WRIT 1122–Unit 3 Feature Article
(Length: At least 1,500 words or more—Magazine features are often above 2,000 words.): Feature articles are human interest stories focusing, for example, on particular people, situations, or events. Your assignment is to write a feature article on a topic of your choice. This feature should incorporate interviews as a central research method and may also incorporate information from texts and observation. Direct your writing towards a particular audience and publication venue. Although a Works Cited list is not expected for feature articles, please include an MLA Works Cited list at the end of your piece, citing your interviews as well as optional secondary sources, so I can evaluate the research on which your article is based. You can consult the following MLA style guide for formatting: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ Do not include in-text citations in the article itself, since these would not be expected for a journalistic piece.
Query to the Editor of your Intended Publication: (Length: Around 4 paragraphs—See example in link below) Please accompany your feature article with a query letter directed towards the imagined editor of your intended publication venue. Most magazines choose their feature articles from many submissions. To get published, you are typically expected to write a query summarizing your article’s central idea and explaining what makes your piece different from others on the same or a similar subject. You can consult the following example with advice on how to write a query letter for an interview-based feature article: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/sample-magazine-query-or-pitch-letter-1360426
Please paste your query to the editor, feature article, and Works Cited list into a single Microsoft Word compatible document and submit electronically under Canvas Assignments by Sun. 2/20.
Note on format: I would generally like your formal writing to be typed and double-spaced, in 12- point font. For the feature, you may optionally format the piece to look like an actual article for your intended publication. You may also add images or multimedia elements such as video or audio clips.
Here is some general background about writing feature articles:
Evaluation Criteria: (The feature article is worth a total of 200 points.)
1. (60 points) Innovative and compelling approach to the subject: Is there a significant central story? Do you make it clear to readers why the subject matters? Do you approach your subject from a creative new angle that might potentially make editors interested in publishing your piece? If used, do visual or multimedia elements contribute to your piece?
1. (60 points) Research: Is your article based on effective research? Have you incorporated effective data from one or more substantial interviews, including both direct quotes and summary with contextualization? If relevant, have you studied and incorporated reliable secondary sources or fieldwork observations about this subject? Are your sources acknowledged through a Works Cited list included at the end of your feature article?
1. (60 points) Style, Structure, and Mechanics: Do you use an effective style and structure that match the expectations for the feature article genre and keep readers engaged? For example, does the feature have a strong lead, make good use of description, effectively incorporate quotes from interviews or information from sources, and end with an effective conclusion? Is the organization and development of the article effective? Is your feature mechanically correct?
1. (20 points) Query: Does your accompanying query letter effectively pitch your article to the editor of a specific magazine or newspaper? For example, do you include a hook for editors, a description of the scope of your article, an explanation of your research methods/sources, and a bit of background about yourself and/or your qualifications for writing about this subject?
Daily Schedule for Unit 3:
Read the following three examples of interview-based articles.
The first two are feature articles published in major magazines or newspapers. Marcum’s article won the Pulitzer Prize, the highest prize in the U.S. for journalists. The third article is a student paper published in the DU Writing Program’s magazine WRIT Large where I recommend you submit some of your own work for consideration in next year’s issue:
(2) Dianna Marcum’s “Dreams Die in Drought”
(3) Sava, Maggie. “The Places In Between.” Writ Large. https://writlargedu.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/the-places-in-between-sava/
I. (8 points/4 per article) Choose two of the above articles, and for each of these write a paragraph responding to the following: What do you see as the primary purpose of this article? What was your personal response to the article? What larger target audience do you think would find this article interesting? How does the author make the person/people who are the subject of the article come alive for readers? You might consider, for example, how the author includes quotes from the interviews, dialogue, description, historical or other context, and/or images. [Give a few specific examples.]
Write a query letter directed towards the editor of a specific magazine or newspaper in which you pitch an idea for your feature article.
(Note: You are not necessarily tied to this subject. You can still change topics if you think of a better one or if you are not able to schedule the needed interview/s.)
Read the following sample query letter with advice on how to structure a query letter for a feature based on interview research: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/sample-magazine-query-or-pitch-letter-1360426
Following the heading directed towards a particular magazine or newspaper, the author suggests a four paragraph structure with the following information in each:
1) Hook: Start with a hook paragraph intended to get editors interested in your subject (in this case the person who is to be interviewed)
2) Scope: Describe the intended scope of your article, including the length and focus.
3) Sources/Research Methods: Explain the research methods you will use, such as conducting an interview and/or any secondary sources you plan to consult.
4) About You: Describe your own background and, if relevant, your qualifications for writing about this particular subject.
What feedback about your project can I provide at this point? Write at least one question.
(10 points) Interview Data: Post your interview questions as well as your audio, video, and/or interview transcripts. (If the interviews are long, partial transcripts are fine, but it will be important, when writing your articles, to have some of the interviewee’s exact words available.)
(10 points. 5 points for each lead). Write two sample leads to your feature article. Each lead will be around 4 or 5 paragraphs long; these can be longer paragraphs or can be short paragraphs of one or two sentences each. In the first lead, use first person (I/me) to develop your own perspective or reactions as a journalist and as somebody who is there interacting with the interviewee. (Use Finkel’s “Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See” as an example). In the second lead, write about the interviewee(s) in third person, leaving yourself out of the narrative (Use Marcum’s “Dreams Die in Drought” as an example):
How to Write a Lead for a Feature Article: Feature articles give a lot of creative freedom for how to write, but they do tend to share some common characteristics. For example, the typical lead to a feature article starts with a hook for readers and develops an initial story or anecdote in the first few paragraphs. Around the fourth or fifth paragraph, there will be a nut graph paragraph which explains the article’s main subject and/or theme. For examples, look back at the first five paragraphs of Finkel’s “The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See.” https://www.mensjournal.com/features/the-blind-man-who-taught-himself-to-see-20120504/ The introductory section starts with the anecdote where Kish tells the journalist that he is parked too close to the curb, which amazes him since Kish is blind. Then in the fifth paragraph (the nut graph), the article’s main subject/theme is established. This is an article about a blind man who taught himself how to use echolocation to find out about his surroundings and about the significance of this discovery. For another example, refer to Marcum’s “Dreams Die in Drought.” https://www.pulitzer.org/files/2015/feature-writing/marcum/01marcum2015.pdf For the first four paragraphs, Marcum develops the story of Francisco’s and Rafael’s work in the fields. Then in the fifth paragraph (the nut graph), we find out that this will be an article about the hardships brought about by the drought.
Post full length rough drafts of your feature article with query letter on the Canvas discussion board for your assigned group.
Fri. 2/18: Post reviews for the peers in your group following the instructions posted on the Canvas discussion board.