Structure of a Feature Story

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Lecture 4 in a series of lectures on Feature Writing

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Structure of a Feature Story

  1. 1. Sturcture of a feature
  2. 2. Feature writing process1. Finding the idea (topic and angle)2. Planning, background research (->synopsis)3. Fieldwork (=collecting materials)4. Organizing materials5. Writing (1st draft)6. Re-writing, editing, proofreading...
  3. 3. ORGANIZING1. Inventory of material2. Writing you premise3. Selecting relevant material4. Writing an outline (-> structure)
  4. 4. STURCTUREHow to organize your materials inthe text: observations, quotes frominterviews, collected facts etc.?In which order and how do youpresent the various material?
  5. 5. Quote 1Quote4Quote5Quote 2Quote3Observation:Descriptionof the sceneObservation:Description of apersonObsevation:Descriptionof actionObservation:Description ofactionFactFactFactFactAnecdote1ExampleFact
  6. 6. Quote 1Quote4Quote5Quote 2Quote3Observation:Descriptionof the sceneObservation:Description of apersonObsevation:Descriptionof actionObservation:Description ofactionFactFactFactFactAnecdote1ExampleFact
  7. 7. BASIC STRUCTURALELEMENTSBEGINNINGMIDDLEENDHeadlineLeadMain BodyEnding"Nut graph"
  8. 8. Some structuraloptionsCronological structureNarrative structureSuspended interest strucureSpatial sturctureAlternating viewpoints/distance structureScene by scene structureParallel narratives structure
  9. 9. STRUCTURALELEMENTSIN FEATURE ARTICLE
  10. 10. lEADIntroduction to the storySets the mood of the whole storyThe first paragraph(s) of the story." A Narrative hook", somethinginteresting that "hooks" the reader toread the rest of a story.
  11. 11. lEADWhat makes a lead interesting?Focus on something specific, ratherthan the general context/issue.Choose a dramatic example.Highlight tension: conflict,contradictions, problems...Creat mystery
  12. 12. lEADLead can be for example:A descriptive lead: a detailed description of a scene, aperson, an action...A direct quote or a piece of dialogueA startling statementA surprising twistAn interesting anecdoteA question* For examples, see e.g. Feature Writing by Jeanne Acton(in the course blog)
  13. 13. LEAD - EXAMPLE 1"The boldness in her face isstriking, dressed with a genuinesmile as she moves her legs to thesides, hands in the air as she craftsthe amazing swings from her lightbody.Khalila Mbowe is an alumnus ofTaylors University, Malaysia and anentrepreneur. She is the mother of afour-year-old boy, Pharell, andalso one of few amazinglymultitalented young women inTanzania."(The Citizen 12.4.2013)
  14. 14. LEAD - EXAMPLE 2"The family had lived in therundown rental house foralmost three years whensomeone first saw a childs facein the window.A little girl, pale, with darkeyes, lifted a dirty blanketabove the broken glass andpeered out, one neighborrememberred."(Tampa Bay 31.7.2008)
  15. 15. "NUT GRAPH"Summarizes what the story is all about: yourpremise, the main statement/point of your feature.Often immediately after the lead.Typically answers What? Where? When? Why? andHow?BUT: In feature you dont necessarily need to revealeverything at this point! It can be better to retainthe mystery and to build tension until the end.
  16. 16. MAIN BODYTypically direct quotes and transitions alternate.Transitions can include- descriptions of your own observations,- facts related to the topic,- parafrasing what the interviewee has told you("She could not believe it... When she first..."),- indirect quotation from the interviews ("He saysits a matter of... /According to her it was...").
  17. 17. ENDINGEnding can be for examplea powerful quote,a summary ending: sums up the story,a circle ending: ties the end to the beginning,a "snapper" : a shock, a surprise, or a revelation,a resolution / solution to the issue/problem.
  18. 18. ENDINGEnd may provide a closure orleave things open, unresolved.End is usually somehow connectedto the beginning!
  19. 19. EXAMPLE"Is she okay?Danielle is better thananyone dared hope. She haslearned to - -.In her new room, she has awindow she can look out of.When she wants to seeoutside, all she has to do israise her arms and her dadis right behind her, waitingto pick her up."
  20. 20. REMEMBER:Feature is not justabout convayinginformation, it is aboutTELLING STORIES!
  21. 21. Analysing featureRead the example feature story and pay attention to the followin things:What is the topic and the angle/focus of the story written?What type of a feature is it?Is there a main character in the story?Through whose eyes is the story told (whose point of view)?Which interviewees, other sources?What kind of a basic sturcture (e.g. cronological, suspended interest,parallel narratives, varying distance...)How does the story begin? Is the beginning (lead) powerful?Is there a "nut graph" in the story? Where? Can you tell, what is the mainpoint of theh story (premise)?How does the story end? Is there a closure in the story or not?

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