Five Great Feature Ideas for Writers

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It doesn't matter whether you're a full-time reporter, a part-time blogger, or a freelancer, all writers need a steady source of feature ideas.

Tips for Writers

Sometimes, a great story will land in your lap, but as a seasoned journalist will tell you, relying on chance is no way to build a portfolio of impressive writing. It takes diligence and hard work, writers say.

  • Take notes. Always. You may discover a great subject for a story on your way to the grocery store or meet by chance at a social event. Inspiration can strike at any time. Keep a small notebook or use a note-taking app on your smartphone to jot down ideas as they strike you.
  • Listen. When you do interview someone, remember to let them do most of the talking. Ask questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no, such as, "Tell me how that made you feel?"
  • Keep an open mind. It's easy to make snap judgments and assumptions, but a good writer must keep his or her prejudices at bay. Your job is to be objective and learn as much about your subject as possible.
  • Pay attention. How do your sources behave? What does the location look like? What events are occurring? Information like this, as well as direct quotes from a source, will give your reader a fuller appreciation of your writing and subject matter.
  • Accuracy matters. Check all of your data to make sure they're accurate, triple-check facts, and make sure you've proofread for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Remember, it takes a long time to develop a reputation for fairness and accuracy, but just a single mistake to tarnish it.

    Ideas and Topics

    Features convey information and facts just like a breaking news story. But a feature is usually much longer and more nuanced than a hard news story, which usually just contains the most relevant or recent factual information. Features allow room for analysis and interpretation, narrative progression, and other elements of rhetorical or creative writing.

    These five topics are a good place to start if you're looking for feature ideas. Some topics may require days or even weeks of research before you can write a story, while other subjects can be covered in just a few hours. 

    • Profile: Interview a prominent or interesting person in your community and write a profile of them. Possible profile subjects could include the mayor, a judge, a musician or writer, a military veteran, a professor or teacher, or a small business owner.
    • Live-in: Arrange to spend some time at a local homeless shelter, hospital emergency room, nursing home, police precinct or courthouse. Describe the rhythms of the place and the people who work there.
    • News: Talk to community leaders about local issues and trends. Crime, education, taxes, and development are perennial topics of interest to readers, but sports, arts, and cultural events are also news-worthy. Potential sources include city council members, community and grassroots organizations, and local institutions.
    • On-the-spot: Cover an event in your community and write a story on deadline about it. Ideas could include the opening of an art exhibit, a talk by a visiting lecturer or expert, a charity event like a fundraising run, a parade, and so on.
    • Review: Attend the production of a local concert, play or other cultural event and write a review. Or interview the musicians or actors involved and write a story about them.

    Sources

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    Your Citation
    Rogers, Tony. "Five Great Feature Ideas for Writers." ThoughtCo, Apr. 17, 2018, thoughtco.com/feature-stories-you-can-do-in-your-hometown-2073576. Rogers, Tony. (2018, April 17). Five Great Feature Ideas for Writers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/feature-stories-you-can-do-in-your-hometown-2073576 Rogers, Tony. "Five Great Feature Ideas for Writers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/feature-stories-you-can-do-in-your-hometown-2073576 (accessed May 21, 2018).