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Articles Composed Of Units.

The study of the two special feature stories on the factory school shows how articles of this type are built up out of a number of units, such as examples, incidents, and statistics

The study of the two special feature stories on the factory school shows how articles of this type are built up out of a number of units, such as examples, incidents, and statistics. A similar study of the other types of articles exemplified in Chapter V will show that they also are made up of various kinds of units. Again, if we turn to the types of beginnings illustrated in Chapter VII, we shall find that they, too, are units, which in some cases might have been used in the body of the article instead of as an introduction. Since, then, every division of a subject may be regarded as a unit that is complete in itself whatever its position in the article, each of the several kinds of units may be studied separately. For this purpose we may discuss five common types of units: (1) examples, (2) incidents, (3) statistics, (4) scientific and technical processes, and (5) recipes and directions.

Methods of Developing Units. In order to present these units most effectively, and to vary the form of presentation when occasion demands, a writer needs to be familiar with the different methods of developing each one of these types.

Four common methods of handling material within these units are: (1) exposition, narration, or description in the writer's own words; (2) dialogue; (3) the interview; (4) direct or indirect quotation. Statistics and recipes may also be given in tabular form.

When a unit may be developed with equal effectiveness by any one of several methods, a writer should choose the one that gives variety to his article. If, for example, the units just before and after the one under consideration are to be in direct quotation, he should avoid any form that involves quoted matter.

Examples. In all types of articles the concrete example is the commonest and most natural means of explaining a general idea. To most readers, for instance, the legal provisions of an old age pension law would be neither comprehensible nor interesting, but a story showing how a particular old man had been benefited by the law would appeal to practically every one. That is, to explain the operation and advantages of such a law, we give, as one unit, the concrete example of this old man. Actual examples are preferable to hypothetical ones, but the latter may occasionally be used when real cases are not available.

Imaginary instances may be introduced by such phrases as, "If, for example," or "Suppose, for instance, that." To explain why companies that insure persons against loss of their jewelry are compelled to investigate carefully every claim filed with them, a writer in the Buffalo News gave several cases in which individuals supposed that they were entitled to payment for losses although subsequent investigation showed that they had not actually sustained any loss. One of these cases, that given below, he decided to relate in his own words, without conversation or quotation, although he might have quoted part of the affidavit, or might have given the dialogue between the detective and the woman who had lost the pin. No doubt he regarded the facts themselves, together with the suspense as to the outcome of the search, as sufficiently interesting to render unnecessary any other device for creating interest.

Another woman of equal wealth and equally undoubted honesty lost a horseshoe diamond pin. She and her maid looked everywhere, as they thought, but failed to find it. So she made her "proof of loss" in affidavit form and asked the surety company with which she carried the policy on all her jewelry to replace the article.

She said in her affidavit that she had worn the pin in a restaurant a few nights before and had lost it that night, either in the restaurant or on her way there or back. The restaurant management had searched for it, the restaurant help had been questioned closely, the automobile used that night had been gone over carefully, and the woman's home had been ransacked. Particular attention had been given to the gown worn by the woman on that occasion; every inch of it had been examined with the idea that the pin, falling from its proper place, had caught in the folds.

The surety company assigned one of its detectives to look for the pin. From surface indications the loss had the appearance of a theft —an "inside job." The company, however, asked that its detective be allowed to search the woman's house itself. The request was granted readily. The detective then inquired for the various gowns which the woman had worn for dress occasions within the preceding several weeks.

This line of investigation the owner of the pin considered a waste of time, since she remembered distinctly wearing the pin to the restaurant on that particular night, and her husband also remembered seeing it that night and put his memory in affidavit form. But the detective persisted and with the help of a maid examined carefully those other gowns.

In the ruffle at the bottom of one of them, worn for the last time at least a week before the visit to the restaurant, she found the pin. The woman and her husband simply had been mistaken—honestly mistaken. She hadn't worn the pin to the restaurant, and her husband hadn't seen it that night. The error was unintentional, but it came very near costing the surety company a large sum of money.

The benefits of a newly established clinic for animals were demonstrated in a special feature article in the New York Times by the selection of several animal patients as typical cases. Probably the one given below did not seem to the writer to be sufficiently striking if only the bare facts were given, and so he undertook to create sympathy by describing the poor, whimpering little dog and the distress of the two young women. By arousing the sympathies of the readers, he was better able to impress them with the benefits of the clinic.

The other day Daisy, a little fox terrier, was one of the patients. She was a pretty little thing, three months old, with a silky coat and big, pathetic eyes. She was escorted to the clinic by two hatless young women, in shawls, and three children. The children waited outside in the reception room, standing in a line, grinning self-consciously, while the women followed Daisy into the examination room. There she was gently muzzled with a piece of bandage, and the doctor examined her. There was something the matter with one hind leg, and the poor little animal whimpered pitifully, as dogs do, while the doctor searched for a broken bone. It was too much for one of the women. She left the room, and, standing outside the door, put her fingers in her ears, while the tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Well, I wouldn't cry for a dog," said a workman, putting in some S.P.C.A. receiving boxes, with a grin, while the three children—and children are always more or less little savages—grinned sympathetically. But it was a very real sorrow for Daisy's mistress.

There was no reason for alarm; it was only a sprain, caused by her mistress' catching the animal by the leg when she was giving her a bath. Her friends were told to take her home, bathe the leg with warm water, and keep her as quiet as possible. Her mistress, still with a troubled face, wrapped her carefully in the black shawl she was wearing, so that only the puppy's little white head and big, soft eyes peeped out, and the small procession moved away.

In a special feature story designed to show how much more intelligently the first woman judge in this country could deal with cases of delinquent girls in the juvenile court than could the ordinary police court judge, a writer selected several cases that she had disposed of in her characteristic way. The first case, which follows, he decided could best be reported verbatim, as by that method he could show most clearly the kindly attitude of the judge in dealing with even the least appreciative of girls.

The first case brought in the other day was that of a girl of 16, who hated her home and persisted in running away, sometimes to a married sister, and sometimes to a friend. She was accompanied by her mother and older sister, both with determined lower jaws and faces as hard as flint. She swaggered into the room in an impudent way to conceal the fact that her bravado was leaving her.

"Ella," said Miss Bartelme, looking up from her desk, "why didn't you tell me the truth when you came in here the other day? You did not tell me where you had been. Don't you understand that it is much easier for me to help you if you speak the truth right away?" Ella hung her head and said nothing. The older sister scowled at the girl and muttered something to the mother.

"No," refused the mother, on being questioned. "We don't want nothing more to do with her." "Humph," snorted Ella, "you needn't think I want to come back. I don't want nothing more to do with you, either." Miss Bartelme often lets the family fight things out among themselves; for in this way, far more than by definite questioning, she learns the attitude of the girl and the family toward each other, and indirectly arrives at most of the actual facts of the case.

"How would you like to go into a good home where some one would love you and care for you?" asked the judge.

"I don't want nobody to love me." "Why, Ella, wouldn't you like to have a kind friend, somebody you could confide in and go walking with and who would be interested in you?" "I don't want no friends. I just want to be left alone." "Well, Ella," said the judge, patiently, ignoring her sullenness, "I think we shall send you back to Park Ridge for a while. But if you ever change your mind about wanting friends let us know, because we'll be here and shall feel the same way as we do now about it." To explain to readers of the Kansas City Star how a bloodhound runs down a criminal, a special feature writer asked them to imagine that a crime had been committed at a particular corner in that city and that a bloodhound had been brought to track the criminal; then he told them what would happen if the crime were committed, first, when the streets were deserted, or second, when they were crowded. In other words, he gave two imaginary instances to illustrate the manner in which bloodhounds are able to follow a trail. Obviously these two hypothetical cases are sufficiently plausible and typical to explain the idea.

If a bloodhound is brought to the scene of the crime within a reasonable length of time after it has been committed, and the dog has been properly trained, he will unfailingly run down the criminal, provided, of course, that thousands of feet have not tramped over the ground.

If, for instance, a crime were committed at Twelfth and Walnut streets at 3 o'clock in the morning, when few persons are on the street, a well-trained bloodhound would take the trail of the criminal at daybreak and stick to it with a grim determination that appears to be uncanny, and he would follow the trail as swiftly as if the hunted man had left his shadow all along the route.

But let the crime be committed at noon when the section is alive with humanity and remain undiscovered until after dark, then the bloodhound is put at a disadvantage and his wonderful powers would fail him, no doubt.

Reference book: How To Write Special Feature Articles

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