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The Art of Telling Stories

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1 The Art of Telling Stories
Feature Writing The Art of Telling Stories

2 Stage 1 (pre-writing) is complete!
We used our story journal and selected a topic or wrote down a new one that will be the subject of our first feature article. We have a topic spider with main subject in the middle and leg ideas (subtopics). On to Stage 2 (drafting). Here, we’ll look at what a feature story is and how to craft it.

3 So What is a Feature? Features are told in a less hurried and generally more creative way than straight 5W and H news. You don’t use the inverted pyramid and don’t have to start with the most important details. You choose a unique subject, or unique angle to hook in the reader.

4 Is Your Topic Unique? Does your subject qualify for a feature article?
Does it fall into one of the following categories? If not, you should revise it now.

5 Feature Structure Lead Billboard Transition/Quote Body Conclusion

6 The Feature Lead This is your opening paragraph or two. It’s important to set the table and hook in your readers with creative, descriptive writing. Try some of the following creative options …

7 Creative Feature Lead Options
Focus on a single person for your lead. Tell the story through one person’s eyes. Focus on an incident or anecdote. Describe a specific moment or scene. Show, don’t tell. Try a startling statement or dialogue or other devices. Describe a setting as a way of establishing the theme of a piece

8 More Great Feature Leads
Quotation: begins with an unusually revealing quote. “If you never try, you never succeed.” With Mrs. Nelson’s words of encouragement, nervous students began tryouts for the school play, Our Town. One Word: captures the reader in a single word. Fire! Chemistry lab partners Jill Nelson and Todd Anderson took the “heat” when their test tube exploded. Contrast: describes two extremes or opposites. Night and day. Speech Club members worked ‘round the clock to finish their Homecoming float. Astonisher: begins with an exclamation that catches the reader off guard. Nothing is worse than a bad hair day! Especially when it’s time to take your yearbook picture. Punch: features actions or makes a dramatic statement. “C’est magnifique!”When the French Club dined at Chez Paul, members feasted on baguettes and brie!

9 More Great Feature Leads
Summary: summarizes the most important of the five W’s and H. While senior cheerleaders watched from the gym bleachers, sophomore “wanna-bes” tried out for the squad during the first week of school. Question: leads the readers into the story. Be cautious with this one. It’s the most abused feature lead, too often leaving readers with a feeling of “who cares?” Why do fools fall in love? Sequential: presents the events in the order in which they happened. Painting the town red (and black), basketball fans create pep signs before the State Championship send-off rally. Sights & Sounds: creates a scenario bringing the event to life. Steam fogged the windows as the marching band’s bus sped through the pouring rain carrying them to the Memorial Day parade.

10 Feature Lead … Let’s Write It!
Gather your thoughts and write 3 different types of leads for your feature article. If you can’t write them now, write down the 3 different types you plan to write, then write them later after interviews or research. Select the strongest, hookiest one! Single Person Incident or Anecdote Startling statement Describe a setting Quotation One Word Contrast Punch Summary Question Sequential Sights & Sounds

11 Now, Let’s Critique Some Feature Leads
With your partner, read each of the student-written leads on the handout and determine which you think are the strongest and which need more work. Be prepared to give reasons for your choices. Also, be prepared to suggest how to improve the leads that you consider weak.

12 Back to the Feature Structure
Lead Billboard Transition/Quote Body Conclusion

13 After the lead, write the billboard paragraph.
The billboard is a summary of what the story is about. It’s the 5 Ws and H that you didn’t answer in the lead.

14 Sample Lead Billboard Transition/Quote Body
He heard the shot and then felt the pain, but only for a moment. Within seconds, junior Jeb Smith blacked out and went into shock. “I don’t remember much of the shooting,” he said. “I remember it felt like someone punched their fist right through my face, but then I went black.” Last summer, Jeb’s five-year-old brother accidentally shot him in the face with his father’s loaded 57-magnum. Jeb lost his right eye and part of his right ear in the accident but suffered no permanent brain damage. “I was extremely lucky,” Jeb said. “The doctor said the bullet missed my brain by an inch. I still have a long way to go with my reconstructive surgery, but I am just glad I am alive.” Lead Billboard Transition/Quote Body

15 Transition/Quote Body
After the Billboard is the Body of the Story Keep related material together and weave your subtopic (legs) from your topic spider into the story. Divide the subtopics into sections (paragraphs). Each paragraph tells a different part of the story. Between each new section, there must be a transition sentence that segues from one subtopic to the next. Your transition sets up all the information in the next paragraph and ties it in with what’s already been written.

16 Transition/Quote Formula
Lead Billboard Transition/Quote Body

17 Transition/Quote Formula
If you have quotes (sources), try something called the transition/quote formula … T: Jeb still needs four more surgeries, but none of them will help him regain his sight. Q: “I am glad that they are going to make me look more like my old self,” Jeb said. “But I am upset about my eye. I wanted to be a pilot and now that dream is shattered.” T: Jeb’s said his little brother, Shane, found the gun in his father dresser bureau on that summer day. Q: “I think he was just curious,” Jeb said. “I didn’t think the gun was loaded so I just told him to put it away. And then, bam, my life changed forever.”

18 The Conclusion Once you have used all your information and included all your subtopics in the body, it’s time for the conclusion. The conclusion brings a sense of finality and resolution. Wrap up loose ends and leave reader with a single, significant thought. End stories in memorable ways. Often it’s a good to use a powerful quote. This is called a clincher. Or, tie the ending back to the lead (call-back to earlier in the story). You could also make a statement that looks to the future.

19 Now, Let’s Critique A Feature Article
Read the article “It’s a Fork, It’s a Spoon …” that is on the website with your partner Discuss and critique it, then complete the Response Sheet In the future, you will use this Response Sheet when reviewing articles to tell the writer what to revise for the next draft. Reviewers do not have to agree on all comments, but all opinions should be included for the writer to consider later.

20 Types of Features Human Interest Feature Involves persons rather than things. It’s a story that will make the reader think AND feel. Personality Profile Feature Develops a total picture of the person. Gets facts from the person himself. Talks to other people about the subject. Attempts to reveal personality through anecdotes. Looks at mannerisms, actions, dress, experiences.

21 Types of Features Interview Feature Usually done with prominent persons. Can be either an informational or a personal profile feature. Informational interviews deal with an authority whose opinions on certain subjects, facts about things or comparison are of significant value. Personality interviews are interesting because of the individual rather than the subject matter.

22 Types of Features Informational Feature Of historical, social, practical interest. Basic purpose is not to entertain but to inform. History of a subject. How-to features, such as "how to buy a good phone.” Trend Feature Report on current popular trends.

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