Feature Writing Slides

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  • 1. Renee Robinson MEd Central High School Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 2. Objectives The learner will be able to: •Describe the special characteristics of a feature story. •List ideas that could be developed into a feature story. •Explain the importance of organization in the writing process •Write a polished feature story for publication.
  • 3. Key Terms Feature Sidebar News peg Profile Hook Focusing Structure Persona Tone
  • 4. What is feature writing? Think of the feature story as a news story written like a piece of short fiction. You must combine the rigors of factual reporting with the creative freedom of short-story writing. The feature story’s form must be more fluid than that of a news story; the inverted pyramid style won’t work here because the story needs a definite beginning, middle and end. The readers won’t be able to scan a few paragraphs; they will have to read the whole story to understand it.
  • 5. What Is A Feature Story? A feature story is a prominent news story written like a piece of short fiction. The story is usually not related to a current event, but it could be.
  • 6. Features Evoke More Emotion Than News Feature stories place a greater emphasis on facts that have human interest. Features put people in the story; they make the reader think and care. You can write a feature story about anyone if you find an unusual angle that captures the interest of your readers.
  • 7. Two General Types Generally feature stories are of two types: •News features, which are usually written as a follow-up or as a sidebar story that is linked to a breaking news event •Timeless story, which does not have to be used immediately. The information in this story will be just as relevant if saved for a future issue
  • 8. Human Interest •Involves persons rather than things •Students who win an award or do something significant such as scoring 1600 on SAT or qualifying for Olympic Games •Retiring teacher •What it’s like to be a crossing guard
  • 9. Interviews •Usually done with prominent persons •Can be informational or personal profile feature •Informational interviews deal with an authority whose opinions are of significant value •Personality interviews are interesting because of the individual rather than the subject matter
  • 10. Informational Features •Of historical, social, practical interest •Basic purpose is not to entertain but to inform. •History of the school •How-to features such as “how to buy a good stereo” or “what to do if you’re arrested or in an auto accident”
  • 11. Personality Sketches • Develops a total picture of the person • Attempts to reveal personality through anecdotes • Looks at mannerisms, actions, dress, experiences. • Facts readers will want to know: 1. Name 2. Personality 3. Background 4. Physical appearance 5. Environment 6. Hobbies 7. Influence on others 8. Anecdotes, observation
  • 12. •Also called mini-features •Clever •Attention-getting leads •Events usually told in chronological order •Conclusion is often a surprise •Short—told quickly
  • 13. A sidebar is an article that accompanies and appears beside the main news story. Additionally, many features are developed around what is called a news peg. A news peg is the relationship of a feature to, or how a feature is pegged on, something in the news.
  • 14. In either type of feature story, good reporting is essential. You collect as many details as possible. You describe people, settings and feelings, the elements of storytelling. When all the details are added together, the reader is placed in the scene you are describing.
  • 15. Finding Subjects that Matter There are no restrictions on subject matter. You are limited only by your imagination. Often a feature story is a simple story about a common person in an uncommon circumstance. The feature’s job is to find a fresh angle—to find the story behind the person.
  • 16. Topics that deal with the ordinary Foreign exchange students Eating disorders Part-time jobs Unusual hobbies Teacher features Favorite movies Favorite celebrities Fast-food restaurants Fashion trends Top Ten Lists
  • 17. Off-beat feature story ideas Talk radio Weird cravings The truth about goat cheese The best books not to read Crazy answering machine messages Beepers, cell phones Coincidences Psychotherapy Tattoos, body piercings Individualism
  • 18. Profiles One of the more popular types of feature story is the profile. A profile is a short, vivid character sketch. Too many profiles turn into a tedious recounting of biographical facts or are unrelated anecdotes sandwiched between quotations. A good profile includes impressions, explanations and points of view. It should emphasize what is unique about the person. You can use a flashback technique or highlight the individual’s many roles.
  • 19. Preparing to Write As you prepare for your feature story, you will gather a large amount of information through interviews and background research. Before you begin writing, you will focus on the main idea you want to get across, and organize your information, eliminating that which does not go along with your focus. Focusing is narrowing your topic—reducing a large amount of information to a usable amount.
  • 20. The Feature Lead The beginning of the story must pull the reader in. The first sentence must make the reader want to read the second sentence. The lead may or may not contain a hook, a detail that draws in the reader’s attention.
  • 21. Types of Feature Leads Some good feature leads include: Narrative Descriptive Striking statement Punch or astonisher
  • 22. Writing Feature Leads
  • 23. The structure that the Tiger uses is this: Lead Quote (Use your most dynamic quote here) Transition or fact Quote Transition Quote Transition Quote
  • 24. Concluding the Story
  • 25. Finding the right voice You have many voices. You speak to your friends differently than you do your parents or your teachers. If you have a job, you have a voice for your boss. When you write a story, you take on a persona, or character. You must choose a voice that best imparts the information in that story. The choice you make becomes the tone, or mood of the story, and it should always match the content. For instance, you would not use humor to write about a tragic auto accident.
  • 26. More Information On Feature Leads The best rule in feature writing is to observe no rules, aside those of basic journalistic style and structure. The best lead for a feature story is a natural extension of the story—nothing forced or contrived without consideration to the tone or subject of a story. The best lead is the lead that’s relevant, grabs the reader’s attention and fits the mood of the story.
  • 27. Novelty Leads Following are feature leads, also called novelty leads. They should be used with caution, should never be forced or sound artificial. They should sound natural and fit the mood of the story. When a novelty lead serves the purpose of grabbing the reader’s attention and holding it so that he/she wants to read the rest of the story, it should be used without reservation.
  • 28. Literary allusion: Relates a person or event to some character or event in literature. To have been ordered into battle to attack a group of windmills with horse and lance would have seemed to Joe Robinson no more strange an assignment than the one given to him Thursday by his journalism teacher, Renee Robinson. (The literary allusion is to Don Quixote.
  • 29. Historical Allusion: Relates a person or event to some character or event in history. Napoleon had his Waterloo. George Custer had his Little Big Horn. Fortunately Custer and Napoleon faced defeat only once. For Bjorn Borg, the finals of the U.S. Tennis Open have become a stumbling block of titanic proportions.
  • 30. Contrast Lead: Compares extremes, the big with the little, the comedy with the tragedy, age with youth, rich with poor—if such comparison is applicable to the news event. His wealth is estimated at $60 million. He controls a handful of corporations, operating in more than 20 nations. Yet he carries his lunch to work in a brown paper bag and wears the latest from Sears and Roebuck’s bargain basement.
  • 31. Miscellaneous Freak Leads: These employ ingenious novelty to attract the reader’s eye. This list can be extended indefinitely, to the extent of the reporter’s writing ability and imagination (tempered only by accuracy and relevance.) For sale: one elephant. The City Park Commission is thinking about inserting that ad in the newspaper. A curtailed budget makes it impossible to care for “BoBo”, a half-grown elephant lodged in special quarters at the Little Rock Zoo.
  • 32. Pun: A novelty lead that uses a pun to quirk the reader’s attention.
  • 33. Structure After you have written the lead, you need a structure in which to place the information. A structure is an organizational pattern the writer uses to synthesize, that is to establish relationships between relevant pieces of information.
  • 34. Continue alternating quotes and transitions all the way through the story. End your story on the second best quote you have, to leave your reader with something to think about.