The basic course presents the theory and practice of writing features from scratch. How do features differ from news? How do you write an attention-grabbing first sentence? How do you identify your story line, and how do you sustain it through your piece? The course equips trainees with the language to discuss feature writing, in particular the key elements of story and structure. It shows how to write an outline, how to use characters to tell stories, and how to obtain and use the best quotes. It encourages writers to try out different approaches to feature writing, and to develop and express their areas of expertise. Where appropriate, the course will include a critique of their current work and suggest ways of building on what they have achieved so far.
The advanced course reinforces the lessons of the basic course and moves on to more complex and ambitious structures. It looks at different forms of narrative, implicit and explicit structures, effective set-ups, and the importance of sign-posting an argument. It discusses significance and impact, hooks and pegs, and how to conceive and write the crucial nut graf. It shows how to obtain the most effective quotes and how to use the language of affect. It also looks at the briefing process, how to write outlines, how to deal with deadlines, the use of boxes, the visual element and how to keep your editor happy.
This course is often most effective when combined with a follow-up day, conducted either as a group or as one-on-one sessions, which considers features delegates have written since the course. As well as providing delegates with encouragement, this helps to reinforce the key principles imparted on the original course.