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Human Interest Story. The Art of Telling Stories. So What is a Human Interest Piece ?. Human Interest Stories are told in a less hurried and generally more creative way than straight 5W and H news.

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Human interest story

Human Interest Story

The Art of Telling Stories

So what is a human interest piece
So What is a Human Interest Piece?

  • Human Interest Stories are told in a less hurried and generally more creative way than straight 5W and H news.

  • You don’t use the inverted pyramid and don’t have to start with the most important details.

  • You choose a unique subject, or unique angle to hook in the reader.

Human interest story1
Human Interest Story

  • Human Interest Feature Involves persons rather than things. It’s a story that will make the reader think AND feel.

Human interest structure
Human Interest Structure






The human interest lead
The Human Interest Lead

  • This is your opening paragraph or two.

  • It’s important to set the table and hook in your readers with creative, descriptive writing.

  • Try some of the following creative options …

Human interest lead options
Human Interest Lead Options

  • Focus on a single person for your lead.

    Tell the story through one person’s eyes.

  • Focus on an incident or anecdote.

    Describe a specific moment or scene. Show, don’t tell.

  • Try a startling statement or dialogue or other devices.

  • Describe a setting as a way of establishing the theme of a piece

More great human interest leads
More Great Human Interest Leads

  • Quotation: begins with an unusually revealing quote.

    • “If you never try, you never succeed.” With Mrs. Nelson’s words of encouragement, nervous students began tryouts for the school play, Our Town.

  • One Word: captures the reader in a single word.

    • Fire! Chemistry lab partners Jill Nelson and Todd Anderson took the “heat” when their test tube exploded.

  • Contrast: describes two extremes or opposites.

    • Night and day. Speech Club members worked ‘round the clock to finish their Homecoming float.

  • Astonisher: begins with an exclamation that catches the reader off guard.

    • Nothing is worse than a bad hair day! Especially when it’s time to take your yearbook picture.

  • Punch: features actions or makes a dramatic statement.

    • “C’est magnifique!”When the French Club dined at Chez Paul, members feasted on baguettes and brie!

More great human interest leads1
More Great Human Interest Leads

  • Summary: summarizes the most important of the five W’s and H.

    • While senior cheerleaders watched from the gym bleachers, sophomore “wanna-bes” tried out for the squad during the first week of school.

  • Question: leads the readers into the story. Be cautious with this one. It’s the most abused feature lead, too often leaving readers with a feeling of “who cares?”

    • Why do fools fall in love?

  • Sequential: presents the events in the order in which they happened.

    • Painting the town red (and black), basketball fans create pep signs before the State Championship send-off rally.

  • Sights & Sounds: creates a scenario bringing the event to life.

    • Steam fogged the windows as the marching band’s bus sped through the pouring rain carrying them to the Memorial Day parade.

Human interest lead let s write it
Human Interest Lead … Let’s Write It!

  • Gather your thoughts and write 3 different types of leads for your feature article.

  • If you can’t write them now, write down the 3 different types you plan to write, then write them later after interviews or research.

  • Select the strongest, hookiest one!

    Single PersonIncident or Anecdote Startling statement

    Describe a setting Quotation One Word

    Contrast Punch Summary

    Question Sequential Sights & Sounds

Now let s critique some human interest leads
Now, Let’s Critique Some Human Interest Leads

  • With your partner, read each of the student-written leads on the handout and determine which you think are the strongest and which need more work.

  • Be prepared to give reasons for your choices.

  • Also, be prepared to suggest how to improve the leads that you consider weak.

Back to the human interest structure
Back to the Human Interest Structure






The billboard
The Billboard

  • After the lead, write the billboard paragraph.

  • The billboard is a summary of what the story is about.

    • It’s the 5 Ws and H that you didn’t answer in the lead.


He heard the shot and then felt the pain, but only for a moment. Within seconds, junior Jeb Smith blacked out and went into shock.

“I don’t remember much of the shooting,” he said. “I remember it felt like someone punched their fist right through my face, but then I went black.”

Last summer, Jeb’s five-year-old brother accidentally shot him in the face with his father’s loaded 57-magnum. Jeb lost his right eye and part of his right ear in the accident but suffered no permanent brain damage.

“I was extremely lucky,” Jeb said. “The doctor said the bullet missed my brain by an inch. I still have a long way to go with my reconstructive surgery, but I am just glad I am alive.”





Transition quote body
Transition/Quote Body

  • After the Billboard is the Body of the Story

  • Keep related material together and weave your subtopic (legs) from your topic spider into the story.

  • Divide the subtopics into sections (paragraphs).

  • Each paragraph tells a different part of the story.

  • Between each new section, there must be a transition sentence that segues from one subtopic to the next.

  • Your transition sets up all the information in the next paragraph and ties it in with what’s already been written.

Transition quote formula
Transition/Quote Formula

If you have quotes (sources), try something called the transition/quote formula …

T: Jeb still needs four more surgeries, but none of them will help him regain his sight.

Q: “I am glad that they are going to make me look more like my old self,” Jeb said. “But I am upset about my eye. I wanted to be a pilot and now that dream is shattered.”

T: Jeb’s said his little brother, Shane, found the gun in his father dresser bureau on that summer day.

Q: “I think he was just curious,” Jeb said. “I didn’t think the gun was loaded so I just told him to put it away. And then, bam, my life changed forever.”

The conclusion
The Conclusion

  • Once you have used all your information and included all your subtopics in the body, it’s time for the conclusion.

  • The conclusion brings a sense of finality and resolution.

    • Wrap up loose ends and leave reader with a single, significant thought.

    • End stories in memorable ways.

    • Often it’s a good to use a powerful quote. This is called a clincher.

    • Or, tie the ending back to the lead (call-back to earlier in the story).

    • You could also make a statement that looks to the future.