Chapter 6: Feature Writing
Feature writers use a particular style of writing to convey the story’s message. The use of literary devices helps in this task. These devices include similes and metaphors, onomatopoeia (use of words that mimic a sound), imagery (figurative language), climax, and more. Here are a few examples of onomatopoeia and imagery:
Onomatopoeia: The tires screeched against the concrete as she hit the pedal.
Imagery (example modified from Butte College, 2016): The apartment smelled of old cooking odors, cabbage, and mildew; . . . a haze of dusty sunlight peeked from the one cobwebbed, gritty window.
Click here for more information on literary devices, including specific examples.
A good feature writer uses plot devices and dialogues that help move the story forward, while focusing on the central theme and providing supporting information through descriptive language and specific examples. You want to show readers what’s happening, not simply tell them. They should be able to visualize the characters, places, and events highlighted in the feature piece.
Show versus tell
Tell: Friends describe Amariah as a generous and vibrant person who was involved in several nonprofit organizations.
Show: Tracey proudly recalls her friend’s generosity. “Amariah is usually the first person to arrive at a volunteer event, and the last to leave. She spends four hours every Saturday morning volunteering at the mentoring center. It’s rare to not catch her laughing, flashing her perfect smile. She’s just a burst of positive energy.”
It’s often tempting to end a feature piece with a summary conclusion. Instead, use an anecdote, passage, or compelling quote that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.