A feature story is any piece of writing that falls between the cut-and-dried news story on the one hand, and the w holly fictionalized story or opinionated essay 011 the other hand. It is the product ol tactual reporting and reporting to which are added story elements of imaginative writing and interpretation. The special feature article is similar to news story in that it gives the readers facts in an interesting form. But it goes beyond those facts by multiplying them with study, research, and interviews to instruct, guide and entertain the readers who know about the subject as well as those who do not know.
Feature stories can be news stories. Features can be investigative. Features can be in-depth studies. Features can be for fun. The subject can be anything: places- a community, a farm, a business, topics-education, science, economy, religion, philosophy; events-parades, programmes, concerts; people-well known or unknown animals-unusual or ordinary; objects-art or product. In Other words, features can be about anything, you want to write about.
A feature story is a creative, sometimes subjective article designed primarily to entertain and to inform readers of an event, a situation or an aspect of life.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FEATURE STORIES
Following are some of the most important characteristics of feature stories:
1. They may inform, instruct and advise, but their primary purpose is to entertain the readers. They are usually read after the news and in leisure moments.
- They are factual, and require reporting.
- They may or may not be timely. If they are timely and related to a current news event, they are likely to appeal more to readers.
- They may be written in any form and style. The only criterion is that the form and style be appropriate to the contents and purpose of the story.
- They permit the reporter to use his/her knowledge and ingenuity to write a story original in ideas and treatment.
- They rarely have news leads. Instead, they more often have novelty leads.
- They usually strike the keynote in the opening sentences, which permit the readers to come into quick contact with the story and become interested.
- They usually are not cut in make-up. Thus, the reporter may use any devices of the fiction writer: suspense, dialogue, description, narration, climax, and the like. The inverted pyramid does fit the purpose of a feature story.
- They require the writer to apply his/her imaginations to the facts, yet they are not fiction.
10. Tilley apply all principles of effective writing to achieve unity, coherence, and emphasis.
11. They usually can be improved by rewriting to eliminate all writing faults. For example, stodginess, verbosity-, abstractness, monotony and absence of rhythm, etc.
12: They bring readers as close as possible to the experience or idea of the story. The reader feels himself as a part of the story.
Techniques of WRITING THE FEATURE
A feature is seldom written in the traditional Inverted pyramid pattern. Feature may be written in a narrative fashion, much like a good joke of anecdote. The good feature requires as much organization as the straight news story, for the feature has to flow smoothly and parts of a feature story must be kept intact if it is to succeed. In the well-planned story, every paragraph, every sentence, should add to the total effect
The lead much attract immediate attention and pull the reader into the story. Leads can vary in style and content. You can use description, narration, dialogue, question, unusual statement, call to action, comparison-contrast.
No matter how good the lead is, you need a solid transition into the body of the feature. If you think of the lead as a lure to attract the audience, then the transition .ets the hook. It makes the reader want to continue. And it promises some kind of satisfaction or reward. The reward can be entertainment, information or self- awareness but has to be something of value to the reader.
Sound knowledge of the subject, coupled with good writing skills, will let you take the reader through a variety of experiences. You should use the standard writing devices of crisp dialogue, documentable but vivid fact and detail, careful observation, suspense and if appropriate, plot.
The conclusion should give the reader a sense of satisfaction You need to tie the conclusion to the lead so that the story has unity. Often you can do this_ through a short, tight summary, Occasionally, you can conclude with an anecdote or a quote that sums up the substance of the story. With a narrative approach, you build toward a climax.
If a reporter asks how long. a feature story should be. the editor may reply, “as long as you keep it interesting.” Feature stories vary in length from two or three paragraphs to 15 or 20 triple-spaced sheets of copy. Readers interest is the main yardstick by which they are judged. And editors are paid to accurately asses, leaders interest.