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Feature story breaks ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Do you prefer subheads, or a line of *** (or a similar symbol)?

    Most newspapers go with subheads, and most magazines have breaks with symbol. When I write a sizable feature, I prefer the symbols, only because I think subheads (mostly written by copy editors) are forced too often. You don't get that problem with symbols.

  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I hate subheads in anything other than a notebook.

    I like the ***
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member



  4. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Fortunately, I write them so they don't suck.
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I think it really varies on the story and the reason for the breaks. If you are switching subjects, then subheads are much easier to follow. If you are allowing for a lapse in time in a narrative, then ellipses take less away from the flow.
  6. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Or you can always bypass the *** or the subheads by throwing a drop cap in the first paragraph of the new section.

    Also, just because a feature is long doesn't necessarily mean it needs any kind of breaks. Some can stand on their own without breaks. Only use when necessary.
  7. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    What you should use depends on what your publication's style is. Failing that, use what's most effective for what you're writing. I prefer a gimcrack over a subhed, but I've used both for different purposes.

    A subhed is good if you're doing blocks of text about entirely separate subjects within one story. A gimcrack is more versatile, I think, since it still allows you to break up banks of gray type without having an extraneous thought (the subhed) intruding into your text. And, if you're so inclined, it lets you craft some fresh hooks (miniature ledes) to keep the story moving.

    For what it's worth: An alternative technique is to hit an additional return -- a blank line -- and then use a dropcap (smaller than the one at the beginning of your story). Another one is to hit an additional return and then start the next paragraph without an indent, and put the first three or four words in all-caps and bold. We use both of those techniques frequently here in Magazineland.

    P.S. -- Acknowledging that versatile and JackReacher addressed two of my points while I was composing my note.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  8. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Love the idea of the dropcap for each new section.
  9. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    On our desk, we just cut the length of the story until it no longer needs any sort of break.
  10. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    I prefer symbols. Subheads feel like reading for dummies. It's like a trigger to tell readers, "Hey! Check it out -- Story inside a story!"
  11. I used to agree with Ryan - thought that any sort of break was just an excuse not to write a transition.

    Probably have softened on that stance over the past few years; from a design perspective, it's nice to break up the gray and thus easier to lure a reader into a long story. I prefer *** to subheads.
  12. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    As a reader and a journalist, I like the subheads, and I'll tell you why.

    They work like teases.

    Not that print should take anything from TV, God forbid, but subheads, especially if they're a bit sexy, do tempt me to keep reading. They also keep a long article from seeming so daunting. Hey-- it's the world in which we live.

    I can think of a great subhead used in the NY Times "Your Brain on Computers" series last year. It was something like:

    Multimillion Dollar Deal Interrupted by a Corpse

    That one got me wondering, "What's that about?" Teasey, very teasey.
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