In writing a feature you will draw upon a few different skills. Structure A feature is seldom written in the traditional invertedpyramid pattern. The main point, always in the lead of a news story, may be withheld until the end as a climax. Or the feature may be written in a narrative fashion, much like a good joke or anecdote.
Organize carefully. First decide what the theme is. Then carefully outline the subpoints so they will support ‘the theme. The good feature requires as much organization as the straigt,.t news story, for the feature has to flow smoothly.
News stories can be cut without severely damaging the sense, but generally all the parts of a feature story must be kept intact if it is to succeed. A good test is to cut paragraphs from the body of a feature. If the story doesn’t suffer from the cut, then the graphs probably aren’t necessary. In the well-planned story, every paragraph-every sentence-should add to the total effect. A.
Leads. The lead must attract immediate attention and pull the reader into the story. Leads can vary in lrtyle and content. You can use description, narration, dialogue,unusual statements, call to action, comparisoncontrast.Transitions. No matter how good the lead is, you need a transition into the body of the feature.
H you think of the lead as a lure to attract the audience, then the transition sets the hook. It makes the reader want to continue. And it promises some kind of sAtiBfaction or reward. The reward can be entertainment, information or self-awareness-but has to be something of value to the reader.
Body. Sound knowledge of the subject, coupled with good writing skills, will let you take the reader through a variety of experiences. You should use the standard writing devices of crisp dialogue, documentary but vivid fact and detail, careful observation, suspense and, if appropriate, plot.
Conclusions. The conclusion should give the reader a sense of satisfaction. You need to tie the conclusion to the lead 80 the story has unity. Often you can do this through’ a short, tight summary. Occasionally, you can conclude with an anecdote or a quote that sums up the substance of the story. With a narrative approach, you build toward a climax .
• William L. Rivers, a prolific writer and journalism scholar, sums up the relationship between the beginning and the ending of a feature story thus: Experienced writers can often spot the .ending to an article among the interviews, notes, and other malarial they have gathered before even writing the lead.
A good ending can even suggest a lead, or give the writer a sense of the direction in which the article is heading. There is a pitfall, however, in saving an item that appears to be a good ending sometimes a good ending is really a good beginning in disguise. Writers must learn to tell the difference
Feature stories can be of any length. Examine any newspaper or magazine, or listen to any radio or TV station and you’ll note the range. The fact is, editors and news directors want this variety. In the -case of a newspaper, it may be that a hole in the page requires a short item,
The same is true on radio or TV. A hole in the newscast can be plugged with a short feature–almost a filler. Short feature fillers that have a light touch (sometimes called brites) a bit of humour, something heartwarming are particularly welcome in the newsroom.
With today’s typesetting technology of total pagination and automatic’ calculation of story length, the need to fill holes on a news page is not as common. Even 80, the brief filler-feature is popular, for it gives the reader a break from the more serious straight news that dominates the page, and it helps add visual variety to a page.
Longer features are equally popular. In newspapers, they may be accompanied by photographs or artwork. As you work on a feature, think about possible illustrations or photographs to complement the story. For TV features the visuals generally tell most of the story.
In broadcast news, the definition of a feature is almost always a story on the lighter side: “soft news.” Studies have shown that audiences like features as an escape from the bad news of the day.
Features are more common in TV than in radio.
Many TV reporters get feature assignments on a regular basis. In larger TV newsrooms, one reporter mny be assigned full-time to nothing hut feature stories.
• Broadcast writers look for the humorous, the cute, the oflbeat or the heartwarming when selecting a story to do as a feature. In TV, they also look for ideas that will result in good pictures.
All stations keep “features files.” However, the demands of covering the hard news often limit the number of local features each TV or radio station can do each day or week.
Because of that fact, syndicated features have become popular. A large number of them are now available for both radio and TV; they run the gamut of topics and types.
Here’s a sampling of some of the topics of syndicated radio and TV features: Health Consumer buying Home repair Investments Gardening Advice for women Employment Car repair Child-rearing Pet care Features are the type of story that can be written and produced and then kept on the shelf until needed.
Many larger broadcast newsrooms build up a backlog of these features, then insert them in newscasts as fillers or when they tie in to news stories of the day.