Aside from fundamental journalistic style and organization, the ideal guideline in feature writing is to break no rules. The finest lead for a feature article is an organic extension of the tale—nothing forced or created without regard for the tone or subject matter. While some elements can be anticipated (a birth announcement, for example), others will differ greatly from what has come before (a profile of a popular artist's unknown apprentice). The key is to keep the reader intrigued and interested enough to want to find out what happens next.
In general, features tend to fall into one of two categories: those that report on someone (often a person not familiar to most readers) with a unique story to tell, and those that explain how something works or why it matters. They may involve single subjects on which multiple stories can be told or reported cases studies where several events or issues are discussed at length using material from interviews, documents, and other sources. The only rule that almost always applies to features is that they should be short. Ideally, each feature should read like a brief magazine piece or book chapter; longer articles often feel padded out with information that might have been better left for another day.
Features are usually commissioned by human resources departments or marketing teams as part of their efforts to make employees/customers feel appreciated.
Feature Story Characteristics
Feature pieces are detailed and descriptive. Feature pieces usually feature a strong plot thread. Feature articles feature a powerful start that draws readers in and keeps them reading. Feature articles mix facts and opinion, with an emphasis on the human interest aspect of the narrative. They provide a detailed look at one topic or event. The term "feature story" can be used as a blanket term for any article published in a newspaper, magazine, or online news site.
A feature article may be written as a comprehensive report of some subject covered by several thousand words. Or it may be reduced to a single paragraph. The length of features varies greatly, from 500 words or less for small items to over 5,000 words for long essays or articles.
Features are different from news stories. News stories are limited to what can be included in a single article. Features can cover many subjects within their scope. For example, a newspaper might have a feature section called "Obituaries," which reports deaths around the world. This would be impossible to fit into a news story since there's no way to predict how much space will be given to each death. But since each obituary is a separate piece, this is acceptable.
Features are also different from interviews. An interview is a structured conversation between two or more people. The interviewer asks questions and notes the respondent's answers.
The sole need for a feature story lead is that it builds tension. For feature pieces, the inverted-pyramid style is improper. The lead should grab the attention of the reader immediately and never let go.
In addition to building tension, leads help put the article in context by explaining why something important has happened. They also help readers understand what role they might play in the story by asking questions or offering advice. Leads who don't ask questions or give advice aren't very effective.
Finally, leads help establish characters by showing how they feel about something. If your lead doesn't care about something, then it can't be important to him or her.
In short, leads are there to get readers interested in what's going on in the story and to make them want to read on.
Interviews are frequently used in feature pieces. The subject of the interview is generally someone who can add color or context to the article; often, they're famous people. Feature writers may also conduct research to find out more about an issue before interviewing experts on it.
Features are usually between 500 and 1,500 words. However, longer features are not uncommon. A feature article may be published in several sections of your newspaper or online. It's important for feature writers to keep their readers interested so they don't skip over any parts of the article.
Features are usually published at some point during the week when there is something newsworthy or interesting going on. This could be because many people are interested in the topic, which means there is plenty to talk about. It could also be because things happen fast in newsrooms and they need to get stories out quickly. You should know how your paper publishes its features and take that into account when planning what will be written about in them.
Features are different from regular articles in that they tend to have a stronger focus on one subject rather than multiple ones.
A feature story, like most articles, has a certain framework and outline. A title or headline, a deck, an introduction, a body, and a conclusion are always included. A solid feature piece contextualizes the story such that it is immediately understandable and meaningful to the reader. It should never contain obvious errors (such as typed words when spoken aloud) and there should be no grammatical problems with the text as a whole.
An effective feature article should be engaging for both the audience and the writer. It must include specifics but also be broad in scope. It should offer some insight into how things work now while also pointing toward possible future changes. And of course, it should not contain any factual errors!
Finally, a feature article should have a clear purpose. What problem is it trying to solve for readers? What benefit does it provide? Only then can we say that the feature article is doing its job.
These are just some of the many different types of features that a newspaper may publish. As you can see, they are an important part of making a newspaper complete. Without them, there would be no reason for anyone to read beyond the front page.