Writing Tools: Features Ideas


I’ve really enjoyed the recent Thursday Twitter chats, and thought it might be helpful to start talking features here on the website as well.

I love reading Shirley’s fiction writing tips, and having been delighted with the number of people interested in writing features for us, it seemed like a good time to give a bit more useful info than Twitter lets me pass on.

Plus anyone who’s been there for Twitter Thursdays will know I struggle to keep up sometimes…

How to put together a feature

First off, I thought it’d be useful to cover the subject of ideas – the seed from which the feature sprouts.

When we’re bringing ideas along to our weekly meetings, we’re looking for two things from them – visuals and appeal. Will it look good on the page? Is it something readers will want to read?

Let’s look at the first first!

We need the majority of the features content in the magazine to have good pics – bright, appealing, in frame and in focus. While the odd single-page feature can be illustrated by us, even a story that’s a personal recollection really needs to have a nice picture with it.

Check out our photography guidelines on the website, if you have any doubts.

Feature writing ideas and tips

And don’t forget, if you’re writing about a charity or visiting a fabulous country house for us, do just lean on them for pics.

The majority of organisations/ companies/ tourists boards are equally aware of the importance of good visuals and will likely have a stock available for use – with due credit given, of course. Do let us know what that credit should be.

As for the appeal, it’s simply a question of being honest with yourself about whether you think lots of other people would also be interested in the subject. Is it an attraction that other people really should know about? Are you interviewing someone who thousands of folk will be interested to hear from? Are you talking about a nostalgic experience that you’re sure other people will connect with?

Douglas McPherson has written up an interview for us with a former leading lady in an Elvis film. Dawn Geddes chatted to one of the original Dagenham Ford strikers. Simon Whaley visited a Men’s Shed (combating loneliness in retired gents by giving them an outlet for their skills) and wrote up their story. Hopefully just describing them made you want to know more – that’s what we’re aiming for.

Submitting features to the “Friend”

I really hope you’ll have noticed how broad the content is in the “Friend” these days, too. We cover a lot, which means we have a healthy appetite for features and that we cover a lot of topics!

It’s the same as the fiction, in many ways. If you read the magazine, you’ll get an idea of what we’re about these days. And that’s not to say we’re not open to something new – as long as it follows the above two principles!

You can find me on Twiiter on Thursdays where i’ll happily answer any questions, or read our submission guidelines 

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.

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