Feature stories are “soft news” — the candy. A feature assignment is often considered a writer’s reward for handling routine news well. The implication is that feature writing is easy. Actually, it makes more demands writing ability than the straight news story, because it has no specific format.
What Is a feature?
Feature stories can be news stories. Features can be investigative. Features can be in depth. Features can be for fun. The subject can be anything: places-e. community, a farm, a business; topics–education, science, the economy, religion, philosophy; events–parades, programmed, concerts; people–well-known or unknown; animals–unusual .” or ordinary; objects-ere or products. In other words, features can be about anything you want to write about.
A publisher of the Denver Post, Palmer Host, asked his assistant to develop a definition of the feature to clarify contest categories in some newspaper competitions. The assistant, Alexis McKinney, wrote this definition:
A newspaper feature article which finds impact outside or beyond the realm of the straight news story’s basic and unvarnished who-what-where-when-why and how. The justification, strength and very identity of the feature lie in it. presentation of the imagination ..not, however, in departing from or stretching the truth, but in piercing the peculiar and particular truth that strike people’s obscurity, sympathy, , humor, consternation or amazement
Most features draw on some element of human interest drama, pathos, empathy, humor; something that involves the reader emotionally. Another common denominator is that good feature stories are particularly well-written, filled with solid information and detail, sparkling and creative.
The reason for such qualities is simple: You can spend more time crafting the feature because it usually isn’t as timely as a hard-news story. But don’t assume that a feature story doesn’t have news value-It’s just a different kind of news value.
For instance, instead of reporting the facts of a hotel fire in which four persons died and 16 were injured, you might focus on one of the survivors and tell the story from his point of view. Or you could tell the story through the eyes of the firefighters who carried out the dead and administered first aid to the injured. You ‘can create images. and evoke emotions that you can’t with the straight fire story.
Features dispel the notion held by so many beginning reporters that news-writing cramps creativity. Don’t confuse creativity with flamboyance, though, for the two are not the same. Creativity involves using all the writing and reporting skills you have to craft a story that probes under the surface, reveals the unknown, the unusual, the unique.
Overwriting, too many adjectives and adverbs, hyperbole and imprecise, inexact language have no place in a feature story. Think of a film or television programmer you have seen recently that you really enjoyed.
Summarize the plot in your mind. Chances are that the plot summary is really rather simple, perhaps even dull. What made the film or TV programmer exciting and rewarding was a writer’s creativity. The writer took a simple story, found an unusual approach and then embellished it. You create a feature in much the same way, with an original angle, the discriminating use of facts and interesting language.
The market Place
By adding more detail, reporters can sell good newspaper features to regional or national publications. Print and broadcast services are always looking for good feature copy, particularly stories that give readers a chuckle or make them feel good about something.
A considerable amount of feature copy is used around holidays- Thanksgiving, Fourteenth of August. Some stories written for a local newspaper or broadcast station are passed along to the wire or network for greater distribution.
IDEAS FOR FEATURES
Anything that happens is potentially a creature–depending on how you, the writer, view it. Ideas are everywhere. One writer, Frank A. Dickson, demonstrated that in a book called 1001 Article Ideas. Actually, it contained 1,464 feature-story suggestions. And that doesn’t count the spinsterhood result naturally from a good feature idea.
Dickson said of his suggestions: “Each idea be it historical, current or futuristic-has been designed to enable you to give your readers– whoever they are a personal interest and identification in the story.” Dickson intended his article ideas not only for newspaper and. magazine writers but also photojournalists and television interviewers.
A ideas for features cannot be copyrighted, 80 you need to get in the habit of making notes when something you read or see or hear gives you an idea. In addition to the media, other sources for ideas are your own hobbies, experiences, observations and personal contacts. Include these in your idea inventory.
TYPES OF FEATURES
Though there is no limit to the number of ideas for features, there is a finite set of categories of them. These categories aren’t rigid; they’re only labels to help you describe a story.
Most common is the news feature, generally developed around a timely event-something with immediacy and significance to the audience. The news feature can be more personal than a straight news story. Considerably more human interest is brought to the story-through direct quotes, description and perhaps emotion. At the core, though, is news. Often such features are written as sidebars to straight news stories. Color stories capture the flavor of an event; seasonal limn a time of year.