What is Feature Writing?

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Excerpts from a lecture by Dr. Lourdes D. Servito

What is this thing called FEATURE?
Why is it known as the jewel of the newspaper?
What happens to a newspaper without the features?

FEATURE spells:
F – factual not fictitious
E – Entertaining
A – appealing to the emotions
T – timely or not timely
U – unusual
R – reader-oriented
E – explanation, extrapolation – extending or projecting known info

The jewel or gem (precious stone) of the newspaper  –  something treasured for “time and eternity”

Where can we find these “jewels”?
1.    newspapers’ entertainment sections
2.    magazine stories – Reader’s Digest, Time Magazine
3.    agency publications – Mabuhay (PAL)

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What do features do? (Functions of Features)
Profile people who make news
Analyze what’s happening in the world, nation, or community
Suggest better ways to live
Teach an audience how to do something
Examine trends
Explain events that move or shape the news
Entertain

What are the “makes” of these “jewels”? (Kinds of features)
1.    newsfeature – based on a news event
2.    travelogue – travels, places
3.    profile or personality sketch – leaders, achievers, celebrities, or the man on the street
4.    how to’s or how-to-do-it features – practical guidance articles
5.    informative features – ex. All about roses; All about fart
6.    human interest features – dramatic, touchy
7.    string of pearls – opinion poll, collection of featurettes on similar topics
8.    oddities – bizarre, unusual, odd, extraordinary
9.    personal experience feature
10.    Trend stories – people, things, or organizations having an impact on society. Ex. Latest fads
11.    In-depth stories – based on extensive research & interviews
12.    Backgrounders – add meaning to current issues by explaining them further

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HOW TO WRITE THE FEATURE
Structure or parts:
1.    Title – “come-on” head
2.    Lead (feature lead) – 1st sentence or paragraph of the story
3.    Body – development of the story
4.    Conclusion or ending

Kinds of Feature Leads
1.    short sentence lead
2.    striking statement
3.    one word or two words or staccato lead – series of one-word or two-word sentences
4.    parody lead – taken from lines of a song, poem, movies or literary pieces
5.    quotation lead – direct or indirect
6.    question lead
7.    descriptive lead
8.   contrast lead

Feature Devices:
1.    Figures of Speech – simile, metaphor, hyperbole, etc.
2.    Adjectives & Adverbs
3.    Descriptive words and phrases – “hyphenated” words – ex: a you-will-look-again beauty
4.    Beautiful language and style – interest arousing

ORGANIZATION OF IDEAS
Following the laws of Progressive Reader Involvement:
1.    Tease me.
2.    Tell me what you are up to.
3.    Prove it.
4.    Help me remember it.

Sources of Feature Article Ideas (Seeds of Writing)
1.    Topic File – collection of topics
2.    File of Ideas – compilation, album
3.    Interviews
4.    Observation – have the nose for news and nose for features
5.    Personal Experience
6.    Printed Materials – books, newspapers, magazines (Reading good models… reading a lot!)
7.    Rich media or multi-media
Suggested Activities for Feature Writing
1.    Visit a botanical garden.  Write a feature story about the trip, or about the garden or some interesting plants.
2.    Invite a resource person in the class.  Interview the resource person and ask for a CV or some basic info & interesting aspects of his life.  Write a profile.
3.    Think of an unusual person, place or thing or idea encountered – something that is bizarre or extraordinary.  Write an oddity.
4. Think about an interesting hobby or collection then feature its beauty, significance or value.
5.    Recall an unforgettable trip, travel or experience.  Feature it in such a way as to entertain your readers.
6.    Conduct extensive research and interviews to write an in-depth story about a significant issue or concern.  Ex. Global warning & Climate Change, Its Impact to Modern Society.
7. Compile ideas on a happy or funny topic then write a feature that is entertaining and make laughter the best medicine.  Ex. Flatulence, what babies do, kinds of nose.
8.    Compile, clip & paste samples of feature stories that struck you.  Write your own version or parallel stories.
9.  Read magazine stories, novels, feature books.  Enrich your vocabulary by reading & compiling interesting words & phrases.  Write down your feature story using some of your compiled/ new vocabulary.
10. Participate in a simple seminar like baking or making ice cream or malunggay delight then write a how-to-story or practical guidance feature.

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