What is a feature? What makes it different from an essay or a news story or any other piece of writing?
News stories are quite similar. They have to be factual and have a rigid adherence to objectivity. Writers of news stories must stick to the pyramid structure also, and act as ‘breathless messenger’ to the masses. Feature writing is allowed to be much more creative and offers more variety. Feature writers can be a lot more free and act as ‘entertaining gossips, perceptive analysts, [and] eccentric experts’.
‘Writing news can sometimes be boring’ whereas feature writing ‘is almost always fun’.
What is a Feature?
- ‘Anything that isn’t news’.
- You can cover news in more depth. Where the news story covered the ‘what’, the feature can cover the ‘why’.
- Like the news, you still want to cover things that are topical, interesting and new.
- Features can be recognised by their length – they are usually between 600 and 2,000 words.
- Features have a greater use of formatting and graphics by adding pictures, text boxes and illustrations.
- Features tend to use a wider range of sources; there can be more research put into a piece and more time taken to finish it.
- Features hold interest, focus and purpose and are appropriate for the audience or publication they are for.
- A feature is ‘an item or article in a newspaper or magazine that brings to light a distinctive part or aspect of an issue, event or person’.
The Role of the Feature
To entertain, to educate, to inform, to amuse, to explain, and to give the reader something interesting, new and enjoyable to read. All writing serves one or more of four functions: information, entertainment, education and persuasion. Before you set out writing you must decide which you are trying to achieve.
It is important that you can write entertainingly and well. You need to sustain audience interest throughout your feature and ensure that you grab the reader.
Notes in this post are from: Susan Pape and Sue Featherstone, 2006, Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction, London: SAGE. P1 – 9 (Chapter 1)
I do not own the above image, it is from: http://www.ayalamuseum.org/2015/05/22/feature-writing-workshop/