When I recommended last month that practicing and aspiring citizen journalists should write feature stories, I failed to include some tips that might help them out.
Below are a few thoughts to overcome “writer’s block” or fear of writing a feature story.
1) A feature is a soft news story that is rarely written in the traditional inverted pyramid style of a hard news story. A softer approach is most successful when writing a feature.
2) Features aren’t meant to deliver the news. They are often written to expand on a news story and should contain basic elements of the news story. But their main purpose is to add the human element, to add color and feeling.
3) Several different approaches can be used to write a feature. The story could be a personality profile, a human interest piece or a more in-depth look at an issue.
4) The story should be sprinkled with quotes, especially early in the article, to establish a good reader/source relationship. Quotes are always a great addition to a feature story and can be a wonderful way to end an article.
5) Don’t forget the photos. Like they say, a photo is worth 1,000 words. Make sure to get complete information about the people in any photo, where they are and what they are doing, so a complete cutline can be written.
Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://www.nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).