Give This a Try
By Annette Rey
Though I prefer writing fiction, I am open to any education about writing. Currently, I am reading Feature Writing by William E. Blundell. It does not hurt to add to your writing repertoire and if you can break into feature writing, you can collect some decent pay for your work.
I have an interesting exercise for you gleaned from the pages of this book which reveals an interesting fact you may not have heard before.
Feature writing is about subject matter derived from interviews, research, and observations. I would like to challenge you to venture into this field, just one time. Your piece does not have to be perfect. Just widen your skills and give this a try.
What do you find interesting you’d like to report? Without going far afield, you could interview a family member about a historical connection to World War II, to a social/cultural event, to a relative who passed down recipes that you eat today. You then could do your own research on that facet of WWII, of that cultural event, of origins of those recipes. You then would add your personal observations of those relatives, of the effects of that cultural event, on the flavor of the recipes and the family events planned around those food items.
After you have collected those three things on your subject of interest – interviews, research, and observations – isolate your story line – what is the point you want to get across to your audience?
- Start your piece stating that idea and give reasons why your reader should care about it.
- Next, put in the details you discovered from the three things above.
- Then write the ending.
Now here is the twist…
- remove the ending.
When you reread your story, the substance should be the same without the ending. This exercise will cue you in if you are wasting facts at the end and withholding facts from your reader until the end. Do not do that to your reader. Instead, use those facts in the body of your story to support the idea you found interesting enough to report upon.
The interesting fact I referred to at the beginning of this post that I thought you may not have known before is, an editor will often cut the ending of a piece – and the story has to hang together without it.
Exercise your brain. Dive into this process and see what you come up with. Whether you want to write nonfiction or not, this practice should widen your perspective. Writing real is a different animal than making up Sleuth Smitty and Fatal Faye.
Whether you ever write real again, give this a sincere effort just this once. Whether you always report real, try this process that includes interviewing, researching, and observing. Write your story with supporting facts. Write your ending. Remove your ending.
Experiment. Every writing technique you try will add to your learning experience and should make you a wiser writer.