Before writing you want to know what you are writing about. You must research your topic thoroughly and decide your angle. Your angle can be anything – you may decide to focus on history, or take a place and talk about it as a travel destination.
Structure your feature like a story. You need an intro, a middle, and an outro.
For your intro, it may help to think of film. Films often start with a wide shot, then they go into a medium shot before you get a close up. In the same way, you do not necessarily have to give up all your information. Just like a story, you can withhold your destination’s name until the third paragraph.
You want your writing to be descriptive. Show the reader with your words. Create imagery. In doing this, try not to use ambigious terms like wonderful, amazing, or brilliant because while they may bring back your feelings of being there, they do not enhance the reader’s understanding of the place you are talking about.
Within the intro, you may need to include context and then a nub to help you lead into the rest of the piece.
e.g. INTRO: ‘On any day of the week you can walk along the front at Dover and see, unfolding before your eyes, the biggest criminal enterprise in Britain.’
CONTEXT: ‘Battered vans spill from the docks laden with cheap booze and tobacco. Within days they will be hawked around clubs, factory gates and housing estates as far away as Manchester and Glasgow.’
NUB: ‘Every load is another nail in the coffin of the traditional British pub. on an average day, three pubs close down for good.’
The ‘nub‘ allows the reader to know what they are reading about and often offers a hook; a reason why the reader should continue reading.
Your ending must tie up the feature, often by referencing something found in the intro, to bring your feature full circle. It can echo, or explain, something in the intro therefore satisfying the hook.
For your title, you can play with words or reference something cultural. The title should intrigue the reader. However, a title must be meaningful (even if the meaning isn’t immediately obvious).
Photographs can be useful in features. In the industry, you may be asked for them alongside your feature and could be paid for good photos.
DO – paint pictures with words, show (not tell), describe, use powerful quotes
DON’T – use cliches, over use adverbs/adjectives, use words such as; wonderful, amazing, astounding, beautiful, awesome and so on…
For an example feature, you can look at my travel feature recently written for an assignment. Click here to view it.