Feature writing: a practical introduction by Susan Pape and Sue Featherstone - Chapter 4: What features should contain

According to Pape & Featherstone, a well written feature should be a joy for anybody to read. Even if it is written about a topic they do not understand or have little to no back knowledge of, a well written feature should carry them easily through the article, informing entertaining or amusing them as they read. (2006, P.42)

Feature articles should always contain the following elements, according to Pape & Featherstone; ‘The W’s’, that is to say, ‘who’ ‘what’ ‘where’ ‘when’ and ‘why’. Though they are the pinnacles associated with news stories, it is equally important to include them within features, as they provide vital information to the reader. The peg; like news stories, a feature article must have a good peg to hang the story on. A peg in a feature article must be appealing and interesting to the readers most importantly, not just of interest to the writer. A good writer must be in tune with their readers interests, and by doing this it will make it easier to find a food peg to hang a story on, which will catch the reader's attention. (2006, P.42-43)

An important element of a feature is the angle. Pape & Featherstone state that this is the way in which content will be interpreted in a story. The angle of a feature should be appropriate and in keeping with the readerships interests, much like the peg should be. Knowing what angle is being taken by a story allows writers to tailor their content towards it, for example if they are gathering interviews, they can tailor their questions to suit the angle of the story. (2006, P.43)

Although different to a news story which must be factually correct, Pape & Featherstone stress the importance of using facts throughout feature articles as well. Writers must not assume that the reader knows everything to do with the topic of a feature, so including as many facts as possible will make it a more informative and better written feature article. They must however, be factually correct with little to no errors, as it will make the article less informative and reliable, which could lose the attention of the readers. (2006, P.44-45)

Quotes should always be included in a feature article, as according to Pape & Featherstone they “Bring a feature to life.” (2006, P.45) However, they should be carefully selected and used wisely, as they should primarily be used to add human interest, authenticity, humour and fact to a feature. Short, pithy quotes are much better than long blocks of direct quotes, as the latter can be overwhelming and even boring to a reader. Quotes come in the form of direct quotes, indirect quotes, partial quotes and statements of fact. (2006, P.45-47)

In a feature article, there is room for the writer to inject some of their personal opinion into the piece. Pape & Featherstone state that in news articles it must remain objective, however in features an author may project some of their personal thoughts to the readers on a certain topic. (2006, P.48) On another hand however, feature writers must be objective with their opinions; if they put too much of a strong opinion out in an article, they risk alienating some of their readers, so they must consider how much personal opinion they inject into their writing. (2006, P.48)

Other elements that Pape & Featherstone state are important in features are the use of pictures and graphics to add illustration, or panels, boxes and sidebars as a method of including additional information outside of the main body of the text. A feature should also remain topical and local, so as to gain the reader's attention. A feature should also contain colour. This refers to the adding of detail and description in more depth, to further explain the story for the readers. (2006, P.49-51) The style, tone and voice of a feature are also incredibly important. Style is something that develops personally for a writer over time, but also is something that publications have too, such as a house style. This then incorporates within it tone and voice. Tone refers to how you say something, whereas voice is in relation to the exact words used. It is important to ensure that both are correct depending on readership, for example if you are an expert, a knowledgeable friend or a gossip. (2006, P.51-53)

Pape, S. Featherstone, S. (2006) Feature Writing: A practical introduction. London: Sage.

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