Writing a Feature Story

Writing a Feature Story
Show me…don’t just tell me
(Ideas from Bobby Hawthorne)
The lead
 When you start your story, you should
transport your reader to that place and
 The strength lies in the ability to bring
details in
 Appeal to a sense…or two…or more
Detail Example:
 For a story on a man who suffered near-fatal
brain damage, the reporter wrote that the
brain “resembles nothing more than a large,
soft, very wrinkled walnut. It weighs almost
three pounds. Of that, about 2 1/4 pounds is
water and the rest tissue. The combination
explains why the brain is often described as
looking like Jell-O, but the better comparison
would be mayonnaise. Push your finger into
this gray blob of protoplasm, and it will
Analysis of the detail
 It appeals to two of the five senses
 It does go on, but in light of the story
topic, that makes sense
 Help your readers understand the topic
through detail
Appeal to the Senses
 Good description will appeal to the
senses and to emotions
 Doing so will generate empathy
between the reader and the subject
 Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
Choose wisely
 Description can make a point
 Description can also overwhelm, so
make sure you choose the details that
are necessary
How does this help:
 “Sitting in a room filled with broken
radiators and jumbled desks,
valedictorian hopeful Joanna Brown
looks across the brim of her wire-rim
glasses and expresses her feelings
about life, how she divides her time
between social and academic activities
and how she still maintains the highest
GPA in a class of 271.”
What do those details add?
What was really necessary?
Identify the angle of the story
Identify the details that enhance the
Consider this:
 The story deals with romantic
obsession. Here is the beginning:
 “She thought he was going to kill her.
He had been angry before, even
punched his hand through a window
once, but he had never threatened her,
never scared her like this.
 Now he was out of control. He pushed
her into a corner and then shoved her
back down when she tried to escape.
“All I could think was ‘I have to get out
of here.’ I just started crying.”
 That was a month ago. Today, Julie has
ended her relationship with Jim, but he
didn’t give up without a fight.
 “He’d circle my house, leave me little
note, stare at me in class,” Julie said.
“He kind of lost it.”
 Other high school students have similar
stories. Obsessive love is all too real for
many teenagers…
The difference
 The detail carries the story along
 The single focus helps give readers an
entry point
 After the specific example, the writer is
able to bring in other people, stats, facts
How would you have started?
 A definition of obsession?
 Generalization: “Many students have
 Putting in too many dark details?
Strip your stories down
 Create a single theme
 Write a single sentence about your story
when you start
 Rebuild those subjects then with that
one sentence in mind
 Find a local angle/connection
 At two each afternoon, while most of the
students at Reagan High School are bent
over their books, struggling against afternoon
torpor, trying to hang in there for two more
hours, senior Ricky Moreno is headed out to
the parking lot.
 He has an hour to dash home, change
clothes, grab a bite, then drive to Tom Thumb
where he will handle customers’ questions…
Let’s try it out
Find an angle for the following subjects:
Student Council has had a busy year
She was a popular and excellent teacher
NHS participated in many charitable events
Computers made a big difference in school
this year
 Students are obsessed with two shows: Glee
and Jersey Shore
 Students make a commitment to volunteer
more hours this year
Now let’s talk writing
 Write the way you think
 Go to the Thesaurus when you get
stuck and know there is a better word
out there
 Write to communicate
 Tell a story
 Don’t leave out necessary elements
Your assignment
 You will be writing for the next 20
minutes (no stopping) on one of the
topics provided.
 You need to have a specific angle
 You need to write it like a journalism
 Do not edit as you go…simply focus on
telling the story
Your options:
1. Jeff Balducci, senior, ran more than 500
miles this summer.
2. Lila Michaels, junior, saved a 6-year-old boy
from drowning this summer at the Aurora
3. Students camped out in line to buy tickets
for a Taylor Swift concert for three days this
4. Four students from your school (and two
from a rival school) made it to the final
rounds of “You’ve Got Talent” for their
unusual boy/girl band—a combination of
dancing and singing.

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