Writing a Feature Story Show me…don’t just tell me (Ideas from Bobby Hawthorne) The lead When you start your story, you should transport your reader to that place and time The strength lies in the ability to bring details in Appeal to a sense…or two…or more Detail Example: For a story on a man who suffered near-fatal brain damage, the reporter wrote that the brain “resembles nothing more than a large, soft, very wrinkled walnut. It weighs almost three pounds. Of that, about 2 1/4 pounds is water and the rest tissue. The combination explains why the brain is often described as looking like Jell-O, but the better comparison would be mayonnaise. Push your finger into this gray blob of protoplasm, and it will adhere.” Analysis of the detail It appeals to two of the five senses It does go on, but in light of the story topic, that makes sense Help your readers understand the topic through detail Appeal to the Senses Good description will appeal to the senses and to emotions Doing so will generate empathy between the reader and the subject Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell Choose wisely Description can make a point Description can also overwhelm, so make sure you choose the details that are necessary How does this help: “Sitting in a room filled with broken radiators and jumbled desks, valedictorian hopeful Joanna Brown looks across the brim of her wire-rim glasses and expresses her feelings about life, how she divides her time between social and academic activities and how she still maintains the highest GPA in a class of 271.” Purpose? What do those details add? What was really necessary? Identify the angle of the story Identify the details that enhance the angle Consider this: The story deals with romantic obsession. Here is the beginning: “She thought he was going to kill her. He had been angry before, even punched his hand through a window once, but he had never threatened her, never scared her like this. Continued… Now he was out of control. He pushed her into a corner and then shoved her back down when she tried to escape. “All I could think was ‘I have to get out of here.’ I just started crying.” That was a month ago. Today, Julie has ended her relationship with Jim, but he didn’t give up without a fight. Continued “He’d circle my house, leave me little note, stare at me in class,” Julie said. “He kind of lost it.” Other high school students have similar stories. Obsessive love is all too real for many teenagers… The difference The detail carries the story along The single focus helps give readers an entry point After the specific example, the writer is able to bring in other people, stats, facts How would you have started? A definition of obsession? Generalization: “Many students have been…”? Putting in too many dark details? Strip your stories down Create a single theme Write a single sentence about your story when you start Rebuild those subjects then with that one sentence in mind Find a local angle/connection Example: At two each afternoon, while most of the students at Reagan High School are bent over their books, struggling against afternoon torpor, trying to hang in there for two more hours, senior Ricky Moreno is headed out to the parking lot. He has an hour to dash home, change clothes, grab a bite, then drive to Tom Thumb where he will handle customers’ questions… Let’s try it out Find an angle for the following subjects: Student Council has had a busy year She was a popular and excellent teacher NHS participated in many charitable events Computers made a big difference in school this year Students are obsessed with two shows: Glee and Jersey Shore Students make a commitment to volunteer more hours this year Now let’s talk writing Write the way you think Go to the Thesaurus when you get stuck and know there is a better word out there Write to communicate Tell a story Don’t leave out necessary elements Your assignment You will be writing for the next 20 minutes (no stopping) on one of the topics provided. You need to have a specific angle You need to write it like a journalism article Do not edit as you go…simply focus on telling the story Your options: 1. Jeff Balducci, senior, ran more than 500 miles this summer. 2. Lila Michaels, junior, saved a 6-year-old boy from drowning this summer at the Aurora reservoir. 3. Students camped out in line to buy tickets for a Taylor Swift concert for three days this summer. 4. Four students from your school (and two from a rival school) made it to the final rounds of “You’ve Got Talent” for their unusual boy/girl band—a combination of dancing and singing.