Writing an engaging feature: a how-to guide

People in room with typography on floors and walls

A featured article goes where hard news stories can’t, thanks to fewer limitations on space and time.

Features focus on a number of important things, such as examining a topic that has been left unexplored, shedding new light on a controversial subject, or profiling a person of note in great detail. As a snapshot of the human condition, they all share a human-interest angle.

Here are the important steps to follow when tackling these challenging but often highly creative pieces of writing:

Pick a compelling topic

Do your research. Talk to those outside of your immediate circle of friends and colleagues, read the news voraciously, and scour the Internet. Take note of the hot-button issues and why they’re happening, and look at angles that haven’t been confronted.

Carry out interviews

Keep your own opinions out of the article and talk to the experts on the issue. Interviews will reveal important information and insightful commentary that may not have been previously reported on. These sound bites may also provide the hook you’re searching for.

Consider tone of voice

There are as many types of features as there are topics to be covered, so you’ll need to consider a language that is appropriate to your readers. If it’s a profile of a comedian, there may be room for a jovial tone, but an analysis of an act of terrorism may require more sombre language.

Structure it accordingly

Choose a concise but eye-catching headline that highlights the central idea of the article and then open with a gripping hook. In the second paragraph, expand on your lead to introduce ideas and intrigue. Keep the details of who, what, why, and how for the main body of text and include all the relevant statistics and quotes here. Finish up with an impactful conclusion that draws together the evidence into a thought-provoking finale.

Don’t spoon-feed your audience

It’s important to show and not tell when it comes to writing features. By their very nature, featured articles offer a deeper consideration on a particular subject—so the writer can assume a certain level of knowledge in their readers.

At ALHAUS, our team of writers have years of experience in editorial and can help your organisation develop content that works for you. Contact us today to find out more.

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