How To Write Special Feature Articles
by Willard Grosvenor Bleyer
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As each pail is filled it is carried directly into the milk-house; not into the bottling-room, for in that sterilized sanctum nobody except the bottler is admitted, but into the room above, where the pails are emptied into the strainer of a huge receptacle. From the base of this receptacle it flows over the radiator in the bottling-room, which reduces it at once to the required temperature, thence into the mechanical bottler. The white-clad attendant places a tray containing several dozen empty bottles underneath, presses a lever, and, presto! they are full and not a drop spilled. He caps the bottles with another twist of the lever, sprays the whole with a hose, picks up the load and pushes it through the horizontal dumb-waiter, where another attendant receives it in the packing-room. The second man clamps a metal cover over the pasteboard caps and packs the bottles in ice. Less than half an hour is consumed in the milking of each cow, the straining, chilling, bottling, and storing of her product.

PRACTICAL GUIDANCE UNITS. To give in an attractive form complete and accurate directions for doing something in a certain way, is another difficult problem for the inexperienced writer. For interest and variety, conversation, interviews and other forms of direct quotation, as well as informal narrative, may be employed.

Various practical methods of saving fuel in cooking were given by a writer in Successful Farming, in what purported to be an account of a meeting of a farm woman's club at which the problem was discussed. By the device of allowing the members of the club to relate their experiences, she was able to offer a large number of suggestions. Two units selected from different portions of the article illustrate this method:

"I save dollars by cooking in my furnace," added a practical worker. "Potatoes bake nicely when laid on the ledge, and beans, stews, roasts, bread—in fact the whole food list—may be cooked there. But one must be careful not to have too hot a fire. I burned several things before I learned that even a few red coals in the fire-pot will be sufficient for practically everything. And then it does blacken the pans! But I've solved that difficulty by bending a piece of tin and setting it between the fire and the cooking vessel. This prevents burning, too, if the fire should be hot. Another plan is to set the vessel in an old preserving kettle. If this outer kettle does not leak, it may be filled with water, which not only aids in the cooking process but also prevents burning. For broiling or toasting, a large corn popper is just the thing."

* * * * *

"My chief saving," confided the member who believes in preparedness, "consists in cooking things in quantities, especially the things that require long cooking, like baked beans or soup. I never think of cooking less than two days' supply of beans, and as for soup, that is made up in quantity sufficient to last a week. If I have no ice, reheating it each day during warm weather prevents spoiling. Most vegetables are not harmed by a second cooking, and, besides the saving in fuel it entails, it's mighty comforting to know that you have your dinner already prepared for the next day, or several days before for that matter. In cold weather, or if you have ice, it will not be necessary to introduce monotony into your meals in order to save fuel, for one can wait a day or two before serving the extra quantity. Sauces, either for vegetables, meats or puddings, may just as well be made for more than one occasion, altho if milk is used in their preparation, care must be taken that they are kept perfectly cold, as ptomaines develop rapidly in such foods. Other things that it pays to cook in large portions are chocolate syrup for making cocoa, caramel for flavoring, and apple sauce."

By using a conversation between a hostess and her guest, another writer in the same farm journal succeeded in giving in a novel way some directions for preparing celery.

"Your escalloped corn is delicious. Where did you get your recipe?"

Mrs. Field smiled across the dining table at her guest. "Out of my head, I suppose, for I never saw it in print. I just followed the regulation method of a layer of corn, then seasoning, and repeat, only I cut into small pieces a stalk or two of celery with each layer of corn."

"Celery and corn—a new combination, but it's a good one. I'm so glad to learn of it; but isn't it tedious to cut the celery into such small bits?"

"Not at all, with my kitchen scissors. I just slash the stalk into several lengthwise strips, then cut them crosswise all at once into very small pieces."

"You always have such helpful ideas about new and easy ways to do your work. And economical, too. Why, celery for a dish like this could be the outer stalks or pieces too small to be used fresh on the table."

"That's the idea, exactly. I use such celery in soups and stews of all kinds; it adds such a delicious flavor. It is especially good in poultry stuffings and meat loaf. Then there is creamed celery, of course, to which I sometimes add a half cup of almonds for variety. And I use it in salads, too. Not a bit of celery is wasted around here. Even the leaves may be dried out in the oven, and crumbled up to flavor soups or other dishes."

"That's fine! Celery is so high this season, and much of it is not quite nice enough for the table, unless cooked."

A number of new uses for adhesive plaster were suggested by a writer in the New York Tribune, who, in the excerpt below, employs effectively the device of the direct appeal to the reader.

Aside from surgical "First Aid" and the countless uses to which this useful material may be put, there are a great number of household uses for adhesive plaster.

If your pumps are too large and slip at the heel, just put a strip across the back and they will stay in place nicely. When your rubbers begin to break repair them on the inside with plaster cut to fit. If the children lose their rubbers at school, write their names with black ink on strips of the clinging material and put these strips inside the top of the rubber at the back.

In the same way labels can be made for bottles and cans. They are easy to put on and to take off. If the garden hose, the rubber tube of your bath spray, or your hot water bag shows a crack or a small break, mend it with adhesive.

A cracked handle of a broom, carpet sweeper, or umbrella can be repaired with this first aid to the injured. In the same way the handles of golf sticks, baseball bats, flagstaffs and whips may be given a new lease on life.

If your sheet music is torn or the window shade needs repairing, or there is a cracked pane of glass in the barn or in a rear window, apply a strip or patch of suitable size.

In an article in the Philadelphia Ledger on "What Can I Do to Earn Money?" Mary Hamilton Talbot gave several examples of methods of earning money, in one of which she incorporated practical directions, thus:

A resourceful girl who loved to be out-of-doors found her opportunity in a bed of mint and aromatic herbs. She sends bunches of the mint neatly prepared to various hotels and cafes several times a week by parcel post, but it is in the over-supply that she works out best her original ideas. Among the novelties she makes is a candied mint that sells quickly. Here is her formula: Cut bits of mint, leaving three or four small leaves on the branch; wash well; dry and lay in rows on a broad, level surface. Thoroughly dissolve one pound of loaf sugar, boil until it threads and set from the fire. While it is still at the boiling point plunge in the bits of mint singly with great care. Remove them from the fondant with a fork and straighten the leaves neatly with a hatpin or like instrument. If a second plunging is necessary, allow the first coating to become thoroughly crystalized before dipping them again. Lay the sweets on oiled paper until thoroughly dry. With careful handling these mints will preserve their natural aroma, taste, and shape, and will keep for any length of time if sealed from the air. They show to best advantage in glass. The sweet-smelling herbs of this girl's garden she dries and sells to the fancy goods trade, and they are used for filling cushions, pillows, and perfume bags. The seasoning herbs she dries, pulverizes, and puts in small glasses, nicely labeled, which sell for 10 cents each, and reliable grocers are glad to have them for their fastidious customers.



IMPORTANCE OF THE BEGINNING. The value of a good beginning for a news story, a special feature article, or a short story results from the way in which most persons read newspapers and magazines. In glancing through current publications, the average reader is attracted chiefly by headlines or titles, illustrations, and authors' names. If any one of these interests him, he pauses a moment or two over the beginning "to see what it is all about." The first paragraphs usually determine whether or not he goes any further. A single copy of a newspaper or magazine offers so much reading matter that the casual reader, if disappointed in the introduction to one article or short story, has plenty of others to choose from. But if the opening sentences hold his attention, he reads on. "Well begun is half done" is a saying that applies with peculiar fitness to special feature articles.

STRUCTURE OF THE BEGINNING. To accomplish its purpose an introduction must be both a unit in itself and an integral part of the article. The beginning, whether a single paragraph in form, or a single paragraph in essence, although actually broken up into two or more short paragraphs, should produce on the mind of the reader a unified impression. The conversation, the incident, the example, or the summary of which it consists, should be complete in itself. Unless, on the other hand, the introduction is an organic part of the article, it fails of its purpose. The beginning must present some vital phase of the subject; it should not be merely something attractive attached to the article to catch the reader's notice. In his effort to make the beginning attractive, an inexperienced writer is inclined to linger over it until it becomes disproportionately long. Its length, however, should be proportionate to the importance of that phase of the subject which it presents. As a vital part of the article, the introduction must be so skillfully connected with what follows that a reader is not conscious of the transition. Close coherence between the beginning and the body of the article is essential.

The four faults, therefore, to be guarded against in writing the beginning are: (1) the inclusion of diverse details not carefully coordinated to produce a single unified impression; (2) the development of the introduction to a disproportionate length; (3) failure to make the beginning a vital part of the article itself; (4) lack of close connection or of skillful transition between the introduction and the body of the article.

TYPES OF BEGINNINGS. Because of the importance of the introduction, the writer should familiarize himself with the different kinds of beginnings, and should study them from the point of view of their suitability for various types of articles. The seven distinct types of beginnings are: (1) summary; (2) narrative; (3) description; (4) striking statement; (5) quotation; (6) question; (7) direct address. Combinations of two or more of these methods are not infrequent.

Summary Beginnings. The general adoption by newspapers of the summary beginning, or "lead," for news stories has accustomed the average reader to finding most of the essential facts of a piece of news grouped together in the first paragraph. The lead, by telling the reader the nature of the event, the persons and things concerned, the time, the place, the cause, and the result, answers his questions, What? Who? When? Where? Why? How? Not only are the important facts summarized in such a beginning, but the most striking detail is usually "played up" in the first group of words of the initial sentence where it catches the eye at once. Thus the reader is given both the main facts and the most significant feature of the subject. Unquestionably this news story lead, when skillfully worked out, has distinct advantages alike for the news report and for the special article.



(Kansas City Star)


A palace of sunshine, a glass house of fresh air, will be the Christmas offering of Kansas City to the fight against tuberculosis, the "Great White Plague." Ten miles from the business district of the city, overlooking a horizon miles away over valley and hill, stands the finest tuberculosis hospital in the United States. The newly completed institution, although not the largest hospital of the kind, is the best equipped and finest appointed. It is symbolic of sunshine and pure air, the cure for the disease.


(New York World)



After ten weeks' instruction in domestic economy at a New York high school, a girl of thirteen has been the means of reducing the expenditure in a family of seven to the extent of five dollars a week.

The girl is Anna Scheiring, American born, of Austrian ancestry, living with her parents and brothers and sisters in a five-room apartment at No. 769 East One Hundred and Fifty-eighth Street, where her father, Joseph Scheiring is superintendent of the building.

The same economic practices applied by little Anna Scheiring are at the present time being worked out in two thousand other New York homes whose daughters are pupils in the Washington Irving High School.


(The Outlook)



Two million quarts of milk are shipped into New York every day. One hundred thousand of those who drink it are babies. The milk comes from forty-four thousand dairy farms scattered through New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and even Ohio.

A large proportion of the two million quarts travels thirty-six hours before it lands on the front doorstep of the consumer. The situation in New York is duplicated in a less acute degree in every city in the United States.

NARRATIVE BEGINNINGS. To begin a special feature article in the narrative form is to give it a story-like character that at once arouses interest. It is impossible in many instances to know from the introduction whether what follows is to be a short story or a special article. An element of suspense may even be injected into the narrative introduction to stimulate the reader's curiosity, and descriptive touches may be added to heighten the vividness.

If the whole article is in narrative form, as is the case in a personal experience or confession story, the introduction is only the first part of a continuous story, and as such gives the necessary information about the person involved.

Narrative beginnings that consist of concrete examples and specific instances are popular for expository articles. Sometimes several instances are related in the introduction before the writer proceeds to generalize from them. The advantage of this inductive method of explanation grows out of the fact that, after a general idea has been illustrated by an example or two, most persons can grasp it with much less effort and with much greater interest than when such exemplification follows the generalization.

Other narrative introductions consist of an anecdote, an incident, or an important event connected with the subject of the article.

Since conversation is an excellent means of enlivening a narrative, dialogue is often used in the introduction to special articles, whether for relating an incident, giving a specific instance, or beginning a personal experience story.

Narrative Beginnings


(The Outlook)



It came about that in the year 1880, in Macon County, Alabama, a certain ex-Confederate colonel conceived the idea that if he could secure the Negro vote he could beat his rival and win the seat he coveted in the State Legislature. Accordingly the colonel went to the leading Negro in the town of Tuskegee and asked him what he could do to secure the Negro vote, for Negroes then voted in Alabama without restriction. This man, Lewis Adams by name, himself an ex-slave, promptly replied that what his race most wanted was education, and what they most needed was industrial education, and that if he (the colonel) would agree to work for the passage of a bill appropriating money for the maintenance of an industrial school for Negroes, he, Adams, would help to get for him the Negro vote and the election. This bargain between an ex-slaveholder and an ex-slave was made and faithfully observed on both sides, with the result that the following year the Legislature of Alabama appropriated $2,000 a year for the establishment of a normal and industrial school for Negroes in the town of Tuskegee. On the recommendation of General Armstrong, of Hampton Institute, a young colored man, Booker T. Washington, a recent graduate of and teacher at the Institute, was called from there to take charge of this landless, buildingless, teacherless, and studentless institution of learning.


(Leslie's Weekly)



A tall, gaunt, barefooted Missouri hill-billy stood beside his rattly, dish-wheeled wagon waiting to see the mighty proprietor of the saw mill who guessed only too well that the hill-billy had something he wanted to swap for lumber.

"What can I do for you?"

The hillman shifted his weight uneasily. "I 'low I got somethun of powerful lot of interest to yuh." Reaching over the side of the wagon he placed his rough hand tenderly on a black lump. "I guess yuh know what it is."

The saw mill proprietor glanced at it depreciatingly and turned toward the mill.

"It's lead, pardner, pure lead, and I know where it come from. I could take you right to the spot—ef I wanted to."

The mill proprietor hooked a row of fingers under the rough stone and tried to lift it. But he could not budge it. "It does seem to have lead in it. What was you calc'lating askin' for showin' me where you found it?"

The farmer from the foothills cut his eyes down to crafty slits. "I was 'lowing just tother day as how a house pattern would come in handy. Ef you'll saw me out one I'll take you to the spot." And so the deal was consummated, the hill-billy gleefully driving away, joyous over having got a fine house pattern worth $40 for merely showing a fellow where you could pick up a few hunks of lead.

That was forty-five years ago and it was thus that the great Joplin lead and zinc district was made known to the world.


(Munsey's Magazine)



One day in the year 1885 a twelve-year-old boy, who had to leave school and make his own way in the world on account of his father's death, applied for a job in a railroad freight-office in Cleveland, Ohio.

"I'm afraid you won't do," said the chief. "We need a boy, but you're not tall enough to reach the letter-press."

"Well, couldn't I stand on a box?" suggested the young seeker of employment.

That day a box was added to the equipment of the freight-office and the name of Frank A. Scott to the payroll.


(New York Times)


Nine young men recently rowed to the middle of the Hudson River with a wooden box to which wires were attached, lying in the bottom of the boat. They sank the box in deep water very cautiously, and then rowed slowly back to land, holding one end of the wire. Presently a column of water 40 feet through and 300 feet high shot into the air, followed by a deafening detonation, which tore dead branches from trees.

The nine young men were congratulating one man of the group on the explosion when an irate farmer ran up, yelling that every window in his farmhouse, nearly a mile away, had been shattered. The party of young men didn't apologize then; they gathered about the one who was being congratulated and recongratulated him.

The farmer did not know until later that the force which broke his windows and sent the huge column of water into the air was the War Department's newest, safest, and most powerful explosive; that the young men composed the dynamite squad of the Engineer Corps of the New York National Guard; and that the man they were congratulating was Lieut. Harold Chase Woodward, the inventor of the explosive.






"I know I am right. Leave it to any fair-minded person to decide."

"Good enough," I replied; "you name one, I will name another, and let them select a third."

She agreed; we selected the umpires and they decided against the store!

It had come about in this way. The store rule had been that cashiers paid for shortages in their accounts as—in our view—a penalty for carelessness; we did not care about the money. This girl had been short in an account; the amount had been deducted from her pay, and, not being afraid to speak out, she complained:

"If I am over in my accounts, it is a mistake; but if I am short, am I a thief? Why should I pay back the money? Why can't a mistake be made in either direction?"

This arbitration—although it had caused a decision against us—seemed such a satisfactory way of ending disputes that we continued the practice in an informal way. Out of it grew the present arbitration board, which is the corner-stone of the relation between our store and the employees, because it affords the machinery for getting what employees are above all else interested in—a square deal.

DESCRIPTIVE BEGINNINGS. Just as description of characters or of scene and setting is one method of beginning short stories and novels, so also it constitutes a form of introduction for an article. In both cases the aim is to create immediate interest by vivid portrayal of definite persons and places. The concrete word picture, like the concrete instance in a narrative beginning, makes a quick and strong appeal. An element of suspense or mystery may be introduced into the description, if a person, a place, or an object is described without being identified by name until the end of the portrayal.

The possibilities of description are not limited to sights alone; sounds, odors and other sense impressions, as well as emotions, may be described. Frequently several different impressions are combined. To stir the reader's feelings by a strong emotional description is obviously a good method of beginning.

A descriptive beginning, to be clear to the rapid reader, should be suggestive rather than detailed. The average person can easily visualize a picture that is sketched in a few suggestive words, whereas he is likely to be confused by a mass of details. Picture-making words and those imitative of sounds, as well as figures of speech, may be used to advantage in descriptive beginnings. For the description of feelings, words with a rich emotional connotation are important.



(Munsey's Magazine)



"The Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States!"

Nearly every week-day during the winter months, exactly at noon, these warning words, intoned in a resonant and solemn voice, may be heard by the visitor who chances to pass the doors of the Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol of the United States. The visitor sees that others are entering those august portals, and so he, too, makes bold to step softly inside.

If he has not waited too long, he finds himself within the chamber in time to see nine justices of our highest court, clad in long, black robes, file slowly into the room from an antechamber at the left.

Every one within the room has arisen, and all stand respectfully at attention while the justices take their places. Then the voice of the court crier is heard again:

"Oyez, oyez, oyez! All persons having business with the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the court is now sitting."

Then, after a slight pause:

"God save the United States and this honorable court!"

The justices seat themselves; the attorneys at the bar and visitors do likewise. The Supreme Court of the United States, generally held to be the most powerful tribunal on earth, is in session.


(Collier's Weekly)



Imagine the Hippodrome—the largest playhouse of New York and of the New World! Imagine it filled with people from foot-lights to the last row in the topmost gallery—orchestra, dress circle, and balconies—a huge uprising, semicircular bowl, lined with human beings. Imagine it thus, and then strip the stage; take away the Indians and the soldiers, the elephants and the camels; take away the careening stage coaches and the thundering hoofs of horses, and all the strange conglomeration of dramatic activities with which these inventive stage managers are accustomed to panoply their productions. Instead of all this, people the stage with a chorus choir in white smocks, and in front of the choir put a lean, upstanding, shock-headed preacher; but leave the audience—a regular Hippodrome audience on the biggest Saturday night. Imagine all of this, I say, and what you have is not the Hippodrome, not the greatest play in the New World, nor any playhouse at all, but the Temple Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California, with James Whitcomb Brougher, D.D., in the pulpit.


(The Independent)


What the Country Schoolhouse Really Is, and Why


The schoolhouse squats dour and silent in its acre of weeds. A little to the rear stand two wretched outbuildings. Upon its gray clapboarded sides, window blinds hang loose and window sashes sag away from their frames. Groaning upon one hinge the vestibule door turns away from lopsided steps, while a broken drain pipe sways perilously from the east corner of the roof.

Within and beyond the vestibule is the schoolroom, a monotony of grimy walls and smoky ceiling. Cross lights from the six windows shine upon rows of desks of varying sizes and in varying stages of destruction. A kitchen table faces the door. Squarely in the middle of the rough pine floor stands a jacketed stove. A much torn dictionary and a dented water pail stand side by side on the shelf below the one blackboard.

And this is the "little red schoolhouse" to which I looked forward so eagerly during the summer—nothing but a tumbledown shack set in the heart of a prosperous farming district.


(New York Tribune)



The tramp, tramp of feet on a hard road; long lines of khaki figures moving over the browning grass of the parade ground; rows of faces, keen and alert, with that look in the eyes that one sees in LePage's Jeanne d'Arc; the click, click of bullets from the distant rifle range blended with a chorus of deep voices near at hand singing "Over There"; a clear, blue sky, crisp autumn air and the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain—that's Plattsburg.


(Good Housekeeping)



In the pale light of an early winter morning, while a flat, white moon awaited the dawn and wind-driven clouds flung faint scudding shadows across the snow, two little girls, cloaked, shawled, hooded out of all recognition, plodded heavily along a Vermont mountain road. Each carried a dangling dinner pail.

The road was lonely. Once they passed a farmhouse, asleep save for a yellow light in a chamber. Somewhere a cock crowed. A dog barked in the faint distance.

Where the road ascended the mountain—a narrow cut between dark, pointed firs and swaying white-limbed birches—the way was slushy with melting snow. The littler girl, half dozing along the accustomed way, slipped and slid into puddles.

At the top of the mountain the two children shrank back into their mufflers, before the sweep of the wet, chill wind; but the mill was in sight—beyond the slope of bleak pastures outlined with stone walls—sunk deep in the valley beside a rapid mountain stream, a dim bulk already glimmering with points of light. Toward this the two little workwomen slopped along on squashy feet.

They were spinners. One was fifteen. She had worked three years. The other was fourteen. She had worked two years. The terse record of the National Child Labor Committee lies before me, unsentimental, bare of comment:

"They both get up at four fifteen A.M. and after breakfast start for the mill, arriving there in time not to be late, at six. Their home is two and one-half miles from the mill. Each earns three dollars a week—So they cannot afford to ride. The road is rough, and it is over the mountains."


(Providence Journal)


To Interpret the Text Successfully the Singer Must Memorize, Visualize, Rhythmize, and Emphasize


The weary eye of the toastmaster looks apologetically down long rows of tables as he says with a sorry-but-it-must-be-done air, "We will now sing 'The Star Spangled Banner'"; the orchestra starts, the diners reach frantically for their menus and each, according to his musical inheritance and patriotic fervor, plunges into the unknown with a resolute determination to be in on the death of the sad rite.

Some are wrecked among the dizzy altitudes, others persevere through uncharted shoals, all make some kind of a noisy noise, and lo, it is accomplished; and intense relief sits enthroned on every dewy brow.

In the crowded church, the minister announces the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and the organist, armed with plenary powers, crashes into the giddy old tune, dragging the congregation resistingly along at a hurdy gurdy pace till all semblance of text or meaning is irretrievably lost.

Happy are they when the refrain, "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah," provides a temporary respite from the shredded syllables and scrambled periods, and one may light, as it were, and catch up with himself and the organist.

At the close of an outdoor public meeting the chairman, with fatuous ineptitude, shouts that everybody will sing three verses of "America." Granting that the tune is pitched comfortably, the first verse marches with vigor and certitude, but not for long; dismay soon smites the crowd in sections as the individual consciousness backs and fills amid half learned lines.

The trick of catching hopefully at a neighbor's phrase usually serves to defeat itself, as it unmasks the ignorance of said neighbor, and the tune ends in a sort of polyglot mouthing which is not at all flattering to the denizens of an enlightened community.

These glimpses are not a whit over-drawn, and it is safe to say that they mirror practically every corner of our land to-day. Why is it, then, that the people make such a sorry exhibition of themselves when they attempt to sing the patriotic songs of our country? Is it the tunes or the words or we ourselves?

BEGINNING WITH A STRIKING STATEMENT. When the thought expressed in the first sentence of an article is sufficiently unusual, or is presented in a sufficiently striking form, it at once commands attention. By stimulating interest and curiosity, it leads the average person to read on until he is satisfied.

A striking statement of this sort may serve as the first sentence of one of the other types of beginning, such as the narrative or the descriptive introduction, the quotation, the question, or the direct address. But it may also be used entirely alone.

Since great size is impressive, a statement of the magnitude of something is usually striking. Numerical figures are often used in the opening sentences to produce the impression of enormous size. If these figures are so large that the mind cannot grasp them, it is well, by means of comparisons, to translate them into terms of the reader's own experience. There is always danger of overwhelming and confusing a person with statistics that in the mass mean little or nothing to him.

To declare in the first sentence that something is the first or the only one of its kind immediately arrests attention, because of the universal interest in the unique.

An unusual prediction is another form of striking statement. To be told at the beginning of an article of some remarkable thing that the future holds in store for him or for his descendants, fascinates the average person as much as does the fortune-teller's prophecy. There is danger of exaggeration, however, in making predictions. When writers magnify the importance of their subject by assuring us that what they are explaining will "revolutionize" our ideas and practices, we are inclined to discount these exaggerated and trite forms of prophecy.

A striking figure of speech—an unusual metaphor, for example—may often be used in the beginning of an article to arouse curiosity. As the comparison in a metaphor is implied rather than expressed, the points of likeness may not immediately be evident to the reader and thus the figurative statement piques his curiosity. A comparison in the form of a simile, or in that of a parable or allegory, may serve as a striking introduction.

A paradox, as a self-contradictory statement, arrests the attention in the initial sentence of an article. Although not always easy to frame, and hence not so often employed as it might be, a paradoxical expression is an excellent device for a writer to keep in mind when some phase of his theme lends itself to such a striking beginning.

Besides these readily classified forms of unusual statements, any novel, extraordinary expression that is not too bizarre may be employed. The chief danger to guard against is that of making sensational, exaggerated, or false statements, merely to catch the reader's notice.



(Illustrated World)



A human heart, writing its own record with an actual finger of flame, is the startling spectacle that has recently been witnessed by scientists. It sounds fanciful, doesn't it? But it is literally a fact that the automatic recording of the heart's action by means of tracings from the point of a tiny blaze appears to have been made a practicable method of determining the condition of the heart, more reliable than any other test that can be applied.


(Boston Transcript)


Taking the hospital to the emergency instead of the emergency to the hospital is the underlying idea of the Bay State's newest medical unit—one which was installed in three hours on the top of Corey Hill, and which in much less than half that time may tomorrow or the next day be en route post haste for Peru, Plymouth, or Pawtucketville.


(Kansas City Star)


Autumn is the season of burning homes.

Furnaces and stoves will soon be lighted. They have been unused all summer and rubbish may have been piled near them or the flues may have rusted and slipped out of place unobserved in the long period of disuse. Persons start their fires in a sudden cold snap. They don't take time to investigate. Then the fire department has work to do.


(New York Times)


There was opened down Hester Street way last week the only public school in the world for children with defective eyes. Bad eyesight has been urged for years as a cause of backwardness and incorrigibility in school children. Now the public school authorities plan, for the first time, not only to teach children whose eyes are defective, but to cure them as well.

(5) (The Outlook)


The complete disappearance of teeth from the human mouth is the condition towards which the most highly cultivated classes of humanity are drifting. We have already gone far on a course that leads to the coming of a toothless age in future generations. Only by immediate adoption of the most active and widespread measures of prevention can the human tooth be saved from the fate that has befallen the leg of the whale.


(Harper's Weekly)



You who begin this sentence may not live to read its close. There is a chance, one in three or four billions, that you will die in a second, by the tick of the watch. The chair upon which you sit may collapse, the car in which you ride may collide, your heart may suddenly cease. Or you may survive the sentence and the article, and live twenty, fifty, eighty years longer.

No one knows the span of your life, and yet the insurance man is willing to bet upon it. What is life insurance but the bet of an unknown number of yearly premiums against the payment of the policy? * * * * The length of your individual life is a guess, but the insurance company bets on a sure thing, on the average death rate.


(The Outlook)



Every third man you meet in Detroit was born in a foreign country. And three out of every four persons there were either born abroad or born here of foreign-born parents. In short, in Detroit, only every fourth person you meet was born in this country of American parents. Such is the make-up of the town which has been called "the most American city in the United States."


(Kansas City Star)


Lawrence, Kas., was not ill. Most of its citizens did not even think it was ailing, but there were some anxious souls who wondered if the rosy exterior were not the mockery of an internal fever. They called in physicians, and after seven months spent in making their diagnosis, they have prescribed for Lawrence, and the town is alarmed to the point of taking their medicine.

That is the medical way of saying that Lawrence has just completed the most thorough municipal survey ever undertaken by a town of its size, and in so doing has found out that it is afflicted with a lot of ills that all cities are heir to. Lawrence, however, with Kansas progressiveness, proposes to cure these ills.

Prof. F.W. Blackmar, head of the department of sociology at the University of Kansas, and incidentally a sort of city doctor, was the first "physician" consulted. He called his assistant, Prof. B.W. Burgess, and Rev. William A. Powell in consultation, and about one hundred and fifty club women were taken into the case. Then they got busy. That was April 1. This month they completed the examination, set up an exhibit to illustrate what they had to report, and read the prescription.


(Popular Science Monthly)



Man is chained to this Earth, his planet home. His chain is invisible, but the ball is always to be seen—the Earth itself. The chain itself is apparently without weight, while the chain's ball weighs about 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons!


(Associated Sunday Magazine)



How many persons who own pianos and play them can explain why a piano cannot be said to be in tune unless it is actually out of tune?


(Railroad Man's Magazine)



To make steel rails, take 2 pounds of iron ore, 1 pound of coke, 1/2 pound of limestone, and 41/2 pounds of air for each pound of iron to be produced. Mix and melt, cast in molds, and roll to shape while hot. Serve cold.

Rail-making certainly does seem to be easy when stated in its simplest terms; it also seems attractive from a business standpoint.


(Leslie's Weekly)



Sixteen candle-power Mazda lamp for five hours Six pound flatiron 15 minutes Radiant toaster long enough to produce ten slices of toast Sewing machine for two hours Fan 12 inches in diameter for two hours Percolator long enough to make five cups of coffee Heating pad from two to four hours Domestic buffer for 11/4 hours Chafing dish 12 minutes Radiant grill for 10 minutes Curling iron once a day for two weeks Luminous 500 watt radiator for 12 minutes

Hardly as old as a grown man, the electrical industry—including railways, telephones and telegraphs—has already invested $8,125,000,000 in the business of America. Its utility companies alone pay Uncle Sam $200,000,000 every year for taxes—seven out of every ten use it in some form every day. It is unmistakably the most vital factor to-day in America's prosperity. Its resources are boundless. As Secretary of the Interior Lane expresses it, there is enough hydro-electric energy running to waste to equal the daily labor of 1,800,000,000 men or 30 times our adult population.

BEGINNING WITH A QUOTATION. Words enclosed in quotation marks or set off in some distinctive form such as verse, an advertisement, a letter, a menu, or a sign, immediately catch the eye at the beginning of an article. Every conceivable source may be drawn on for quotations, provided, of course, that what is quoted has close connection with the subject. If the quotation expresses an extraordinary idea, it possesses an additional source of interest.

Verse quotations may be taken from a well-known poem, a popular song, a nursery rhyme, or even doggerel verse. Sometimes a whole poem or song prefaces an article. When the verse is printed in smaller type than the article, it need not be enclosed in quotation marks. In his typewritten manuscript a writer may indicate this difference in size of type by single-spacing the lines of the quotation.

Prose quotations may be taken from a speech or an interview, or from printed material such as a book, report, or bulletin. The more significant the quoted statement, the more effective will be the introduction. When the quotation consists of several sentences or of one long sentence, it may comprise the first paragraph, to be followed in the second paragraph by the necessary explanation.

Popular sayings, slogans, or current phrases are not always enclosed in quotation marks, but are often set off in a separate paragraph as a striking form of beginning.

The most conspicuous quotation beginnings are reproductions of newspaper clippings, advertisements, price lists, menus, telegrams, invitations, or parts of legal documents. These are not infrequently reproduced as nearly as possible in the original form and may be enclosed in a frame, or "box."



(New York Evening Post)




Our sorrows are forgotten, And our cares are flown away, While we go marching through Princeton.

Singing these words, 'round and 'round the campus they marched, drums beating time which no one observed, band clashing with band, in tune with nothing but the dominant note—the joy of reunion. A motley lot of men they are—sailors and traction engineers, Pierrots, soldiers, and even vestal virgins—for the June Commencement is college carnival time.

Then hundreds upon thousands of men, East, West, North and South, drop their work and their worries, and leaving families and creditors at home, slip away to their respective alma maters, "just to be boys again" for a day and a night or two.


(Harper's Monthly)



"The quarrel," opined Sir Lucius O'Trigger, "is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it."

Something like this was once the attitude of the swaggering youth of Britain and Ireland, who quarreled "genteelly" and fought out their bloody duels "in peace and quietness." Something like this, also, after the jump of a century, was the attitude of employers and trade-unions all over the world toward industrial disputes. Words were wasted breath; the time to strike or to lock out your employees was when you were ready and your opponent was not. If you won, so much the better; if you lost—at any rate, it was your own business. Outsiders were not presumed to interfere. "Faith!" exclaimed Sir Lucius, "that same interruption in affairs of this nature shows very great ill-breeding."


(McClure's Magazine)



"And the Prince sped away with his princess in a magic chariot, the wheels of which were four bubbles of air."

Suppose you had read that in an Andersen or a Grimm fairy tale in the days when you firmly believed that Cinderella went to a ball in a state coach which had once been a pumpkin; you would have accepted the magic chariot and its four bubbles of air without question.

What a pity it is that we have lost the credulity and the wonder of childhood! We have our automobiles—over two and a half million of them—but they have ceased to be magic chariots to us. And as for their tires, they are mere "shoes" and "tubes"—anything but the bubbles of air that they are.

In the whole mechanism of modern transportation there is nothing so paradoxical, nothing so daring in conception as these same bubbles of air which we call tires.


(Good Housekeeping)



"When did I first decide to be an opera singer?" Miss Farrar smiled. "Let me see. At least as early as the age of eight. This is how I remember. At school I used to get good marks in most of my studies, but in arithmetic my mark was about sixty. That made me unhappy. But once when I was eight, I distinctly remember, I reflected that it didn't really matter because I was going to be an opera singer. How long before that I had decided on my career I can't say."


(The Delineator)



"If John could only get a satisfactory lunch for a reasonable amount of money!" sighs the wife of John in every sizable city in the United States, where work and home are far apart.

"He hates sandwiches, anyway, and has no suitable place to eat them; and somehow he doesn't feel that he does good work on a cold box lunch. But those clattery quick-lunch places which are all he has time for, or can afford, don't have appetizing cooking or surroundings, and all my forethought and planning over our good home meals may be counteracted by his miserable lunch. I believe half the explanation of the 'tired business man' lies in the kind of lunches he eats."

Twenty-five cents a day is probably the outside limit of what the great majority of men spend on their luncheons. Some cannot spend over fifteen. What a man needs and so seldom gets for that sum is good, wholesome, appetizing food, quickly served. He wants to eat in a place which is quiet and not too bare and ugly. He wants to buy real food and not table decorations. He is willing to dispense with elaborate service and its accompanying tip, if he can get more food of better quality.

The cafeteria lunch-room provides a solution for the mid-day lunch problem and, when wisely located and well run, the answer to many a competent woman or girl who is asking: "What shall I do to earn a living?"


(Newspaper Enterprise Association)



Washington, D.C.—America Americanized!

That's the goal of the naturalization bureau of the United States department of labor, as expressed by Raymond P. Crist, deputy commissioner, in charge of the Americanization program.


(Tractor and Gas Engine Review)



"This entire policy, unless otherwise provided by agreement endorsed hereon, or added hereto, shall be void if the interest of the insured be other than unconditional and sole ownership."

If any farmer anywhere in the United States will look up the fire insurance policy on his farm building, and will read it carefully, in nine cases out of ten, he will find tucked away somewhere therein a clause exactly like the one quoted above, or practically in the same words.

BEGINNING WITH A QUESTION. Every question is like a riddle; we are never satisfied until we know the answer. So a question put to us at the beginning of an article piques our curiosity, and we are not content until we find out how the writer answers it.

Instead of a single question, several may be asked in succession. These questions may deal with different phases of the subject or may repeat the first question in other words. It is frequently desirable to break up a long question into a number of short ones to enable the rapid reader to grasp the idea more easily. Greater prominence may be gained for each question by giving it a separate paragraph.

Rhetorical questions, although the equivalent of affirmative or negative statements, nevertheless retain enough of their interrogative effect to be used advantageously for the beginning of an article.

That the appeal may be brought home to each reader personally, the pronoun "you," or "yours," is often embodied in the question, and sometimes readers are addressed by some designation such as "Mr. Average Reader," "Mrs. Voter," "you, high school boys and girls."

The indirect question naturally lacks the force of the direct one, but it may be employed when a less striking form of beginning is desired. The direct question, "Do you know why the sky is blue?" loses much of its force when changed into the indirect form, "Few people know why the sky is blue"; still it possesses enough of the riddle element to stimulate thought. Several indirect questions may be included in the initial sentence of an article.



(Kansas City Star)


What becomes of the rainfall in the plains states? This region is the veritable bread basket of our country; but in spite of the fact that we have an average rainfall of about thirty-six inches, lack of moisture, more frequently than any other condition, becomes a limiting factor in crop production. Measured in terms of wheat production, a 36-inch rainfall, if properly distributed through the growing season and utilized only by the crop growing land, is sufficient for the production of ninety bushels of wheat an acre. The question as to what becomes of the rainfall, therefore, is of considerable interest in this great agricultural center of North America, where we do well if we average twenty-five bushels to the acre.


(New York Evening Sun)


If a family of five using twenty-five bushels of potatoes a year at $2 a bushel, lose 20 per cent on a bushel by paring, how much has the family thrown into the garbage can during the year? Answer, $10. Applying this conservative estimate of dietitians to other foods, the average family might save at least $100 a year on its table.


(New York Times)



Can a farm be operated like a factory? Can fickle nature be offset and crops be brought to maturity upon schedule time?

These are questions that a farmer near Bridgeton, N.J., has answered in the most practical manner imaginable.


(San Francisco Call)



Does it pay the state to educate its teachers?

Do normal school and university graduates continue teaching long enough to make adequate return for the money invested in their training?


(Newspaper Feature Service)


Just what hunger is, why all living creatures suffer this feeling and what the difference is between hunger and appetite have always been three questions that puzzled scientists. Not until Dr. A.J. Carlson devised a method of ascertaining exactly the nature of hunger by measuring and comparing the degrees of this sensation, have investigators along this line of scientific research been able to reach any definite conclusion.


(The Outlook)



Are you interested in adding fifteen years to your life?

Perhaps you are one of those sound strong persons absolutely assured of perfect health.

Very well. Two thousand young persons, mostly men, average age thirty, employees of commercial houses and banks in New York City, were given a medical examination in a recent period of six months; 1,898 of them were positive of getting a perfect bill of health.

Here are the findings:

Sixty-three were absolutely sound.

The remaining 1,937 all suffered from some defect, great or small, which was capable of improvement.


(Country Gentleman)



Is your farm making money or losing it? What department is showing a profit? What one is piling up a loss? Do you know? Not one farmer in ten does know and it is all because not one in ten has any accounts apart from his bankbook so he can tell at the end of the year whether he has kept the farm or the farm has kept him.


(The Outlook)



Have you, my amiable male reader, felt secretly annoyed when your friends—probably your wife and certainly your physician—have suggested that you cut your daily diet of Havanas in two, feeling that your intimate acquaintance with yourself constituted you a better judge of such matters than they? Have you felt that your physician's advice to spend at least three-quarters of an hour at lunch was good advice for somebody else, but that you had neither time nor inclination for it? Have you felt that you would like to take a month's vacation, but with so many "irons in the fire" things would go to smash if you did? Do you know what it is to lie awake at night and plan your campaign for the following day? Then you are getting ready for an enforced vacation.


(Leslie's Weekly)



Don't most of us—that is, those of us who are unfamiliar with army life and with things military in general—don't most of us picture marching troops as swinging down a road in perfect step, left arms moving in unison, rifles held smartly at the right shoulder, head and eyes straight to the front (with never so much as a forehead wrinkled to dislodge a mosquito or a fly), and with the band of the fife-and-drum corps playing gaily at the head of the column? Of course we do. Because that's the way we see them on parade.

A march is a far different thing. A march is simply the means of getting so many men from one place to another in the quickest time and in the best possible condition. And it may astonish one to be told that marching is the principal occupation of troops in the field—that it is one of the hardest things for troops to learn to do properly, and that it is one of the chief causes of loss.

ADDRESSING THE READER DIRECTLY. A direct personal appeal makes a good opening for an article. The writer seems to be talking to each reader individually instead of merely writing for thousands. This form of address may seem to hark back to the days of the "gentle reader," but its appeal is perennial. To the pronoun "you" may be added the designation of the particular class of readers addressed, such as "You, mothers," or "You, Mr. Salaried Man." The imperative verb is perhaps the strongest form of direct address. There is danger of overdoing the "do-this-and-don't-do-that" style, particularly in articles of practical guidance, but that need not deter a writer from using the imperative beginning occasionally.



(New York Times)


A word with you, Mr. Would-Be-Slacker. If you 're thinking of trying to dodge the selective draft by pretending physical disability when you get before the local exemption board, here's a bit of advice: Don't. Since you are Mr. Would-Be-Slacker there is no use preaching patriotism to you. But here is something that will influence you: If you try to dodge the draft and are caught, there is a heavy penalty, both fine and imprisonment; and you're almost sure to get caught.


(American Magazine)



You would never in the world find Cowbell "Holler" alone, so I will tell you how to get there. You come over the Big Hill pike until you reach West Pinnacle. It was from the peak of West Pinnacle that Daniel Boone first looked out over the blue grass region of Kentucky. You follow the pike around the base of the Pinnacle, and there you are, right in the heart of Cowbell "Holler," and only two pastures and a creek away from Miss Adelia Fox's rural social settlement—the first of its kind, so far as I know, in America.


(Chicago Tribune)



You all know the retail druggist who has worked fifteen or sixteen hours a day all his life, and now, as an old man, is forced to discharge his only clerk. You all know the grocer who has changed from one store to another and another, and who finally turns up as a collector for your milkman. You all know the hard working milliner and, perhaps, have followed her career until she was lost to sight amid sickness and distress. You all have friends among stationers and newsdealers. You have seen them labor day in and day out, from early morning until late at night; and have observed with sorrow the small fruits of their many years of toil.

Why did they fail?


(Illustrated Sunday Magazine)


Look at your watch.

How long is a second? Gone as you look at the tiny hand, isn't it? Yet within that one second it is possible to print, cut, fold and stack sixteen and two-thirds newspapers!

Watch the second hand make one revolution—a minute. Within that minute it is possible to print, cut, fold and stack in neat piles one thousand big newspapers! To do that is putting "pep" in printing, and Henry A. Wise Wood is the man who did it.



STYLE DEFINED. Style, or the manner in which ideas and emotions are expressed, is as important in special feature writing as it is in any other kind of literary work. A writer may select an excellent subject, may formulate a definite purpose, and may choose the type of article best suited to his needs, but if he is unable to express his thoughts effectively, his article will be a failure. Style is not to be regarded as mere ornament added to ordinary forms of expression. It is not an incidental element, but rather the fundamental part of all literary composition, the means by which a writer transfers what is in his own mind to the minds of his readers. It is a vehicle for conveying ideas and emotions. The more easily, accurately, and completely the reader gets the author's thoughts and feelings, the better is the style.

The style of an article needs to be adapted both to the readers and to the subject. An article for a boys' magazine would be written in a style different from that of a story on the same subject intended for a Sunday newspaper. The style appropriate to an entertaining story on odd superstitions of business men would be unsuitable for a popular exposition of wireless telephony. In a word, the style of a special article demands as careful consideration as does its subject, purpose, and structure.

Since it may be assumed that any one who aspires to write for newspapers and magazines has a general knowledge of the principles of composition and of the elements and qualities of style, only such points of style as are important in special feature writing will be discussed in this chapter.

The elements of style are: (1) words, (2) figures of speech, (3) sentences, and (4) paragraphs. The kinds of words, figures, sentences, and paragraphs used, and the way in which they are combined, determine the style.

WORDS. In the choice of words for popular articles, three points are important: (1) only such words may be used as are familiar to the average person, (2) concrete terms make a much more definite impression than general ones, and (3) words that carry with them associated ideas and feelings are more effective than words that lack such intellectual and emotional connotation.

The rapid reader cannot stop to refer to the dictionary for words that he does not know. Although the special feature writer is limited to terms familiar to the average reader, he need not confine himself to commonplace, colloquial diction; most readers know the meaning of many more words than they themselves use in everyday conversation. In treating technical topics, it is often necessary to employ some unfamiliar terms, but these may readily be explained the first time they appear. Whenever the writer is in doubt as to whether or not his readers will understand a certain term, the safest course is to explain it or to substitute one that is sure to be understood.

Since most persons grasp concrete ideas more quickly than abstract ones, specific words should be given the preference in popular articles. To create concrete images must be the writer's constant aim. Instead of a general term like "walk," for example, he should select a specific, picture-making word such as hurry, dash, run, race, amble, stroll, stride, shuffle, shamble, limp, strut, stalk. For the word "horse" he may substitute a definite term like sorrel, bay, percheron, nag, charger, steed, broncho, or pony. In narrative and descriptive writing particularly, it is necessary to use words that make pictures and that reproduce sounds and other sense impressions. In the effort to make his diction specific, however, the writer must guard against bizarre effects and an excessive use of adjectives and adverbs. Verbs, quite as much as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, produce clear, vivid images when skillfully handled.

Some words carry with them associated ideas and emotions, while others do not. The feelings and ideas thus associated with words constitute their emotional and intellectual connotation, as distinct from their logical meaning, or denotation. The word "home," for example, denotes simply one's place of residence, but it connotes all the thoughts and feelings associated with one's own house and family circle. Such a word is said to have a rich emotional connotation because it arouses strong feeling. It also has a rich intellectual connotation since it calls up many associated images. Words and phrases that are peculiar to the Bible or to the church service carry with them mental images and emotions connected with religious worship. In a personality sketch of a spiritual leader, for example, such words and phrases would be particularly effective to create the atmosphere with which such a man might very appropriately be invested. Since homely, colloquial expressions have entirely different associations, they would be entirely out of keeping with the tone of such a sketch, unless the religious leader were an unconventional revivalist. A single word with the wrong connotation may seriously affect the tone of a paragraph. On the other hand, words and phrases rich in appropriate suggestion heighten immeasurably the effectiveness of an article.

The value of concrete words is shown in the following paragraphs taken from a newspaper article describing a gas attack:

There was a faint green vapor, which swayed and hung under the lee of the raised parapet two hundred yards away. It increased in volume, and at last rose high enough to be caught by the wind. It strayed out in tattered yellowish streamers toward the English lines, half dissipating itself in twenty yards, until the steady outpour of the green smoke gave it reinforcement and it made headway. Then, creeping forward from tuft to tuft, and preceded by an acrid and parching whiff, the curling and tumbling vapor reached the English lines in a wall twenty feet high.

As the grayish cloud drifted over the parapet, there was a stifled call from some dozen men who had carelessly let their protectors drop. The gas was terrible. A breath of it was like a wolf at the throat, like hot ashes in the windpipe.

The yellowish waves of gas became more greenish in color as fresh volumes poured out continually from the squat iron cylinders which had now been raised and placed outside the trenches by the Germans. The translucent flood flowed over the parapet, linking at once on the inner side and forming vague, gauzy pools and backwaters, in which men stood knee deep while the lighter gas was blown in their faces over the parapet.

FAULTS IN DICTION. Since newspaper reporters and correspondents are called upon day after day to write on similar events and to write at top speed, they are prone to use the same words over and over again, without making much of an effort to "find the one noun that best expresses the idea, the one verb needed to give it life, and the one adjective to qualify it." This tendency to use trite, general, "woolly" words instead of fresh, concrete ones is not infrequently seen in special feature stories written by newspaper workers. Every writer who aims to give to his articles some distinction in style should guard against the danger of writing what has aptly been termed "jargon." "To write jargon," says Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in his book, "On the Art of Writing," "is to be perpetually shuffling around in the fog and cotton-wool of abstract terms. So long as you prefer abstract words, which express other men's summarized concepts of things, to concrete ones which lie as near as can be reached to things themselves and are the first-hand material for your thoughts, you will remain, at the best, writers at second-hand. If your language be jargon, your intellect, if not your whole character, will almost certainly correspond. Where your mind should go straight, it will dodge; the difficulties it should approach with a fair front and grip with a firm hand it will be seeking to evade or circumvent. For the style is the man, and where a man's treasure is there his heart, and his brain, and his writing, will be also."

FIGURES OF SPEECH. To most persons the term "figure of speech" suggests such figures as metonymy and synecdoche, which they once learned to define, but never thought of using voluntarily in their own writing. Figures of speech are too often regarded as ornaments suited only to poetry or poetical prose. With these popular notions in mind, a writer for newspapers and magazines may quite naturally conclude that figurative expressions have little or no practical value in his work. Figures of speech, however, are great aids, not only to clearness and conciseness, but to the vividness of an article. They assist the reader to grasp ideas quickly and they stimulate his imagination and his emotions.

Association of ideas is the principle underlying figurative expressions. By a figure of speech a writer shows his readers the relation between a new idea and one already familiar to them. An unfamiliar object, for example, is likened to a familiar one, directly, as in the simile, or by implication, as in the metaphor. As the object brought into relation with the new idea is more familiar and more concrete, the effect of the figure is to simplify the subject that is being explained, and to make it more easy of comprehension.

A figure of speech makes both for conciseness and for economy of mental effort on the part of the reader. To say in a personality sketch, for example, that the person looks "like Lincoln" is the simplest, most concise way of creating a mental picture. Or to describe a smoothly running electric motor as "purring," instantly makes the reader hear the sound. Scores of words may be saved, and clearer, more vivid impressions may be given, by the judicious use of figures of speech.

As the familiar, concrete objects introduced in figures frequently have associated emotions, figurative expressions often make an emotional appeal. Again, to say that a person looks "like Lincoln" not only creates a mental picture but awakes the feelings generally associated with Lincoln. The result is that readers are inclined to feel toward the person so described as they feel toward Lincoln.

Even in practical articles, figurative diction may not be amiss. In explaining a method of splitting old kitchen boilers in order to make watering troughs, a writer in a farm journal happily described a cold chisel as "turning out a narrow shaving of steel and rolling it away much as the mold-board of a plow turns the furrow."

The stimulating effect of a paragraph abounding in figurative expressions is well illustrated by the following passage taken from a newspaper personality sketch of a popular pulpit orator:

His mind is all daylight. There are no subtle half-tones, or sensitive reserves, or significant shadows of silence, no landscape fading through purple mists to a romantic distance. All is clear, obvious, emphatic. There is little atmosphere and a lack of that humor that softens the contours of controversy. His thought is simple and direct and makes its appeal, not to culture, but to the primitive emotions. * * * * His strenuousness is a battle-cry to the crowd. He keeps his passion white hot; his body works like a windmill in a hurricane; his eyes flash lightnings; he seizes the enemy, as it were, by the throat, pommels him with breathless blows, and throws him aside a miserable wreck.

SENTENCES. For rapid reading the prime requisite of a good sentence is that its grammatical structure shall be evident; in other words, that the reader shall be able at a glance to see the relation of its parts. Involved sentences that require a second perusal before they yield their meaning, are clearly not adapted to the newspaper or magazine. Short sentences and those of medium length are, as a rule, more easily grasped than long ones, but for rapid reading the structure of the sentence, rather than its length, is the chief consideration. Absolute clearness is of paramount importance.

In hurried reading the eye is caught by the first group of words at the beginning of a sentence. These words make more of an impression on the reader's mind than do those in the middle or at the end of the sentence. In all journalistic writing, therefore, the position of greatest emphasis is the beginning. It is there that the most significant idea should be placed. Such an arrangement does not mean that the sentence need trail off loosely in a series of phrases and clauses. Firmness of structure can and should be maintained even though the strongest emphasis is at the beginning. In revising his article a writer often finds that he may greatly increase the effectiveness of his sentences by so rearranging the parts as to bring the important ideas close to the beginning.

LENGTH OF THE SENTENCE. Sentences may be classified according to length as (1) short, containing 15 words or less; (2) medium, from 15 to 30 words; and (3) long, 30 words or more. Each of these types of sentence has its own peculiar advantages.

The short sentence, because it is easily apprehended, is more emphatic than a longer one. Used in combination with medium and long sentences it gains prominence by contrast. It makes an emphatic beginning and a strong conclusion for a paragraph. As the last sentence of an article it is a good "snapper." In contrast with longer statements, it also serves as a convenient transition sentence.

The sentence of medium length lends itself readily to the expression of the average thought; but when used continuously it gives to the style a monotony of rhythm that soon becomes tiresome.

The long sentence is convenient for grouping details that are closely connected. In contrast with the rapid, emphatic short sentence, it moves slowly and deliberately, and so is well adapted to the expression of dignified and impressive thoughts.

To prevent monotony, variety of sentence length is desirable. Writers who unconsciously tend to use sentences of about the same length and of the same construction, need to beware of this uniformity.

The skillful use of single short sentences, of series of short sentences, of medium, and of long sentences, to give variety, to express thoughts effectively, and to produce harmony between the movement of the style and the ideas advanced, is well illustrated in the selection below. It is the beginning of a personality sketch of William II, the former German emperor, published in the London Daily News before the world war, and written by Mr. A.G. Gardiner, the editor of that paper.

When I think of the Kaiser I think of a bright May morning at Potsdam. It is the Spring Parade, and across from where we are gathered under the windows of the old palace the household troops are drawn up on the great parade ground, their helmets and banners and lances all astir in the jolly sunshine. Officers gallop hither and thither shouting commands. Regiments form and reform. Swords flash out and flash back again. A noble background of trees frames the gay picture with cool green foliage. There is a sudden stillness. The closely serried ranks are rigid and moveless. The shouts of command are silenced.

"The Kaiser."

He comes slowly up the parade ground on his white charger, helmet and eagle flashing in the sunshine, sitting his horse as if he lived in the saddle, his face turned to his men as he passes by.

"Morgen, meine Kinder." His salutation rings out at intervals in the clear morning air. And back from the ranks in chorus comes the response: "Morgen, Majestaet."

And as he rides on, master of a million men, the most powerful figure in Europe, reviewing his troops on the peaceful parade ground at Potsdam, one wonders whether the day will ever come when he will ride down those ranks on another errand, and when that cheerful response of the soldiers will have in it the ancient ring of doom—"Te morituri salutamus."

For answer, let us look at this challenging figure on the white charger. What is he? What has he done?

By the three short sentences in the first paragraph beginning "Officers gallop," the author depicts the rapid movement of the soldiers. By the next three short sentences in the same paragraph beginning, "There is a sudden stillness," he produces an impression of suspense. To picture the Kaiser coming up "slowly," he uses a long, leisurely sentence. The salutations "ring out" in short, crisp sentences. The more serious, impressive thought of the possibility of war finds fitting expression in the long, 64-word sentence, ending with the sonorous—"ring of doom," "Te morituri salutamus."

The transition between the introduction and the body of the sketch is accomplished by the last paragraph consisting of three short sentences, in marked contrast with the climactic effect with which the description closed.

PARAGRAPHS. The paragraph is a device that aids a writer to convey to readers his thoughts combined in the same groups in which they are arranged in his own mind. Since a small group of thoughts is more easily grasped than a large one, paragraphs in journalistic writing are usually considerably shorter than those of ordinary English prose. In the narrow newspaper column, there is room for only five or six words to a line. A paragraph of 250 words, which is the average length of the literary paragraph, fills between forty and fifty lines of a newspaper column. Such paragraphs seem heavy and uninviting. Moreover, the casual reader cannot readily comprehend and combine the various thoughts in so large a group of sentences. Although there is no standard column width for magazines, the number of words in a line does not usually exceed eight. A paragraph of 250 words that occupies 30 eight-word lines seems less attractive than one of half that length. The normal paragraph in journalistic writing seldom exceeds 100 words and not infrequently is much shorter. As such a paragraph contains not more than four or five sentences, the general reading public has little difficulty in comprehending it.

The beginning of the paragraph, like the beginning of the sentence, is the part that catches the eye. Significant ideas that need to be impressed upon the mind of the reader belong at the beginning. If his attention is arrested and held by the first group of words, he is likely to read on. If the beginning does not attract him, he skips down the column to the next paragraph, glancing merely at enough words in the paragraph that he skips to "get the drift of it." An emphatic beginning for a paragraph will insure attention for its contents.

REVISION. It is seldom that the first draft of an article cannot be improved by a careful revision. In going over his work, word by word and sentence by sentence, the writer will generally find many opportunities to increase the effectiveness of the structure and the style. Such revision, moreover, need not destroy the ease and naturalness of expression.

To improve the diction of his article, the writer should eliminate (1) superfluous words, (2) trite phrases, (3) general, colorless words, (4) terms unfamiliar to the average reader, unless they are explained, (5) words with a connotation inappropriate to the context, (6) hackneyed and mixed metaphors. The effectiveness of the expression may often be strengthened by the addition of specific, picture-making, imitative, and connotative words, as well as of figures of speech that clarify the ideas and stimulate the imagination.

Sentences may frequently be improved (1) by making their grammatical structure more evident, (2) by breaking up long, loose sentences into shorter ones, (3) by using short sentences for emphasis, (4) by varying the sentence length, (5) by transferring important ideas to the beginning of the sentence.

Every paragraph should be tested to determine whether or not it is a unified, coherent group of thoughts, containing not more than 100 words, with important ideas effectively massed at the beginning.

Finally, revision should eliminate all errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Every minute spent in improving an article adds greatly to its chances of being accepted.



IMPORTANCE OF HEAD AND TITLE. Headlines or titles, illustrations, and names of authors are the three things that first catch the eye of the reader as he turns over the pages of a newspaper or magazine. When the writer's name is unknown to him, only the illustrations and the heading remain to attract his attention.

The "attention-getting" value of the headline is fully appreciated not only by newspaper and magazine editors but by writers of advertisements. Just as the striking heads on the front page of a newspaper increase its sales, so, also, attractive titles on the cover of a magazine lead people to buy it, and so, too, a good headline in an advertisement arouses interest in what the advertiser is trying to sell.

A good title adds greatly to the attractiveness of an article. In the first place, the title is the one thing that catches the eye of the editor or manuscript reader, as he glances over the copy, and if the title is good, he carries over this favorable impression to the first page or two of the article itself. To secure such favorable consideration for a manuscript among the hundreds that are examined in editorial offices, is no slight advantage. In the second place, what is true of the editor and the manuscript is equally true of the reader and the printed article. No writer can afford to neglect his titles.

VARIETY IN FORM AND STYLE. Because newspapers and magazines differ in the size and the "make-up" of their pages, there is considerable variety in the style of headlines and titles given to special feature articles. Some magazine sections of newspapers have the full-size page of the regular edition; others have pages only half as large. Some newspapers use large eight-column display heads on their special articles, while others confine their headlines for feature stories to a column or two. Some papers regularly employ sub-titles in their magazine sections, corresponding to the "lines," "banks," and "decks" in their news headlines. This variety in newspapers is matched by that in magazines. Despite these differences, however, there are a few general principles that apply to all kinds of titles and headlines for special feature articles.

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD TITLE. To accomplish their purpose most effectively titles should be (1) attractive, (2) accurate, (3) concise, and (4) concrete.

The attractiveness of a title is measured by its power to arrest attention and to lead to a reading of the article. As a statement of the subject, the title makes essentially the same appeal that the subject itself does; that is, it may interest the reader because the idea it expresses has timeliness, novelty, elements of mystery or romance, human interest, relation to the reader's life and success, or connection with familiar or prominent persons or things. Not only the idea expressed, but the way in which it is expressed, may catch the eye. By a figurative, paradoxical, or interrogative form, the title may pique curiosity. By alliteration, balance, or rhyme, it may please the ear. It permits the reader to taste, in order to whet his appetite. It creates desires that only the article can satisfy.

In an effort to make his titles attractive, a writer must beware of sensationalism and exaggeration. The lurid news headline on the front page of sensational papers has its counterpart in the equally sensational title in the Sunday magazine section. All that has been said concerning unwholesome subject-matter for special feature stories applies to sensational titles. So, too, exaggerated, misleading headlines on news and advertisements are matched by exaggerated, misleading titles on special articles. To state more than the facts warrant, to promise more than can be given, to arouse expectations that cannot be satisfied—all are departures from truth and honesty.

Accuracy in titles involves, not merely avoidance of exaggerated and misleading statement, but complete harmony in tone and spirit between title and article. When the story is familiar and colloquial in style, the title should reflect that informality. When the article makes a serious appeal, the title should be dignified. A good title, in a word, is true to the spirit as well as to the letter.

Conciseness in titles is imposed on the writer by the physical limitations of type and page. Because the width of the column and of the page is fixed, and because type is not made of rubber, a headline must be built to fit the place it is to fill. Although in framing titles for articles it is not always necessary to conform to the strict requirements as to letters and spaces that limit the building of news headlines, it is nevertheless important to keep within bounds. A study of a large number of titles will show that they seldom contain more than three or four important words with the necessary connectives and particles. Short words, moreover, are preferred to long ones. By analyzing the titles in the publication to which he plans to send his article, a writer can frame his title to meet its typographical requirements.

The reader's limited power of rapid comprehension is another reason for brevity. A short title consisting of a small group of words yields its meaning at a glance. Unless the reader catches the idea in the title quickly, he is likely to pass on to something else. Here again short words have an advantage over long ones.

Concreteness in titles makes for rapid comprehension and interest. Clean-cut mental images are called up by specific words; vague ones usually result from general, abstract terms. Clear mental pictures are more interesting than vague impressions.

SUB-TITLES. Sub-titles are often used to supplement and amplify the titles. They are the counterparts of the "decks" and "banks" in news headlines. Their purpose is to give additional information, to arouse greater interest, and to assist in carrying the reader over, as it were, to the beginning of the article.

Since sub-titles follow immediately after the title, any repetition of important words is usually avoided. It is desirable to maintain the same tone in both title and sub-title. Occasionally the two together make a continuous statement. The length of the sub-title is generally about twice that of the title; that is, the average sub-title consists of from ten to twelve words, including articles and connectives. The articles, "a," "an," and "the," are not as consistently excluded from sub-titles as they are from newspaper headlines.

SOME TYPES OF TITLES. Attempts to classify all kinds of headlines and titles involve difficulties similar to those already encountered in the effort to classify all types of beginnings. Nevertheless, a separation of titles into fairly distinct, if not mutually exclusive, groups may prove helpful to inexperienced writers. The following are the nine most distinctive types of titles: (1) label; (2) "how" and "why" statement; (3) striking statement, including figure of speech, paradox, and expression of great magnitude; (4) quotation and paraphrase of quotation; (5) question; (6) direct address, particularly in imperative form; (7) alliteration; (8) rhyme; (9) balance.

The label title is a simple, direct statement of the subject. It has only as much interest and attractiveness as the subject itself possesses. Such titles are the following:

(1) RAISING GUINEA PIGS FOR A LIVING One Missouri Man Finds a Ready Market for All He Can Sell







The "how-to-do-something" article may be given a "how" title that indicates the character of the contents; for example:




(4) HOW TO SUCCEED AS A WRITER Woman Who "Knew She Could Write" Tells How She Began and Finally Got on the Right Road

The "how" title may also be used for an article that explains some phenomenon or process. Examples of such titles are these:




Articles that undertake to give causes and reasons are appropriately given "why" titles like the following:




A title may attract attention because of the striking character of the idea it expresses; for example:

(1) WANTED: $50,000 MEN




The paradoxical form of title piques curiosity by seeming to make a self-contradictory statement, as, for example, the following:

(1) SHIPS OF STONE Seaworthy Concrete Vessels an Accomplished Fact







A striking figure of speech in a title stimulates the reader's imagination and arouses his interest; for example:






A familiar quotation may be used for the title and may stand alone, but often a sub-title is desirable to show the application of the quotation to the subject, thus:

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