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What is Feature Writing

Sonal Panse,

What is Feature Writing

Unlike news articles, which generally stick to the main facts, feature articles take a more creative stroll around them. They examine and interpret not just the facts, but also the background and climate of the facts. They attempt to draw you in by bringing to your attention the details and emotions of the situation, and the broader reasons behind the issues. They bring a stronger human interest to what might have been simply a bare recital of events.

There usually isn't time enough to provide this kind of color in a news coverage; you have to report what has happened and fast, before the news gets stale. With features, on the other hand, you have the opportunity to go deeper into the subject, and even give it a literary infusion if you so wish.

Types of Feature Writing

Feature articles come in a variety of types, not necessarily always concerned with current events. Apart from the news of the moment, features may be about what are popularly known as 'evergreen' topics. That is, topics concerned with the human condition and everything related to it. Which basically is everything under the sun and beyond that did, can, and might affect us in any manner – art, architecture, literature, music, cinema, science, society, etiquette, culture, health, medicine, education, social media, politics, personalities, and much else – it isn't so much the topic as the way it is written and presented that makes a feature. The various topics may be covered as descriptive and explanatory essays, in-depth interviews, reviews, and so on.

A main characteristic of feature writing is that it is usually written in third person. The story is based on observation, interviews, anecdotal knowledge, and research, and the writer is expected to present the facts as accurately and fairly as possible, in the correct context, with thoughtful reflection, and usually without letting his or her personal opinion or bias influence the reportage, although, in certain features, the writer's opinions may be important to the story. An attempt is made to give the readers a real sense of what happened, why it happened, who was involved, how they came to be involved, what were their motives, what it felt like to experience the event, and what they think about it in hindsight.

Structure of Feature Writing

Most features follow a generally accepted writing structure, but the story need not necessarily follow a chronological order. You could, for instance, begin with an aftermath and weave your story to explain how it came about. Whichever way you go, it is best to avoid tedium and maintain an engaging flow.

It is common to open the feature article with an introductory paragraph called a hook or a lede, and this can begin with a dramatic or emotional moment that is likely to kindle the reader's curiosity and persuade them to read through the rest of the article. The hook or lede can be of two or three paragraphs, can be narrative, descriptive, or anecdotal, and is expected to set the tone of the article; if it is, for example, funny, serious, or sarcastic, the reader should realize this from the hook.

The hook or lede is followed by the nut graf, which, in two or more paragraphs, tells the reader what the story is really about, with the help of physical descriptions, quotations, and informative commentary. Depending on what you are covering, the story could be narrated from the different perspectives of the different people involved.

The nut graf is followed by the transition, which can include two or more explanatory paragraphs that further expand on the theme, again with quotations and facts.

The ending then ties up the story, clarifying the lede and leaving the readers with a distinct understanding of the angle or approach you chose and what you meant to signify by it.