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Structure of the Feature Story


  • It should create an image, send a verbal message and capture the reader's imagination.
  • The tone should fit the mood of the story and supply the theme or angle.
  • It should lead the reader into the story.

What makes a good lead:

  • An anecdote that represents the universal truth.
  • The description of a scene that helps to establish a tone or mood.
  • A description of a subject: face, demeanor, posture.
  • A powerful quote.
  • A startling statement.
  • The strength of any sentence is judged by its degree of improbability. "Fall is here and that means the start of football season" tells the reader nothing.

The following lead is much better: "Fall is here, a fact that head coach Bill Smith may view with some trepidation. Not only does he have to replace 14 seniors from a 2-8 season, he must deal with the recent season-ending injury to returning quarterback Dave Jones."


  • It should be unified with all material relating to the theme. All unnecessary data should be omitted. Care should be taken to make certain that each sentence and paragraph adds to the impact of the narrative.
  • The story is organized in a logical order. This does not necessarily mean chronological order. However, the reader should be able to follow the narrative of the story as action jumps back and forth from the past, the present and even the future.


  • The ending should give a sense of finality and resolution to the reader. It wraps up all loose ends and leaves the reader with a single, significant thought. It stands alone as the reader's final impression.


By Bobby Hawthorne
Former Director, Interscholastic League Press Conference
Please see that Bobby Hawthorne and the ILPC are appropriately credited.