A feature story, unlike a fact-based article or email, contains no core news element to focus the reader’s attention, so you need a different technique to pull the reader in. Try stirring the reader’s curiosity.
If she reads the first paragraph and is asking, Why did that happen? or Could that be true? or And then what happened? you have succeeded in snagging the reader’s attention and enticing her to keep reading. Or to keep listening. A speaker can use the same technique to open a speech.
Look at your notes from researching and interviewing, and carefully select details and precise words to present the reader with information that is interesting, perhaps unusual, something that will stir curiosity. Here are a few ways to engage readers:
- Present an unusual image or a scene that arouses the reader’s curiosity.
- State a fact that is contrary to traditional assumptions.
- Make a direct statement with a surprising twist at the end. The irony will prompt the reader to ask, “Does that make sense?” Here is an example, with the second paragraph included to help your understanding:
The price you pay for your next Ford car or truck might depend on part on whether the bathrooms are clean and the grass is cut at the dealership.
Under a program called Blue Oval Certified, Ford will charge dealers 1.25 percent less for the cars it ships to them when dealers meet tough new customer satisfaction standards for cleanliness, appearance, training, and service.
A question represents an unresolved problem or issue. Two elements seem to be out of balance, and it is human nature for us to want to reconcile the two, to make sense of it all. That is why we stay riveted to the page in mysteries. It’s the what happened next? that keeps us reading.