For about a year now, I’ve had the pleasure of doing feature articles as part of my duties for the Houston Herald.

In my efforts to “feature” people and circumstances in Houston and Texas County, I think it’s fair to say I’ve been both surprised and amazed by how much I’ve discovered and uncovered.

Of course, feature articles are usually centered around people and things they’re involved in, and in my rounds I’ve met and enjoyed working with representatives of all walks of life, from cowboys and collectors, to hunters and harvesters.

Subsequently, I now know more than I knew there was to know about many things, like quilting, K-9 search teams, the brewing of “liquid enjoyment,” and several forms of agriculture.

I’ve gotten to know some Sharp Shooters, Silver Nickel Shooters, long range shooters, and several of the area’s aspiring below-par shooters.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

I’ve even shared some time with people who have done something so well for so long, they have garnered the unofficial status of royalty within a given field.

Through it all, I can’t say I’ve really given a lot of thought to how to present a feature. I’ve basically just gotten the information and put it together in whatever way it seemed to demand.

Which brings into play a very legitimate question: what exactly is a feature story or article?

I guess my own definition would be that a feature story should inform people of a topic or situation they aren’t aware of, introduce them to someone who’s involved in it and provide some insight or background regarding the subject.

Then again, a feature story could take something or someone people are familiar with, but then share information about that thing or person that people don’t already know.

But whichever angle the story begins from, the key is the highlighting of the unknown, the unusual, and the unexpected. Anecdotal tidbits, clever quotes, wise observations, and eyebrow-raising statistics never hurt, and the greater the “who knew?” factor, the better.

At the same time, it’s about being interesting. If it’s not interesting, well, we’ve all heard about putting lipstick on a pig.

Naturally, peoples’ differing opinions and viewpoints will cause variation in what they find interesting. Put 20 people in a room and give them the same story to read and the likelihood is slim that they’ll all have a positive response.

But that’s not to say it’s a total craps shoot. Interesting is interesting, to some extent, so at least there’s always a chance that the needle on the enjoy-o-meter will make it above 50-percent.

The good news is that around here, there’s no need to “dig up” feature stories. In a community possessing as much diversity as this one, they just kind of pop up on their own.

In fact, they often have a way of manifesting almost independent my doing. I just carry the voice recorder, note pad and camera, and a story goes its own way from there.

Fortunately, whether I control the story or it controls itself, the interesting quotient is often enough to avoid the whole pigs-n-lipstick thing.

Anyway, I figure there should be enough stuff available in this area to fuel the feature train for about another century or so.

With that many options at hand, it’s just a matter of plugging away.

One feature at a time.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Emailddavison@houstonherald.com.

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