elements in writing a feature article

  • January 21, 2024

How to Write a Feature Article: Crafting Captivating Stories

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

how to write a feature article

Ever tried your hand at how to write a feature article ? It’s not just about the facts; it’s an art. You’re crafting a window into another world, painting pictures with words that draw readers in and make them care. If you’ve been spinning your wheels, don’t sweat it.

This piece will guide you on how to write a feature article that weaves human experiences into life stories that resonate. From choosing the right angle to hitting hard with an impactful narrative structure, we’ll show how lifestyle features, travel narratives, or profile pieces can turn into compelling reads.

You’ll learn tips for punchy openings and satisfying endings that leave readers thinking long after they’ve finished reading.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

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Table Of Contents:

What are feature articles, 1. human interest stories, 2. news features, 3. lifestyle features, 4. seasonal features, 5. interview pieces, 6. color stories, 7. profile features, 8. behind the scenes, 9. travel features, 10. instructional features, step 1: evaluate your story ideas, step 2: do your research, step 3: choose a feature type, step 4: select an appropriate writing style, step 5: craft a compelling headline, step 6: open with interest, step 7: be creative with storytelling, step 8: end with a bang, build a solid narrative, structure for impact, edit like a pro, get feedback, start writing feature articles like a pro.

A feature story is not your run-of-the-mill news piece.

It paints pictures with words, captures emotions, and weaves facts into narratives that hit home.

This genre offers readers an escape from the blunt edges of hard news by infusing human experience into storytelling.

The ever-evolving world of journalism reveals just how potent these stories can be when they bridge connections between the subject and the audience.

In stark contrast to straight news, feature stories give you more than who, what, where, and when; they delve into the why and how.

You get richly textured pieces like lifestyle features or travel adventures rather than bullet-pointed briefs on world headlines. They’re akin to a stroll through intriguing alleys rather than a brisk walk down Main Street.

With each paragraph designed to evoke feelings rather than simply relay events, it’s no surprise that people are drawn to such compelling reads.

And remember: at their core, feature stories aim for emotional impact, connecting on levels beyond mere information exchange. To create this effect, writers often employ descriptive language and narrative techniques that have been proven effective over time.

Your role model might be Pulitzer Prize winners or leather-jacket-clad journalists typing away in coffee shops. But whatever form inspiration takes, keep one thing clear: good writing starts with solid research grounded in real-world perspectives.

10 Different Types of Feature Articles

The world of content marketing is diverse and dynamic, offering a wide range of possibilities for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses. One powerful tool in your arsenal should be the feature article.

Feature articles come in various forms, each with its unique approach and purpose. Here’s a brief overview of 10 different types of feature stories you can write for your audience.

A human interest story centers on individuals or groups, focusing on personal achievements, dramatic events, or everyday life struggles. The goal here is to evoke emotion from readers and create an engaging narrative around people’s experiences.

News features, arguably the most common type of feature articles, delve into current events providing detailed explanations behind these happenings while examining potential implications. These stories are not just about reporting facts but also providing context and analysis.

Focusing on how life can be improved or enjoyed more fully, lifestyle features offer tips and advice ranging from fitness routines to meditation techniques. They aim to enhance your readers’ lives by offering practical solutions for common problems or introducing them to new ideas that might enrich their day-to-day lives.

These articles focus on events, activities, or topics that are relevant to a particular season, such as holidays, festivals, or seasonal trends.

Whether you’re a journalist or content creator, you probably have a scheduled calendar that designates deadlines for various types of feature articles. One notable advantage of these features is the ability to plan and structure them, a luxury not often afforded with conventional news stories.

In this type of feature, the writer conducts interviews with individuals to gather insights, opinions, and personal stories. The article often presents a narrative based on these interviews.

Color stories go beyond the facts and atmosphere of hard news, often serving as companions to news articles.

Skillful feature writing in this context enables readers to vividly envision the experience of being at a particular event, fostering a deeper understanding of the issues and implications embedded in a story.

Profile features center around a specific person, providing an in-depth look into their life, achievements, challenges, and personality. These articles are like mini-biographies that seek to humanize and bring the subject to life.

Behind-the-scenes features take readers into places or processes not typically visible to the public. This type of article provides insights into how something is made, accomplished, or organized.

Travel features explore destinations, cultures, and experiences. They often include personal anecdotes, recommendations, and practical information for readers interested in exploring the featured location.

Instructional features provide readers with step-by-step guidance, advice, or information on how to do something. These articles aim to educate and empower the audience with practical knowledge.

‘How-to’ features have gained increased popularity, especially in the era of internet ‘life hacks.’ There is now a subcategory of these features where writers experiment with instructional content and share their insights on its practicality.

You don’t need to look too far to find an instructional feature article – you are currently reading one.

These types of feature articles offer diverse ways to present information, capture readers’ attention, and tell compelling stories. Depending on the subject matter and the target audience, writers can choose the most suitable format to convey their message effectively.

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

A feature article is an excellent tool to provide in-depth information about a topic, person, or event. Here’s how you can write one effectively:

The first step in how to write a feature article is to flesh out your ideas. These are the seeds from which your story will grow.

But what if you’re staring at a blank page, bereft of inspiration? This is where renowned publications like The New York Times ‘Trending’ section or The Guardian’s Features can serve as fertile ground for ideas.

However, remember that these sources should be used purely for educational purposes and inspiration – never copy or plagiarize content. The goal here is not to replicate but rather to stimulate your creative juices by reading about diverse topics and unique storytelling methods.

You can also use an AI tool like Content at Scale to generate ideas or topics that are relevant to your niche.

To effectively evaluate potential story ideas:

  • Analyze Trends: What are people talking about? What issues are making headlines? You could use tools like Google Trends or Buzzsumo to identify trending topics relevant to your industry.
  • Understand Your Audience: Know who you’re writing for — their interests, concerns, and questions. Use this understanding as a compass guiding the direction of your stories.
  • Evaluate Relevance and Value: Your story should ideally offer something new — fresh insights, unexplored angles on familiar themes, or practical solutions. Ask yourself how it adds value to the reader’s life before choosing a story.

Feature stories need more than straight facts and sensory details — they need evidence. This can come in the form of quotes, anecdotes, or interviews.

The significance of these elements cannot be overstated as they lend credibility to your narrative while making it more engaging for readers. Hearing viewpoints from various sources helps make your story feel three-dimensional and thus allows you to craft a vivid tale that resonates with your audience.

  • Quotes: These provide direct insights into people’s thoughts and opinions on the subject matter. They give your piece authenticity and add personal touch points which can evoke empathy among readers.
  • Anecdotes: Anecdotal information serves as illustrative examples that breathe life into statistics or hard data points. They help create emotional connections between readers and subjects.
  • Interviews: Conducting interviews gives you access to first-hand accounts, expert perspectives, or unique angles about your topic that could otherwise remain uncovered.

After doing your research, ask yourself what type of feature article you want to write.

Sometimes, this initial decision can shift as you delve deeper into your research. Perhaps you started out intending to write a lifestyle piece about a local sports team’s fitness regimen but ended up focusing on an inspiring interview with an athlete who transformed their health.

This is not uncommon. It’s part and parcel of content writing where story ideas often evolve based on ongoing reporting and discovery. Embrace these changes as they occur – they might lead you down more interesting paths than you initially envisioned.

Selecting an appropriate writing style is a critical step in crafting your feature article. Your choice of language and tone will significantly impact how your audience perceives the information you present.

To help get you started, here are a few tips:

  • Embrace Your Unique Style: Your unique voice is what sets you apart from other writers. Don’t be afraid to let it shine through in your articles! For example, if humor comes naturally to you, consider incorporating it into your piece — provided it fits with the topic and overall tone of course.
  • Use Emotive Language: The power of emotive language should not be underestimated when engaging readers on a deeper level. By using words that evoke emotions or sensory experiences, we can create stronger connections with our audience.
  • Mind Your Adjectives & Adverbs: While adjectives and adverbs can add color to our writing, overuse may make the text seem overly embellished or insincere. Be selective about their usage for maximum effect.
  • Speak Directly To The Reader: In most cases, referring directly to the reader as ‘you’ makes them feel more involved in what they’re reading – like they’re part of a conversation rather than being lectured at.

The power of your feature article lies not only in its content but also in the strength of its headline. A compelling, catchy title can make all the difference between an overlooked piece and one that attracts readership.

In most cases, you won’t have a dedicated subeditor to help craft this crucial element — it falls on you as the writer or marketer to devise an eye-catching headline that summarizes your story while enticing potential readers.

Creating a captivating header requires time and consideration. It isn’t something to be rushed; rather, it should be seen as an integral part of your writing process.

Tips for creating catchy headlines:

  • Create intrigue: Your goal is to pique curiosity without giving away too much about the story’s content. Think mystery novels – they don’t reveal whodunit on their covers!
  • Use powerful words: Words like ‘Secret’, ‘Free’, and ‘Proven’ are known power words, which trigger emotional responses from readers making them more likely to click through.
  • Pose a question: By asking questions related to your topic, you encourage readers to seek answers within your feature article.

Beyond these tips, another effective strategy involves using intriguing quotes from within the story itself as headers. This technique provides context while generating interest in what else might lie within the body text.

elements in writing a feature article

The opening paragraph of your feature article is crucial to drawing in your readers and piquing their interest. It’s the hook that can either reel them in or let them off the line, so it needs to be compelling enough to make them want more.

One method you could use is building tension right from the start. This could involve setting up a conflict or problem that will be resolved later on in the article. The anticipation created by this technique can keep readers engaged as they’re eager to find out what happens next.

You might also consider posing a rhetorical question at the outset — something thought-provoking that encourages readers to think about an issue before diving into your story.

Another way to hook your audience is to make an outlandish statement -– one that may seem absurd initially but gets substantiated as you progress through your content. Outrageous claims are one way to grab attention instantly. Just ensure there’s substance behind such statements, or else your credibility will take a hit!

Lastly, try opening with a significant event familiar to most people and then work backward from there. Explain its relevance and context to your overall theme or argument.

No matter which strategy you employ for crafting compelling introductions, remember: Your primary goal should always be capturing reader interest and making them curious enough to continue reading further into your feature article.

Creativity can be a game-changer when it comes to writing feature articles. Unlike traditional news stories that stick to a rigid structure and tone, feature articles offer you ample room for innovation and creativity.

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order. This is particularly applicable to feature articles where there’s flexibility in terms of narrative flow.

In crafting your article, consider playing around with the sequence of information or incorporating elements such as anecdotes or personal experiences that may resonate with your readers on an emotional level.

You could also experiment with different styles — perhaps injecting humor into serious topics or adopting an unconventional perspective on common issues.

While you’re free to explore creative avenues, remember not to lose sight of the core purpose of your feature story: to share valuable information with your audience. The secret is finding the right balance between engaging storytelling and delivering insightful content.

Content Hacker provides more insights into this aspect.

  • Risk-taking: Push boundaries by experimenting with unique ideas or formats that deviate from conventional norms.
  • Audience-centricity: Tailor your creative approach based on what resonates best with your audience – their preferences matter!
  • Balanced approach: Creativity shouldn’t compromise clarity; ensure all key points are effectively communicated within the creative framework.

The best feature writers always leave a little something for the reader at the end of their article. This could be a powerful conclusion or an element that ties everything together, but it’s crucial to provide some sort of closure.

This gives your audience a sense of satisfaction upon finishing your piece and makes them anticipate future articles from you.

The order in which you follow these steps isn’t set in stone, especially if you’re new to this type of writing. However, they should serve as a solid starting point when creating feature articles.

In time, you’ll develop your own style and voice that suits both you and your content perfectly.

Finding success with long-form content like feature articles can do wonders for growing sustainable businesses online — a strategy we wholeheartedly advocate at Content Hacker!

Tips on How to Write a Great Feature Article

Writing a great feature article requires a combination of creativity, research, and effective storytelling. Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling feature story:

Your feature article isn’t just sharing information; it’s telling a tale. With every line, you’re guiding readers on a journey that has them hanging onto every word until the very end.

A solid narrative arc is like a map through uncharted territory. It starts by setting up expectations in the beginning, building interest in the middle, and tying everything together at the end — a perfect circle of storytelling mastery.

We all know a good story grabs you from the start and sticks with you long after it’s done. The same goes for feature articles. When writing an engaging opening paragraph, think of it as your chance to invite readers into a conversation they’ll want to stick around for.

An outline shouldn’t be rigid but rather serve as guardrails keeping your thoughts aligned so that each section smoothly transitions into another without losing focus.

The structure of a feature article should feel natural — like listening to an old friend recounting an adventure.

Editing is where good writing becomes great, and a sharp editor’s eye can transform your feature article into a polished gem.

Crafting an article isn’t just about putting words on paper; it’s also about refining those words until they sing. The editing process demands that you scrutinize each sentence for grammar and spelling errors to present the most professional version of your work. Remember, even Pulitzer Prize winners revise their drafts — so should you.

A key stat to keep in mind: clear and coherent articles are more likely to hold the reader’s interest from start to finish. When revising, read aloud to catch any awkward phrasing or inconsistencies that could disrupt the flow.

While spellcheck helps, there’s no substitute for thorough proofreading. Typos can undermine credibility faster than factual inaccuracies. Take the time you need — every error you catch now is one less hurdle for your readers later on.

You’ve crafted sentences like a pro, but another set of eyes can offer new perspectives. Seeking feedback before finalizing your work allows you to see how others perceive what you’ve written.

Remember that the writing process doesn’t end when you put down the pen; it continues through editing and fine-tuning based on constructive criticism.

Mastering how to write a feature article means diving deep into human stories. It’s about painting vivid pictures and touching hearts. You’ve learned the craft of choosing angles that resonate, structuring narratives for impact, and bringing out your unique voice.

You start with curiosity, build on solid research, and weave in compelling interviews.

Then you edit with precision — every word matters.

Your story breathes life when it reflects real people’s experiences. And now you have the blueprint to make sure every piece keeps readers hooked till the last word.

If writing features was daunting before, let this be your turning point.

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How to Write a Feature Article

Last Updated: April 29, 2023 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 1,451,311 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.

Sample Feature Article

elements in writing a feature article

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

elements in writing a feature article

  • 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 1 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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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.

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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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  • Step-by-Step Guide
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How To Write a Feature Article: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you dreamt of becoming a famous feature article writer do you acquire your muse from writers like maya angelou, ketaki desai , rishab raj, shivani vig, and other popular feature writers have you ever felt writing as a tool for reflection then, this article will teach you the fundamentals of what makes a good feature article and how to write one.  it is better to learn more about feature articles before learning the strategies on how to write a feature article. so, here we go.

How To Write a Feature Article A Step-by-step Guide

What is a Feature Article?

A feature article, according to Dictionary.com, is a daily or fortnightly article or report about a person, event, frontage of a major event, or the like. This writing adds a personal touch, and quite often, it is written in a discrete style. It can be a news story, the main or most prominent story in a magazine.   A feature article is no doubt an article inscribed to give a piece of in-depth knowledge to events, people issues, or news. A proficient person or a journalist can write a feature article. Their writings will provide background information on a significant or a noteworthy topic, and the article will include the writer’s angle or his/her experience. 

Difference between News Article and Feature Article

It is not a news item or advertisement. It is a common fact that people get confused with news articles and feature articles. We get confused with news and features and always think of the dos and don’ts of writing a feature article. All are aware of feature articles in Sunday newspapers, but where does the difference lie?

News  is always instant information, and this needs to reach the mass as breaking news without wasting time. A news article should be concise and clear and finally, the writer should stick to the point directly. A news story offers information about an event, idea, or situation. 

The article should cover all the “W” (who, what, when, why, where) and “H” questions, which any reader would like to know. News items generally do not add much spice or any additional information to entice the reader. Readers are spared with extra material or statistics, and as far as possible a writer will use adjectives sparingly. In a nutshell, the introduction will summarise the story for the benefit of the reader.

The source and slant of the writer can include slight variations but should not cover more than one approach. The news writer or a journalist can use an inverted pyramid structure. The writer prefers to present the most important information as an introduction or they can be considered as a conclusion as well. This will help a writer exemplify how the news can be prioritized and structured.

elements in writing a feature article

A feature writer adds depth, wisdom, and color to the story and may entertain or instruct. In short, writing a feature article can be like adding jaggery to gulp bitter gourd. It can be like a stimulant or a catalyst. A feature article is a longer article compared to the news. It is all about lettering a human-interest story to match the target audience. A feature article is written after an event. So, naturally, they try to provide more and more information about the event, or else they give a different perception or a changed viewpoint. 

The main aim of a feature writer will be to analyze, broaden the understanding, and give different approaches to a reader. Remember to note that a feature article is a non-fiction piece of writing. 

Where do we find feature articles? 

A feature article is published in newspapers, magazines, and online blogs , and they add an emotional touch. They are more personal. As a writer, when you write a feature article, it is good to make it more narrative and more appealing for the readers.

If you want to become a professional blogger, then learn from the experts with the Best Online Content Writing Course

Different Types of Feature Articles:

Before starting to write a feature article, different articles and their characteristics will give you the insight to decide, which type to choose before you pen your thoughts to words. Every article should be the voice of a writer and the other characters or places or incidents. Now start thinking of writing a feature article and understand the different types before you shake your thoughts into words.

Types of feature stories : Each article has a divergent focus, and the motive also changes.

⮚      Human interest stories:  In this kind of feature article, the emphasis is given to a person or a set of people. Such an article emphasizes a dramatic incident. Normally, the focal point will be emotion first and later on the information.

⮚      Colour Stories : Describe a location using life and blood, so that the reader can visualize the same in this kind of feature article. A news story can be written in this form to transport the feel.

⮚      News Feature: This is the m ost popular kind of feature article in the newspapers. It conveys news, motives and implications, and consequences.

⮚      Informative Feature:  For this article, the writer conducts an interview, research, data compilation for data, and of course, relies on personal observation. The writer tries to add human stories and give information and education. It offers interesting information and guides the reader.

⮚      Historical Feature:  This type of feature article is for those, who are good at dates, chronology, turning points in history. The main motive of this feature article is to rekindle memory to invoke interest. 

⮚      Lifestyle Feature:   The most widespread feature articles people look for. How to live healthily? How to grow vegetables?

⮚      Scientific Feature : As the name suggests, this feature article voices on science policy and topics related to current topics.

⮚      Interpretative Features:  Political, social, and economic problems could be touched upon, while writing this feature article. Interpretative feature articles provide details, direct, and shed light on the context of specific issues.

⮚      Review:  Review of books, film, and music, etc. This article should highlight why a particular genre is good or extremely good and the specific reason for this extraordinary or ordinary nature.

⮚      Behind the scenes:  This article gives a reader a revelation about the backdrop scenes, or the reader can pry into the behind scenes.

Now you are familiar with different types of feature articles and the next step is to progress a set of skills required to write, organize and edit a feature article before writing a feature article and get set to write a feature article.

Why do you write a feature article ? It is either to instruct, persuade or entertain the readers. Do not miss the fact that feature articles are longer pieces of writing that range from opinions, issues, experiences, and ideas. 

How to Choose and Tempt the Audience When You Write a Feature Article?

It is a common fact that there are thousands of newspapers, magazines, and print media in the market flooding articles with online material. It can be considered as an uphill task to pitch the right audience and to get noticed in this market.  

How to break this discord and attract the audience is to offer the target audience a noteworthy article that is of interest which speaks a lot. Once the target audience is decided, think of their age, status, attitude, culture, and lifestyle. As a writer, you have to know their thought process, language, and vocabulary. 

As a next step, you have to analyze the topics of interest for that selected audience. Technology, travel, health, home travel are striking topics for features since they can be used in specific sections of newspapers or weekend magazines. Feature stories are frequently published in trade publications, usually as special supplements.

Steps to writing a feature article to keep the reader on tenterhooks

● The first point is to  choose the right topic  and the word limit of the feature article. Is the topic relevant and of interest or can this topic hold the breath of the audience until the last word? Do not exceed the word limit (minimum 1500 and maximum 4000 words). 

Briefly, discover a topic of existing importance. Further to that, think of a topic that sells and start forming great ideas that are exclusive.  The brainstorming  technique will help you bring out the best, and this technique will ensure you have a free flow of ideas. Understand the purpose of writing that can take you to the next step of writing.

●        Research the topic  and it all depends on your research. Find out what strikes and how well you can produce it. Read, read, research all aspects and perspectives of the topic, and give an edifying stance. 

Mind mapping techniques will allow you to channelize your ideas and thoughts. How do you do that? After your research and free flow of your ideas or overflow of ideas, create a central theme that will allow you to write. Of course, you can branch your central idea with different color codes and keywords, and colorful images to start with a bang and get inspired. 

More and more branches will make you more confident and with an organized flow of thoughts. Establish your principle and remember that is the meat of your article.

●        Narrow down your plan : Think of the target audience and what type of attitude do they like and what is your attitude towards that topic? Start thinking of all the  Ws and H  (who, why, what, when) and find out the answers for these common elements. Your battle is half won if the major reason for writing this article or the drive to write this feature article can answer all these questions.

●        Structure your astute ideas : Sequence them logically and according to the level of significance.

Now you are ready to start painless writing. Your writing process is also complete, and now time to start writing a feature article of your choice, your passion, and your ideas at your fingertips. Before you put words into life, it is better to know the language used to write a feature article.

Linguistic or language usage in feature articles:

● Use semi-formal language (not formal and not informal) with a human touch 

● Sprinkle sentiments, emotions, and feelings

● Use second person singular when you address the audience

● Adjectives and adverbs can be used sparingly but use action verbs

● Do not forget to use statistics, facts

● Quotes give a better edge or slight superiority to your writing

● Write in active voice

● Use literary techniques to create a special effect for a deeper meaning. This divulges the authors’ motivation.

● Rhetorical questions can invoke interest and allow the reader to think and increase certain insight.

● Anecdotes, imagery, and certain jargon are other language techniques that you can try.

Now you are ready to start writing with  more tips  to chisel and delve deep into writing.

How will you structure and organize a feature article?

  • Headline:  A good introduction is the root of your writing. The publicity of your article lies in those first lines. Grab the attention of your reader with a catchy introduction or try to hook the reader’s interest. In the introductory lines, the main point is emphasized or highlighted.
  • Subheading : Expresses a perspective or point of view of the author and it is also called a  deck . This is the second attempt of the author to tempt the reader. The gist of the article inscribed will allow a reader to be hooked on your article. 
  • By-line : You can express your identity using a by-line and introduce the persons who helped you for an interview or a survey.
  • Hook -: An intriguing initial sentence that will hook readers’ attention and keep them reading. It could be done by using an example, a metaphor, a rhetorical question exactly like how Barak Obama grabs the attention with his rhetorical questions. This paragraph develops on the hook and sets the tone of your article.
  • Introductory paragraph 

This paragraph develops the hook and sets the tone for the rest of the article and defines the tone and focus of the article. The opening paragraph opens with a scheming, plot, or intrigue. You can win the heart of the reader and make them hold their attention with this paragraph. Do not forget to set the section and bring life into those words.

●        Paragraph two of the body: the first main topic . A description of how this person or problem has benefited society. In the author’s own words, this should be an interpretation of events or how to stick to the genre you have selected. Show and try not to speak.

●        From paragraph three onwards , more major points are offered to clarify to inform about vital events or accomplishments about the person/issue. The reader is more clear with more details using facts, evidence, and quotations. 

These pose difficult questions to the reader and include their responses. Paragraphs, photographs, tables, diagrams, and graphs are frequently used to present information in feature articles to present facts or proof to back up the content or support the author’s interpretation and explanation of the text person/issue/events.

●        Summary:   Now you are ready to summarise the article. The final paragraph should create a lasting impression by reminding the reader, the article’s core point and suggesting a suitable course of action, and promoting a shift in standpoint or attitude. 

This should prompt the reader to take a feat or encourage taking a deed. The reader should be able to confirm that the article is ready for a conclusion. Now, you have gulped the capsule to set and write a feature article.

●        Reread and Edit:  This is the most important step of the writing process before you write a feature article.                                                  

Revision and editing are important processes of writing. Editing suggests the chance to see a clear picture, evidence, specifics, fix the language glitches, and polish the article. 

Editing will help you to find out grammatical errors, typos, repetitions, and even dull writing the bugs in writing. This is sure to guide and bucket the thoughts to give a long-lasting impression of the feature article. Final editing and polishing will help you to find out whether you have put in your ideas succinctly and impactfully and whether you were able to connect the dots.

Learn about editing and proofreading here.

4 Personalities of Writing to Reduce Writer’s Block .

Madman, architect, carpenter, and madman. .

A madman creates ideas exactly like a madman. The architect gives the writing structure by moving paragraphs around and looking at the plot. The sentences, phrases, and word choices are being crafted by the carpenter. The judge removes elements of the document that aren’t required. This article will remove the block and help you to write a feature article.

Here are additional tips to become an ace before you write a feature article: 

▪ Be relaxed and conversational

▪ Keep it simple

▪ Short sentences and vary sentence length

▪ Paint a picture

▪ Spice up your writing

▪ Voice your opinion

▪ Smooth your writing by using transitions

▪ Don’t judge the first draft

▪ Always rely on peer editing

▪ Don’t write in the same tone

▪ Don’t put all the interesting facts at one go

▪ Harness the power of comma and punctuation

▪ Don’t dump information

Now you have the style, grace, and power of expressing your thoughts clearly and enlivening your writing with vivid images. It is an inborn talent that requires a knack and relevant guidelines to convert your thoughts into words that become a reader’s delight. This article is to reinstate the writing process and try to refresh your memory and change your writing blocks and procrastination habits to write a feature article.

Now you are ready to start your dream job or have a go. Good luck and best wishes!

Scope of Feature Article Writing:

Newspapers, magazines, and social media are employing freelancers and regular columnists. Print and online media depend on freelancers for making their publications interesting and noteworthy. 

The work from home concept is gaining momentum. Hence, it is beneficial for a featured columnist to be in their comfort zone and earn at leisure. Any individual with a flair for writing and a good grasp of language and creativity can make a decent living. 

A feature article writer can choose any genre of your choice and if you are consistent and stick to the timeline with utter sincerity, then nothing can pull you behind. Freelancers are in demand and make use of your painless writing techniques.                                                                                             

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a feature article different from a blog?

Yes, it is different. While feature articles are published digitally and in print, blogs are published only online. 

2. Is feature writing well as a career?

Yes. With the present changes in the world, it has got ample scope. If your writing style is exclusive, then you have more possibility to be popular. 

3. What are the basic steps for new writers?

✔ Include all the fundamentals of writing (who, what, where why, when, and how)

✔ Plan and organize your writing

✔ Include your viewpoint

It is a fact that writing entails basic principles. It is good to master the rules. This will help you make your foundation before you venture into different kinds of writing. As stated before, writing a feature article is more than facts and includes interesting facts, and recall the points stated in this article before you write a feature article. 

It is of paramount importance to add a dimension of human touch and make it more pleasing. This article has guided you through the steps to write a feature article and touch the chords of the readers. 

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Read our easy guide on putting together a feature article

Writers – good writers – all have storytelling skills, and feature writers are nothing without them, so feel free to use any tool in your writer’s arsenal to serve the story as best you can. There are, though, a few technical points to bear in mind.

Always remember you will be writing your feature within a word count

Typical word counts are 350-500 words (column), 800 (one page), 1,200-1,500 (DPS), 2,000 (3-page feature). Your editor will give you a word count and if you are writing for money you will stick to it unless you don’t want another commission.  

Your feature, whatever its length, will have a basic structure of:

• Introduction.  Set the scene. Bring it to life. You might start with a question, a narrative or a description, but however you do it, you need to seduce readers into your story via the first paragraph. A quick tip here is that it’s often a good idea to write the opening paragraph last of all, once you’ve written everything else. Or write it and then go back to it when you’ve finished the rest of the feature. A lot of the time, the first paragraph that we write will turn out to be drivel, and either we’ll look at it in horror and cut it ourselves, or the editor will do it for us. 

Your first or in most cases, second, paragraph will ideally explain the feature in a nutshell, so that the reader knows what they are reading about and why they are reading it.

• Body text.  Having got your readers hooked at the start, keep them reading. This is where your writer’s skill in creating a logically progressed narrative comes into play. Each paragraph will move your story along, and add to the reader’s information. Embed facts into scenes, so that something new is revealed with each paragraph.

If you have interviewed people, let them reveal their parts of the story via direct quotes – you are telling a story with characters in it so let them speak. Their voices will bring your feature story to life.

Don’t info-dump. Space out your information so that everything necessary is included without disrupting your narrative flow. 

If you haven’t enough space to get in all the facts, cut your prose rather than sacrifice information that will add to a reader’s knowledge.

• Conclusion.  Create a satisfactory ending so that the reader understands that the story has reached a conclusion. Don’t spoil a good feature by letting it tail off, or make it bottom-heavy by cramming in information that should have been woven in higher up. Be careful too not to sound pat or – heaven forbid – press-releasey. Feature writing is about real life stories, and real life is complex, and does not always wrap up into a neat conclusion. One-liners can be a nice way to end a piece, or if you have it, a good quote that underlines everything that you’ve been saying throughout the feature.

Intrigued to learn more? Try our online course; Article Writing and Freelance Journalism  and receive expert guidance from a professional tutor. 

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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.

Justift

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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How to write a feature article

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  • Rebecca Ghani , freelance journalist, London
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Interested in writing for a medical journal? Rebecca Ghani finds out from the experts where you can start

You have an excellent idea for a feature article that you would like to publish: you know that the topic is relevant; you’re sure the audience would be interested; you can access the facts and statistics; and you know that you could source a great interview or two.

So where do you go from here?

Know the publication

Read the latest copies of the publication or journal to get a feel for the style and tone. Think about the different sections and where your idea would best fit.

Scan the online archives for similar subjects: it’s unlikely that your piece will be commissioned if the topic has already been covered recently.

Edward Davies, editor of BMJ Careers, says, “The first thing that I would say is absolutely crucial for anyone submitting a pitch is to make sure we haven’t done it before. Google is your friend on this; Google the idea you’re thinking of—and search within the BMJ , BMJ Careers, and Student BMJ websites to see if there’s anything that’s been done on this before.”

Know your audience

If you’re writing for the Student BMJ , and you’re a medical student, you’ll have a good idea of what your peers will be interested in reading about. Sound it out with your colleagues and get input about your idea. Remember that the Student BMJ has an international readership and that your piece should be accessible and relevant to a worldwide audience.

Other medical journals have an even wider reach: the BMJ has a circulation of over 100 000 and a mixed audience of hospital doctors, GPs, retired doctors, and almost 5000 international doctors. 1

Even though most of your readers will be medics, don’t assume knowledge: there is always a lay audience, and keep in mind that the mainstream media often pick up on stories published in medical journals. Don’t dumb it down, but ensure it is accessible to a layperson.

In particular, spell out acronyms, explain colloquialisms, and use straightforward language. It shouldn’t be written as a research piece, so steer clear of academic jargon.

Udani Samarasekera, senior editor at the Lancet , makes the point that features are different from academic work: “Features are actually very different from essays: they’re a lot more colourful and journalistic and much more engaging. My advice would be not to think too much along the lines of an essay, which can be some students’ downfall,” she says.

Samarasekera also advises researching what makes a good feature: “There is a certain structure: they have an intro, background, new development, and then some debate. And often if it’s a journalistic piece it will describe the scene or have a character that draws you into the beginning of the story as well. So, very different from essays.”

When is a feature not a feature?

It’s important to understand what a feature is. Such articles showcase a topic or subject and weave in quotes, facts, and statistics to frame a topic and give it context and flavour. Although there is a place for opinion writing, this is a distinct type of writing and should be approached differently. A straight feature should not include your opinions: it will be your writing style that adds personality to the piece, not your viewpoint.

Davies outlines why it’s important to avoid airing your views if you’re pitching a standard feature: “We get a lot of things pitched as features that are actually opinion—so, people who’ve done a little survey or found a topic that bugs them. And actually what they’re writing about is their feelings on it, what they think of it. And you’ve got to be quite careful with that.”

Features will generally take straightforward news items or topical stories and examine them in more depth, bringing in original quotes from experts and often adding a human interest angle.

Profile articles focus on one person and should include a first hand interview and contextual information about the subject. The BMJ , BMJ Careers, and Student BMJ all publish profiles of eminent doctors or healthcare professionals, as do most general medical journals: the Lancet publishes a profile in its perspectives section.

This section of a publication can include editorials and first hand experience pieces; in Student BMJ and BMJ there’s the personal view section, and in BMJ Careers there is an opinion slot each week. Here, your voice and your opinions shape the piece and give readers an understanding of your experience and viewpoint. You should still support your opinions with facts and evidence, where appropriate.

Most features will have a peg or a hook on which the rest of the item will hang. This helps to shape the piece and give it a focus. Think about what will draw in your reader: something funny, controversial, or shocking; a new angle on an old subject; or something that generates conflicting viewpoints.

Human interest stories usually work well and can liven up an otherwise dry feature. Generally, features published in medical journals have a topical peg. One example is “The case of M,” 2 which took a recent court ruling about a patient’s right to die and then looked more closely at the current debate and research about ethics and the law surrounding this issue.

Samarasekera of the Lancet emphasises the importance of this: “Topicality is a big thing,” she says. “A feature needs to have something that’s interesting—maybe a recent controversy with an issue, but also a recent development to expand the feature—and to tell your readers why you’re covering it now.” She goes on to say the peg can be “a new piece of research, a report, a pending court case, or something like the first world hepatitis day or some big global health news.”

Once you have a firm idea of your subject, the publication, the audience, and the appropriate section, you are ready to make a pitch to the editor.

Be targeted —Once you’ve selected the journal, think about which section to target within the journal, and make this clear.

Be concise —Your pitch should be one or two paragraphs in the main body of an email. Do not send attachments, as editors may not have time to open them. Ensure that the subject line of the email is descriptive and introduces the pitch in a few words.

Engage —Say why your idea is relevant, why the audience will be interested, and what it adds to existing published work.

Follow up —If you don’t hear back within two weeks, follow up with a phone call to talk your idea through.

Davies says: “Put it down in writing—send an email pitch. And then if you haven’t heard within two weeks, get the phone number and pester them.

“And while the editor might not like it, giving them a quick nag on the phone is no bad thing, as your pitch comes back to the top of their pile and they reconsider it,” he advises.

Liaise with your editor

If your pitch is successful, your editor might allow you to run with it in your own style or could be more prescriptive and will brief you with some guidelines on tone, style, and what to include or avoid.

Make sure you and your editor are thinking along the same tracks. Should the piece be informal, chatty, or serious? Is there anyone specific you should be interviewing? Do you need to reference any other research or articles—particularly if the BMJ itself has published a relevant piece.

Agree a word count and deadline and stick to them.

Be organised

Although the final product will be one article, you will use many sources of information to inform your piece, which can easily get lost or mixed up.

Approach writing a feature like a mini-project. Keep your electronic files in a properly labelled folder and use descriptive file names—labelling a file “interview” probably won’t be that useful. Use dates and names to help you keep track of your research and interviews.

Log all requested interviews with latest notes, press office details, contact details, and any other notes that could be useful. Note whether a potential interviewee is in your own time zone or abroad and calculate time differences to make sure that you don’t call them in the middle of the night.

Keep links to any online research. You might find the perfect statistic or fact to back up your article, but it will be of no use if you can’t reference it properly.

Interviews can be face to face or on the phone. Although face to face is best, Skype is a great way to conduct international interviews.

Keep interviews to the point. Although it’s tempting to veer off to other topics, this can waste time and means that you have more audio to wade through.

Record or take shorthand notes. If you’re quoting someone directly, this needs to be an accurate representation of what they have said. Request permission if recording, and check equipment beforehand.

Don’t allow copy approval. It’s sometimes acceptable to show interviewees their words before publication, but for viewing—not for approval.

Interviewees

Features should contain original quotes from experts in the subject area. This will give your piece a fresh angle on a subject and first hand quotes will help to bring the story to life.

Allow interviews to shine through and don’t stifle with too much “framing”—often direct quotes don’t need much explanation and add to the authority of the piece.

Try not to use “quote sluts” 3 —overused media friendly sources who can churn out the same old line to each interviewer they speak to. Think about who might give a different, fresh, and possibly more controversial viewpoint.

Approach more interviewees than required. People may not respond, may be too busy, or just might not be interested. The risk here is that you end up with too much material, but that is better than not enough.

Your piece needs to be accurate, and any statements should be backed up by well sourced references. Try to verify statistics and facts from at least two sources, at first hand from the original source if possible. Don’t just repeat a fact you’ve read elsewhere. Libel laws apply each time a defamatory comment is repeated. If you’re using a non-primary quote or text, reference it properly so that the reader can see it in its original context.

Unlike news stories, which are written with the least important information at the end, the final paragraphs of a feature often tie up the loose ends. This could be an answer to the original question; a quote that sums up the gist of the piece; or a weighing up of the arguments within.

Competing interests: None declared.

From the Student BMJ .

  • ↵ BMJ Group Journals Division. Media Pack 2012 http://group.bmj.com/group/advertising/BMJ%20Group%20Journals%20Division%20Media%20Pack%202012.pdf .
  • ↵ Jacobs B. The case of M. Student BMJ 2012 ; 20 : e236 . OpenUrl
  • ↵ Matalin M, Carville J. All’s fair. Random House, 1994.

elements in writing a feature article

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

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By Happy Sharer

elements in writing a feature article

Introduction

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.

(Note: Is this article not meeting your expectations? Do you have knowledge or insights to share? Unlock new opportunities and expand your reach by joining our authors team. Click Registration to join us and share your expertise with our readers.)

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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How to build a feature story

By cristiana bedei sep 22, 2022 in journalism basics.

Woman typing

A feature is an exploration. It informs, inspires and entertains readers by going beyond hard facts and quotes, answering their questions about what is happening around the world.

While it was mostly seen as an article published in newspapers and magazines 10 or 20 years ago, finding a precise definition is more difficult today. Mary Hogarth , a media specialist, educator, and author of Writing Feature Articles: Print, Digital And Online , says that a strong feature should combine multimedia elements that will enhance the audience's experience and offer a 360-degree perspective of a topic: "It is critical to ensure that content not only has value but that it engages print/digital and online audiences."

Many freelancers choose feature writing also because it typically pays more. "The more words an editor commissions the more you'll earn. Research takes time, so try to get several stories out of one topic by tailoring the angle to several non-competing publications," said journalism coach and lecturer Susan Grossman . That may mean reframing and reselling your story elements at different times, for different audiences, and with different quotes.

The job doesn't come without its challenges, however. The most common one is developing relevant and viable ideas. "It's not just finding a topic that's hard, but finding a topic that lends itself to a full feature and finding sources that are accessible," said Ottavia Spaggiari , an independent journalist who writes long-forms for The New Yorker and The Guardian, among others.

Grossman noted the problem with generic ideas: "An editor is looking for something that has some time-sensitive element to it, particularly, that looks forward. You have to think of something to hang the story on, and I would say that a news item is an essential component of a feature."

This brand of journalism requires research and creativity, but you can learn all the skills you need. "The best stories are those you are passionate about. Your job is to build in the answers to any questions your reader may have," Grossman explained. 

As you develop a meaningful narrative, keep your topic and audience in mind. You can use these tips from the three experts to get you started.

Research first

Knowing all your material will make writing an excellent in-depth story easier. "It's very much juggling the different bits of information, the quotes and the data after you found it all,” said Grossman. “I suggest you don't start writing until you've got all your research together.”

Spaggiari added: "I read all the interview transcripts first, underlining not just the quotes, but also the storylines emerging." Next, she creates a grid with a list of all her sources. After every interview, she notes her main findings.

Don't start at the beginning

Grossman compares writing a feature to creating a painting. "You don't start from the top of the frame and paint all the way through," she said. "With a feature, I would just put all the different components of the story into a draft, develop them, think about them, research them, address statistics, add your quotes, then look at the whole and think: what is the publication that I intend this story to be for? And then model it in the same style." 

The formula is already there in the media outlet you want to target, so you don't have to do a lot of creative thinking. Just mirror their style.

Know your target audience

It's all about what the audience wants and needs to know.

"First, it is imperative to know your market," said Hogarth. "Secondly, I recommend thoroughly researching a target publication by reading several back issues and trawling through the socials to gain an in-depth perspective of its core editorial themes or pillars, and the audience." 

Writing concise, well-structured features that reflect the house style of your target publication is also critical. "I always advise taking a show-not-tell approach when pitching to editors by including a headline and stand-first to demonstrate you can adopt the tone and style of the magazine or newspaper," Hogarth added.

Build a timeline

When working on longer, more resource-intensive pieces, you might have so much material that it's hard to figure out what your original angle or story was in the first place. Spaggiari, who has worked on different narrative and investigative features, suggests building a timeline – on a document or a spreadsheet. 

"I like using [spreadsheets]. For example, I write the date in a cell, and then the event next to it," she explained. "The timeline is the guiding light when writing a long-form piece." 

If you're dealing with complex issues it helps to retrace a story and build a narrative arc. "It allows you to understand the topic well and not miss any passage in the story — and also to explain it to your readers," Spaggiari added.

Question your struggle

“If you're struggling to write a feature story, you need to ask yourself: does it need to be written? What is the outcome of you writing the story? Who will be interested or affected by it?” said Grossman. 

If you can't identify why it's important or what it is you want to say, she added, then your struggle is that you're not sure about whether this feature is worth writing. It's almost as if, until you can feel enough passion and energy, it's not ready. “You might have an idea, put it to one side, and then wait and see if something happening in the news is about the issue in your feature,” Grossman suggested. 

Think about what's happening in the public eye that can make your story timely and relevant. “I've had plenty of students and clients who've had really great stories accepted by a newspaper, perhaps, but not published. And then the editor on one occasion came back and said: ‘Ah, this just happened, this week is a perfect time for your story!’” said Grossman. “But really, it's your job to do that.”

Photo via Pexels by Ron Lach.

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elements in writing a feature article

Cristiana Bedei

Cristiana Bedei  is an Italian freelance journalist with international experience.

IJNet provides the latest tips, trends and training opportunities in eight languages . Sign up here for our weekly newsletter:

5 Key Ingredients for Great Feature Stories

Use These Elements to Bring Your Features to Life

Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage / Getty Images

  • Writing Essays
  • Writing Research Papers
  • English Grammar
  • M.S., Journalism, Columbia University
  • B.A., Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hard-news stories are typically an assemblage of facts. Some are better-written than others, but they all exist to fulfill a simple purpose—to convey information.

Feature stories convey facts as well, but they also tell the stories of people's lives. To do that, they must incorporate facets of writing often not found in news stories , ones often associated with fiction writing.

A Great Lede

A feature lede can set a scene, describe a place or tell a story. Whatever approach is used, the lede must grab the reader's attention and pull them into the story.

Here's a lede from a New York Times story about former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his meetings with a prostitute in a posh Washington hotel:

It was after 9 on the night before Valentine’s Day when she finally arrived, a young brunette named Kristen. She was 5-foot-5, 105 pounds. Pretty and petite. This was at the Mayflower, one of Washington’s choicer hotels. Her client for the evening, a return customer, had booked Room 871. The money he had promised to pay would cover all expenses: the room, the minibar, room service should they order it, the train ticket that had brought her from New York and, naturally, her time. A 47-page affidavit from an F.B.I. agent investigating a prostitution ring described the man at the hotel as “Client 9” and included considerable detail about him, the prostitute and his payment methods. But a law enforcement official and another person briefed on the case have identified Client 9 as Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York.

Note how the details—the 5-foot-5 brunette, the room number, the minibar—build a sense of anticipation about the rest of the story. You're compelled to read more.

Description

The description sets the scene for the story and brings the people and places in it to life. A good description prompts a reader to create mental images in their mind. Any time you accomplish that, you're engaging the reader in your story.

Read this description from a St. Petersburg Times story by Lane DeGregory about a neglected little girl, found in a roach-infested room:

She lay on a torn, moldy mattress on the floor. She was curled on her side, long legs tucked into her emaciated chest. Her ribs and collarbone jutted out; one skinny arm was slung over her face; her black hair was matted, crawling with lice. Insect bites, rashes, and sores pocked her skin. Though she looked old enough to be in school, she was naked—except for a swollen diaper.

Note the specifics: matted hair, skin pocked with sores, the moldy mattress. The description is both heartbreaking and repulsive, but necessary to convey the horrific conditions the girl endured.

While good quotes are vital for news stories, they are imperative for features. Ideally, a feature story should include only the most colorful and interesting quotes. Everything else should be paraphrased.

Look at this example from a New York Times story about the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. In the story, reporter Rick Bragg describes the rubble and the reactions of the firefighters and rescue crews responding to the scene:

People could not stop looking at it, particularly the second floor, where a child care center had been. "A whole floor," said Randy Woods, a firefighter with Engine No. 7. "A whole floor of innocents. Grown-ups, you know, they deserve a lot of the stuff they get. But why the children? What did the children ever do to anybody."

Anecdotes are nothing more than very short stories. But in features, they can be incredibly effective in illustrating key points or in bringing people and incidents to life, and they're often used to construct feature ledes .

Here's a good example of an anecdote from a Los Angeles Times story about the skyrocketing cost of fighting wildfires:

On the morning of July 4, 2007, ranch hands were fixing a water pipe on private land in a narrow canyon off the road to Zaca Lake, about 15 miles north of Solvang. The temperature was headed toward 100 degrees. Rainfall the previous winter had been among the lowest on record in Southern California. Sparks from a metal grinder jumped into some dry grass. Soon flames were rushing through the brush toward Zaca Ridge. By the next day, nearly 1,000 firefighters were trying to box the fire into a small area. But late that afternoon, the Zaca made a run, moving east into Los Padres National Forest. By July 7, Forest Service officials realized they were facing a potential monster.

Note how the writers, Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart, quickly and effectively summarize the genesis of a fire that plays a central role in their story.

Background Information

Background information sounds like something you'd find in a news story, but it's equally important in features. All the well-written description and colorful quotes in the world won't suffice if you don't have solid information to back up the point your feature is trying to make.

Here's a good example of solid backgrounding from the same Los Angeles Times story about wildfires mentioned above:

Wildfire costs are busting the Forest Service budget. A decade ago, the agency spent $307 million on fire suppression. Last year, it spent $1.37 billion. Fire is chewing through so much Forest Service money that Congress is considering a separate federal account to cover the cost of catastrophic blazes. In California, state wildfire spending has shot up 150% in the last decade, to more than $1 billion a year.

Note how the writers marshal their facts to clearly and unequivocally make their point: The cost of fighting wildfires is rising dramatically.

  • How to Write Feature Stories
  • Learn What a Feature Story Is
  • Writing a Lead or Lede to an Article
  • Learn to Write News Stories
  • Use Verbs and Adjectives to Brighten up Your News Stories
  • Avoid the Common Mistakes That Beginning Reporters Make
  • How to Write Great Ledes for Feature Stories
  • How to Avoid Burying the Lede of Your News Story
  • Six Tips for Writing News Stories That Will Grab a Reader
  • These Are Frequently Used Journalism Terms You Need to Know
  • Types of Feature Stories for Journalists
  • The 12 Best Thanksgiving Books for Children
  • Was Napoleon Bonaparte Really Short?
  • American Author Maps: Informational Texts in the English Classroom
  • The Great Blizzard of 1888
  • 10 Important Steps for Producing a Quality News Story

elements in writing a feature article

Write a Feature

The power of feature writing.

One of my favorite units to teach in journalism is feature writing. Sometimes it is so hard for kids to bring color and life to their stories, but when we really look at descriptive writing through the lens of feature writing, students can create such a powerful pieces. 

I start with the idea that everyone has a story . Using the classic 50 people one question video t o engage kids in the idea that even asking one simple question can elicit a variety of different answers. There are so many different variations of this series, but I think the Brooklyn video is a great introduction to this concept and really engages great discussion. By just showing this five minute video clip, it’s fascinating to hear from students when you ask the question: “Who would you most like to have a conversation with?” Or, “Which of these answers do you think could turn into a full story?” There is so much variety  in their responses and it helps reinforce the idea that everyone has a story to tell.

I also use the Pulitzer Prize winning piece The Boy Behind the Mask by Tom Hallman to introduce students to an in-depth feature writing. If you haven’t read this moving piece yet, you must check this out. This story includes all forms of narrative story telling and story modes. 

elements in writing a feature article

Understanding Feature Articles

One way I help students differentiate between a news story and a feature story as my pointing out the following key elements: 

1. A good feature story will inform, entertain, and persuade readers.

2. A feature story often focuses on the single individual with a thematic topic.

3. A feature story isn’t necessarily time worthy or newsworthy, but it does focus on a current trend topic or issue.

 4. A feature story will include a greater degree of description, observation.  It  will include strong quotes.

5. A feature doesn’t necessarily follow the traditional news formula, but it often reads as a story.

elements in writing a feature article

Types of Feature Stories

In Depth feature: This type of feature story includes in-depth research and observation that a journalist can cover over a longer period of time. 

Personality sketch: Often written about a specific individual who has something interesting to express. It will include an overview about the individual, their personality, habits, and what makes them unique.

Live in color:  This type of feature provides an overview of “behind the scenes” of an individual‘s life, issue, or experience. 

Flashback or flash forward: This type of story aims to commemorate or remember a notable figure and can highlight a special anniversary or mile stone. 

Personal experience: this reads like a small personal narrative includes a lot of description and imagery. 

elements in writing a feature article

Photo credit Unsplash by Aaron Burden

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Anatomy of a feature: 5 elements to writing a quality feature

Apr 26, 2017

Category: PR tactics

Services: Writing

In public relations, there’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk, staring at a Word document on your screen and knowing it’s up to you to transform that blank page into a compelling feature article by the deadline. We’ve all been there.

So P&G took on the challenge to identify what makes a feature great. How can we ensure quality every time we write an article, no matter the topic, theme or voice?

Because we strive for fab in everything we do, we developed a quality matrix that spells out the formula to help take our writing from meh to rock star. Incorporating these five elements into your writing will result in a compelling and captivating feature for your audience.

  • Ask why, then meet expectations. As our Assistant Strategist Meg so eloquently put it in her blog post , “At P&G, we ask ourselves why, with every client project we encounter, with every press release we send out and with every social graphic we create. Why? Because we want to make an impact and deliver results.” Be sure you understand the purpose of the piece you’re writing before you start. Then ensure the feature incorporates all client notes and feedback provided during editorial meetings or throughout the editing process so you’re making that connection between drafting a well-written feature and achieving the client’s goal.  
  • Tell a story. Yes, this sounds obvious, but it’s so, so important. Drawing the reader in is the first step. With a compelling title and a lede paragraph to match, you’ve accomplished one of the hardest parts of writing – getting the reader hooked. To maintain that interest through the whole feature, use specific human examples to create an emotional connection with your readers. Make the story real for them.

For example, go back and read my first paragraph. I took a how-to blog post and related it to an experience we’ve all encountered – staring at a blank page when a paper is due.

  • Craft quality questions. When interviewing sources to quote, stay away from questions you can easily look up on Google. Formulate questions based on your research into the subject, person or story. Use questions as an opportunity to probe for new insights or angles to the subject – find the story behind the story. Ask for personal feelings on the topic or specific examples to share. In short, put on your journalist hat.

Here are some examples:

  • How do you or your staff live your organization’s mission?
  • In what ways do you leverage the relationship your organization has with various board members?
  • How do you feel when you watch someone experience the impact of your organization?
  • Write smart. So you’ve hooked the reader and included a heart-felt quote from someone prominent in the community – but you can still do more. Continue to engage your audience by including interesting facts or data that reinforce the story. In this world where fake news is so prevalent, it’s even more imperative that we cite our work and use reputable sources.  
  • Review the technical elements. Once you’ve ensured the research and content is accounted for, it’s time to check your work and add those final touches. Reviewing your work and checking all names, titles, dates, times and locations are accurate and spelled correctly is a must. To add a visual impact, include a high resolution, properly-sized photo that is clearly related to the content and helps to tell the story.

Check out one of our features published in InspirED Michigan: “ Teachers of the year: Shining a spotlight on impactful educators .”

Tags: PR writing , communicators , public relations

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Behind the Headlines

Feature and opinion writing resources.

Research widely - facts, statistics, different sides of the story and quotes.

Spend time planning your feature article and organise your ideas.

Don’t reveal everything at the beginning. Features have a narrative structure and draw in the reader gradually.

The key paragraph is the nutgraph, usually the second or third paragraph, where the feature is put in context and its significance is explained.

Reveal a key piece of information, quote or statistic in each paragraph and use quotes from a range of people to give a rounded view.

Think about the ending of the feature. It should not be a summary. A good final paragraph might include a powerful quote, a call to action or leave the reader in a different place from where you started.

Be passionate and opinionated - choose a subject you feel strongly about, and then work on communicating that passion to your readers.

Start with what you know - you will probably write a stronger piece if you have some awareness in, or experience of, your subject. What is the point of your article? You should be able to sum it up in a couple of sentences.

Do your research - a strong argument is important, so too is a grasp of the facts. Your task is to persuade others, so you need to make the strongest possible case for your opinion – strong enough to persuade your opponents.

Construct a clear argument - reflect your opinion on your chosen subject. Remember to persuade your reader by including evidence, addressing other perspectives directly, presenting a conclusion and structuring your writing in a way that is easy to follow.

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Would You Let Siri Help to Write Your Messages?

As part of its generative AI push , Apple is expected to feature tight integration between Siri and the Messages app in iOS 18 . We won't have a fuller idea about how that will work until Apple previews its next major software update at WWDC in June, but in the meantime, Google has just announced its own equivalent feature for Android.

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Android Auto is also getting an AI assistant that can automatically summarize long texts or busy group chats while users are driving. It will also suggest relevant replies and actions that users can tap once to send a message, share their ETA, or start a call. We have not heard rumors mention AI in relation to CarPlay , so whether or not Apple has similar features in the works is unknown.

‌iOS 18‌ and iPadOS 18 will include a "slew of new AI features," according to a recent report by Bloomberg 's Mark Gurman . The report claims Apple is training both ‌Siri‌ and Spotlight search on large language models, with the goal of improving each feature's ability to answer complex questions accurately. The revamped version of Spotlight could also offer deeper integration with "specific" functions and features in apps.

Gurman says that one of the tentpole AI features Apple is developing is an improved interaction between ‌Siri‌ and the Messages app, which would let ‌Siri‌ auto-complete sentences more effectively and answer complex questions. Apple has also explored AI-powered features that would allow users to automatically generate playlists in Apple Music and presentation slides in the Keynote app. Some new AI features announced later on in the year could well be exclusive to iPhone 16 models, which are rumored to get a "significantly" upgraded Neural Engine .

According to the latest data from TF International Securities, Apple's weekly smartphone sales in the Chinese market have declined by 30-40% in recent weeks, which is said to be partly due to rival Chinese smartphones already offering generative AI features of their own.

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Chrome gets a built-in AI writing tool powered by Gemini

elements in writing a feature article

Google Chrome is getting a new AI writing generator today. At its core, this Gemini-powered tool is essentially the existing “ Help me write ” feature from Gmail, but extended to the entire web and powered by one of Google’s latest Gemini AI models. The company first announced this new tool in January and it remains in its “experimental” phase, meaning you must explicitly enable it.

To get started, head to the Chrome settings menu and look for the “Experimental AI” page. From there, you can easily enable the new writing feature, as well as Google’s new automatic tab organizer (which I haven’t found particularly useful or smart so far) and the new Chrome theme manager). For now, the AI writer is only available in English on Windows, Mac and Linux. After that, right-click on any text field and select “Help me write.” You can use this to write something completely new and Gemini can also rewrite existing text.

elements in writing a feature article

Image Credits: Google

If you’re subscribed to Gemini Advanced, this new tool will not give you access to an enhanced writing model, a Google spokesperson told us. It’s very much meant for short-form content like emails or support requests and a bigger model may not even be of much help there anyway.

One nifty feature here is that the tool will take into account the site you are on when it makes its recommendations. “The tool will understand the context of the webpage you’re on to suggest relevant content,” Google engineering director Adriana Porter Felt writes in today’s announcement . “For example, if you’re writing a review for a pair of running shoes, Chrome will pull out key features from the product page that support your recommendation so it’s more valuable to potential shoppers.”

As with the “Help me write” feature in Gmail, it’s easy enough to change the length and tone of the results, too.

It’s important to note that the text, content and the URL of the page you are using the service on will be sent to Google under its existing privacy policy. Google explicitly notes that this information “is used to improve this feature, which includes generative model research and machine learning technologies,” which includes a review process with humans in the loop. Caveat scriptor.

elements in writing a feature article

Google’s Duet AI can now write your emails for you

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    How to Write a Feature Article: A Step-by-Step Guide. A feature article is an excellent tool to provide in-depth information about a topic, person, or event. ... The significance of these elements cannot be overstated as they lend credibility to your narrative while making it more engaging for readers. Hearing viewpoints from various sources ...

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

    1 Find a compelling story. Read the news and talk to people to find interesting stories. Think about what phenomena are happening and how you can talk about them in a new and innovative way. 2 Do research on your topic. Finding out background information can help you figure out an angle and identify subjects to interview.

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

    Tips and tricks for writing a Feature article Do you want free career counseling? 1. Choose an Interesting Angle: 2. Conduct Thorough Research: 3. Humanize Your Story: 4. Create a Strong Lead: 5. Structure Your Story: 6. Use Descriptive Language: Do you want free career counseling? 7. Incorporate Quotes and Anecdotes: 8. Engage Emotionally:

  4. How To Write a Feature Article: A Step-by-Step Guide

    To write a feature article, you have to remember it should be original, inquisitive, vociferous, unconventional, and witty. Even a piece of dull news can be made into a thought-provoking and matter of interest. A feature writer adds depth, wisdom, and color to the story and may entertain or instruct.

  5. The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Feature Article

    Feature articles can be written about current and ongoing news stories. For example, the media outlet The Conversation typically covers politics and news on society. The Sydney Morning Herald covers sports and breaking global news. A news feature article goes beyond the mere facts.

  6. How to Write a Feature Article for a Magazine

    Know the Publication: Remember that each publication has a specific target audience, and a distinct style of writing. For example, if you're writing for a well-known magazine such as the Women's Weekly the article needs to focus on an emotional level, using pictures and quotes that reflect the reader's thought on everyday life.

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    A feature article blends hard facts with rigorously sourced details to paint a thorough picture and give a complete story. Learn how to write a feature story with these tips.

  8. 50 Ultimate Tips: Writing a Feature Article Template Guide 2024

    Feature articles that provide actionable tips or advice are highly valued by readers. 1. Choosing a Captivating Topic. When writing a feature article, it is crucial to select a topic that captures the interest of your target audience. Consider current trends, popular issues, or unique perspectives that will engage readers right from the start.

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    Pro article writing tip: Observation and keeping up with trends can help you determine a suitable article topic to write. People resonate better when the ideas center on trendy issues and things ...

  10. 10 Tips: How to Write Feature Writing in Journalism

    1. Understanding the Basics of Feature Writing. Feature writing is a form of journalism that goes beyond reporting facts and focuses on telling compelling stories. It aims to engage readers by providing in-depth information, analysis, and human interest elements. To write effective feature articles, you need to understand the basics of this genre.

  11. Tips on Writing a Good Feature Article

    The key to writing a good feature article is to select the proper venue for your article and then to write the article directed at that audience. ... This is also the place to include any pictures that illustrate the story, as well as diagrams, charts, and other visual elements.

  12. How to structure a feature article

    | How to structure a feature article Read our easy guide on putting together a feature article Writers - good writers - all have storytelling skills, and feature writers are nothing without them, so feel free to use any tool in your writer's arsenal to serve the story as best you can. There are, though, a few technical points to bear in mind.

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    You have an excellent idea for a feature article that you would like to publish: you know that the topic is relevant; you're sure the audience would be interested; you can access the facts and statistics; and you know that you could source a great interview or two. So where do you go from here? Know the publication

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    Mary Hogarth, a media specialist, educator, and author of Writing Feature Articles: Print, Digital And Online, says that a strong feature should combine multimedia elements that will enhance the audience's experience and offer a 360-degree perspective of a topic: "It is critical to ensure that content not only has value but that it engages print...

  17. 5 Key Components of Great Feature Stories

    5 Key Ingredients for Great Feature Stories Use These Elements to Bring Your Features to Life Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage / Getty Images By Tony Rogers Updated on July 31, 2019 Hard-news stories are typically an assemblage of facts. Some are better-written than others, but they all exist to fulfill a simple purpose—to convey information.

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    5 Tips on Writing a Feature Journalism Article Journalist Alison Hill shares her top five tips for writing a feature journalism article, including examples of feature articles, how feature writing differs from news reporting, and more. Alison Hill Jun 23, 2023

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    How to Write an Amazing Feature Article in 5 Steps We will show you how to write a feature article step-by-step to wow your teachers!

  20. How to write feature articles like a pro

    2. A feature story often focuses on the single individual with a thematic topic. 3. A feature story isn't necessarily time worthy or newsworthy, but it does focus on a current trend topic or issue. 4. A feature story will include a greater degree of description, observation. It will include strong quotes. 5.

  21. Anatomy of a feature: 5 elements to writing a quality feature

    Incorporating these five elements into your writing will result in a compelling and captivating feature for your audience. Ask why, then meet expectations. As our Assistant Strategist Meg so eloquently put it in her blog post, "At P&G, we ask ourselves why, with every client project we encounter, with every press release we send out and with ...

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    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 include:

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    Programmes About Support us Behind the Headlines Feature and opinion writing resources What is a feature article? A feature article differs in style, pace and structure from a news story. It usually picks up on a particular detail of a news story, person, event or social trend and explores that subject at length.

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  25. Would You Let Siri Help to Write Your Messages?

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  26. Chrome gets a built-in AI writing tool powered by Gemini

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