Generating Feature Ideas

Elinore Kaplan
Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
Jamaica, New York

Unit Overview and Rationale

While it is easy enough to teach students to recognize feature stories, and to motivate students to write stories about given feature story subjects, it is essential that we to help students develop the skills to generate those stories themselves, inspired both by current news and by original ideas unrelated to current news. This lesson plan will focus on these skills and on aspects of feature writing.

Unit Goals for Understanding

  • Essential Questions
    • What makes a feature story?
    • How can we write it in a way that will attract, engage and inform our readers?

Aim: To empower students to critically analyze the elements of feature stories

  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • What is the newspaper’s purpose in having feature stories?
    • What kinds of feature stories do you like to read in the newspaper? (What might they be about?)
      • Begin a list. [Emphsize human interest and making connections to readers]


  • Today’s newspaper.
  • The whiteboard.


  • Activity 1 [Distribute newspapers.]
    • Choose two feature stories of interest to you in today’s newspaper.
    • What was it about each story that caught your interest?
      • Be specific in your answer. Look at the various elements of the story as it appears on the page.
    • Now find other elements in at least one of the two stories that helped to hold your interest.
    • What might have prompted the reporter to write the story, or the editor to have assigned it at this particular time?
  • Activity 2 [The teacher should choose a provocative news story from the newspaper and distribute it.]
    • Read this story and come up with 2-3 possible feature stories that it could generate.
    • Write the answers. Discuss. Suggest others.
  • Activity 3
    • With a partner, select one news story in today’s paper and brainstorm to come up with suggestions for 3 possible feature stories that could be generated from it.


  • Write an outline for the feature story that you would write. Keep in mind the elements that will attract, engage, and inform your readers. (Due tomorrow.)
  • This week, choose three more feature stories which you consider excellent and write a written explanation of your reasons. (Due later in the week.)


  • Does the homework outline reflect that the student understand what a feature story is?
    Did the outline indicate that the student intends to include elements to attract, engage and inform readers?

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