Choose a topic of local, human interest. It may be anywhere on the spectrum from serious to light-hearted, from amputees to basket-weaving to addiction recovery to gum-chewing, but it should provide fresh insights on human nature and the range of human experience. Investigate your story through observation, interviews with at least three different quality sources, and background research. Write an in-depth feature article that explores your topic.
If it helps, think of your feature story as a documentary film. How will you build suspense and keep reader interest? When is it appropriate to zoom in to the details or zoom out to the big picture? What visuals are important?
Keep in mind several guidelines:
- Show people doing things.
- Let them talk.
- Let the action and dialogue carry the piece.
- Be sure that any general statements are supported by specific details.
- Donâ€™t be afraid to throw out material as you revise. Cutting is a vital tool for shaping stories.
Storytelling, scene-setting (Material for Long-form Feature)
Use third-person narrative (classic story-telling structure) to write a scene that involves the main person or people in your feature. Use interviews and/or observation to recreate one or two stories/scenes that will be relevant to the focus of your feature.
- Make sure you know the difference between an anecdote and a scene. An anecdote is a very short story, like a joke (although it doesnâ€™t necessarily have a punch line), and takes up only about a paragraph. It summarizes an event. A scene is longer and, like a scene in a story, includes action, sensory details, character description, and often dialogue.
- Your scene may come from attending an event with the person or watching them at work. On the other hand, it may come from detailed, careful interviewing as you work with your interviewee to set the scene and recreate a key moment of their experience.
- You may also include what the person is thinking and feeling! However, in order to do this with integrity, you will need to interview them later to find out what they were thinking at particular moments.
- This is your chance to loosen up! Donâ€™t worry about writing a lead or a kicker. Play with your sentence style, if you wish. This is not an opinion piece, so do keep your commentary and personal biases out of the narrative.