Best feature writing 2017

Put your best foot forward.

The biggest takeaway from the Excellence in Feature Writing category was this: First impressions are everything.

“Some of these pieces bury fun quotes. They’re not selling it.”

When doing a feature story — or any story — it’s so important to give readers a reason to care. When you write your lede and nut (the introductory information in your article), you should write something compelling and accurate so readers are drawn in.

What you shouldn’t do is make sweeping generalizations while saving all the good bits for later.

One example is “Superman Returns: What went wrong” by Matt Paprocki of Polygon. The judges felt the journo buried amazing quotes behind a lede that made too many assumptions. Here’s the intro:

Three years after Grand Theft Auto 3 defined the modern open-world action game, EA Tiburon — better known as the team behind Madden NFL — set out to try its own take on the genre. The target: a free roaming superhero simulator based on Bryan Singer’s blockbuster movie, “Superman Returns.” Many had high hopes.

One judge cited a point in the article that would have been a more striking way to start the story.

“There’s a quote about Warner Bros. having problems with Superman’s groin size. That’s interesting. That should be up higher.”

Here’s the quote:

“We would send renderings of Superman, and we would get images back from Warner Bros. with his crotch area circled, ‘Make this part bigger; make this part smaller.’ This went on for months. Somebody trying to get the right balance of, ‘Well, I can see he’s got something but we don’t want to make it too big,'” says the team leader.

This was one of many entries with the same trend of foibles. Fortunately, there were three that made the cut.

Note that one of our judges stepped away from judging this category. They’re sitting out because they know one of the entrants beyond a work-related acquaintanceship. Read about why they’re recusing themselves here.

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