Writing Tools: Finding the Angle

What’s the angle when you’re writing a feature?

Something about the phrase “the angle” makes me think of fast-talking newspaper reporters from black and white movies: “What’s the angle, Sam? You gotta have an angle!”

Every feature gotta have an angle. It’s just another way of saying what’s the point of the article? Why are you talking about this? Why now?

Why will a reader be interested in this?

And it’s not as overly obvious as it might seem. I read a lot of articles submitted that are just “I did this”, “I went here”, “I’m quite interested in this” or “This person’s pretty cool”. But why? Why would someone else want to read that? Is it topical? Is it something people wouldn’t already know?

Anniversaries and events are an easy win in this regard. Why Cliff? Because Cliff Richard released his first single 60 years ago. Why would you write about Dundee in September 2018? Because the V&A is opening.

The reason can be even simpler than that. With travel writing, a feature’s angle could be something to do with why you visited it when you did. Even down to the season. Iceland in March – were you on the hunt for the Northern Lights? South Africa in January – were you there to escape winter and get some summer sun?

Finding the angle in interviews

If you have an interview with someone famous, why would people want to hear from them now? That’s not usually a problem, as famous folk often only emerge to promote something new, like a book or TV series, but it’s important there’s still something to distinguish it from publicity work they’ve done in the past.

That angle is what the piece hangs on – it’s what gives folk a reason to read it.

The most common question that children ask is “Why?” and as feature writers, it should be our favourite question, too!

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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.