Veterans Day, November 1962, itself
the new veteran maintaining the
armistice in a new kind of war.
Not a shot had been fired. The
war in Cuba was still cold.
A choice quote from an interview often makes a
good ending for a feature story. The following example
is how a Navy journalist concluded a story about a group
of circuit-riding Navy dentists and technicians
conducting a people-to-people dental program in Africa:
"Were glad to get out with the
African people, said Nicholl (a chief
dental technician). The fact that
theres an element of danger in it is
overshadowed by the thanks of the
people were helping. Weve never left
a village or hamlet without a barrage of
cheering and clapping from our
The story on the new piece of machinery ended with
the following paragraphs:
Sure, they had hated it to begin
with, that monstrous machine, but now
it was their monstrous machine.
Constant association and the care they
had lavished on it had made it their
baby. The ugly monster had become an
object of beauty to them, a delicate
thing to be protected.
A passing journalist, new on board,
stopped to drink in its loveliness. He
looked as though he might be going to
touch her. Keep your cotton-pickin
hands off the baby, Quinlon snarled,
and the other two baby-tenders curled
their lips at the JO until he scuttled
The personality feature is similar to other features
in that it appeals to peoples interest in other people. It
normally points out special achievement, success or
obstacles surmounted in life and centers on a particular
event or achievement.
Personality features differ from other features in
that they are almost always about a single individual.
This type of feature gives interesting information about
the persons life, rather than just the persons opinions.
The properly written personality feature is a vivid word
picture of the subjects personality traits and physical
features as well as a description of the things that make
the person unusual or interesting. The effective
personality feature leaves readers feeling they have met
the subject face to face and know that individual
Since the personality feature story delves so deeply
into the subjects traits and physical features,
considerable research is required. Most of the required
information must be gathered through interviews.
Conduct interviews with the subject and persons who
intimately know the subject or have something to
contribute. Some information can also be obtained from
printed background material and from personal
observations of friends and associates of the subject.
Personality features should contain the following
Biographical data. Use only that biographical
data you feel is necessary to your story (i.e., age,
hometown, parents names, major duty
assignments, time in service, marital status, etc.).
Unimportant statistics and data tend to bog a
story down and make for dry reading. The tone
of a story usually dictates the amount of data
Description. Describe the person, the details of
the setting, surroundings and general
Quotes. Use quotations from the interviewee in
which that individuals principles for attaining
success, and so forth, are related.
General accounting. Present a general sketch of
personal achievement, success, and so forth, in
the words of the interviewee or friends of that
Presentation of Information
In addition to the feature writing methods
mentioned earlier in this chapter, personality features
require a few techniques all their own. There are
methods that can be used to enable you, as the writer, to
make your readers feel they have met your subject face
to face, heard that person speak, seen the individual act
and know the thoughts or opinions and past life of the
person. These methods are discussed in the following