The greater percentage of publication in this technological age is via electronics and formatted digitally.
With the exception of certain newspapers that depend entirely on syndicates for their special features, and of a few popular magazines that have the staff system or that desire only the work of well-known writers, every publication welcomes special articles and short stories by novices.
Editors for digitized publications take pride the discovery of new writers whose work becomes an Internet success.
Online magazines, news, ezines, blogs and the like look for amateur writes who will undertake special articles, compared with the hundreds of thousands who want to publish short stories.
The opportunities for special feature writers all the greater. The number of professional writers of special articles is comparatively small.
It is not too much to say, therefore, that any writer who is willing (1) to study the interests and the needs of newspaper and magazine readers; (2) To gather carefully the material for his articles, and (3) to present it accurately and attractively, may be sure that his work will receive the fullest consideration and will be accepted whenever it is found to merit digital or even physical publication.
Women as Feature Article and or Blog Writers.
Woman’s quicker sympathies and emotional response to many phases of life give her a distinct advantage. Her insight into the lives of others, and her intuitive understanding of them, especially fit her to write good “human interest” articles.
Both the delicacy of touch and personal tone that characterize the work of many women, are well suited to numerous topics on the Internet.
There is high demand for stories in fields, such as cooking, sewing, teaching, the care of children, and household, health care management, weight watching, woman’s greater knowledge and understanding of parenting along with topics that are vital to other women and often of interest to men.
There is no time that is a better opportunity than at present for writing for publications on the Internet as well as off line.
PREPARATION FOR SPECIAL FEATURE WRITING
Qualifications for Feature Writing.
To attain success as a writer of special feature articles a person must possess at least four qualifications:
(1) ability to find subjects that will interest the average man, woman and child and to see the picturesque, romantic, and significant phases of these subjects;
(2) a sympathetic understanding of the lives and interests of the persons about whom and for whom he writes;
(3) a thoroughness and accuracy in gathering material;
(4) a skill to portray and to explain clearly, accurately, and attractively.
The sense of news values commonly called a “nose for news,” whether innate or acquired, is a prime requisite. Like the newspaper reporter, the writer of special articles must be able to recognize what at a given moment will interest the average reader. Like the reporter, also, he or she must know how much it will interest the readers.
An alert, responsive attitude of mind toward everything that is going on in the world, and especially in that part of the world immediately around him, will reveal a host of subjects. By reading newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as by interaction with persons of various classes, a writer keeps in contact with what people are thinking and talking about, in the world at large and in his or her own community. In this way he or she finds subjects and also learns how to connect those subjects with events and movements of interest the country over.
Not only should he or she be quick to recognize a good subject; but must be able to see the attractive and significant aspects of it. Additionally, he or she must realize and understand which of its phases touch most closely the life and the interests of the average person for whom he or she is writing. A writer must look at things from “the other fellow’s” point of view. A sympathetic insight into the lives of readers is necessary for every writer who hopes to quicken his subject with vital interest.
The alert mental attitude that constantly focuses the writer’s attention on the men and women around him has been called “human curiosity,” which the famous writer, Arnold Bennett says;
“counts among the highest social virtues (as indifference counts among the basest defects), because it leads to the disclosure of the causes of character and temperament and thereby to a better understanding of the springs of human conduct.”
The importance of curiosity and of a keen sense of wonder has been emphasized as follows by Mr. John M. Siddall, then editor of the American Magazine, who directed his advice to college students interested in the opportunities afforded by writing as a profession:
A journalist or writer must have consuming curiosity about other human beings—the most intense interest in their doings and motives and thoughts. It comes pretty near being the truth to say that a great journalist is a super-gossip—not about trivial things but about important things. Unless a person has a ceaseless desire to learn what is going on in the heads of others, they won’t be much of a journalist—for how can you write about others unless you know about others?
In journalism men and women are needed who have a natural sense of wonder…. You must wonder at a person’s achievements, at their stupidity, at his or hers honesty, crookedness, courage, cowardice and everything that is remarkable about a person. If you haven’t this sense of wonder, you will never write a novel or become a great reporter, because you simply won’t see anything to write about. People will be doing amazing things under your very eyes and you won’t even know it.
Ability to investigate a subject thoroughly, and to gather material accurately, is absolutely necessary for any writer who aims to do acceptable work. Careless, inaccurate writers are the frustration of any editor’s life. Whenever mistakes appear in an article, readers are sure to write to the editor calling his attention to them. Moreover, the discovery of incorrect statements impairs the confidence of readers in the magazine. If there is reason to doubt the correctness of any data in an article, the editor takes pains to check over the facts carefully before publication. An editor is not inclined to accept work a second time from a writer who has once proved unreliable.
To interpret correctly the essential significance of data is as important as to record them accurately. Readers want to know the meaning of facts and figures, and it is the writer’s mission to bring out this meaning. A sympathetic understanding of the persons who figure in the article is essential, not only to portray them accurately, but to give a story the necessary “human interest.” To observe accurately, to feel keenly, and to interpret sympathetically and correctly undertake to write about, should be a writer’s constant aim.
Ability to write well enough to make the average person see as clearly, feel as keenly, and understand as well as the writer does the persons and things that is portrayed and explained is obviously the outcome of success. If a writers’ work is to have distinction, ease, fluency, and originality of diction, either natural or acquired, must be apparent.
Training for Feature Writing. There always in an ideal preparation for a writer of journalism and or specialist writer of articles, reports, information, how to’s and other featured writings. This could include a four-year college course, at least a year’s work as a newspaper reporter, and practical experience in some other occupation or profession in which the writer intends to specialize in the writings. However, not all persons who desire to do special feature work will be able to prepare themselves in this way. It is possible most of them will be not able to obtain any part of this type preliminary training in writing.