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    Home Columns

    Featuring the Feature Story - Part 3

    A new writer often finds himself in a dilemma: "How should I start my feature article?" Sure, he has a clear idea of what he wants to write about. He has decided that he will write an entertaining feature for married couples. He wants to write it in a very light tone so that it will be easy to read, will entertain the readers at the same time that it will impart knowledge. But how shall he start?

    There are different ways to start a feature article. The lead (the first sentence or paragraph; also called "introduction") is an important part to consider. Aside from a catchy title, the lead will either hook the readers to continue reading the article or turn the page to another piece.

    Here are some types of leads you can try:

    Question Lead

    A question (it can be a series of questions) that is related to the main topic of the article is used to arouse the readersí interest in the piece.

    Example:
    What really happened to the Titanic? What untold stories remain buried with the Titanic?
    (Lead for a feature article on the Titanic)


    Direct Address Lead

    A question or a sentence is addressed to the reader as if the writer were directly talking to him to encourage him to read and react to the whole article.

    Example:
    Are you losing sleep over uncollected debts? Itís time you collect!
    (Lead for a piece about collecting payments)


    News Summary Lead

    The article begins with a brief recount of a news item.

    Example:
    For six agonizing minutes on July 16 1991, a horrifying 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the mountain city of Baguio, Philippines.
    (Lead for a personal account of a survivor of that earthquake)


    Incident Lead

    This lead cites an incident to introduce the topic of the article. The incident may be real or fictitious, unlike the news summary lead which should be factual.

    Example:
    Susan watched in horror as her four-year old son dashed to the street after his rubber ball. In an instant, everything was over! Her son lay in a pool of blood!
    (Lead for a piece on child safety tips)


    Sentence Lead

    A sentence or series of sentences introduces the topic of the article.

    Example:
    If garlic is "Natureís Antibiotic," then onion is "The Third Ingredient."
    (Lead for a feature on the medicinal uses of onion and garlic)


    Historical or Literary Allusion Lead

    An allusion is made to a historical event or literary phrase to arouse curiosity on the content of the piece.

    Example:
    If a face can launch a thousand ships, then a loving wife can make a thousand ships sail for home.
    (Lead for an article on keeping a husband satisfied)


    Question Lead

    A quotation is used to introduce the topic or arouse the interest of the reader. The person quoted may or may not be a celebrity, although a celebrityís words have of course, more weight.

    Example:
    "Why me?"
    (A simple street vendor asks the writer when he is informed that he will be interviewed for a human interest feature. His question was used by the writer to start his piece.)

    Descriptive Lead

    This type of lead uses vivid description to hook the reader to finish the article. This type is best used for travelogues and personality sketches.

    Example:
    The chapel is like no other. Paintings of angels come alive from the majestic ceiling. The stained windows look like rainbows against the morning sunlight. To the left are statues of saints. They seem so real, you can almost feel them breathing.


    Punch Lead

    A short sentence that is set apart as a paragraph. It is dramatic way to introduce the topic of the article.

    Example:
    Let God and let go!
    (Lead for a piece about faith)


    Staccato Lead

    This type uses a series of phrases or sentences that produce a rhythm. It is another dramatic way of introducing the topic of the feature article.

    Example:
    Call it infatuation. Obsession. Illusion. Call it a dream, a nightmare, but call it love!
    (Lead for an article about teenage love)


    There are many more ways to begin a feature article. And then again, two or more types of leads may be combined to produce an irresistible introduction to a masterpiece. Just remember to match the tone of the article and to suit the taste of the target readers and that imposing character called "Editor," who gives the first thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign to a piece!

    Copyright © 2004 Lizzie R. Santos

    Lizzie Santos writes features, literary pieces, scripts and other writing projects both in English and Pilipino. She also lectures at creative writing workshops. Her first book, The Laughter of the Leaves and Other Musings, was published by Giraffe Books. She is working on her second book. Contact her at liz_pages@yahoo.com.

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