Guidelines in Feature Writing

Excerpts from a lecture by Dr. Lourdes D. Servito

(Lecture delivered during the Division Journalism Workshop held at Pangasinan National High School, Lingayen, Pangasinan, Oct. 8-10, 2008)

1.    Use the “You” approach or the 3rd person.

Ex: Are you health-conscious? Beware of milk and milk products with melamine.

2.    Use the feature leads, NOT dull beginnings or “kitchen sink.”

Ex:  “The façade still stands. Newly-painted concrete walls are still seen erected. But all wooden structures from the roofs to the ceilings and dividers are totally charred and pulverized into black and grey ashes and soot.”
“The majestic municipal hall is rolled down to complete ruins. The culprit? The four-hour-blaze; the September 15 flames that grilled the Calasiao Municipal Hall.”

NOT Dull Beginning: “A fire hit Calasiao Municipal Hall last Sept. 15 destroying all the offices attached to it.”

NOT Kitchen sink: “A raging fire consumed the Calasiao Municipal Hall at dawntime Sept. 15 which lasted for four hours; even when fire trucks were around until eleven in the morning and millions of properties and office equipment were destroyed but the lives of the inmates were saved and no one was reported hurt except the one and only fireman who tried to stop the fire at its peak hour.”

3.    Inject literary tint. Use the feature devices.

Ex: “What now Calasiao? Thy beautiful house is gone. Where will thou begin? You are like a queen robbed of a throne, or an orphane girl that lost its abode.”

NOT: “What will happen to Calasiao after its municipal hall was burned?”


4.    Use vivid descriptions. (Describing a place or situation)

Ex: “Up above the skies on a sunny afternoon, the white, thick, flat clouds form a wide floating plain landscape where angels walk their feet gently touching the soft floor.”
NOT: “Above the clouds, you can see more clouds…”
5.    Make comparisons alive by using analogies.
Ex: The earth – as Mother Nature
Mother Nature – as a lady
Destruction of the Earth and natural resources – like raping Mother Earth
Loved one 00 as pretty rosebud, apple of your eyes, puppy love, man/woman of your dreams.

“Mother Earth is now crying for help. Where have all the flowers and the trees, as well as the fishes gone? While nature’s resources are given for man to live and be happy, it is also man that squanders and destroys them. Stop raping Mother Earth like a helpless lass!”

6.    Use idioms as appropriate.
Ex: At loggerheads – fighting; not in good terms or can’t see eye to eye

“Student leaders are at loggerheads over points for co-curricular activities.”

Cross bridge – make a decision
Call the shots – decision-maker, head
“She calls the shots in a well-known corporate office in Manila.”

7.    Make a file of adjectives and descriptive phrases and associate words/terms, coined words which may form part of your file of ideas for feature writers.
Ex: Beautiful – charming, tantalizing, devastating beauty, enticing, majestic, magnetic, flawless, electrifying, lovely, pretty face, looking wow, queenly, princess, Cinderella, Snow White.

Handsome – winsome, Prince Charming, loveable, adorable, heartthrob, ideal man, dream boy, Mr. Right, or man of your life.


8.    Write a catchy title, one that compels attention.
Ex: a. We are different, we are the same
b. A sparrow’s paradise
c. Solidarity you
d. What now, Calasiao?

9.    End with a big bang, with a grand finale NOT just a sense of finality.
A powerful quotation or question, end with something to remember
Ex: On meeting challenges:
“When the door is closed, windows will be opened.”

A presscon experience:
“Indeed, my experience is a bit of hell and a bit of heaven.”

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