask most people what a feature story is, and they’ll say something soft and puffy, written for the arts or fashion section of the newspaper or website. But in fact, features can be about any subject, from the fluffiest lifestyle piece to the toughest investigative report,” (About).

According to Entrepreneur, feature articles are articles “that speaks to a topic that’s of interest to a target audience but isn’t dependent on being newsworthy right at the moment it’s sent. That type of article is called a feature. A feature is an in-depth look at a topic, product or industry–it’s a complex story designed to be read at a leisurely pace. And a feature can benefit your company by linking your brand or product to a larger trend or industry focus while also showcasing you, the entrepreneur, as a thought-leader in your field. While a news release is designed to entice the reporter into finding out more information themselves, a feature’s designed to be used as is, or merely edited to fit the space available.” Despite this, certain topics are more likely to make this section then others. For example analysis and opinion on current issues, profiles of, or interviews with well known-people, humorous reflections, personal experience or anecdotes, online articles, background information on local, national or international events, magazine articles, human interest stories, background information and personal opinion on your interests (HubPages!).

When one is about to undertake the task of writing a feature article, regardless whether its for a newspaper or online source of news or something else entirely, there are a number of steps one must consider. Before even starting to write, a topic must be decided. As stated before, it is recommend to choose something that will draw the audience’s attention; so something current and interesting to a large section of people is ideal. It is also recommended that one choose something unique. While every topic is worthy of reporting, there a few of them that are constantly being talked about; such as global warming. That is interesting but overdone. Choose something that is different but still interesting enough to report, research, and write an article on it.

Research, which is always going to be step in writing any newspaper article, will be the next step. Student Voices from the New York Times claims that in order to properly research for a feature article one must interview. These interviews must be filled with asking good questions, in-depth details, listening well, keeping an opinion mind, and be willing and ready to probe for anecdotes. Using other sources of research are greatly recommended.

The next step is to devise a headline. “The headline is the most vital part of your feature. Treat the headline as if it were a summary of the article. Ask yourself, why is this story important? What about it will it grab readers’ interest? A good headline answers those questions by telling the reader something new, different or useful–in 20 words or less. Keep the wording simple, and avoid superlatives and emotive language. Also, avoid using a brand or client name in the headline unless it’s very well known. Instead, focus on what’s most interesting about your topic.” (Entrepreneur). The lead is a brief yet detailed paragraph or two that are only a mere 2 to three sentences that which provides a extension of the headline. This gives the reader a stronger idea of what the article is about and helps the reader determine whether or not they want to continue reading the article. It follows the headline. This is important, as most readers don’t have the time or patience to read the whole article.

The body of the article is the bulk of the written piece. This is when the writer complies all the research and puts it all into a single written piece. When writing the body, there are a few things that the reporter must keep in mind. For example “because a feature should be written from a journalistic perspective, you should emphasize information over outright promotion. Ideally, a feature editor won’t change the story at all and will use it when it’s needed as part of a theme or to fill space,” (Entrepreneur). It is advised to focus on the human element as well. This is what separates the feature section from the others and why the reader even picked it up in the first place. It should be embraced.

As for writing the article, Entrepreneur states that a reporter should start with an expansion on the lead; this means that feature articles start with the bare essential details because if the article has sections that need to be cut, then at least the concept of the story was still understood.

As the article expands, provide more details. Using quotations is an excellent way to do this. They lend authority to the article, introduce an export, and further the story. They also introduce personal feelings, comments, and opinions. Naturally, this is where the reporter would use superlatives without sounding false. Quotes should also be written in a conversational manner. Quotes are a useful tool as people are more likely to pay attention if there are more than just stated facts.

The amount of detail added to the article should develop the story further and hold the interest of the reader. This is where all the extra information should be placed. This adds strength to the article but if the reader stops reading, then they are only missing the icing on the cake. Photos are helpful in explaining the story and can draw the attention to the article in the first place. Adding one can determine the difference between the article getting published or it being rejected.

The feature article is a unique story among the other newspaper sections. While certain topics are more likely to get chosen, the quality of how it is written is what makes it for it really is. It is different but special and should be treated as such.





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