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How to Write a Feature Article: A Step-by-Step Guide

Feature stories are one of the most crucial forms of writing these days, we can find feature articles and examples in many news websites, blog websites, etc.  While writing a feature article a lot of things should be kept in mind as well. Feature stories are a powerful form of journalism, allowing writers to delve deeper into subjects and explore the human element behind the headlines. Whether you’re a budding journalist or an aspiring storyteller, mastering the art of feature story writing is essential for engaging your readers and conveying meaningful narratives. In this blog, you’ll find the process of writing a feature article, feature article writing tips, feature article elements, etc. The process of writing a compelling feature story, offering valuable tips, real-world examples, and a solid structure to help you craft stories that captivate and resonate with your audience.

Read Also: Top 5 Strategies for Long-Term Success in Journalism Careers

Table of Contents

Understanding the Essence of a Feature Story

Before we dive into the practical aspects, let’s clarify what a feature story is and what sets it apart from news reporting. While news articles focus on delivering facts and information concisely, feature stories are all about storytelling. They go beyond the “who, what, when, where, and why” to explore the “how” and “why” in depth. Feature stories aim to engage readers emotionally, making them care about the subject, and often, they offer a unique perspective or angle on a topic.

Tips and tricks for writing a Feature article

 In the beginning, many people can find difficulty in writing a feature, but here we have especially discussed some special tips and tricks for writing a feature article. So here are some Feature article writing tips and tricks: –

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1. Choose an Interesting Angle:

The first step in feature story writing is selecting a unique and compelling angle or theme for your story. Look for an aspect of the topic that hasn’t been explored widely, or find a fresh perspective that can pique readers’ curiosity.

2. Conduct Thorough Research:

Solid research is the foundation of any feature story. Dive deep into your subject matter, interview relevant sources, and gather as much information as possible. Understand your subject inside out to present a comprehensive and accurate portrayal.

3. Humanize Your Story:

Feature stories often revolve around people, their experiences, and their emotions. Humanize your narrative by introducing relatable characters and sharing their stories, struggles, and triumphs.

4. Create a Strong Lead:

Your opening paragraph, or lead, should be attention-grabbing and set the tone for the entire story. Engage your readers from the start with an anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a vivid description.

5. Structure Your Story:

Feature stories typically follow a narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning introduces the topic and engages the reader, the middle explores the depth of the subject, and the end provides closure or leaves readers with something to ponder.

6. Use Descriptive Language:

Paint a vivid picture with your words. Utilize descriptive language and sensory details to transport your readers into the world you’re depicting.

7. Incorporate Quotes and Anecdotes:

Quotes from interviews and anecdotes from your research can breathe life into your story. They add authenticity and provide insights from real people.

8. Engage Emotionally:

Feature stories should evoke emotions. Whether it’s empathy, curiosity, joy, or sadness, aim to connect with your readers on a personal level.

Read Also: The Ever-Evolving World Of Journalism: Unveiling Truths and Shaping Perspectives

Examples of Feature Stories

Here we are describing some of the feature articles examples which are as follows:-

“Finding Beauty Amidst Chaos: The Life of a Street Artist”

This feature story delves into the world of a street artist who uses urban decay as his canvas, turning neglected spaces into works of art. It explores his journey, motivations, and the impact of his art on the community.

“The Healing Power of Music: A Veteran’s Journey to Recovery”

This story follows a military veteran battling post-traumatic stress disorder and how his passion for music became a lifeline for healing. It intertwines personal anecdotes, interviews, and the therapeutic role of music.

“Wildlife Conservation Heroes: Rescuing Endangered Species, One Baby Animal at a Time”

In this feature story, readers are introduced to a group of dedicated individuals working tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate endangered baby animals. It showcases their passion, challenges, and heartwarming success stories.

What should be the feature a Feature article structure?

Read Also: What is The Difference Between A Journalist and A Reporter?

Structure of a Feature Story

A well-structured feature story typically follows this format:

Headline: A catchy and concise title that captures the essence of the story. This is always written at the top of the story.

Lead: A captivating opening paragraph that hooks the reader. The first 3 sentences of any story that explains 5sW & 1H are known as lead.

Introduction : Provides context and introduces the subject. Lead is also a part of the introduction itself.

Body : The main narrative section that explores the topic in depth, including interviews, anecdotes, and background information.

Conclusion: Wraps up the story, offers insights, or leaves the reader with something to ponder.

Additional Information: This may include additional resources, author information, or references.

Read Also: Benefits and Jobs After a MAJMC Degree

Writing a feature article is a blend of journalistic skills and storytelling artistry. By choosing a compelling angle, conducting thorough research, and structuring your story effectively, you can create feature stories that captivate and resonate with your readers. AAFT also provides many courses related to journalism and mass communication which grooms a person to write new articles, and news and learn new skills as well. Remember that practice is key to honing your feature story writing skills, so don’t be discouraged if it takes time to perfect your craft. With dedication and creativity, you’ll be able to craft feature stories that leave a lasting impact on your audience.

What are the characteristics of a good feature article?

A good feature article is well-written, engaging, and informative. It should tell a story that is interesting to the reader and that sheds light on an important issue.

Why is it important to write feature articles?

Feature articles can inform and entertain readers. They can also help to shed light on important issues and to promote understanding and empathy.

What are the challenges of writing a feature article?

The challenges of writing a feature article can vary depending on the topic and the audience. However, some common challenges include finding a good angle for the story, gathering accurate information, and writing in a clear and concise style.


Aaditya Kanchan is a skilled Content Writer and Digital Marketer with experience of 5+ years and a focus on diverse subjects and content like Journalism, Digital Marketing, Law and sports etc. He also has a special interest in photography, videography, and retention marketing. Aaditya writes in simple language where complex information can be delivered to the audience in a creative way.

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feature writing essay

Anthony Cockerill

Anthony Cockerill

| Writing | The written word | Teaching English |

The indispensable guide to what makes a great feature story

The feature story is a potent and vital form of literary non-fiction. here, anthony cockerill charts its evolution through the years..

Of all the different ways to tell stories, the feature article is one of the most compelling, especially when it’s in the right hands. It’s a mainstay of contemporary journalism: a set-piece at the core of a periodical amidst the recurring content, opinion columns and advertisements. A good feature story is authentic, without artifice or illusion, even though it can be as immersive as any great novel.

The feature article has more in common with the essay than traditional reportage, but unlike most essays, it is more akin to narrative. It makes productive use of story-telling strategies usually found in fiction. It is grounded in places and people. It offers an in-depth exploration. It’s a useful vehicle for the investigative journalist, but not all features are necessarily investigative in nature — a feature story might profile a noted person, or it might find a particular angle which illuminates a bigger issue. Like all great stories, a great feature exploits the reader’s pleasure in delayed gratification, as they engage willingly in the pleasure of being the passive participant of the narrative.

feature writing essay


The essay is perhaps the earliest antecedent for the feature article, but the essay resists easy definition. Most people associate the form with the academic assignment — a means of assessing someone’s understanding of their studies — or perhaps the scholarly essay, published in disciplinary journals. But an essay — exploratory in both purpose and tone — can be critical, persuasive or personal in scope and all of these have influenced the evolution of the feature article.

When we read accomplished essayists such as Michel de Montagine, George Orwell and Clive James, we’re aware of a strong sense of subjectivity and enquiry. The essay writing process goes hand in hand with the process of developing thinking, which surely reflects the emergence of the form — the essais — as a way ascertaining and articulating opinion in an age when editing and redrafting was more difficult.

If the essay was a literary forebear, the advent of printing took the form to the masses. Printing by mechanical, moveable type spread knowledge and ideas in forms such as the tract, the pamphlet and in time, the newspaper and increased the franchise of literacy throughout Europe.

The daily newspaper is the taproot of modern journalism. Dailies mainly date to the eighteen-thirties, the decade in which the word ‘journalism’ was coined, meaning daily reporting, the  jour  in journalism. Jill Lepour, ‘Does Journalism Have A Future?’, The New Yorker

The Daily Courant, edited by Elizabeth Mallet, was Britain’s first daily newspaper, first published in 1702. Mallet claimed to provide only facts, to let the reader make up their own minds about events, demanding her authors ‘…relate only matter of fact; supposing other people to have sense enough to make reflections for themselves.’ This approach characterised news reportage throughout the 17th century, when contributions to newspapers were largely supplied by correspondents.

For the 18th century, it is possible to speak of a ‘literary’ journalism… the news was (no longer) at the centre of their activity, but rather its incorporation into larger narratives or extensive arguments. Jürgen Wilk e, Professor of Journalism, Johannes Gutenberg University

Jürgen Wilke, Professor of Journalism at Johannes Gutenberg University, has argued that the emergence of opinion journalism — the point where essay meets newspaper article — occurred in the 18th century. Newspapers became what he calls ‘organs of public opinion’. Wilke attributes this change to the failure of the Commons to renew the Printing Act in 1695, which had a direct impact on the freedom of the press. At this time ‘…the printer was responsible for the news… whereas the authors themselves oversaw the essay section and other sundry contributions. They… could also publish critical articles and voice their own opinion.’ As well as the daily newspaper, the period saw the gestation of the magazine — a monthly digest of news, review and commentary for the educated public. Although by no means the first, The Gentleman’s Magazine , first published in London in 1731, was the first periodical to use the enduring generic term. The ‘magazine’ evoked the idea of the armoury: a storehouse of powerful ideas and knowledge.

feature writing essay

‘Many authors in the 18th century tried to gain a foothold in the booming sector of journal publishing,’ says Professor Wilke, ‘often writ[ing] other types of journalistic articles, for instance, essays and literary contributions to weeklies, which described themselves in their titles as journals.’

In the United Kingdom, compulsory education and the expansion of the electoral franchise in the 19th century led to growing literacy amongst the population. The repeal of the stamp tax in 1855 and the advent of the rotary press, combined with the availability of cheaper paper, facilitated a huge growth in the popularity and reach of both newspapers and magazines. Typical of the newly popular mass circulation magazine was Tit-Bits , published by George Newness, a miscellany of material gathered from a variety of sources and short fiction. The 19th century was also the age when scholarly journals expanded and the critical review emerged, in forms such as The Edinburgh Review and Quarterly Review . Charles Lamb’s  Essays  first appeared in The London Magazine , which was first published in 1820.

The content of periodicals at this time was essentially a combination of essay and exposition. A scholarly tone dominated and there was little sense of narrative. The editorial voice of The Spectator , founded in 1828, was expressed using the third-person personal pronoun ‘we’, implying an authority and collective understanding in line with the Enlightenment values of the time. This was evident as late as 1903: ‘We note with no little satisfaction that the feeling against Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals for taxing the food of the people is increasing every day.’ But by the following decade, the third-person pronoun — the editorial ‘we’ — had fallen out of style.

Casting an approving eye across the Atlantic in 1886, The Spector noted that Harper’s Monthly Magazine , established in 1850, ‘continue[d] to be worthy of [its] high reputation. Mr. Blackmore’s new story, ‘Springhaven,’ which… depicts the England that successfully resisted the first Napoleon, promises to be as good as anything that has recently come from the same pen. Under the title of ‘Their Pilgrimage,’ Mr. Dudley Warner gives a very lively account, slightly tinged, perhaps, with caricature, of American summer jauntings. ‘The New York Exchange’… tak[es] us behind the scenes of commercial life on the other side of the Atlantic for which this magazine is noted.’

feature writing essay

First edited by James Russell Lowell, The Atlantic Monthly was founded in 1857. ‘Our Birds, And Their Ways’, published during that inaugural year, gives an interesting account of the habits of birds native to America. ‘Among our summer birds,’ begins the article, ‘the vast majority are but transient visitors, born and bred far to the northward and returning thither every year.’ The article occasionally makes use of the first-person style (‘I have seen crows in the neighbourhood of Boston every week of the year…’) and on occasion, direct speech (‘My friend the ornithologist said to me last winter, “You will see that they will be off as soon as the ground is well covered in snow…”‘) But these stylistic choices are rare. There is very little to discern by way of the influence of fiction.

Investigative journalism and social commentary

If the rule of the 19th century periodical feature was scholarly exposition, one notable exception was Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens’ own journalism is notable for blending, stylistically at least, fiction and non-fiction. The critic Michael Dirda has written that while ‘there is a good deal of fancy in Dickens’ reportage, the second half of Sketches by ‘Boz’ consists of what are, in fact, out-and-out short stories.’ In these vignettes, Dickens created a particularly literary form of journalism which gave him an opportunity to craft the characteristic social commentary which was, of course, was similarly conspicuous in his fiction. This wasn’t to everyone’s taste. In 1853, The Spectator published a scathing review of Dickens’ Bleak House , accusing him of ‘amusing the idle hours of the greatest number of readers; not, we may hope, without improvement to their hearts, but certainly without profoundly affecting their intellects or deeply stirring their emotions.’ This scathing indictment perhaps illustrates the division between the intellectualism of the established society periodicals and the nascent ‘populism’ emerging at the time, pioneered in British journalism by William Thomas Stead.

As the editor of The Pall Mall Gazette , editor and social reformer Stead paved the way for the investigative journalism which remains, to some degree, part of the feature article as we know it: eye-catching headlines, subheadings and visuals. Even more importantly, Stead influenced the tropes of this journalism, pioneering the newspaper interview and the subjective presence of the writer within the text, such as in his reportage of the famous Eliza Armstrong case, an important example of a journalist creating news to write about, rather than merely reporting events. In the USA, the sensationalism of Stead was paralleled in the journalism published by William Randolph Hearst, owner of the New York Journal , and Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the New York World . These developments prompted a visceral response from some critics, notably Matthew Arnold, who pejoratively called Stead’s output ‘New Journalism’. This was more than simple grumbling: the emergence of the popular press instigated a debate about the value of journalistic objectivity.

feature writing essay

Adolph Ochs, who bought the New York Times in 1896, must have been a man from the same school of thought as Matthew Arnold: he banned comic strips and gossip columns from the newspaper, and in doing so, focused the publication’s efforts on objective journalism, raising the profile of the newspaper and establishing its international reputation. That same year, The New York Times Magazine was first printed under the auspices of Ochs, establishing the magazine as an outlet for photo-journalism and features.

People and their stories

At a time when Freud was developing his theories of the unconscious and painters like Picasso were experimenting with Cubism, journalists were also developing a greater recognition of human subjectivity. Walter Dean, American Press Institute

Despite inroads into a more literary style of journalism made by the likes of Dickens, as a whole, literary influences in the form continued to feel restrained. The tone of ‘Golf’, a feature in The Atlantic Monthly in 1902, feels predominantly like an essay rather than a story. Although there is a strong sense of authorship and a slight sense of irony (‘Empire, trusts, and golf — these are the new things in American life…’) and although structured like an essay that ranges around its subject, narrative is largely absent.

Writing in Nordicom Review on the featurisation of journalism, Steen Steensen, Professor of Journalism at Oslo Metropolitan University, has argued that the feature article as we understand it in its modern form is a creation of the 20th century. It certainly seems to be the early years of the 1900s in which we can begin to discern an approach to the feature article that emphasises people and their experiences. The Atlantic Monthly printed a polemical essay about animal experimentation from John Dewey in September 1926. ‘In Jerusalem a great Jewish university is being slowly developed,’ wrote Henry W Nevison in the same publication in May 1927. There is a sense that the stories and the pursuits of people were beginning to take centre stage.

National Geographic Magazine was a scholarly journal until 1905, when it became known for what it continues to do well — extensive pictorial content and photojournalism — under the editorial control of Gilbert H Grosvenor. In 1905, the magazine published a feature article called ‘The Purple Veil’, subtitled ‘A Romance of the Sea.’ Clearly, there are the beginnings of a narrative approach. The ‘purple veil’ of the title, as the article later reveals, is the egg mass of Lophius piscatorius , or the goose-fish. ‘Off the New England coast,’ begins the article, ‘a curious object is often found floating on the water, somewhat resembling a lady’s veil of gigantic size and of a violet or purple colour. The fishermen allude to it generally as “the purple veil,” and many have been the speculations concerning its nature and origin.’ There is a pleasing sense of immersion, a sort of ‘cold open’ that is unabashedly designed to hook the reader.

feature writing essay

In ‘The Date Gardens of the Jerid’, written by Thomas H Kearney and published in National Geographic Magazine in 1910, the author begins with the immersive, sense of place opening that the magazine is known for: ‘With its feet in the water and its head in the fire, as the Arab proverb has it, the date palm is at home in the vast deserts that stretch from Morocco to the borders of India.’ After this initial scene setting, the author segues into exposition, telling us: ‘Some years ago, I visited these oases in order to obtain palms for the date orchards which the National Department of Agriculture has established in Arizona and in the Colorado Desert of California.’ This juxtaposition of vibrant image and elucidation continues to be a key structural technique in feature stories today.

Brazenly literary in style, lyrically crafted and undoubtedly novelistic, Florence Craig Albrecht begins ‘Channel Ports – And Some Others’ in 1915 by describing a maritime voyage:

‘The sturdy old vessel is coming into port after an eventless voyage. Seven days of ceaseless plowing through a shimmering sea, under a great round dome, now radiant light, now dusky velvet, star-sprinkled. The Scillys have floated by, foam-washed, mist wrapped, fairly islands in a magic world all cloud and water.’ ‘Channel Ports – And Some Others’, Florence Craig Albrecht

Albrecht has embraced a literary narrative and established a strong sense of place. There is also a clear omniscient point-of-view at work here that evokes the establishing shot of a film in style. This embrace of immediacy in the story-telling — and of movement — feels very much inspired by moving image.

Morris Markey wrote ‘Gangs’ in The Atlantic Monthly in March 1928. Again, the sense of people and place is palpable:

‘On a pleasant evening, not many weeks ago,’ writes Markey in his opening paragraph, ‘a young man bearing the rather picturesque name of Little Augie was standing with a friend on the street corner in New York’s lower East Side. The friend was facing toward the curb, and suddenly, he gave a cry of warning. Little Augie swung about in time to see an automobile charge down upon him.’ ‘Gangs’, Morris Markey

From this evocative opening scene, Markey goes on to explore the backstory; to fill in some of the detail behind Little Augie’s death. The writing is composed of scenes and exposition which are woven together. Furthermore, these scenes and expository components are structured together in longer narrative sequences, divided by Roman numerals. Clearly, there is an emerging sense of the fictional form and its associated stylistics exerting a strong influence in the composition of the text.

Just as Dickens’ journalism had been characterised by aspects of narrative befitting a novelist, in the early decades of the 20th Century, Ernest Hemingway also began his writing career in the newsroom. Hemingway’s experiences writing journalism famously influenced his fiction. Taking the nod from the style guide at the Kansas City Star , where he worked as a reporter after leaving high school, his fiction became known for its objective narrative perspective and lucid sentences. Conversely, Hemingway’s reportage had always been literary. It had sketches, descriptions, characters and a sense of narrative which set the inverted pyramid of the news story the right way up. In his article ‘At the End of the Ambulance Run’, a newspaper article for the  Kansas City Star from 1918, Hemingway begins his copy with the ominous action of a short story:

The night ambulance attendants shuffled down the long, dark corridors at the General Hospital with an inert burden on the stretcher. They turned in at the receiving ward and lifted the unconscious man to the operating table. His hands were calloused and he was unkempt and ragged, a victim of a street brawl near the city market. No one knew who he was, but a receipt, bearing the name of George Anderson, for $10 paid on a home out in a little Nebraska town served to identify him. ‘At the End of the Ambulance Run’, Ernest Hemingway

This is an approach to storytelling usually found in fiction, where the writer lures the reader, leaves them to work out what is or isn’t fundamentally crucial, then builds to a climax. It is essentially the structural and stylistic opposite of the classic inverted pyramid, which condenses news, summarises and foregrounds the most important part of the story.

In 1933, by this time established as a writer of fiction, Hemingway was made an offer he couldn’t refuse by Arnold Gingrich, who had founded Esquire that same year. ‘[He sent Hemingway] a blue sports shirt and a leather jacket, promising to pay him $250 each for articles about marlin-fishing in Cuba, lion-shooting in Tanganyika, bullfighting in Spain, and other manly subjects,’ said Carlos Baker, writing in The New York Times in 1967.

Hemingway has been seen as a profound influence on what was to be called ‘New Journalism’, and although he was undoubtedly a totemic figure, something was happening that was bigger than one person: an undercurrent of fictional stylistics gathering strength in literary journalism, the stylistics of which itself was influenced by cinema, as is evident in Stewart H Holbrook’s ‘Life of a Pullman Porter’ , published in Esquire in 1939:

One October evening in 1937 a stunning blonde of about thirty took a Pullman compartment on a Great Northern train leaving Portland, Oregon for Seattle. She was a tall, graceful woman, modishly dressed in dark blue, right up to her earrings, and the porter who was on her car still thinks she was the handsomest woman he has ever seen. An hour or so later, as the train was leaving Longview, Washington, the lady rang for the porter and handed him a letter in a pale blue envelope. “I want you to be sure,” she said with emphasis, “to mail this at Aberdeen and nowhere else.” She gave him a quarter Stewart H Holbrook, ‘Life of a Pullman Porter’

Alongside feature journalism, in the 1930s Esquire ran short-stories in abundance, as well as ‘semi-fiction’ – an interesting idea that involved real stories, fictionalised for publication. The influence of moving image in writing in this period can be felt palpably. The introduction to Laura Marcus’s essay, ‘Cinema and Modernism’, notes that modernism was ‘concerned with everyday life, perception, time and the kaleidoscopic and fractured experience of urban space. Cinema, with its techniques of close-up, panning, flashbacks and montage played a major role in shaping experimental works.’ As authors of fiction embraced the possibilities of the new medium, their stylistic influences were felt keenly in the work of feature journalists of the era.

‘Movies were already by then a part of the culture… motion was a part of the new vocabulary… for the first time in conventional reporting people began to move. They had a journalistic existence on either side of the event,’ wrote Michael J Arlen in The Atlantic Monthly in 1972. It is impossible to overestimate the influence of the cinema on literary non-fiction, just as the cinema profoundly influenced Modernist fiction during those years.

The influence of ‘New Journalism’

‘ Joe Louis at Fifty’ wasn’t like a magazine article at all. It was like a short story. It began with a scene, an intimate confrontation between Louis and his third wife. Tom Wolfe, Bulletin of the American Society Newspaper Editors , 1970

Matthew Arnold had disparagingly used the phrase ‘New Journalism’ to describe the evolving journalism of the 19th Century that was characterised by a different more sensational discourse and subject matter. In the 1960s, the American journalist Tom Wolfe used the appellation to describe his perception of a shift in the style and framing of the journalism of a cluster of writers in the period who would work in a much more literary style, espousing ‘truth’ over ‘facts’. Unlike Arnold, however, Wolfe certainly wasn’t being disparaging. In fact, there was an element of braggadocio at play. ‘New Journalism’ in Wolfe’s opinion was revolutionary, and Wolfe was one of its biggest proponents.

‘Wolfe wrote that his first acquaintance with a new style of reporting came in a 1962 Esquire article about Joe Louis by Gay Talese,’ wrote James E Murphy in The New Journalism: A Critical Perspective . For Wolfe, Talese was the first to apply fiction techniques to his reporting. But Dickens had done so, as had Hemingway and many others. Experimenting with personal narrative and the blurring of fact and fiction was hardly new. If we were to take Tom Wolfe to task for over-egging the contribution of the New Journalists, we wouldn’t be the first. To argue that New Journalism isn’t exactly new is what Michael J Arlen has called ‘a favourite put down’. In The Atlantic in 1972, he argued that ‘there’s been a vein of personal journalism in English and American writing for a very long time.’

I wonder if what happened wasn’t more like this… that despite the periodic appearance of an Addison, or Defoe, or Twain, standard newspaper journalism remained a considerably restricted branch of writing, both in England and America, well into the nineteen twenties… then, after the First World War, especially the literary resurgence in the nineteen twenties — the  writers’  world of Paris, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc. — into the relatively straitlaced, rectilinear, dutiful world of conventional journalism appeared an assortment of young men who wanted to do it differently.… Michael J Arlen, ‘Notes on the New Journalism’, The Atlantic Monthly , May 1972

Once Tom Wolfe graduated, argues Arlen, ‘burdened like the rest of his generation with the obligation to write a novel’, he made an important discovery: ‘the time of the novel was past… [a] fairly profound change was already taking place in the nation’s reading habits… most magazines, which had been preponderantly devoted to fiction, were now increasingly devoted to nonfiction.’

feature writing essay

Gay Talese’s article, ‘Frank Sinatra Has A Cold’, published in Esquire in April 1966, is, quite rightfully, a staple of journalism students’ reading lists. Denied the opportunity to talk to Sinatra, Esquire editor Harold T. P. Hayes nevertheless kept Talese on the job. Talese ‘bounc[ed] from hope to despair to paranoia and back as he work[ed] furiously to deliver the goods by shadowing the notoriously controlling Sinatra and talking to everyone who might be able to shed light on the entertainer without setting off any alarms,’ wrote Frank Digiacomo in Vanity Fair in 2006. The distance between Talese and Sinatra became the story itself, and offered Talese an angle on Sinatra’s volatile temper and fragile ego. Scenes from Talese’s time observing Sinatra are adroitly rendered:

Frank Sinatra, leaning against the stool, sniffling a bit from his cold, could not take his eyes off the Game Warden boots. Once, after gazing at them for a few moments, he turned away; but now he was focused on them again. The owner of the boots, who was just standing in them watching the pool game, was named Harlan Ellison, a writer who had just completed work on a screenplay,  The Oscar. Finally Sinatra could not contain himself. ‘Hey,’ he yelled in his slightly harsh voice that still had a soft, sharp edge. ‘Those Italian boots?’ ‘No,’ Ellison said. ‘Spanish?’ ‘No.’ ‘Are they English boots?’ ‘Look, I donno, man,’ Ellison shot back, frowning at Sinatra, then turning away again. Gay Talese, ‘Frank Sinatra Has a Cold’

Stylistics of contemporary feature stories

…feature journalism is best understood as a family of genres that has traditionally shared a set of discourses: a literary discourse, a discourse of intimacy and a discourse of adventure. Steen Steensen, Professor of Journalism, Oslo Metropolitan University

The ubiquity of the overtly literary feature article and the associated stylistic choices has waned since the New Journalists’ heyday. Today’s feature stories feel less self-consciously ‘fictional’ than some of those New Journalism classics. They are lighter on direct speech and tend toward more reported speech. Dialogue tags are usually in present tense, which conveys immediacy but which loses some of the fictional notes that resonate soundly in Gay Talese’s writing. Despite this, the methods of story-telling associated with New Journalism continues to exert a powerful influence on the feature story, especially in terms of narrative structure and style.

The scene is at the heart of the feature story, and these scenes are clustered into sequences, a legacy of the influence of cinema. We can see the legacy of this in the discourse of contemporary feature writing: the narrative structure, the sequences of scenes, the evocation of people and places, the importance of the story in moving the writing forward.

Lee Gutkind has explored the structure of the feature story in detail in his 2012 book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up . The structure of the feature story builds to a sense of climax — this could perhaps be a revelatory moment of insight. Gutkind makes the case for the importance of the scene ‘to communicate ideas and information as compellingly as possible,’ to keep the reader engaged through powerful story-telling, around which exposition can be arranged.

Writing for GQ , Jonathan Heaf begins his profile of Harrison Ford prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens , with a brutal, in-media-res opening paragraph:

‘I don’t want all this to take all  f * ing  day.’ The words Harrison Ford, 73, not so much spoke as snarled at me yesterday afternoon while discussing our lunch plans are still, 24 hours later, smarting like refined sugar hitting an exposed tooth cavity. Jonathan Heaf, ‘Harrison Ford on his change of heart about Han Solo’, GQ , January 2015

This appears to confirm some uncomfortable truths about Ford that Heaf — and by extension, we as readers — might have expected: Ford is invariably grumpy; Ford is an ungenerous interviewee; Ford is a formidable challenge. But by the end of the profile, having woven the narrative (his meeting with Ford, a ride in his Tesla Model S, lunch) with interview and exposition, Heaf describes telling Ford how much he’s looking forward to watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens :

He smiles. I turn to walk back to my rental and that’s when I hear it. “Me too, kid.” I very nearly glance back. Kid. He called me kid. For the first time all day, a flicker. One word, that’s all I needed. That ‘kid’, uttered in that tone, in his voice, fires my memory banks like a proton torpedo fired into a thermal exhaust port. Jonathan Heaf, ‘Harrison Ford on his change of heart about Han Solo’, GQ , January 2015

The centrality of the writer creates a kinship with a reader who has grown up with the same cultural tropes and shared, mimetic reference points. The structure of the writing allows Heaf to demonstrate the journey toward intimacy alluded to by Steensen. The Observer Magazine publishes around three features a week. Some are essentially pieces of investigative journalism into topics such as healing crystals (‘The New Stone Age’ by Eva Wiseman, June 2019) and Britain’s big cats, (‘Here, Kitty?’ by Mark Wilding, April 2019). Many, however, tell us something bigger about society in general: Eva Wiseman explores the well-being industry (‘Feel Better Now?’, March 2019). Joanna Moorhead learns about art therapy in prisons (‘Brushes With The Law’, May 2019). Alex Moshakis probes the big business of house plants (‘The Bloom Economy’, June 2019).

Some recount authentic, personal experiences — of sexuality (‘What My Queer Journey Taught Me About Love’, Amelia Abraham, May 2019) or of racing pigeons (‘Home to Roost’, Jon Day, June 2019). Other stories are contrived, for example, Emma Beddington transforms her dog into an Instagram star (‘Meet The World’s Most Unlikely Insta Star’, July 2019). There are often profiles of notable individuals, such as comedian Sara Pascoe (‘I wanted To Be Prime Minister’, Rebecca Nicholson, August 2019) and crossword writer Anna Schectman (‘Why It’s Hip To Be Square’ by Alex Moshakis).

Some tell really interesting stories — the fashion historian who solves crimes (‘Call The Fashion Police’, Eva Wiseman, March 2019). Others are about trends: the television box set (‘Why Box Sets Suck Us In’ by Will Storr, April 2019) and the male wellness sector (‘The Evolution of Man’ by Alex Moshakis, March 2019). Within each of these stories is really engaging content, things we can identify with, references we can share with the writer. The feature article has an important role, bringing people’s stories into play to lead us toward bigger truths and illuminating aspects of our culture and society.

If these features adopt Steensen’s ‘discourse of intimacy’, perhaps the travel feature best exemplifies the ‘discourse of adventure’. The writer Dan Richards, who specialises in travel and adventure, visited Finland’s Pellinge archipelago for 1843 (December 2019/January 2020) to explore the landscape that inspired Tove Jansson, author of the Moomin children’s books. Richards writes compellingly about the outdoors (his contribution to Holloway , which he co-authored with Robert Macfarlane, is lucid and lyrical) and here, he evokes the sparse beauty of the archipelago in his search for the places where Jansson lived and worked. The notion of a ‘search’, a sense of discovery at the heart of the narrative, is a crucial element of the ‘discourse of adventure’, even if for Richards, the island which inspired the Sommarboken [The Summer Book] remains elusive. Just as with Gay Talese’s search for Sinatra, here the adventure is the momentum of the narrative, even if the sought-after moment must be deferred.

Where are we now?

The turn of the twentieth century was marked by one of the most important cultural thresholds in society: the advent of the motion picture. Michael J Arlen is surely right when he argues that this was the significant moment when the feature article began to take on a sense of movement; when showing, rather than telling, came to the fore. It was only natural that writers should turn to fictional narrative as the toolkit. The importance of human subjectivity as central to aesthetic experience was a profound sea change that reflected wider socio-cultural changes: the decline of trust in authority, the erosion of the Enlightenment meta-narrative.

The essay, that long-established form of literary non-fiction, remains a crucial, vibrant form in its own right that can often be found in the package of the published ‘feature’. But the codes and conventions of narrative story-telling have become synonymous with the feature story, what Lee Gutkind prefers to call ‘creative non-fiction’.

Just as the influence of cinema was keenly felt, no doubt the influence of the web and the convergent device will begin to influence the adaptation of the feature story. The modus operandi of the ‘Mojo’ — the mobile journalist — asks the question of what the role of the feature article in today’s fast paced world might be — and the extent to which it can compete with the immediacy of images, video and the flow of social media feeds.

feature writing essay

But just because we like our news reportage raw doesn’t mean we’re turned off to the payload of a great story. Steen Steensen has argued that feature journalism is transforming traditional ‘hard news’ in a process he calls the ‘featurization of journalism’ — the increasing dominance of feature-style journalism in newspapers. This, he writes, is often viewed by academics as an erosion of the social function of the press, ‘divert[ing] journalism towards what might interest the public instead of what is in the public’s interest, hence weakening the role of the news media in a democracy’. However, Steensen goes on to argue that in fact, the traditional genres of hard news and feature journalism have become entwined to some degree, in terms of discourse and social function, bringing ‘enlightenment and insight into complex and quintessential matters of culture and society.’

Steensen goes on to caution that the general transformation of news into something more ‘consumer-oriented, intimate and fiction-inspired’ might create a conflict of ‘intentions and expectations’. This is a judicious caveat in our post-truth culture. The feature story continues to feel like an urgent, exciting and relevant way to tell the stories of the people and places in our world. It will continue to stand as an important social function if we adhere to Lee Gutkind’s injunction to ‘be true to your story, true to your characters, true to yourself.’

Further Reading

Gutkind, Lee (2012) You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, Boston: Da Capo Press.

Harrington, H.F. (1912) Essentials in Journalism: A Manual in Newspaper Making for College Classes , Boston: The Athenaeum Press.

Arlen, Michael J (1972) ‘Notes on the New Journalism’, The Atlantic Monthly .

Hellmann, John (1977) ‘Fables of Fact: New Journalism Reconsidered’, The Centennial Review Vol. 21, No. 4.

Lepore, Jill (2019) ‘Does Journalism Have A Future? The New Yorker .

Murphy, James E (1974) ‘The New Journalism: A Critical Perspective’, Journalism Monographs , No. 34.

Steensen, Steen (2011) ‘The Featurization of Journalism’, Nordicom Review .

Wilke, Jürgen (1987) ‘Newspapers and their reporting – a long-term international comparison’ in Deutsche Presseforschung Bremen [German Press Research Bremen] (ed.): Presse und Geschichte [The press and its history], Munich 1987, vol. 2: Neue Beiträge zur historischen Kommunikationsforschung [New contributions to research on historical communication].

Wolfe, Tom (1970) ‘The New Journalism’, Bulletin [of the American Society of Newspaper Editors].

Dean, Walter ‘The lost meaning of “objectivity”‘, American Press Institute.

Marcus, Laura (2016) ‘Cinema and modernism’, The British Library.

Featured image by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

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How to Write a Feature Article

Last Updated: March 11, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Mary Erickson, PhD . Mary Erickson is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Western Washington University. Mary received her PhD in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon in 2011. She is a member of the Modern Language Association, the National Communication Association, and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 41 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,457,926 times.

Writing a feature article involves using creativity and research to give a detailed and interesting take on a subject. These types of articles are different from typical news stories in that they often are written in a different style and give much more details and description rather than only stating objective facts. This gives the reader a chance to more fully understand some interesting part of the article's subject. While writing a feature article takes lots of planning, research, and work, doing it well is a great way to creatively write about a topic you are passionate about and is a perfect chance to explore different ways to write.

Choosing a Topic

Step 1 Find a compelling story.

  • Human Interest : Many feature stories focus on an issue as it impacts people. They often focus on one person or a group of people.
  • Profile : This feature type focuses on a specific individual’s character or lifestyle. This type is intended to help the reader feel like they’ve gotten a window into someone’s life. Often, these features are written about celebrities or other public figures.
  • Instructional : How-to feature articles teach readers how to do something. Oftentimes, the writer will write about their own journey to learn a task, such as how to make a wedding cake.
  • Historical : Features that honor historical events or developments are quite common. They are also useful in juxtaposing the past and the present, helping to root the reader in a shared history.
  • Seasonal : Some features are perfect for writing about in certain times of year, such as the beginning of summer vacation or at the winter holidays.
  • Behind the Scenes : These features give readers insight into an unusual process, issue or event. It can introduce them to something that is typically not open to the public or publicized.

Step 4 Consider the audience you’d like to talk to.

Interviewing Subjects

Step 1 Schedule an interview at a time and place convenient for the interviewee.

  • Schedule about 30-45 minutes with this person. Be respectful of their time and don’t take up their whole day. Be sure to confirm the date and time a couple of days ahead of the scheduled interview to make sure the time still works for the interviewee.
  • If your interviewee needs to reschedule, be flexible. Remember, they are being generous with their time and allowing you to talk with them, so be generous with your responses as well. Never make an interviewee feel guilty about needing to reschedule.
  • If you want to observe them doing a job, ask if they can bring you to their workplace. Asking if your interviewee will teach you a short lesson about what they do can also be excellent, as it will give you some knowledge of the experience to use when you write.

Step 2 Prepare for your interview.

  • Be sure to ask your interviewee if it’s okay to audio-record the interview. If you plan to use the audio for any purpose other than for your own purposes writing up the article (such as a podcast that might accompany the feature article), you must tell them and get their consent.
  • Don't pressure the interviewee if they decline audio recording.

Step 6 Confirm details about your interviewee.

  • Another good option is a question that begins Tell me about a time when.... This allows the interviewee to tell you the story that's important to them, and can often produce rich information for your article.

Step 8 Actively listen.

Preparing to Write the Article

Step 1 Choose a format for your article.

  • Start by describing a dramatic moment and then uncover the history that led up to that moment.
  • Use a story-within-a-story format, which relies on a narrator to tell the story of someone else.
  • Start the story with an ordinary moment and trace how the story became unusual.

Step 2 Decide on approximate length for the article.

  • Check with your editor to see how long they would like your article to be.

Step 3 Outline your article.

  • Consider what you absolutely must have in the story and what can be cut. If you are writing a 500-word article, for example, you will likely need to be very selective about what you include, whereas you have a lot more space to write in a 2,500 word article.

Writing the Article

Step 1 Write a hook to open your story.

  • Start with an interesting fact, a quote, or an anecdote for a good hook.
  • Your opening paragraph should only be about 2-3 sentences.

Step 2 Expand on your lead in the second paragraph.

  • Be flexible, however. Sometimes when you write, the flow makes sense in a way that is different from your outline. Be ready to change the direction of your piece if it seems to read better that way.

Step 4 Show, don’t tell.

Finalizing the Article

Step 1 Check for accuracy, and check again.

  • You can choose to incorporate or not incorporate their suggestions.

Step 3 Check spelling and grammar.

  • Consult "The Associated Press Stylebook" for style guidelines, such as how to format numbers, dates, street names, and so on. [7] X Research source

Step 4 Get feedback on the article.

  • If you want to convey slightly more information, write a sub-headline, which is a secondary sentence that builds on the headline.

Step 6 Submit your article by the deadline.

How Do You Come Up With an Interesting Angle For an Article?

Sample Feature Article

feature writing essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Ask to see a proof of your article before it gets published. This is a chance for you to give one final review of the article and double-check details for accuracy. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

feature writing essay

  • Be sure to represent your subjects fairly and accurately. Feature articles can be problematic if they are telling only one side of a story. If your interviewee makes claims against a person or company, make sure you talk with that person or company. If you print claims against someone, even if it’s your interviewee, you might risk being sued for defamation. [9] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ http://morrisjournalismacademy.com/how-to-write-a-feature-article/
  • ↑ https://www.nytimes.com/learning/students/writing/voices.html
  • ↑ http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20007483
  • ↑ http://faculty.washington.edu/heagerty/Courses/b572/public/StrunkWhite.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.apstylebook.com/
  • ↑ http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/166662
  • ↑ http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/libel-vs-slander-different-types-defamation.html

About This Article

Mary Erickson, PhD

To write a feature article, start with a 2-3 sentence paragraph that draws your reader into the story. The second paragraph needs to explain why the story is important so the reader keeps reading, and the rest of the piece needs to follow your outline so you can make sure everything flows together how you intended. Try to avoid excessive quotes, complex language, and opinion, and instead focus on appealing to the reader’s senses so they can immerse themselves in the story. Read on for advice from our Communications reviewer on how to conduct an interview! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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DPI-840M: Feature Writing

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This intensive module provides a thorough grounding in the techniques of journalistic feature writing: researching, reporting, interviewing, writing — and revising. We investigate where good feature ideas come from; we explore how to conceptualize, organize, and structure those ideas through journalistic narrative; and we experiment in a collaborative workshop environment with several journalistic forms — the profile, the reported essay, the “trend” piece. Students will gain proficiency in the techniques of journalistic feature writing, skills that are relevant to other forms of writing, too, including academic and policy writing.

Each course in the DPI communications series assumes fluency with the English language. Attendance at first class mandatory.

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Feature writing: Crafting research-based stories with characters, development and a structural arc

Semester-long syllabus that teaches students how to write stories with characters, show development and follow a structural arc.

feature writing essay

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by The Journalist's Resource, The Journalist's Resource January 22, 2010

This <a target="_blank" href="https://journalistsresource.org/home/syllabus-feature-writing/">article</a> first appeared on <a target="_blank" href="https://journalistsresource.org">The Journalist's Resource</a> and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.<img src="https://journalistsresource.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cropped-jr-favicon-150x150.png" style="width:1em;height:1em;margin-left:10px;">

The best journalism engages as it informs. When articles or scripts succeed at this, they often are cast as what is known as features or contain elements of a story. This course will teach students how to write compelling feature articles, substantive non-fiction stories that look to a corner of the news and illuminate it, often in human terms.

Like news, features are built from facts. Nothing in them is made up or embellished. But in features, these facts are imbedded in or interwoven with scenes and small stories that show rather than simply tell the information that is conveyed. Features are grounded in time, in place and in characters who inhabit both. Often features are framed by the specific experiences of those who drive the news or those who are affected by it. They are no less precise than news. But they are less formal and dispassionate in their structure and delivery. This class will foster a workshop environment in which students can build appreciation and skill sets for this particular journalistic craft.

Course objective

To teach students how to interest readers in significant, research-based subjects by writing about them in the context of non-fiction stories that have characters, show development and follow a structural arc from beginning to end.

Learning objectives

  • Explore the qualities of storytelling and how they differ from news.
  • Build a vocabulary of storytelling.
  • Apply that vocabulary to critiquing the work of top-flight journalists.
  • Introduce a writing process that carries a story from concept to publication.
  • Introduce tools for finding and framing interesting features.
  • Sharpen skills at focusing stories along a single, clearly articulated theme.
  • Evaluate the importance of backgrounding in establishing the context, focus and sources of soundly reported stories.
  • Analyze the connection between strong information and strong writing.
  • Evaluate the varied types of such information in feature writing.
  • Introduce and practice skills of interviewing for story as well as fact.
  • Explore different models and devices for structuring stories.
  • Conceive, report, write and revise several types of feature stories.
  • Teach the value of “listening” to the written word.
  • Learn to constructively critique and be critiqued.
  • Examine markets for journalism and learn how stories are sold.

Suggested reading

  • The Art and Craft of Feature Writing , William Blundell, Plume, 1988 (Note: While somewhat dated, this book explicitly frames a strategy for approaching the kinds of research-based, public affairs features this course encourages.)
  • Writing as Craft and Magic (second edition), Carl Sessions Stepp, 2007, Oxford University Press.
  • On Writing Well (30th anniversary edition), William Zinsser, Harper Paperbacks, 2006.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook 2009 , Associated Press, Basic Books, 2009.

Recommended reading

  • America’s Best Newspaper Writing , edited by Roy Peter Clark and Christopher Scanlan, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.
  • Writing for Story , Jon Franklin, Penguin, 1986.
  • Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University , edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, Plume, 2007.
  • The Journalist and the Murderer , Janet Malcolm, Vintage, 1990.
  • Writing for Your Readers , Donald Murray, Globe Pequot, 1992.


Students will be asked to write and report only four specific stories this semester, two shorter ones, one at the beginning of the semester and one at the end, and two longer ones, a feature looking behind or beyond a news development, and an institutional or personal profile.

They will, however, be engaged in substantial writing, much of it focused on applying aspects of the writing-process method suggested herein. Throughout the class, assignments and exercises will attempt to show how approaching writing as a process that starts with a story’s inception can lead to sharper story themes, stronger story reporting and more clearly defined story organization. As they report and then revise and redraft the semester’s two longer assignments, students will craft theme or focus statements, write memos that help the class troubleshoot reporting weaknesses, outline, build interior scenes, workshop drafts and workshop revisions. Finally, in an attempt to place at least one of their pieces in a professional publication, an important lesson in audience and outlet, the students will draft query letters.


This course proceeds under the assumption that students learn to report and write not only through practice (which is essential), but also by deconstructing and critiquing award-winning professional work and by reading and critiquing the work of classmates.

These workshops work best when certain rules are established:

  • Every student will read his or her work aloud to the class at some point during the semester. It is best that these works be distributed in advance of class.
  • Every student should respond to the work honestly but constructively. It is best for students to first identify what they like best about a story and then to raise questions and suggestions.
  • All work will be revised after it is workshopped.

Weekly schedule and exercises (13-week course)

We encourage faculty to assign students to read on their own at least the first 92 pages of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well before the first class. The book is something of a contemporary gold standard for clear, consistent writing and what Zinsser calls the contract between writer and reader.

The assumption for this syllabus is that the class meets twice weekly.

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13

Week 1: What makes feature stories different?

Previous week | Next week | Back to top

Class 1: News reports versus stories

The words “dispassionate,” “factual” and “front-loaded” might best describe the traditional news story. It is written to convey information quickly to the hurried reader. Features, on the other hand, are structured and told so that readers engage in and experience a story — with a beginning, middle and end — even as they absorb new information. It is features that often are the stories emailed to friends or linked on their Facebook pages. Nothing provides more pleasure than a “good read” a story that goes beyond basic information to transport audiences to another place, to engage an audience in others’ lives, to coax a smile or a tear.

This class will begin with a discussion of the differences in how journalists approach both the reporting and writing of features. In news, for example, reporters quote sources. In features, they describe characters, sometimes capturing their interaction through dialogue instead of through disembodied quotes. Other differences between news and story are summarized eloquently in the essays “Writing to Inform, Writing to Engage” and “Writing with ‘Gold Coins'” on pages 302 to 304 of Clark and Scanlan’s America’s Best Newspaper Writing . These two essays will be incorporated in class discussion.

The second part of the introductory class will focus on writing as a continuum that begins with the inception of an idea. In its cover blurb, William Blundell’s book is described as “a step-by-step guide to reporting and writing as a continuous, interrelated process.”

Notes Blundell: “Before flying out the door, a reporter should consider the range of his story, its central message, the approach that appears to best fit the tale, and even the tone he should take as a storyteller.” Such forethought defines not only how a story will be reported and written but the scope of both. This discussion will emphasize that framing and focusing early allows a reporter to report less broadly and more deeply, assuring a livelier and more authoritative story.

READING (assignments always are for the next class unless otherwise noted):

  • Blundell, Chapter 1
  • Clark/Scanlan, “The Process of Writing and Reporting,” pages 290-294.


Before journalists can capture telling details and create scenes in their feature stories, they need to get these details and scenes in their notebooks. They need, as Blundell says, to be keen observers “of the innocuous.” In reporting news, journalists generally gather specific facts and elucidating quotes from sources. Rarely, however, do they paint a picture of place, or take the time to explore the emotions, the motives and the events that led up to the news. Later this semester, students will discuss and practice interviewing for story. This first assignment is designed to make them more aware of the importance of the senses in feature reporting and, ultimately, writing.

Students should read the lead five paragraphs of Hal Lancaster’s piece on page 56 of Blundell and the lead of Blundell’s own story on page 114. They should come prepared to discuss what each reporter needed to do to cast them, paying close attention to those parts based on pure observation and those based on interviewing.

Finally, they should differentiate between those parts of the lead that likely were based on pure observation and those that required interviewing and research. This can be done in a brief memo.

Class 2: Building observational and listening skills

Writing coach Don Fry, formerly of the Poynter Institute, used the term “gold coins” to describe those shiny nuggets of information or passages within stories that keep readers reading, even through sections based on weighty material. A gold coin can be something as simple as a carefully selected detail that surprises or charms. Or it can be an interior vignette, a small story within a larger story that gives the reader a sense of place or re-engages the reader in the story’s characters.

Given the feature’s propensity to apply the craft of “showing” rather than merely “telling,” reporters need to expand their reporting skill set. They need to become keen observers and listeners, to boil down what they observe to what really matters, and to describe not for description’s sake but to move a story forward. To use all the senses to build a tight, compelling scene takes both practice and restraint. It is neither license to write a prose-poem nor to record everything that’s seen, smelled or heard. Such overwriting serves as a neon exit sign to almost any reader. Yet features that don’t take readers to what Blundell calls “street level” lack vibrancy. They recount events and measure impact in the words of experts instead of in the actions of those either affected by policy, events or discovery of those who propel it.

In this session, students will analyze and then apply the skill sets of the observer, the reporter who takes his place as a fly on the wall to record and recount the scene. First students will discuss the passive observation at the heart of the stories assigned above. Why did the writers select the details they did? Are they the right ones? Why or why not?

Then students will be asked to report for about 30 to 45 minutes, to take a perch someplace — a cafeteria, a pool hall, a skateboard park, a playground, a bus stop — where they can observe and record a small scene that they will be asked to recapture in no more than 150 to 170 words. This vignette should be written in an hour or less and either handed in by the end of class or the following day.

Four fundamental rules apply:

  • The student reporters can only write what they observe or hear. They can’t ask questions. They certainly can’t make anything up.
  • The students should avoid all opinion. “I” should not be part of this story, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • The scene, which may record something as slight as a one-minute exchange, should waste no words. Students should choose words and details that show but to avoid words and details that show off or merely clutter.
  • Reporters should bring their lens in tight. They should write, for example, not about a playground but about the jockeying between two boys on its jungle gym.

Reading: Blundell, Chapter 1, Stepp, pages 64 to 67. Students will be assigned to read one or more feature articles built on the context of recently released research or data. The story might be told from the perspective of someone who carried out the research, someone representative of its findings or someone affected by those findings. One Pulitzer Prize-winning example is Matt Richtel’s “Dismissing the Risks of a Deadly Habit,” which began a series for which The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2010. Richtel told of the dangers of cell phones and driving through the experiences of Christopher Hill, a young Oklahoma driver with a clean record who ran a light and killed someone while talking on the phone. Dan Barry’s piece in The Times , “From an Oyster in the Gulf, a Domino Effect,” tells the story of the BP oil spill and its impact from the perspective of one oysterman, placing his livelihood into the context of those who both service and are served by his boat.

  • Finish passive observational exercise (see above).
  • Applying Blundell’s criteria in Chapter 1 (extrapolation, synthesis, localization and projection), students should write a short memo that establishes what relationship, if any, exists between the features they were assigned to read and the news or research developments that preceded them. They should consider whether the reporter approached the feature from a particular point of view or perspective. If so, whose? If not, how is the story structured? And what is its main theme? Finally, students should try to identify three other ways feature writers might have framed a story based on the same research.

Week 2: The crucial early stages: Conceiving and backgrounding the story

Class 1: Finding fresh ideas

In the first half of class, several students should be asked to read their observed scenes. Writing is meant to be heard, not merely read. After each student reads a piece, the student should be asked what he or she would do to make it better. Then classmates should be encouraged to make constructive suggestions. All students should be given the opportunity to revise.

In the second half of class, students will analyze the origins of the features they were assigned to read. The class might be asked to form teams and to identify other ways of approaching the material thematically by using Blundell’s methods of looking at an issue.

Feature writers, the author writes, are expected to find and frame their own ideas.

“The feature writer who doesn’t have two or three projects bubbling on his own stove is doing only half a job,” he writes.

Conceiving stories, Blundell notes, involves more than clear and original thought. Reporters need idea files and source files. They need to read prolifically in areas about which they know little. They need to look for areas that are under covered by their publications. They need to walk through their communities with the wonderment of tourists who have just landed in a foreign city.

This degree of organization and engagement assures reporters far greater success in applying some of Blundell’s other tools of analysis.

These include:

  • Extrapolation — Looking for the “why” or principal cause of a story. After the explosion that killed BP workers and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, some feature stories likely told the dramatic, but relatively narrow, story of the night things went bad. Others, based on much weightier investigation, traced the series of bad decisions BP made that ultimately led to catastrophe. Both, in their way, would have been considered backgrounders to the news development.
  • Synthesis — Looking for common threads that can broaden a story’s impact. Blundell offers the example of a series of mishaps in the city of San Diego that made the city ripe for a feature on its dubious claim to being the American capital of civic embarrassment.
  • Localization — Examining big events or developments in smaller ways — either by taking a national or global event and examining its impact within the writer’s local area or by viewing a broad, thematic problem — post-traumatic stress disorder in the military, for example — through the experiences of an individual whose story represents the more universal experience. (In his book, Writing for Your Readers , Donald Murray writes: “Most good stories say one thing. They tell the story not of a battle, but of a soldier: they talk not about governance, but a deal; they discuss not a socioeconomic group, but reveal a person and a life.” Blundell writes that it is easier for most feature writers to be miniaturists than muralists.)
  • Projection — Looking beyond the news development by writing a story that considers how the news affects a person or group of people. In Richtel’s story about the dangers of cell phones and driving, he builds the story around one young man whose life was shaken when he ran a stop light and took a life while talking on the phone.

Conceiving a story is only the first step. The reporter must go deep to report and write the story well. “To me,” Blundell writes, “the most important part of reporting is knowing what you need to make the story go.”

Reading: Blundell Chapter 3 and 4

Assignment: Students should either use materials posted on the Journalist’s Resource web site at the Shorenstein Center or developed at a research center at their university to identify and background a news or research development that can serve as the basis for developing a unique feature angle or approach. This feature should not profile, or tell the story of, either of an institution or an individual. Profiles will be assigned later in the semester. Instead students should look for features that either look behind a news development, such as the BP backgrounders described earlier, or features that look at the impact of a news development on those most directly affected by it or those who would be expected to translate it into policy. Students should keep in mind that they are conceiving and finding a thematic thread for a feature, not reporting a policy story filled with expert voices only. For example, if the Department of Defense releases data showing that suicides have increased in the military, the student might propose a feature like one published on page 1 of The New York Times in July 2010. It told the story of those working on a suicide hotline to keep anguished members of the military alive. The stories that grow out of this assignment should be substantial in their research and be worthy of between 1,300 and 1,500 words. They will be due in four weeks (Class 2 or Week 6).

By the second class of Week 3 students will be expected to have identified a topic and a way of approaching it that allows each to:

  • Craft a single-sentence theme statement establishing its focus.
  • Identify and obtain research-based material that will provide a specific contextual foundation for the story.
  • Provide at least four sources, with their contact information, and an explanation of why the student has chosen them.
  • Provide a brief reporting plan.

Class 2: The importance of backgrounding (starting the reporting process)

Too many students mistake reporting for a journalistic version of a police dragnet: They pull in everything they can find and then try to figure out what the story is. Such an approach results in stories riddled with holes and lacking any dominant focus. Reporting always demands lots of legwork. But that legwork must be informed by forethought, which, in turn, is informed by the process of backgrounding. Backgrounding moves a story from the conceptual stage to the point at which a reporter can draw up a well-established working thesis or plan, a focus which, while it might still change, sets the direction of future reporting and writing.

“The good writers I know always do some kind of planning before they report,” writes Blundell.

Part of that planning means to review what’s been written about the topic before, both to find useful information and to see what hasn’t been broached. It means identifying and locating documents to help establish a line of questioning and lend authority to the story. It means identifying different kinds of sources, from the “rabbis,” who point the way but rarely are quoted to “wise men,” who can offer a big picture overview of the landscape; and from authorities who can give the official version of things to what Blundell calls the “street-level” people who live the story and among whom the reporter likely will find a central character.

In this class, students will begin with a discussion of the steps needed to background a story well and then apply those steps to the individual stories they have begun researching. Among the issues that will be discussed are: Where to look for authoritative sources and digital or print documents, how to distinguish between different kinds of sources, and how to use background material to establish a line of questioning, identify potential sources and narrow the story’s focus.


  • Agree with Blundell’s assessment of the theme of the story as expressed on page 116
  • Find that the story stays tightly focused on the thematic Blundell describes. In each case, students should explain why the agree or disagree.
  • Continue background work on first feature.

Week 3: Honing the story’s approach

Class 1: Focus or theme statements

Nearly every effective and interesting story is built around a single, dominant theme, using varied types of material to develop it. Writers who fill stories with exhaustive documentation but fail to establish a clear storyline file copy that reads like a government report. Writers who cobble together a series of colorful scenes that are not connected by a clear story spine run the risk of confusing readers to the point at which they will turn away.

The best features engross or entertain readers as they inform them. They offer content, structure and style, or, as Carl Sessions Stepp writes, “typically … share the following three virtues: 1. storyline: a special idea 2. Surprise: compelling material and 3. Stylishness: engaging writing.

To arrive at 2 and 3, the writer must first establish 1, the storyline. “A limited tale well told has more impact and persuasiveness than a sweeping story that can’t be adequately illustrated,” Blundell writes.

It is difficult to write that limited tale, however, unless the reporter sets out on a course to report it. That usually means narrowing and sharpening the story’s concept to the point at which the writer can express it in a clear and specific theme or focus statement. (For example, on page 116, Blundell gives this theme statement for the profile he deconstructs in the same chapter: “My theme statement for this story was simple — the life and work of a real cowboy in an age of cowboy hype.”)

Most serious storytellers would agree with Blundell that writing such a theme sentence must precede the bulk of reporting. This does not suggest the journalist embarks on his reporting with a bias. It suggests he is reporting with purpose. If the reporter finds a better story along the way, he can recast the theme statement. But entering the reporting process without one is like running through brambles instead of along a clearly marked path. The reporter who chooses the brambles may still get to the end, but only with multiple nicks and cuts.

As students sharpen their stories’ themes, they should consider some of the questions Blundell raises in Chapter 4 (assigned earlier). They also might ask themselves these questions, among others:

  • Is the story’s scope too broad?
  • Do I have time to report and write a story of the scale I’m proposing?
  • Am I getting down to street level in my reporting?
  • Can I establish an element of suspense or anticipation at the outset of the story that isn’t answered until near the end?
  • Does something happen in the story? Does something change? (Action often informs character and stories are easier to construct if they arrive at a resolution. In his excellent book on narrative nonfiction, Writing for Story , author Jon Franklin notes that the best stories are built around sympathetic characters forced to confront and resolve a conflict or complication in their lives. “A story,” he writes, “consists of a sequence of actions that occur when a sympathetic character encounters a complicating situation that he confronts and solves.”)
  • Does the story’s contemporary context or its past make it more interesting to tell?

To help internalize the process of writing theme statements, students can be asked to select an article from the Journalist’s Resource web site, to deconstruct it and to craft a single theme sentence that captures its purpose. They then should compare their efforts, either in small groups or a discussion of the entire class.

Class 2: Pitching the story

Students will read their theme or focus statements aloud in class. These will be critiqued by the instructor and class. Using the memos submitted by students, the instructor should work with them to sharpen the focus of their stories and troubleshoot the direction of their reporting.

Reading: Blundell, page 95 (four stages), 126 to 140 and 148 to 152; Zinsser, pages 55 to 58; Stepp, 99 to 101 and 149 to 153.

  • The first draft of the 1,500-word public affairs feature article described above will be assigned for the second class of Week 5 (in two weeks).
  • Those students with a weak focus statement will be expected to recast them for the following class.
  • Students should come prepared to discuss which lead in Appendix 2 of Blundell’s book they consider most effective and why. They also should consider which ending they consider most effective and why.

Week 4: Organizing stories

Class 1: Leads and endings

Journalism textbooks love to categorize lead types. Among the feature leads they’ll list are anecdotal leads , short vignettes that exemplify or show what the main point of the story will tell; scene setters , that paint a picture and create a mood of a place central to a story’s central theme; zingers , short, sharp leads that pull readers in with a quick turn of phrase or sharp contrast; and narrative leads , which foreshadow what’s to come and build suspense without giving away the story’s ending.

Categories aside, though, every lead serves the same purpose and has the same mission: To engage readers immediately and to do so well enough to keep them reading.

Reporters, particularly those writing for newspapers or web sites, don’t have the time or space to luxuriate in the scenes they create. They cannot afford to waste space or words. They must, in the words of E.B. White, “make every word tell.” This is as true in writing features as in writing news. The forms and style change. The mission remains the same.

In his book, On Writing Well , William Zinsser puts it like this: “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead.”

He notes that leads must not only force the reader to keep reading but that to do so, each sentence must do “real work.” It needs to build on the sentence before, to introduce information even as it entices or draws the reader in.

Leads must do something else: They must be honest. A lead about a shark surfacing a few feet from a swimmer off Cape Cod likely would draw the reader to the next sentence. But if the story had nothing to do with sharks other than they were swimming in the waters near a controversial site where offshore windmills will soon be built, the lead would be deceptive and tangential to the story. A lead must fit the story — in its content, its tone and its direction. Readers will resent the writer who deceives.

The second most important sentence in a good feature is its last. It should leave the reader with a sense of finality or resolution, a strong image, a reminder of the story’s main theme. The best endings both surprise and resonate. This is not the long windup of the college English essay. Students are urged to leave out their editorial opinions and to eschew that dreadful term-paper transition: “in conclusion.” Instead, the best stories stop, sometimes abruptly, often before the reader is quite ready.

When an opening anecdote or scene introduces a broader theme, the writer often circles back or bookends the story to where it began. Stories that return to where they began offer a sense of symmetry, a sense of completion. Other stories end by looking ahead, to the future. Or, in the case of narrative, they reach the solution readers have been seeking since they were enticed into the story in the opening scene.

The best way to learn to write different kinds of leads and endings is to (a) read many writers and take note of their approaches and (b) to try multiple leads and endings to the same story.

In this session, the class should discuss Blundell’s four stages on page 95. The first. “tease me, you devil” is the anecdotal or scene-setter lead of the conventional public affairs feature and, perhaps, the first chapter of the pure narrative. The second stage, “tell me what you’re up to” is the nut graph , the paragraph or two in traditional features that resolves the anecdote before it by telling what it showed and then, by placing it in broader context. The second stage is a theme or focus statement with a bit more muscle on the bone. The third stage, “I’m from Missouri. You’ll have to prove what you just said,” is the story’s middle, its evidence and its story development, often woven together. And the last, “I’ll buy it. Help me remember,” is the ending.

In addition to critiquing the leads and endings in Blundell’s Appendix B, the class, time permitting, might either evaluate how well one piece meets these four stages and/or recast the lead for one of the stories, a means of matching their wits against a master and also, perhaps, proving to themselves that no story has a single right lead.

Reading: Blundell, Chapter 5; Stepp, pages 141 to 149, 182 to 192; 52 to 54

Class 2: Managing the middle

Good organization can’t rectify weak content. That’s why students should start this class by playing close heed to Blundell’s “rule of threes” (page 54), a means of layering strong reporting into story. The author notes that readers need repetition to understand ideas and concepts. But, he adds, that repetition should take different forms. So, for example, if a sentence says the catch of Gulf oystermen has been cut by a third since the BP oil spill, the next sentence should give a specific example, perhaps showing the diminished haul of the story’s main character on a specific day. The third sentence might be a salty quote from that main character on how bad things have become.

Fact, followed by example, followed by quote: That is one application of the rule of threes. Working in tandem, these different kinds of story “proofs” build knowledge and entertain the reader. The rule of threes also can apply to multiple examples from different places. If, for example, new research shows a rise in foreclosures in more states, the reporter might give examples from three of them.

Regardless of their structure, stories work well when like ideas are kept together. Those ideas might be related material, as in the rule of threes, or related themes. A feature about preparations to enforce Arizona’s harsh new immigration law would have one section that looks at the efforts of those interested in enforcing the law and another that examines efforts of opponents to block that enforcement. It would not whipsaw back and forth from one group to the other.

Since we all live by the clock — 24 hours a day, seven days in a week, four weeks in a month, and so forth — writing often works well if at some point it returns to the beginning and progresses to the end. The story, in other words, is organized chronologically . When explanatory passages or sections are needed, writers can step back from this chronological framework by alternating expository “chapters” with the personal narrative ones.

In class, students should analyze Blundell’s story about the loss of farmland in Chapter 5 (it begins on page 103), reviewing not only its structure but the content he musters. Does he apply the rule of threes? In what ways? Does he keep like ideas together? In what way? Contrast this story to the story that begins on page 114. This story relies heavily on chronology for its structure.

Reading: Review Blundell, Chapter 4; Read Stepp, page 72 to 76, 138 to 139

Assignment: Students should come prepared to discuss the following:

  • William Blundell writes: “The story is happening on streets where there are no PR men strewing palms in the reporter’s path, no computers disgorging blocks of seductive statistics, and a lot of people who have nothing to gain from doing pirouettes for the press. This territory can be tough on strangers, but we have to go there to gather details and direct experiences that show the reader what we’re talking about.”Students should discuss what he means by this. Blundell further suggests that a good half of reporting can be spent seeking the right person to talk to at that street level. Students should discuss how close to that street level they’ve gotten in their reporting and what else they might do to close the gap.
  • Students also should consider whether and how they’ve used Blundell’s method of planning and execution to inform their reporting and come prepared to discuss this. Has it helped them? Confused them? Have they applied it or ignored it? Why?

Each student should weigh:

  • What gaps remain in reporting his or her story.
  • Whether the reporting has unearthed sound, research-based data at the story’s foundation.
  • Whether or not the data is recent.
  • Whether sources interviewed carry authority.
  • Whether they show a range and balance.
  • Whether they take the story to street level.

Week 5: Working through the reporting process

Class 1: Reporting at ground level

This class will be run like a newsroom in which the instructor, as editor, coaches students through the latter stages of their reporting process. Students should be challenged to defend their initial theme statement. Does it still stand up? Should it be tweaked in any way? They should be pressed on what data they’ve gathered to support that premise. And they should be asked to explain and, if necessary, defend their choice and breadth of sources.

Reading: Stepp, pages 85-88

Assignment: Each student should craft a two- to three-page memo containing the following:

  • An updated theme or focus statement
  • A list of primary points that support that focus, tied, if possible, to Blundell’s six question areas on pages 70-75.
  • A lead that shows (or, as Blundell says, teases)
  • A nut graph (or graphs) that establishes the story and summarizes its main point.
  • A contextual section that places the story into a broader perspective and reinforces its main point
  • Sections or chapters built around like ideas
  • Anecdote or scenes interspersed as examples. These support the ideas and reintroduce the main character.
  • A closing section that circles back to the main character.
  • An example to support each primary story point.
  • A summary of research-based evidence that supports the story’s main thesis.
  • An assessment of what reporting gaps remain and how they might be filled.

Class 2: Outlining the story

Students, working in teams of two, should read each other their revised theme statements (and consult the instructor on an as-needed basis). Teammates should listen as readers and coach as editors. Each should ask his or her teammate to talk through the story. What did he/she find most interesting? What alternative leads has he/she attempted? What gaps does the story have?

After finishing the critiques, each student should:

  • Read through notes and mark key facts, key quotes and key examples
  • Fast-draft a rough lead through the nut graph
  • Identify contextual material that would enhance the story
  • Order key points/facts that should be in the story
  • Identify interior scenes that belong in the story
  • Highlight any information that needs to be verified or double-checked.

In organizing key points, students should remember to keep like ideas together. They should seek examples that support all general statements. Some long-form feature writers work with a master chronology that sets all facts and scenes in a timeline of when they took place. This helps with fact checking and with chronological organization.

Reading: Blundell, Chapter 7; Stepp, 51-57 and 176-192

Week 6: The roots of good writing

Class 1: Using language with style and precision

This class will review the elements of good journalistic writing, from active, right-branching sentences to specificity and simplicity of language. Among the issues instructors might touch on and model are:

  • The cadence, pace and rhythm of good writing. It should become second nature for students to read their work aloud.
  • Selective detail and its use. (Using Journalist’s Resource or news web sites, students might look for examples of selective detail that are enhanced by features and examples that detract because they don’t reinforce storyline.)
  • Specificity versus generality. How does Blundell’s rule of threes ensure specificity?
  • The use of analogy in translation and definition. (The value of comparing the unfamiliar to what we know.)
  • The importance of consistency of tone, person, tense and style.

After the discussion, students should draft either a lead anecdote or an interior scene from their stories. Some of these will be critiqued in class.

DUE: First draft of 1,500-word backgrounder or impact feature. Selected stories will be due the night before class so they can be distributed to the entire class in advance.

Class 2: Workshopping first drafts

Selected students should read their stories aloud, discuss obstacles they faced in drafting them, explain how they tried to overcome these obstacles, and identify what they liked best about their stories and what they lacked confidence in. Classmates then will weigh in with their critiques.

Reading: pages 76 and 77 (Blundell’s profile outline) and these stories in his book: pages 44 to 47 and 242 to 248 (personal profiles), 248 to 254 (institutional profile) and 114 to 119 (occupational profile).

Assignment: Students weigh the differences between a profile, a depth interview with a subject and story about their background. What does Blundell mean when he says that profiles, like other stories, need a clear theme? Students also should try to determine some of the ways that Blundell’s outline on page 76 and 77 helped define the structure of his own work.

Week 7: The profile (personal and institutional)

Class 1: Finding a subject, finding a theme, finding out information

Few aspects of journalism are more interesting and challenging than to write about someone else, — to capture what motivates that individual, what makes that person “tick.” Profiles can be written as well about organizations and about what makes them distinctive or unusual. Good profiles demand backgrounding, patience, legwork, independent engagement and curiosity.

First, however, the reporter has to answer the questions, “Whom should I profile and why?” Sometimes those answers can be found in the news: Who has surfaced as an interesting figure? Sometimes the answers can be found in something interesting that a subject does, or doesn’t do (note the profiles in Blundell’s book of the Disney corporation, still living in the shadow of its deceased founder.) Or the answers can be found by looking for someone who exemplifies a larger group or population in the news, a veteran with PTSD, for example. Whomever or whatever the subject, writers don’t merely want to catalogue that individual’s or company’s accomplishments. Corporate biographies and resumes serve that purpose. Profiles dig beneath the surface, capture the subject complete with quirks and blemishes. They help readers understand what makes someone “tick” and what lies behind that person’s passions.

As with other features, backgrounding plays a central role in establishing the profile’s theme. Backgrounding can help the reporter identify how a subject has changed and uncover inherent contradictions between the subject’s words and actions. It allows the writer to separate what has been written about someone from what hasn’t. And it can open doors. For example, when Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Breton of The Providence Journal interviewed two actresses co-starring in a theatrical performance, she had done “her homework.” She knew that decades earlier one had understudied for the other, a fact the actresses had forgotten until reminded and one that helped Breton break the ice.

The patience to gather information in varied ways often comes into play in reporting. Profiles require multiple interviews with a subject, preferably in a setting that shows who the person is.

Profiles also benefit from the times the reporter can simply observe. Author Gay Talese, one of the most respected of a generation in the 1960s that experimented with forms of narrative nonfiction storytelling, has written and spoken about “the art of hanging out,” of observing a subject and capturing the scenes that reflect that person’s manner and personality.

To learn about subjects, reporters don’t only interview them and read what they’ve written or what has been written about them. Reporters also interview others who can provide insight — family and friends, competitors and former employees, customers and patients. That’s legwork. Whom they seek out depends largely on what the story’s focus is. A profile of a Las Vegas card shark might lead to the subject’s high school or college math teacher, his mother and his competitors around the table. It likely wouldn’t call for an interview with his former piano teacher or swim coach.

To win a subject’s trust, reporters must show sincere interest in that individual. At the same time, the reporter has to maintain his or her independence. Good profiles reveal some aspect of a subject’s life. They are neither intended to promote nor diminish, simply show the subject as he or she really is.

Finally, reporters must be curious enough to delve beneath the surface. Most people have a public persona and a more private one. The profile writer wants to tap into both.

During this class, students will critique the profiles published in Blundell’s book and the elements of framing, reporting and writing interesting, informative profiles.

Assignment: In teams of three or four, students should research their professor, then draft a tentative focus or theme statement for a profile. It might focus on the professor’s research, a hobby or passion, his or her teaching style, some recent notable achievement (a book, for example) or something else. Teams should prepare to interview the professor “for story” during the next class, developing whatever themes their focus statements outline.

Class 2: Carrying out and critiquing an interview with the professor

A member of each team should read that team’s theme statement and other members should explain how the team decided on its focus. After all teams have finished, students will vote on which story offers the most promise. (Team members cannot vote for their own idea.) When the vote and subsequent discussion are finished, the winning team will interview the professor. Certain rules apply.

  • Questions cannot be read.
  • Team members should listen closely to the answer and try to build on each question in their subsequent question.
  • Students on the other teams, meanwhile, should observe, take notes, and evaluate the content and quality of their classmates’ interview. (They might consider, for example, how well each questioner engages, whether they are asking “open-ended” or “close-ended” questions, whether they are probing for emotion and insight as well as fact, and whether they appeared to be listening and taking cues for follow-up.)

After the interview and discussion about its effectiveness, the class should reflect on what steps would be needed to finish the profile.

Assignment: During the second class of next week, students will be expected to propose a profile subject and submit a theme or focus statement that identifies their approach. They should contact the subjects before preparing their pitches. They should also thoroughly background their subjects and identify at least two other people whom they can interview to develop the story further.

Reading: Article, “The Power of Listening,” Scanlan, Poynter Institute; “Rules to Interview By,” Rubinkowski, Poynter; Zinsser, pages 100 to 116; Stepp, 68 to 72; “Frank Sinatra has a Cold,” a Gay Talese profile, published in Esquire and available in full online. Finally, students should read Anna Quindlen’s essay from The New York Times “Hers” column on April 10, 1986. It begins with the words, “For most of my adult life, I have been a emotional hit-and-run driver, that is, a reporter.” The essay is an excellent starting point for a discussion of the ethics of depth reporting and interviewing.

Week 8: Interviewing for story

Class 1: Logistical and ethical considerations in interviewing for story

Successful interviews start with strong preparation and curiosity. Reporters who know next to nothing about their subject, who seem bored or hurried, who work off a set list of questions instead of listening to answers, who seek facts rather than knowledge or understanding, will leave with little.

Jacqui Banaszynski, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and now a Knight professor at the University of Missouri, says at times the most effective question can be a sympathetic nod or an interjection, such as “really.” This keeps the subject talking. Granted. It is not wise to start an interview this way. But often reporters are so intent on their questions that they don’t hear the answers and don’t encourage subjects to say more, to elaborate.

The first step in interviewing for story is to choose the right setting, a place that shows something about the subject and a place in which the subject feels comfortable. Then, says Banaszynski, the reporter’s job is to “peel back the layers of the onion,” to get to the story behind the story, to engage the real subject not the public persona. This takes time, patience, lots of directed yet open-ended questions, and genuine interest in what the subject has to say. Bored reporters conduct boring interviews.

It’s no small matter for a green reporter to park the jitters before knocking on the door. Several things help:

  • Know as much as possible about the subject beforehand.
  • Prepare questions in advance, but never read them. Preparation helps the reporter think through the interview’s purpose. Their questions shouldn’t be obvious — or left sitting on the table.
  • Ask permission to tape as well as take notes. It can ease the anxiety of keeping up. But do take notes, listening for details and quotes and hints that bear follow-up.
  • Ease in with questions that relax the subject and establish rapport. The props of setting can help. Ask why the subject has chosen a particular meeting place. Comment on pictures on the wall.
  • Listen. The reporter’s job is not to ask brilliant questions but to get brilliant answers.

This class discussion should focus on the techniques and pitfalls of interviewing for story. It is a skill that requires instinct and humanity as well as thoughtful preparation. (Banaszynski describes it as a dance in which the reporter must lead, but the interview subject gets to choose the music.)

At times reporters don’t get the opportunity to interview a profile’s central character. Such was the case in Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” Students should discuss how Talese compensated for this.

This session should end with a discussion of Quindlen’s essay. What are the ethical dilemmas raised by interviewing for story and emotion as well as for information? What are the ethical responsibilities of the reporter in setting out on a project that will involve considerable revelation on the part of the subject (for example, a profile of a family caring for an Alzheimer’s patient)?

Assignment: Students should prepare a memo for pitching their profiles, which should be roughly 1,500 words in length. The memo should include:

  • A theme or focus statement
  • Key background information about the subject.
  • Key contacts and contact information for the subject and other people the student will interview to gain insight.
  • A few reflective paragraphs considering the story’s approach in the context of Blundell’s story development criteria on pages 76 and 77.

Class 2: Pitching profile ideas

Students will read their theme statements aloud and explain why they’ve proposed specific profile approaches. Students and instructor should react to each theme statement and offer constructive criticism. Those students lacking clear themes will be expected to recast their theme statements for the following class.

Week 9: The writer’s voice

Class 1: How voice emerges

Inexperienced writers frequently make the mistake of approaching “voice” as something that can be superimposed. They overwrite, laboring to create something that neither sounds like them nor reflects their style. In On Writing Well , Zinsser cautions that his students seem determined to “create an act of literature,” only relaxing paragraphs into a story to emerge as themselves.

Students should rest assured. For the writer who reads widely and writes frequently, voice emerges naturally over time. It is not a construct of big words and fancy phrases, nor is it an affected effort to sound carefree and breezy. It is not a celebration of the writer’s opinion. It comes from within, something akin to a slightly more polished version of the writer’s spoken voice.

Writes Stepp: “Voice probably comes more naturally than most writers believe. Many writers describe the struggle to ‘find’ their voice, but most writers’ voices will emerge spontaneously if they just clear away some of the obstructing professional underbrush: the artificial constraints, expectations, and hobgoblins that haunt many newsrooms, writing studios, and writer-editor collaborations. Writers who are steeped in good material, relaxed and enthusiastic about their assignment, comfortable in their surroundings, and encouraged to be original and inventive do not have to find a voice It rings out intuitively.”

In this class, students should discuss what concerns they have about voice and how they believe they should and have gone about developing it. They should then take a scene or section of their revised first features and write through it as they might tell a friend. The class should listen to a few of these and critique them.

Class 2: Workshopping the revised first feature

The instructor should identify two or three students who will be asked in advance to distribute their work to the class. They should read their stories aloud in class, be given the opportunity to discuss what worked for them and where they struggled. Then classmates should weigh in with a discussion of these stories, starting with what they liked best and then making suggestions for improvement.

Week 10: Working through the reporting process

Class 1: Sharpening the story’s angle and content

Both classes in this week largely replicate the critiquing and outlining goals set in Week 5, with the instructor acting as coach to shepherd students through the latter stages of their reporting process.

Students should be asked whether their initial focus holds up; what facts, examples, quotes and scenes they have to support it; who they’ve interviewed (in addition to their profile subject) and what these individuals have to add. Much class time will be spent troubleshooting obstacles to reporting.

Each student should craft a two- to three-page memo containing the following:

  • A brief summary of key details, anecdotes and examples that give support to the theme.
  • A structural design for the story (at some point within most profiles, the writer moves chronologically through at least a portion of the subject’s life)
  • A summary of key insights into the subject provided by other sources.

Class 2: Building an outline

Week 11: Workshop profile drafts

The instructor should keep a list throughout the semester of which students have read their work in front of the class. All students should have their work subjected to class-wide critique before any individual is given a second opportunity.

Class 1: Workshop profile drafts

Assignment: Bring a local newspaper and The New York Times to the next class.

Class 2: Finding stories off the news

Reporters need to be nimble. The best, it is said, can “speed” as well as “bleed.” The feature writer often does not have the luxury to report and write depth public affairs stories. She’s given a day to find, report and write a story, not a week or two. This places even more weight on the challenge of conceiving something interesting and narrowing its scope. Writing stories on deadline can be a high-wire act. The reporter must gather fact and push for scene, show patience and interest in interview subjects yet race the clock, write and revise, but on the same afternoon.

Next week, the class will be expected to pitch and then write a feature off the news in the two to three days between classes. This class is designed to help students identify stories off the news.

Asking a number of questions of the news can help:

  • Who is left out?
  • Who is affected? How?
  • What’s behind the news? (An 85-year-old becomes a citizen or graduates. Why?)
  • How does the past inform the story? (The calendar and unusual anniversaries suggest stories daily.)
  • What led up to the news?
  • What’s the reaction to the news? (Blundell’s moves and counter-moves.)
  • Who is the person behind the newsmaker?
  • How can the reporter localize a national or international event?
  • Do a number of similar actions — beaches closed for a high bacteria count — constitute a trend?
  • Can the reporter show this, or other developments, by taking readers to a place?

In teams, reporters should scour the day’s paper, drawing up and prioritizing a list of possible features that might be turned quickly. The class will critique and respond to each team’s ideas.

Assignment: Background and write theme statements for two stories off the news. Students will be assigned one during the next class to turn in 48 hours.

Week 12: Pouring it on

Class 1: Pitching the feature off the news

In this class, the instructor should coach students toward features they can reasonably report and write in a day or two. This discussion should reinforce the importance of ingenuity and scope in turning features fast.

Class 2: Workshop features off the news

This class should begin with a discussion of the challenges of turning features fast. As time permits, students should workshop these efforts.

Week 13: Finding a niche

Class 1: Researching publications, framing queries

The topsy-turvy pace of technological changes makes this an extraordinary time to start a career in journalism. In some ways, it has never been easier to be published: Register for a blog at WordPress or Blogspot and write. It’s that easy. In other ways, it’s rarely been harder to get noticed and paid. Students interested in doing serious journalism should pursue a few parallel paths. Even in college, they can begin building their “brand,” a word that still makes older journalists shudder (their job was to cover the news, not market themselves or be the news). Students can build brand by building a website, preferably one named after them. This should be linked to blogs, a Facebook account, Twitter accounts, a resume and examples of their writing that they hope someone significant in the world will visit and read.

If today’s journalism students should act aggressively in asserting a voice and marketing their work, they also should be smart and circumspect about what they post. Too many horror stories circulate today about students denied jobs because of ill-advised party pictures posted on social media accounts. As a rule of thumb, students should sleep on anything they are tempted to post in the glow of the moment.

Marketing freelance work has been streamlined in the digital age. Most newspapers and some magazines today prefer emailed query letters pitching an article to letters sent by post.

Again, however, speed can kill rather than enhance. Sizable percentages of pitches never make it past the first gatekeeper (often an intern) for a variety of reasons:

  • A misspelled name
  • A letter sent to the wrong editor
  • A letter sent to the right editor at the wrong publication
  • Grammatical errors
  • Spelling errors
  • Ill-conceived or boastful ideas
  • Efforts to negotiate price before a piece is sold
  • Offers to write for free

Once again in journalism, the query begins with research. Reporters need to research not only stories and story ideas but which publications serve an audience that would read them. They can learn a great deal about publications, their freelance guidelines and their freelance rates in the library’s most recent edition of Writer’s Market or by subscribing online to WritersMarket.com.

As a rule, query letters should be a single page long. At their best, they show a writer’s talent and sell a clearly conceived and substantive story that fits the publication’s style and audience.

The query’s first paragraph tries to hook the reader very much like the first sentence of a feature does. This, however, is not the place for elegant anecdotes. It is best to settle for a quick turn lead, one that grabs the reader’s attention. The second paragraph pitches the story’s particulars. How long is the piece the writer is proposing? How will it develop? What’s its purpose? The third paragraph introduces the writer and answers the question “why me — why this writer?” This is where writers talk about special qualities — expertise, access to the subject, experience. The final or closing paragraph makes clear that the writer will follow up.

The entire letter should be businesslike. Pleading or begging editors for a chance does not work. One more tip: Always call the publication before sending a query to check whether an editor still works there, what the editor’s title is, and how to spell his or her name.

In addition to discussing queries, instructors should consider inviting in a local newspaper or magazine editor to talk about the queries they’ve received, which queries they liked and which ones they discarded immediately. Such visits give students a chance to network, a significant aspect of building a niche.

Assignment: Students should research a publication to which they will pitch one of their articles from the semester. They should come to the next class knowing the appropriate editor’s name and title, the submission guidelines of the publication, and the nature of the articles it publishes.

Class 2: Writing and revising the query

Students will spend this class crafting and revising query letters for one of their stories from the semester. In most cases, these should be ready to email to the publication by the end of class.

Exam week: Revised profiles are due

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Reviving the Feature Story

In my recent essay about the Feature Writing category of the Pulitzer Prizes, I argued that weighty narrative series may have elbowed the traditional stand-alone feature out of contention. As a champion and practitioner of the serial narrative, I mean no disrespect for the work of my journalism heroes such as Isabel Wilkerson, Tom French, Tom Hallman, Anne Hull, Jacqui Banaszynski, and many others.

But the future of the feature story is important. ( The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing is important only because it declares a standard of excellence to which other journalists aspire.) Readers like stories, even news stories, written in “feature style,” according to the Readership Institute . And since the invention of the human-interest story, the feature has had the beneficial effect of expanding the universe of newspaper readers while enriching our definition of news.

Feature stories offer news of the emotions is the way Jon Franklin, twice a Pulitzer winner, has described it to me.

What, then, does a real feature story look like?

Consider these as possible characteristics:

  • You can read it, if you want to, in a single sitting on the day the story was published.
  • You can read a short one in five minutes and a long one in 15 minutes.
  • It is NOT a news story but can be inspired by the news.
  • It has, at its heart, human interest.
  • It illuminates lives lived in our time.
  • It takes advantage of an expanded set of language and narrative strategies.
  • It can be written and reported within the normal timeframe of journalistic enterprise.

Each one of those characteristics deserves it own essay. But for now, I’ll offer a couple of recent examples of the noble feature story from my hometown newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times .

Lane DeGregory wrote “Fight, Fight, FIGHT,” the story of a male high school cheerleader, kicked off the squad for drinking. His assertive mother seems ready to go to the ends of the earth to clear her son’s name. I happened to like this story very much, but it’s not necessary for you to like it in order to recognize it as an exemplar of the newspaper feature genre.

Applying my standards:

  • The entire story appeared in the St. Pete Times on Sunday, May 30, 2004, and I read it in one sitting.
  • It took me about 15 minutes to read the story, which was about 60 inches long, at the far end of my standard, but still in range. (Lane says she drafted a version that was twice as long, cut it herself, and then cut it again with the help of her editor.)
  • It is not a news story, although the mother’s legal suit against the school board had been reported as news.
  • The human characters are fascinating, a teenager who becomes the only boy on the cheerleading squad, only to lose his position for allegations of drinking; a mother unwilling to let this stand, whose efforts to rescue her son may have backfired.
  • The story is “about” so many of the issues of our time: gender politics, sexual orientation, discrimination, litigious parents, inflexible school boards, mother and child reunions, and much, much more.
  • The story is written in a compelling and non-judgmental voice that lets readers enter the world of this family, experience the turmoil, and draw their own conclusions. Here’s the lead:
Johnathan’s mom drove him to cheerleading camp that Wednesday. She helped carry his bags to his dorm room at the University of South Florida, where he was going to spend three days with his teammates from Pasco High. She hung his Tommy Hilfiger shirts in the closet. She made his bed. Then she drained the melted ice from his cooler. She had packed it with nectarines and peaches, whole milk and Zephyrhills water, two bottles of Gatorade and a six-pack of Sierra Mist. She knows these details because she went back to Wal-Mart months later and got a copy of the receipt. She needed it for evidence.

These details foreshadow the mother’s more controlling impulses, and the mini-cliffhanger drives the reader forward to answer the question: “evidence for what?”

Lane says she reported and wrote the story from March through May, a period during which she worked on another half-dozen or so feature stories.

I can make a similar case for “Sean’s Echo,” a story written by Kelley Benham. Here we learn of a young boy who dies suddenly of natural causes, leaving behind a special hearing device that helped him overcome his serious speech impediment. Former Poynter boss, Jim Naughton, told me that he cried during the poignant scenes in which another young boy becomes the beneficiary of this expensive mechanical device, which cures his stuttering. At first the story looks like the familiar one in which a person benefits from a transplanted organ. What makes this case special is that the “organ” is a mechanical device.

Kelley’s story was about a 10-minute read (2,000 words) and fit into many of the standard feature writing categories I described above. To show her range and versatility, that same week Kelley wrote a story about a homeowner who loves his lawn and his $17,000 lawnmower just a little too much. “One day she made me cry,” testified Naughton, “another day she made me laugh.”

“Feature Writing” will always be an imprecise mode of expression, with an imprecise history. The book “Best News Stories of 1924” compiled stories in several categories, including Feature Stories, Human Interest Stories, Interviews, and Personality Stories. Most of these stories, from the vantage point of our time, look like features. One additional complicating factor: In the last 30 years, my time frame, news stories have been written with more feature elements, and many features are written right off the news. So the lines between news and features have blurred.

In that same time period, many newspapers have dropped their Sunday magazines and converted their general feature sections to cover special topics, everything from food to health to technology. As a result, the habitat for the traditional stand-alone feature has shrunk, and, with it, the habit of reading good stories that used to draw many of us to the newspaper in the first place.

[ Please join this conversation. Where are you seeing good feature writing these days? Give us some links to your favorite examples. What makes great feature writing great? ]

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4 Types of Features

From profiles to travel stories, there is feature style for everyone

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Isaac Asimov

Truth be told, no one writes a plain, old feature article, since “feature” is an umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of article types, from profiles to how-tos and beyond.

The goal here is not just to know these types exist but rather to use them to shape your material into a format that best serves your reader and the publication for which you are writing. Pitching a story that takes a particular format or angle also helps editors see the focus and appeal of your idea more clearly, which can help you get hired.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common feature article types.

A profile is a mini-biography on a single entity — person, place, event, thing — but it revolves around a nut graph that includes something newsworthy happening now. That “hook,” as we call the news focus, must be evident throughout the story.

A profile on Jennifer Lawrence might be interesting, but it is most likely to be published about the time she has a new movie coming out or she wins an award.

This fulfills the readers’ desire to know why they are reading about someone at a given time or in a given magazine.

The best profiles examine characters and document struggles and dreams. It’s important that you show a complete picture of who or what is being profiled — warts and all — especially since the controversy is often what keeps people reading. Controversy, however, is not the only compelling aspect of profiles. They are, most importantly, personal and insightful, beyond the pedantic list of accomplishments you can get from a bio sheet or a PR campaign.

Profiles aim to:

  • Reveal feelings
  • Expose attitudes
  • Capture habits and mannerisms.
  • Entertain and inform.

Accomplishing those goals is what makes profiles challenging to write, but also makes them among the most compelling and fulfilling stories to create.

Delving deeply into your subject’s interests, career, education and family can bring out amazing anecdotes, as can reporting in an immersive style.

The goal is to watch your subject closely and document his or her habits, mannerisms, vocal tones, dress, interactions and word choice. Describing these elements for readers can contribute to a fuller and more accurate presentation of the interview subject.

Sports Illustrated Cover

Consider this opening paragraph from one of my favorite profiles, Jeff Perlman’s look at one-time baseball bad boy John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves:

A MINIVAN is rolling slowly down Atlanta’s Route 400, and John Rocker, driving directly behind it in his blue Chevy Tahoe, is pissed. “Stupid bitch! Learn to f—ing drive!” he yells. Rocker honks his horn. Once. Twice. He swerves a lane to the left. There is a toll booth with a tariff of 50 cents. Rocker tosses in two quarters. The gate doesn’t rise. He tosses in another quarter. The gate still doesn’t rise. From behind, a horn blasts. “F— you!” Rocker yells, flashing his left middle finger out the window. Finally, after Rocker has thrown in two dimes and a nickel, the gate rises. Rocker brings up a thick wad of phlegm. Puuuh! He spits at the machine. “Hate this damn toll.”

Perlman does not have to tell us anything about Rocker; he has shown us and lets us make our own determinations as to the person we are getting to know through this article.

Research is key to any piece, but profiles provide the ultimate test of your interviewing skills. How well can you coax complete strangers into sharing details of their private lives? Your job is to get subjects to open up and share their true personalities, memories, experiences, opinions, feelings and reflections.

This comes from a true conversational style and a willingness to probe as deep as you need to get the material you need.

Interview your subject and as many people as you need to get clear perspectives of your profile subject.

Not everyone will make your article, but you can get background information and anecdotes that could be crucial to understanding your subject or asking key questions. (Now might be a good time to download “Always Get the Name of the Dog.”)

Take the time to watch your subject at work or play so you can really get to know them in a three-dimensional way.

The fewer sources and the less time you spend with your subject the less accurate or complex your profile will be.

The framework of a profile follows these guidelines:

Anecdotal lede

An engaging, revealing a little story to lure us into your article.

Nut graph/Theme

A paragraph that shows the reader what exactly this story is about and why does this entity matter now?

Observe our subject in action now using dialogue details and descriptions.

A recap of our subject’s past activities using facts, quotes and anecdotes as they relate to the theme.

Where Are We Now?

What is our subject doing now, as it relates to the theme?

What Lies Ahead?

Plans, dreams, goals and barriers to overcome.

Closing Quote

Bring the article home in a way that makes the reader feel the story is complete like they can sigh at the end of a good tale.

A Q&A article is just what it sounds like — an article structured in questions and answers.

Freelancers and editors both like them for several reasons:

  • They’re easy to write.
  • They’re easy to read.
  • They can be used on a variety of subjects.

The catch is writers/interviewers must take even greater care with the questions asked and ensuring the quality of the answers received because they will provide both the skeleton and the meat of your piece.

This may seem obvious, but quality questions are vital, meaning we avoid closed-ended (yes or no, single-word answer) questions and instead ask questions that will inspire some thought, creativity and explanation or description.

Q&A articles start with an introduction into the subject — often as anecdotal as any other piece, but then transition into the fly-on-the-wall feeling of watching an interview take place. You are the interviewer.

The subject is the interviewee, and the reader is sitting alongside you both soaking in the experience and your relationship.

That means a Q&A has to stay conversational so it does not feel like a written interrogation.

The interview itself is much like we would use for an article, but you have to be more conscious of the order in which you ask questions, how they transition from one another and the quality of the answer so you are not tempted to move answers around.

You will be amazed at how many words get generated in an actual conversation or interview, so the Q&A is far from over when the interview concludes. Editing and cutting the interview transcript can take far longer than the interview itself.

You cannot change your subject’s words, but you take out redundancies and those verbal lubricants that keep conversations moving — “like,” “you know,” etc., Sentences and phrases can be edited out by using ellipses (…) to show you have removed something.

Grammar is a challenge with a lot of transcripts, and I will leave in that which represents the subject, but I will not let them come across badly by misusing words or phrases.

Instead, let’s take it out or ask them to clarify.

If you do an internet search on “round-up story,” you very often get a collection of information from various places on a central them.

Feature round-ups are written the same way.

These articles are like list blog posts, where you have a variety of suggestions from different sources that advance a common idea:

  • 7 secrets to a happy baby
  • 10 best vacation spots with a teenager
  • 5 tips on how to pick the perfect roommate

You may notice that there is a numeric value on each of these ideas, and that is a key part of the roundup. You are offering a collection of suggestions, provided and supported by sources, on a specific topic.

The article begins, as most features do, with an anecdote that takes us to a theme, but instead of a uniform or chronological body style, we break it up into these sections outlined by each numbered suggestion.

Each section can be constructed like its own mini feature — complete with sources, facts, anecdote and quotes, or just the advice provided by a qualified source (not the author!).

There does not need to be a specific order to how each piece of the article is presented, rather their order is interchangeable.

It is important to have sources with some level of expertise and not merely opinions on the topic. Just because someone went to Club Med with their 5-year-old and had fun does not mean it’s the best vacation spot for kids.

We first need an idea of what makes a good vacation spot and then support with facts how this one fits the criteria.

Readers love to learn how to do new things, and there are few better ways to teach them than through how-to articles.

How-to articles provide a description of how something can be accomplished using information and advice, giving step-by-step directions, supplies and suggestions for success.

Unlike round-ups, these articles must be written sequentially and have to end with some sort of success.

Aim for something that most people don’t know how to do, or something that offers a new way of approaching a familiar task. Most importantly, make sure it is neither too simplistic, nor too complex for their attempt, and include provide definitions and anecdotes that show how things can go well or poorly in attempting this task.

Personal Experience

Most of us have had some experience that we think, “I would love to write about this so other people can learn or enjoy this with me.”

If you have a truly original and teachable moment and can find the right feature to which to pitch it, you may very well have a personal experience story on your hands.

Some guidelines for finding such a story include whether this is an experience readers would:

  • Wish to share?
  • Learn or benefit from?
  • Wish to avoid?
  • Help cope with a challenge?

Unlike a first-person lede, which might use your personal anecdote to get us into a broader story, in a personal experience article you are the story, and how we learn from your experience will help us navigate the same waters.

They can be emotional, like the New Yorker piece on women who share their abortion stories , but they can also be about amazing vacations that others might consider — “Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel” anyone? — or how about a man who quits a high-powered job to stay home with his kids?

No matter what your experience, you must be willing to tell your story with passion and objectivity, sharing the good, the bad and the uncomfortable, and making readers part of the experience.

It’s important that the experience is over before you pitch, so the reader can get a clear perspective of what happened and the resolution. Did it work or not?

As the author, you also need time to gain perspective on your issue so you can “report” it as objectively as possible.

Finally, make sure you are chronicling something attainable or achievable. We need to go through it and come out the other side with evidence that will make us smarter and better equipped to handle a similar situation that might come our way.

The Art of Covering Horse Racing

Melissa Hoppert is the racing writer from the New York Times, and despite covering the same events over and over she manages to find a unique story each time.

Belmont Park is called “Big Sandy,” because the track has so much sand on it. I rode the tractor and asked the trackman, “What makes it like that? What it’s like to race on it?”

It was my most-read story that year. You have to think outside the box.


When the horse Justify came along, it was like ”here we go again — another Triple Crown with the same trainer. What can I possibly write about Bob Baffert that has not written before?

We observed and thought outside the box. We didn’t do a Bob Baffert feature. We went to the barn and still talked to him every day, but we looked at things differently.

We focused more on the owners . They were in a partnership and that is a trend of the sport. Rich owners team up to share the risk. That made it more of a trend story. Is this where we are going.

Sometimes I like writing about the horse. American Pharoah was a really fun, quirky horse. My most favorite story was when I went to visit American Pharoah’s sire, Pioneer of the Nile , at the breeding shed. He has a weird breeding style. He needed the mood to be set. It was kind of random, but it helped tell a story of American Pharoah that had not yet been told.

True-Life Drama

Examples of these include:

  • The couple on a sight-seeing plane ride that had to land the plane when their pilot died
  • Aron Ralston frees himself by sawing off his own arm after getting trapped in the desert.
  • Tornado survival stories

It is fitting that the first example I found to show you of true-life dramas came from Readers Digest because these types of stories are the bread and butter of that magazine.

They are the stories that are almost impossible to believe but are true, and they are driven by the characters who make them come to life.

Some “true-life dramas” become even more famous when they are adapted for the screen, like the Slate story of being rescued from Iran , you might know better as the film, “Argo.”

How about Capt. Richard Phillips’ dramatic struggle with Somali pirates, now a film starring Tom Hanks?

Steve Lopes of the Los Angeles Times found a violin-playing homeless man who became the subject of numerous columns and later the movie “The Soloist.”

These stories are, quite simply, dramatic experiences from real people, where they live through moments few of us can imagine.

Many of the feature versions of these stories start as newspaper coverage of the breaking event, and then a desire to go behind-the-scenes and chronicle exactly what happened over a much longer course of time — the lead-up, the culmination and the aftermath.

Being a consumer of news will help you come across these stories, and a desire to conduct really penetrating interviews to get the “real story” will make them come to life.

You might not be thinking about Christmas in May or back-to-school in February, but chances are editors will be scheduling those topics and looking for article ideas.

Seasonal stories are the ones that happen every year and need a fresh angle on an annual basis.

It goes beyond standbys like “Best side dishes for Thanksgiving,” and how to make a good Easter basket, to “ How to do the holidays in a newly divorced family ,” and “Back to school shopping for a home-schooled child.”

The key is that a timely observance is interwoven in the theme, and these stories are planned and often executed months in advance since we all know they are coming.

Seasonal can also relate to anniversaries — Sept. 11, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Titanic sinking — and their marketability can escalate dramatically around an anniversary.

The angle is all about the audience, so think how you can spin one day or a milestone event to toddlers, teens, seniors, your local community, pets, business, food, travel and you may suddenly have 10 stories from one topic.

Remember, though, that your pitch has to come long before the event is even in the mind of most readers — at least six months and sometimes a year.

The perceived glamour division of freelance writing is the travel piece, which most people think comes with an all-expense-paid trip to swanky, exotic locations.

That can be true, but more likely writers make their own plans and accommodations and their pay reflects that a portion of their compensation comes from the good time they had traveling.

The good news is that with the rise of travel blogs and smaller travel publications there are more outlets than ever to pitch your ideas, provided they are original and unique to the audience.

That means, “Traveling to Paris,” probably won’t work, but “ Traveling to Paris on $50 a day ” just might.

That also does not mean that publications are looking for your personal essay on what you did for your summer vacation, or just because you visited Peru and loved it that it’s worthy of a feature article. You have to show the editor and the reader why you have a unique perspective and angle on a traveling experience.

Travel writing means looking for stories on about:

  • How to travel
  • When to travel
  • Advice on traveling

The more specifically you can focus on a population of travelers — seniors, parents, honeymooners, first-time family vacation — the more likely you can come up with an idea that has not been overdone and pitch it to a niche magazine.

In a column on the Writer’s Digest website, Brian Klems writes the need to travel “deeply” as opposed to just widely, and I thought that was such an insightful term. He spelled out the need to really dig deep into whatever area you might cover and take copious, detailed notes, but I would add that you also have to really dig deep into what people want to know about travel and enough to go past the cliché or stereotypes.

The more descriptively you can present experiences, the more compelled readers may be to join you.

To separate yourself from the cacophony of travel voices out there, consider building up expertise in one subject or area. If you are from an interesting area, see how you can pitch stories to bring make outsiders insiders. Are you a big hockey fan? What about traveling to different hockey venues and making a weekend travel story out of what to see and do before and after the game?

The key to success is to become a curious and perceptive traveler from the minute you book a trip. Think about how your experience can be a travel story, as opposed to only looking to pitch stories that could become an experience.

Some other types to consider:

Essay or Opinion

First-person pieces, which usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine).

Historical Article

Focus on a single historical aspect of the subject but make a current connection.

Trend Story

Takes the pulse of a population right now, often in technology, fashion, arts and health.

No, we are not talking about trees.

Evergreen stories are ones that do not have an expiration date and can be pitched for creation at any time.

A profile on a new trend or profile-worthy person has to be pitched in relatively short order, or it will not really marketable anymore. But a story on how to build an exercise program around your pet does not really have to be published at a specific time.

Incorporating evergreen ideas into your repertoire of story ideas will open up even more publishing doors.

Writing Fabulous Features Copyright © 2020 by Nicole Kraft is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Feature Writing: What It Is and How to Do It Right

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By Happy Sharer

feature writing essay


Feature writing is a form of journalism that focuses on telling stories in depth. It is used to inform readers about interesting topics and give them a deeper understanding of events and people. Feature writing combines elements of storytelling, research, and interviews to create compelling articles that engage readers and allow them to explore a topic in greater detail. This article will discuss what feature writing is, why it is important, and how to craft successful feature pieces.

Exploring the Definition and Benefits of Feature Writing

Before jumping into how to write a feature article, let’s first take a look at what feature writing actually is. A feature article is a longer piece of writing than a news article, typically between 800 and 1,500 words. Unlike a news article, which is intended to report facts quickly, a feature article dives deep into a topic and provides more detailed information. Feature articles often have a narrative arc, with a beginning, middle, and end. They can be about anything from a person or event to a trend or issue.

Feature articles are different from opinion pieces, as they are not intended to push a particular point of view or agenda. Instead, they are meant to provide an unbiased exploration of a topic. Feature writing also differs from creative writing, as it is based on facts and research rather than imagination. However, feature writers still utilize their creativity when crafting stories, as they must choose which facts to highlight and how to structure the narrative.

So why should you write feature articles? Feature writing can be an effective way to engage readers and build relationships with them. Through feature writing, you can give readers an in-depth look at a topic and help them understand it better. Feature writing also allows you to showcase your writing skills and connect with readers on an emotional level. By creating stories that are both informative and entertaining, you can make a lasting impression on your audience.

A Guide to Crafting Feature Articles

A Guide to Crafting Feature Articles

Now that you know what feature writing is and why it is important, let’s take a look at how to write a successful feature article. The first step is to find an interesting topic to write about. Think about issues or stories that you find intriguing, and brainstorm ideas for potential feature pieces. You can also look at current events and trends, as these can be great sources of inspiration.

Once you have chosen a topic, it is time to do some research. Read up on the subject and gather relevant information from reliable sources. Take notes as you go, and look for quotes or other material that you can use in your article. If possible, try to conduct interviews with experts or people involved in the story, as this can add valuable insight to your article.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can begin outlining your feature article. Start by deciding on a structure for your story, such as chronological order or a comparison between two sides of an issue. Then, create a list of points that you want to include in your article. This will help you stay focused and organized while writing.

Finally, it is time to start writing your feature article. Make sure to craft an engaging introduction that will draw readers in and set the tone for your story. As you write, keep in mind the structure you outlined and make sure to include all the important points. Use vivid language to make your article come alive, and don’t forget to proofread your work carefully before submitting it.

Feature Writing: What is it and How to Do It Right

Feature Writing: What is it and How to Do It Right

Once you have a basic understanding of what feature writing is and how to craft feature articles, it is time to learn more about the art of feature writing. When writing feature stories, it is important to remember that each one is unique. No two stories will be the same, and there is no “right” way to write a feature article.

When structuring a feature story, think about how you can present the information in an interesting and engaging way. Consider using different formats, such as a Q&A or a timeline, to break up the text and make it easier to read. Also, try to avoid clichés and overused phrases, as these can make your article seem dull and uninteresting.

Interviews are an important part of feature writing, so it is important to ask the right questions. Make sure to prepare ahead of time and come up with thoughtful questions that will elicit meaningful responses. And don’t forget to ask follow-up questions, as this can help you get even more insightful answers.

In addition to structure and interviews, your writing style is also important. Feature writing should be written in an accessible and engaging style. Avoid jargon and technical terms, and focus on creating an inviting and conversational tone. Also, make sure to include vivid details and descriptions to bring your story to life.

Understanding the Art of Feature Writing

Feature writing is an art, and it takes practice to master. To become a successful feature writer, it is important to understand the different types of feature writing and how to use them effectively. There are three main types of feature writing: human interest stories, investigative pieces, and profiles. Human interest stories focus on people and their lives, while investigative pieces delve into specific issues and uncover new information. Profiles are biographical stories that explore a person’s life and accomplishments.

Visuals can also be an important part of feature writing. Photos, videos, and illustrations can help bring your story to life and help readers connect with it. However, it is important to make sure that any visuals you use are relevant and high quality. Low-quality images can take away from the impact of your article.

Finally, it is important to create an engaging voice for your feature pieces. Think about how you can make your writing stand out and draw readers in. Consider using humor, wordplay, and other techniques to make your article more memorable. Also, make sure to keep your readers in mind and tailor your writing to their interests and needs.

The Power of Feature Writing for Journalists and Writers

The Power of Feature Writing for Journalists and Writers

Feature writing has the power to engage readers and spark social change. Stories about real people and issues can inspire readers to take action and make a difference. Feature writing can also be used as a platform for reporting on injustices and raising awareness about important issues.

There are many examples of feature writing that have had a powerful impact. One example is the Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Angels in America” by Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten. The series explored the struggles of a family living with AIDS in the 1980s, and it helped change public perception and attitudes towards the disease.

Another example of impactful feature writing is the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column. The column publishes personal essays about love and relationships, and it has become a popular destination for readers looking for advice and comfort. By sharing intimate stories, the column has created an online community and sparked conversations about love and relationships.

Feature writing is a powerful tool for journalists and writers who want to engage readers and tell compelling stories. Feature writing combines elements of storytelling, research, and interviews to create in-depth articles that explore a topic in detail. It is important to keep in mind the different types of feature writing and how to structure a feature story when crafting a feature article. Additionally, visuals and an engaging voice can help make your article even more impactful. Feature writing has the power to inform readers and spark social change, and it is an important skill for any journalist or writer.

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Hi, I'm Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.

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1. Researching, Writing and Presenting Information - A How To Guide: Writing a Feature Article

  • Brainstorming and Planning
  • Effective Research
  • Note-taking
  • Writing an Essay
  • Writing a Discussion
  • Writing an Exposition
  • Writing a Rationale
  • Years 11 & 12
  • Writing a Blog Post
  • Writing a Feature Article
  • Preparing Oral Presentations
  • Creating a Podcast
  • Technologies
  • Effective Proofreading Skills
  • Glossary of Common Instruction Terms
  • Glossary of Literary Terms
  • How to use Appendices
  • How to paraphrase

Writing an Article

Feature articles explore issues, experiences, opinions and ideas. They present research in an engaging and detailed piece of writing. Features articles are written using language and content tailored to their chosen audience. Always refer to your task guidelines for specific instructions from your teacher.

A Step by Step Guide To Planning Your Article

1. Topic - what is the idea, issue or experience that you intend to explore?

2. Audience - who is the target audience of the publication that will contain your feature article?

3. Purpose - why are you exploring this issue, idea or experience?

4. Research the publication. Remember that each publication has a specific target audience and a distinct style of writing. If you’re writing for a well-known magazine, journal or newspaper, find some examples of feature articles to get an idea of the layout, structure and style.

5. Research your topic. Research will ground your article in fact. Good details to include in your article are statistics, quotes, definitions, anecdotes, references to other media (print, film, television, radio) or references to local venues or events (if for a regional/local publication).

  • Draws attention to the main idea of the article
  • Encourages the reader to engage with the article

Introduction - the first paragraph

  • Establishes tone
  • Provides necessary background information
  • Includes a hook or unusual statement
  • Heightens drama or importance of topic to increase appeal
  • May include subheadings
  • Personal viewpoints
  • Quotes, interviews, expert opinions
  • Specific names, places and dates
  • Photographs, diagrams, tables and graphs
  • Suggests an appropriate course of action
  • Encourages reader to change attitude or opinion
  • Reinforces article's main idea

Language features of an Article

The language features of an article will depend upon the purpose and audience; usually, the vocabulary of the article will fit the topic content, and who it is targeted at.

  • Direct quotes - personalises the topic
  • Imagery and description - engage reader's imagination
  • Facts & research - validate the viewpoints being presented
  • Anecdotes - personalise & maintain interest
  • Relevant jargon - increases authenticity
  • Personal tone - created using informal, colloquial language and first person narrative where relevant to purpose and audience
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The Feature Story—Fifteen Minutes (and 500 Words) of Fame!

The Feature Story&#151;Fifteen Minutes (and 500 Words) of Fame!

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

At the heart of all feature stories is human interest. This lesson asks students to write a profile of a classmate, with a particular focus on a talent, interest, or passion of that classmate. As an introduction to the feature article, students compare the characteristics of a hard news story to those of a feature story. They then practice writing about the same event in the two different styles. Next, they list and freewrite about their own talents and interests. These topics then become the focus of a feature story as students randomly select topics noted by classmates and write interview questions based on them. Finally, students interview a classmate, write a feature story, and share it with the class. This lesson enables students to practice interviewing techniques, develop voice, learn to write for an audience, and perhaps most importantly, celebrate their individual strengths.

Featured Resources

Qualities of a Feature Story : This handout lists the main characteristics of a feature story.

Printing Press : Students can use this online tool to publish their writing as a newspaper, flyer, brochure, or booklet.

From Theory to Practice

This lesson plan taps two pedagogical beliefs-students work best in collaborative and supportive environments, and moving beyond the typical essay formats can help students grow as writers. In Go Public! Encouraging Student Writers to Publish , Susanne Rubenstein explains that the writing teacher: "must create a classroom environment that allows her students to see themselves and each other as writers, not students. In this classroom-turned-writing-community, the writers support and encourage each other, and, through their efforts, not only as fellow writers but also as readers and as editors, they work to strengthen both the quality of each other's work and the confidence of the writer. . . within this classroom-turned-writing-community, writers are engaged in work that has meaning outside of the classroom." (15)

This notion of collaborative growth in the writing classroom fits naturally with writing feature stories, which move beyond the typical personal essay format and give students the chance to share significant personal information with one another. Rubenstein explains, "Certainly there is nothing wrong with teaching students to write personal essays . . . . But as a form it is perhaps overused in middle and high school classrooms, and when students begin to see it as ‘the way one writes in school,' they adopt a writing voice that is academic and artificial and calculated to please the teacher alone" (43). To avoid this situation, Rubenstein invites students to "experiment with different genres to find their strong suit" (43). Feature stories provide just the right solution: "Through the writing and reading of each [feature] story, students come to learn a lot about each other in a very short time, and we are well on our way to becoming a community of writers" (44).

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

Sample newspapers and magazines (see Websites for possible online sources)

  • Qualities of a Feature Story
  • Prewriting Questions: What Makes you Interesting?
  • Reviewer Response Sheet
  • Sample Leads for Feature Stories
  • Student Reflection Sheet


  • Collect issues of newspapers and magazine that students can use in class. Include both national and local publications.
  • Collect sample feature stories that offer personality profiles. Look for recently published pieces in newspapers and magazines, especially pieces about people with whom students are familiar. A good source is Parade—The Sunday Newspaper Magazine . Also some local papers in their annual back to school issues publish feature stories about area teenagers. These are especially effective and engaging for students.
  • Reviewer Response Sheet , if needed for response group work.
  • The Society of Professional Journalists offers a succinct description of feature reporting that can be used for teacher reference.
  • Test the Printing Press on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • read published feature stories and determine the characteristics of this genre.
  • discover an appreciation for their own unique talents and those of their classmates.
  • develop interviewing techniques and carry out an interview.
  • consider the importance of audience.
  • apply their knowledge by writing their own feature stories.
  • employ all the steps of the writing process to create a polished piece.
  • take the first steps toward writing for publication.

Session One

  • Distribute copies of various newspapers and news magazines to small groups of students (3--4 students per group). Your goal during this session is to generate interest in the idea of a feature story and to guide students to understand the characteristics of the piece.
  • Tell students to peruse the papers/magazines and find a hard news story. Ask each group to list the characteristics of the piece they find.
  • Once groups have gathered the information, have each group report their findings. As the groups share the information, compile a class list of qualities of a news story on the board or on chart paper.
  • Challenge students to peruse the same paper or magazine looking now for something that is almost a news story, but not quite. Ask them to look for a piece that gives more than the basic facts and that does more to tell a story. (If students are unfamiliar with journalistic writing, the teacher may need to offer help to individual groups.)
  • Ask students to list the characteristics of this piece, and put their responses on the board. Use these two lists to help students understand the particular qualities of a feature story and its purpose. (Refer to Qualities of a Feature Story .)
  • a recent school event such as a homecoming parade
  • a spring dance
  • the hiring of a new teacher/administrator/coach
  • the induction of students into a group such as the National Honor Society
  • the selection of students for a team
  • a story about a student who has won some honor or achieved some special distinction.
  • Ask each group to read both pieces aloud, and use the content in conjunction with the lists already on the board to illustrate and emphasize the qualities of each journalistic style. Introduce students to the concept of "hard news" vs. "soft news."

Session Two

  • To help students find a focus for their feature stories, and, in doing so, to generate a positive sense of self in each student as he/she acknowledges his/her strengths and abilities, begin class with a brainstorming activity in which students make two lists: one listing their talents, and the other listing their passions/interests. Allow about four minutes for each list.
  • Encourage students to think beyond the obvious. Tell them, for example, that it is just as appropriate to note the ability to wiggle one's ears as it is to note one's skill at tennis!
  • Go quickly around the room, asking students to share one item from each list. Continue to encourage them to name an unusual talent or passion. Allow class comments and discussion, as this will generate enthusiasm for the project.
  • Ask students a series of prewriting questions from the Prewriting Questions: What Makes you Interesting? to generate more material that highlights the uniqueness of each student.
  • Instruct students to choose any one item from the talent list (it may be the one shared or another one entirely) and to freewrite about that talent for six minutes.
  • Repeat this process with an item from the interest list.
  • Finally, repeat with something from the responses to the What Makes You Interesting? prewriting questions.
  • Ask for one student volunteer to share the topic of one of his or her freewrites. Put the topic on the board, and ask other students what they would like to know about the topic. Fill the board with their questions.
  • Ask the student to read her or his freewrite, and direct the class to note how many of their questions were answered.
  • Explain to the class that in six minutes, one would not expect a writer to be able to tell everything about his/her passion; but that this exercise demonstrates that there is much to tell and that an audience is interested.
  • Use the questions on the board to generate discussion of what makes a good interview question. Guide students to see that the best questions lead to more questions. Promote a discussion of interview techniques in terms of note taking, courtesy, respecting privacy, etc.
  • To read as a homework assignment, give students 2 or 3 sample feature stories that present human profiles, as gathered in the preparation of this lesson.

Session Three

  • To begin the interview process and determine a feature story focus, give students each a slip of paper when they enter the classroom, and ask them to put two of their most significant interests, abilities, or unique experiences/qualities on that slip. Put the papers in a box.
  • Allow each student to randomly draw a slip of paper. At this point, students should not acknowledge to whom the paper belongs. It's best if students do not know whom they will be interviewing at the early stages of planning the interview.
  • Give students 10 or 15 minutes to list as many good questions as they can for these two topics. Then ask each student to pair up with another student, share the assigned topics and the lists of questions, and try to add to each other's lists.
  • Begin the actual interview process. Establish interview pairs. This can be done either by a random draw, or the teacher can assign pairs in order to ensure that students are interviewing someone whom they do not know well.
  • Allow ten minutes per student for each introductory interview. Encourage students to use this introductory time to explore a focus for the interview. (They do not have to use both interests/talents provided on the slip of paper, but having two choices can give students more options. Sometimes, moreover, a story can blend the two.)
  • Tell interviewers to also seek out basic factual information.
  • Remind students of the importance of strong quotes in a feature story. Encourage them to take detailed notes (or use tape or audio recorders, if preferred). Tell students that they will be given additional time during the next class session to take the interview further and to recheck important information.
  • At the end of class, suggest that students who are unfamiliar with the subject(s) their interviewee is interested in should do further research on the topic at home. Remind students that professional writers often have to "do their homework" in terms of researching topics they are going to write about.
  • Instruct all students to refine interview questions for homework and to determine what else they will need to know to write a complete story.
  • Tell interviewers and interviewees to be thinking about a photograph that can accompany the story. This should be a photo of the interviewee involved in the activity the story describes or of something connected to the story (i.e., a photo of the artwork of a student who paints, the project of an Eagle Scout, the items a collector collects).

Session Four

  • Choose one of the feature stories students read for homework at the end of Session Two, and use that to encourage class discussion on the design of the feature story.
  • importance of a clear focus for the story.
  • a strong, attention-getting opening (the lead).
  • an equally memorable ending (often a quote).
  • the use of correctly quoted material throughout.
  • the inclusion of significant background information.
  • verified factual data (including the subject's name spelled correctly!).
  • the importance of a unique writing voice that captures the writer's own style.
  • Have students determine the intended audience for this particular feature story.
  • Point out the ways that the focus, language, background information, and other aspects change depending on the audience.
  • Who is my audience? and
  • What response do I want from this audience?
  • Allow students to conduct the second phase of their interviews. Tell students to ask all remaining questions, verify important information (e.g., names, dates, spellings), and be sure they have a clear focus for the story.
  • Ask students to discuss with their partners the choice of photograph. They might choose a picture that already exists, or, if it needs to be taken in class, the teacher should allow time and opportunity for that. (Note: If students don't have access to cameras, the teacher can provide a time for picture taking using his/her own or the school's digital or 35mm camera.)
  • Instruct students to work on the first draft of the feature at home. Give students whatever amount of time is appropriate for the group to complete a first draft to share in response groups.

Session Five

  • Have each pair of students join with another pair to share their stories and give and receive feedback. (Note: it is helpful to have both interviewer and interviewee in the same response group in case there is incorrect material in the story that needs to be corrected and revised.)
  • If students are inexperienced with response, use the Reviewer Response Sheet to guide their work.
  • Tell students to help each other create memorable and meaningful titles.
  • When all students have received response on their stories, direct them to use this material to continue revising and rewriting their feature stories until they reach a final draft stage. If desired, students can compile the feature stories in a reader-friendly format using the Printing Press . The teacher can determine with student input how much additional time is need for completion.
  • This project works especially well at the start of the school year (or at the start of a second semester class) to help build a sense of community in the classroom OR as an end-of-the-year activity to "wrap up" a course and to celebrate the strengths of each member of the class. In addition, it could be a good activity if new students move to the school or transfer into the class.
  • hung with accompanying photographs on the classroom wall or on a school-wide bulletin board
  • collected in a class publication
  • submitted to the high school or local newspaper.
  • Students may want to think about the "Feature Story of the Future," and write the story that could be written about them thirty years in the future.
  • If a number of students are struggling with a particular aspect of the story (i.e., creating a good title, developing an interesting lead, organizing material logically), the teacher can conduct mini-workshops to help the group. For example, a mini-lesson on leads might include the Sample Leads for Feature Stories handout that promotes discussion of why certain leads work better than others and how weak leads can be improved.
  • If students need more practice in mechanics of including quotations in their writing, the ReadWriteThink lessons Character Clash: A Mini-Lesson on Paragraphing and Dialogue and Inside or Outside? A Mini-Lesson on Quotation Marks and More can provide useful supplements to this activity.
  • Have students use the Profile Publisher either as a template for gathering information on each other or as a way to publish the information that they find during their interviews.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Grade each feature story as a complete writing assignment. When students are writing and revising their stories, they should be guided by the specific characteristics outlined in the handout of Qualities of a Feature Story and in the Reviewer Response Sheet .
  • What do you think is the strongest line in the story? Why?
  • What do you think will most please the person the story is written about? Why?
  • What part of the story are you still dissatisfied with? Why?
  • What did you struggle with most in creating this story?
  • Where could you include some more specific detail?
  • What was the best piece of advice you got from your response group?
  • Talk about yourself as a “journalist.” Is this a kind of writing you like or dislike? Why? What did you think about the interview process?
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The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.

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Feature Writing - Essay Example

Feature Writing

  • Subject: Journalism & Communication
  • Type: Essay
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Pages: 5 (1250 words)
  • Downloads: 2
  • Author: kjacobs

Extract of sample "Feature Writing"

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Profile about the life and beliefs of amanpreet gill, a young girl who was born west bengel, india, refer to attachments ( feature writing), feature writing and journalism, how globalization affects small businesses, basic elements of a photo, feature writing for texting while driving, changes in future writing as journalism goes online, nature of criticism.

feature writing essay


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  • The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples

The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples

Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type. 

In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.

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Table of contents

Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.

An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.

Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.

The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
  • The body presents your evidence and arguments
  • The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance

The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.

Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.

The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.

A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.

Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.

A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.

Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.

Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.

A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.

Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.

On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.

My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.

With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…

Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.

Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.

Rhetorical analysis

A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.

The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.

The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.

The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

Literary analysis

A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.

Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.

The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.

Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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An In-Depth Review of EssayWriter: A Smart AI Essay Writing Copilot

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  • Apr 8, 2024

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EssayWriter: In today’s swiftly changing digital era, artificial intelligence (AI) has effortlessly embedded itself into the fabric of our lives, bringing innovation to countless processes. One area feeling this transformation is essay writing, profoundly impacted by AI-powered writing tools.

Amongst these tools, one name is emerging as a clear leader – EssayWriter . This handy tool offers automatic essay creation, and our in-depth review will examine its distinct benefits, assess its efficiency and adaptability, and provide a comprehensive insight into its many features.

Understanding EssayWriter

In the world of automated essay crafting, EssayWriter shines, showcasing the extraordinary advancements in AI. This tool goes beyond just generating essays; it learns and adjusts to the unique writing styles of its users, generating high-quality, convincingly human outputs. 

But EssayWriter doesn’t stop at writing. It extends to editing and summarizing, rewriting, and even creating bibliographies. It unburdens users from the tedious tasks typically tied to essay writing. With EssayWriter, you are encouraged to focus on your primary goals as this steadfast tool works diligently as a reliable assistant.

In-Depth Look at EssayWriter’s Comprehensive Features

The a to z of essay development.

EssayWriter seamlessly streamlines the essay creation process. With a few swift instructions, input your topic, select the essay’s purpose, and in a few moments, you have a well-structured essay waiting. But that’s not all. EssayWriter maintains the logical flow of essays, ensuring a cohesive output every time.

Stepping into the Shoes of a Human Writer

The AI in EssayWriter is crafted to mimic human writing styles. It flawlessly strings together ideas, maintaining superior readability and that essential human touch, transporting your readers on a smooth reading journey.

Guarantee of Unique Content

With the built-in plagiarism detection feature, EssayWriter provides you with the confidence that your essay is uniquely yours. It eradicates any concerns of duplicity and safeguards your academic integrity.

All-around Essay Style Support

Be it an argumentative, expository, narrative, or descriptive essay, EssayWriter serves them all. It’s adaptable and proficient, capable of handling various essay styles with ease, delivering exceptional output regardless of the essay type.

Referencing Made Simple

Often, referencing can be a tedious task. The citation feature in EssayWriter knows this and automates the process for you, further streamlining your essay composition journey and ensuring adherence to academic protocols.

Must Read: How AI Can Help in Education: Role and Challenges

Why Should You Choose EssayWriter? 

Embracing cutting-edge ai technology.

EssayWriter employs advanced AI models. These ensure precise and high-quality essay content, embedded with a nuanced, human-like touch. It’s like having a competent human writer, without the associated time constraints.

A Comprehensive Set of Tools

EssayWriter exceeds the realm of simple essay composition. The comprehensive tools within the platform assist in rewriting, editing, and summarizing, shaping your work into the perfect piece.

A Tailored Writing Experience

EssayWriter prides itself on its adaptability. It learns from your unique writing style and effortlessly churns out personalized content. It’s a step toward making AI ‘individualized.’

A User-friendly Interface

The complete user experience on EssayWriter is a testament to its excellent design. With a clean, intuitive interface, the platform provides an inviting environment for users, ensuring productive—a pleasant journey from start to finish.

A Beacon of Efficiency and Time-saving

EssayWriter effectively condenses hours of manual labor into minutes of effort. It provides you with the luxury of time, allowing you to focus your energy elsewhere.

Who Stands to Benefit from EssayWriter?

EssayWriter is a versatile tool designed to cater to a diverse array of user groups. For students wrestling with academic assignments, it simplifies the process by generating well-structured essays quickly. It allows students to focus on learning and understanding the material, rather than the cumbersome task of writing. 

Professionals, too, find that it can streamline the creation of in-depth reports or presentations. The tool’s AI capabilities ensure the output is concise, coherent, and convincing. Lastly, content writers and researchers can leverage its powerful features to draft engaging narratives or comprehensive research findings. In essence, EssayWriter acts as a powerful ally for anyone involved in text composition.

Also Read:   AIMath Review: Advanced AI Math Solver to Revolutionize Math Problem Solving

Wrapping up, EssayWriter is a path-breaking tool that combines efficiency, versatility, effectiveness, and a host of beneficial features. With its impressive toolset, underpinned by robust AI capabilities, it’s an efficient shift from laborious, manual essay writing to a more automated, streamlined process. 

Catering to a broad range of users – be they academics, professional writers, or students, EssayWriter revolutionizes the writing process and guarantees premium, plagiarism-free content. Its uniqueness lies in its ability to embody both depth and ease, making it an ecstatic blend of profound productivity and simplicity. Indeed, with EssayWriter, essay composition is an experience to look forward to.

EssayWriter is an AI-powered writing tool that helps users create essays, edit existing ones, and even summarize or rewrite content.

EssayWriter is a versatile tool that can benefit students, professionals, content writers, and researchers by helping them create different kinds of text content.

EssayWriter offers several benefits, including: Efficiency : It saves time by automating essay creation and editing tasks. Quality : It generates high-quality, plagiarism-free content with a human-like touch. Adaptability : It can handle various essay styles and adapts to the user’s writing style.

For more such exciting reviews, stay tuned with  Leverage Edu . If you are planning to study abroad, contact our study abroad experts at  1800-57-2000  to strengthen your scores and application to secure your spot in your dream college.

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EssayFlow Review: An In-Depth Look at the Undetectable AI Essay Writer

Phandroid Editors

Overview of EssayFlow

Are you tired of staring at a blank page, struggling to find the right words for your essay? Look no further than EssayFlow , the undetectable AI essay writer who promises to deliver high-quality essays that are in 100% human-like style and fully undetectable by those AI detection tools out there. 

In this review, we will delve into the features, benefits, and limitations of EssayFlow to help you decide if it’s the right tool for you.

EssayFlow Can Handle All Essay Styles & Topics

EssayFlow caters to various essay styles, accommodating the diverse needs of students and academic professionals. Whether you’re working on persuasive, descriptive, narrative, expository, or argumentative essays, EssayFlow provides tailored support for each style. 

Furthermore, EssayFlow’s versatility extends to various subjects, including sciences, business, technology, humanities, and more. It can surely help you to achieve academic excellence across different fields of study.

Notable Features of EssayFlow

EssayFlow comes equipped with a wide array of features designed to enhance your content quality and streamline your essay writing process. Let’s check out the details about them and see how can these magic tricks help you out. 

Fully Undetectable AI Content

EssayFlow revolutionizes content creation with its ability to produce fully undetectable AI content. Writing in human-like styles, each piece crafted by EssayFlow can effortlessly bypass all AI detectors on the market, ensuring your essays maintain the authenticity and originality needed to stand out in any academic setting.

Research and Data Integration

EssayFlow provides its users with access to a comprehensive academic database, facilitating the discovery of reliable sources for your essay. This feature simplifies your research process, enabling you to find relevant materials to bolster your arguments and enhance the overall credibility of your work.

In-built Citation System

EssayFlow’s integrated citation system simplifies the complex task of bibliographic referencing, allowing you to insert accurate citations in various academic styles conveniently. It ensures that your essay adheres to the highest standards of academic integrity.

Grammar Checking

To refine your writing, EssayFlow incorporates a sophisticated grammar checker. It identifies and rectifies grammatical errors, suggests improved word choices and sentence structures, and ensures that your essays are articulate, coherent, and professionally composed.

Plagiarism-free Guarantee

EssayFlow prioritizes originality by offering an integrated plagiarism detector. It assists in maintaining the authenticity of your work by quickly identifying potential instances of inadvertent duplication. This feature empowers you to address and modify those sections, ensuring the uniqueness and originality of your essay.

Smart Auto-completion

Overcoming writer’s block is made easier with EssayFlow’s smart auto-completion feature. It assists in completing sentences or paragraphs, adapting to your writing style, generating content based on your written context, and providing suggestions to help you express your ideas more fluently.

Is It Really OK to Use EssayFlow to Finish My Essay?

While EssayFlow offers a range of impressive features, it’s essential to consider the ethical implications of using an AI essay writer. While the tool can assist with generating ideas, conducting research, and improving the overall structure of your essay, it’s crucial to maintain critical thinking and take ownership of your work.

EssayFlow can serve as a starting point, providing structure and guidance. It should be seen as a tool to augment your writing process, not as a substitute for your own ideas and analysis. Note that it is always recommended to thoroughly review and refine the generated content, ensuring that it aligns with your unique insights and maintains the appropriate academic integrity.

In conclusion, EssayFlow presents a powerful AI essay-writing tool that offers a multitude of features to enhance your writing experience. Not to mention its comprehensive research support and smart auto-content completion feature, as well as the guaranteed undetectable content generation to outsmart all AI detectors. 

Frankly speaking, EssayFlow can indeed streamline the essay writing process and help you produce high-quality, polished essays . Its versatility in handling various essay styles and topics further solidifies its status as an essential tool for students and professionals like you. If writing top-notch essays is the goal you are looking for, you should definitely give EssayFlow a try.

How does EssayFlow ensure the generated content is undetectable?

EssayFlow employs advanced AI algorithms and extensive machine learning-based training to process and generate content. By carefully mimicking human writing patterns and incorporating natural language processing, EssayFlow produces content that remains undetectable to plagiarism checkers and as well as known AI detectors on the market.

Will my essays be unique if I use EssayFlow?

The answer is yes. EssayFlow’s AI algorithms are designed to generate unique and original content. By leveraging vast databases of information, human-written texts, and employing sophisticated language models, EssayFlow ensures that each essay it produces is distinct and tailored to the specific requirements of the user.

How does EssayFlow handle sensitive topics or controversial subjects?

EssayFlow approaches sensitive topics and controversial subjects with a nuanced understanding, emphasizing respectful and balanced discourse. Its AI algorithms are designed to navigate complex themes thoughtfully, ensuring content is produced with consideration for accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and impartiality, thus fostering a responsible and informed discussion.

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  1. FREE 8+ Feature Writing Samples in PDF

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  2. How to Write a Feature Article

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  4. How to Write a Feature Article

    feature writing essay

  5. How to Write a Feature Article

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  2. Feature Writing

  3. #Feature Writing, What is a Feature, Types of Features, News Analysis, Backgrounders

  4. 10 Lines Essay On My Favourite Season

  5. Tips on How to Write Effective Feature Article

  6. Feature Writing


  1. Feature Writing

    Download. Essay, Pages 11 (2517 words) Views. 11227. The term "feature article" is quite general and can include many different forms, such as profile features, news features, expose's, and many others. Feature journalism can also have numerous purposes, for example to inform, to educate, or to simply entertain.

  2. 5 Tips for Writing a Captivating Feature Article

    1. Do your research. Feature stories need more than straight facts and sensory details—they need evidence. Quotes, anecdotes, and interviews are all useful when gathering information for your own feature story. Hearing the viewpoints or recollections of witnesses, family members, or anyone else who could fill in any gaps or missing pieces to ...

  3. 5 Tips on Writing a Feature Journalism Article

    1. Find a compelling story and choose your style. A feature can focus on an interesting person, like an author, singer or entrepreneur, a group of people, a topic, an issue, or a certain location. The possibilities are endless. It can be a profile, a human-interest story, seasonal, a lifestyle piece (which are very popular and fun to write ...

  4. Feature Writing

    For distinguished feature writing giving prime consideration to quality of writing, originality and concision, using any available journalistic tool, Fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).

  5. 10 Feature Writing Examples: How to Write in 2024

    In 2024, feature writing can help writers stand out in a crowded digital landscape and establish themselves as authorities in their respective fields. 2. The Elements of Effective Feature Writing. Effective feature writing requires a combination of various elements that work together to create a captivating and informative piece. These elements ...

  6. Feature Writing: Tips, Types & Importance

    4 minute read. Feature Writing is a literary and critically recognised form of writing in Journalism. It involves writing featured articles on trending topics, great personalities and relevant issues. This form of writing is generally longer than a specific news story and more informative. Feature writings are used extensively in magazines ...

  7. How to Write a Feature Article: A Step-by-Step Guide

    The first step in feature story writing is selecting a unique and compelling angle or theme for your story. Look for an aspect of the topic that hasn't been explored widely, or find a fresh perspective that can pique readers' curiosity. 2. Conduct Thorough Research: Solid research is the foundation of any feature story.

  8. The indispensable guide to what makes a great feature story

    The essay writing process goes hand in hand with the process of developing thinking, which surely reflects the emergence of the form — the essais — as a way ascertaining and articulating opinion in an age when editing and redrafting was more difficult. If the essay was a literary forebear, the advent of printing took the form to the masses.

  9. How to Write a Feature Article (with Pictures)

    1. Choose a format for your article. Feature articles do not have a particular formula the way hard news articles do. You don't need to follow the "inverted pyramid" style of writing that conveys the "who, what, where, when and why" of a news story. Instead, choose a more inventive way to write a story.

  10. Feature Writing

    This intensive module provides a thorough grounding in the techniques of journalistic feature writing: researching, reporting, interviewing, writing — and revising. We investigate where good feature ideas come from; we explore how to conceptualize, organize, and structure those ideas through journalistic narrative; and we experiment in a collaborative workshop environment with several ...

  11. Feature writing: Crafting research-based stories with characters

    The Art and Craft of Feature Writing, William Blundell, Plume, 1988 (Note: While somewhat dated, this book explicitly frames a strategy for approaching the kinds of research-based, public affairs features this course encourages.) Writing as Craft and Magic (second edition), Carl Sessions Stepp, 2007, Oxford University Press. On Writing Well ...

  12. Reviving the Feature Story

    In my recent essay about the Feature Writing category of the Pulitzer Prizes, I argued that weighty narrative series may have elbowed the traditional stand-alone feature out of contention. As a ...

  13. Types of Features

    4. Types of Features. From profiles to travel stories, there is feature style for everyone. "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.". Isaac Asimov. Truth be told, no one writes a plain, old feature article, since "feature" is an umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of ...

  14. Feature Writing: What It Is and How to Do It Right

    Feature writing is a powerful tool for journalists and writers who want to engage readers and tell compelling stories. Feature writing combines elements of storytelling, research, and interviews to create in-depth articles that explore a topic in detail. It is important to keep in mind the different types of feature writing and how to structure ...

  15. PDF Feature Story

    a 5-paragraph essay, there is a good amount of crea vity that can be expressed in a single sentence or two. In fact, it is encouraged. Show them some examples -- JLI has provided some, or peruse your local news outlets for some close-to-home examples. GRADE LEVELS 9 - 12 FEATURE WRITING: OVERVIEW OVERVIEW

  16. Writing a Feature Article

    4. Research the publication. Remember that each publication has a specific target audience and a distinct style of writing. If you're writing for a well-known magazine, journal or newspaper, find some examples of feature articles to get an idea of the layout, structure and style. 5. Research your topic. Research will ground your article in fact.

  17. The Feature Story—Fifteen Minutes (and 500 Words) of Fame!

    This notion of collaborative growth in the writing classroom fits naturally with writing feature stories, which move beyond the typical personal essay format and give students the chance to share significant personal information with one another. Rubenstein explains, "Certainly there is nothing wrong with teaching students to write personal ...

  18. Feature Writing

    Summary. The paper "Feature Writing" tells us about unique well-described, thoughtful, original, articles that are well-researched hence they explore an event, place, idea, or person in depth. Journalism has embraced to a great deal the art of feature writing…. Download full paper File format: .doc, available for editing.

  19. The Four Main Types of Essay

    An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays. Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and ...

  20. What Is an Essay? The Definition and Main Features of Essays

    Here are some of the many definitions of an essay: According to Frederick Crews, professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley, an essay is "a fairly brief piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way.". Aldous Huxley, a famous essayist, notes that "the essay is a literary device for saying ...

  21. What are the characteristic features of a good essay?

    2. Write as many paragraphs as you need to make all the points of your argument. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that does two things: supports your thesis and controls the content of ...

  22. Lesson 3 Feature Writing Exercises

    An Expository Essay on the Different Threats to Biodiversity; Personalessay- Philo 1; Reflection paper on the teaching-learning process in Flexible Learning Delivery Modes; ... Apply the three stages of writing feature : Pre-writing, writing, and revising. Ask your classmates to check your work (peer-to-peer)-Provide also a picture(s)/photo(s ...

  23. Feature Writing

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