What is a feature?
A feature story is an article in a newspaper, a magazine, or a news website that is not meant to report breaking news, but to take an in-depth look at a subject. Features are often significantly longer than news articles, are more likely to be written from a personal perspective, and unlike news stories do not always deal with the events of the immediate past.
What is feature writing?
Features are generally written in a different manner than a news stories, sometimes taking several paragraphs to arrive at the main story while trying to engage the reader and keep them reading by employing narrative hooks. Feature stories often delve deeper into their subjects, expanding on the details rather than trying to concentrate on a few important key points. The writing style of the articles can be more colorful and employ a more complex narrative structure, sometimes resembling the style of a nonfiction book more than a news report.
Different kinds of features-
A photo feature is one where more emphasis and importance is given to the photos or pictures. For example a feature on an art exhibition held will definitely require for the photographs of the art work to be shown. The main aim of a photo feature is to basically create a visual impact on the minds of the readers. This makes the reader more involved in what the writer is trying to convey.
A news feature is basically to inform the reader about actual facts. This feature is not meant to entertain the reader but to inform and educate him. For example a feature on the after effects of the Tsunami will not be meant to entertain the reader but to keep him informed about the problems caused due to the destruction by the Tsunami.
Elements of features
1. Timeliness: In feature writing, time is of the essence for a good impact. Like news, it helps when features are delivered fresh. No one wants to read features that are mis-timed, nor do we want news that is stale. Readers of newspapers and internet and television viewers respond to mint-fresh features.
2. Nearness or Proximity: It is a known fact the world over that features and news about close proximity topics are preferred to those from remote locations. It is a natural inclination. Events in close proximity rouse more curiosity and interest in the reader.
3. Fame or Prominence: Activities and habits of the rich and the famous have always fascinate people. More people will avidly read a feature if it is related (directly or indirectly) to a reigning celebrity in films, television soaps, industry, sports, politics or science.
4. Conflict and Break-up: Human beings still find delight in other’s quarrels, verbal exchanges and conflicts. Features on angry break-ups and conflict of any sort are widely read.
5. Love and Romance: Love is also a perennial favourite when it comes to writing features. One can rarely fail with a love story.
6. Nostalgia: Special occasions, Jubilees, Centenaries, anniversaries, etc. are nostalgic occasions. It reminds the busy world of its own institutions, their key figures, their long-forgotten achievements and the values they stood for.
7. Human Interest: Ordinary people always wonder how other ordinary folk and celebrities cope with life’s little problems; their personal idiosyncrasies, their rise over hurdles and object poverty. Also, their bravery under pressure, all make for a good read. “Human” includes women, children, pets, and even trees.
8. Impact on People: How people are affected by new technology and gadgets, new budget measures, or new security issues like cyber-crime, terrorism and global warming and other environment issues, can be covered in features
9. Oddity or Novelty: People love to read features on the city’s tallest man, or oldest church, child prodigies in chess, a man who picnics in space and why Indians have now more cell-phones than landline relics. Readers love newer, quicker ways of doing old things and the latest and cutest female and fashions.
10. Calamity or Disaster: The disaster in space in the Columbia shuttle, the silent plight of sea-birds in an oil-spill evokes instant sympathy.
11. Celebrity Lifestyle: It is the common man’s obsession these days to gather more of the ways of the world’s rich and famous live, their problems, food tastes, clothes, idiosyncrasies, clubs, private lives and unusual interests. Profiles in Sunday newspapers/magazines, page 3 write-ups and television chat shows depict their opulence, while centrespread pieces define their views on life.
12. New movements: in the past 50 years, 3 international movements have caught out people’s attention – the Consumer Rights stir; the Feminist agitation and Environmental causes. Educated readers keenly want to know about their progress.
These are the elements which make for a good read and interest a reader. It is imperative to engage your reader and cater to the needs of the reader for the feature to be widely read. Understanding the target consumer of the feature is of foremost importance and these elements help in engaging the reader.