Ever felt the impulse to write a feature article — or been required to as part of a job— but not known where to start?
The process is simple in theory:
Step 1: Come up with an idea, or several ideas mixed together
Step 2: Develop a topic proposal or story pitch
Step 3: Work out a practical plan of action. This should include where to go, who to speak to, and your research and preparation for the actual writing stage
Step 4: Draft and redraft your article until its ready to send off
In this short video, Andre Wiesner, Head Tutor of the UCT Feature Journalism online short course, takes you through this process in more detail: from the inception of initial ideas and the preparation required before writing, to sending your finished piece off to an editor.
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Register for the UCT Feature Journalism online short course today.
The process you follow in writing a feature article will differ from one situation to the next, but in general it’s follows a logical production sequence. Your feature article begins with an idea, or several of them mixed in together: something you saw on the news, something you overheard, whatever. Those initial ideas could be small and vague or big and clear. If you think there’s saleable story in them, you find out some more information and develop a topic proposal, or story pitch, to give to an editor. Or, sometimes, the editor comes to you with the idea. The next step is work out a practical plan of action. Speaking personally, the big questions in my own mind at this stage are, Who to speak to, and Where to go? In feature Journalism, you have to interview any number of people, from one to a dozen or more, and you also have to get out to where the action of your story to be able to see things first-hand as far as possible. At some point you begin to prepare for the actual writing: transcribing recorded interviews, digesting field notes and other research, plotting out the article roughly as it will play on the page. Then the real work begins: drafting and redrafting the work until it’s right and ready for you to hit the send button on your email. The story’s off the editor for more work and revision, and after a while, hey, what do you know? The story’s been published. That, my friends, is when you craft the most important thing any writer can produce: your invoice for goods delivered.