MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

Feature story leads

Since I’m still under the weather, I’ve asked you to review my PowerPoint presentation on Feature Story Structure, the pdf version of which you’ll find posted on the Resources page of this blog.

I’ve asked you to pay careful attention to the section on feature story leads, and to find an feature story with an engaging lead to post on your blog. When you post your example, be sure to identify what type of feature lead it is. Also, as I’ve done below, please include the source information — and/or a link to the full story, if it’s online.

As examples, here are a few good feature story leads I’ve run across lately:

A) “Two volunteers trudge uphill through poison oak and past stretches of grassland and gnarly blue oak trees. A dot on the screen of their hand-held GPS unit shows they have hit their target.

“Hunched over at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Matthew Bahls and his partner scour the ground for tiny, six-legged creatures. They see one. Then another, and another: small and brown and moving en masse.”

~ Diaz, Ryder. “Argentine Tango.” San Jose Mercury News 12 March 2013: A1+.

B) “Amid the lush green hills off Tesla Road, near the San Joaquin County line, is a serene area of sycamores and buckeyes with a secret past, and a controversial plan for its future.

“It once was home to the bustling coal-mining town of Tesla, its dusty roads filled with horse carriages. Now California is looking at a proposal to expand the off-road vehicle area next door into portions of the 3,500-acre Tesla parcel, which State Parks officials say can be done while respecting the area’s history.

“The idea has sparked a vigorous debate ….”

Thomas, Jeremy. “Off-road park near Livermore: Expansion opposed by low-impact advocates.” San Jose Mercury News. 11 March 2013: A1+.

C) “As high school prom season approaches, Huong Nguyen found the perfect gown in less than 20 minutes Sunday, saving her precious time and a lot more.”

Rodriguez, Joe. “Operation Prom Dress for San Jose teens draws a big, happy crowd.”San Jose Mercury News. 11 March 2013: B1+.

D) “On a recent Monday, Gary Ginsberg, a senior executive at Time Warner, walked into an unremarkable office building on the corner of 57th Street and Sixth Avenue and took the elevator to the eighth floor, entering a windowless door for a 2 p.m. appointment. A couple of hours later, Kenneth Lerer, a founder of The Huffington Post, followed.

“They were there not for some mysterious media convention….”

Chang, Bee-Shyuan. “The New seats of Power.” The New York Times. 7 March 2013: E1+.

So how would you categorize these leads? Scene-setting? Character? Narrative? Suspense? (Of course, a lead can be a combination of more than one “type.”)

Please offer your opinions as a comment to this blog post.


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