Before you sit down to write features for Cosmos Media, we want you to go through 2000-8000 words (depending on the type and length of feature) worth of research. This is our way of making sure that you have done thorough study of the topic.

Unless you go through this much research, you cannot possibly understand enough about your chosen subject. And while you’re at it, just streamline your research to look for just what you’re looking for. No useless crap and research that takes you away from the issue/topic at hand. For example, if you are doing a feature on the truth behind out-of-body experiences, look specifically for information that advances your understanding of the reality behind this phenomenon. You do research on the popular myths or urban legends about out-of-body experiences, logic behind this phenomenon, what do the doctors, experts, and psychologists say. Waste less time and research work on the general facts about this topic, which can go separately in a box within the article.

Then you put all that you find out in the final 300-800 words feature article, including interesting quotes from experts and people who have experienced out-of-body phenomenon. While writing, keep asking yourself if what you are putting down is clear, informative, and interesting. What finally counts is that our feature has to enlighten people in a clear and interesting manner.

Next, whenever you decide on the feature topic on your own, always let us know the focus of the feature. The ‘peg of the story’ has to be very clear in our minds. For example, if we are covering breast cancer in women, what about this cancer you like to focus on? Since ‘breast cancer’ is a vast subject, we cannot possibly cover the whole topic, unless of course, we’re writing a book on breast cancer.

What exactly about breast cancer should be the focus? Should it be the recent developments in breast cancer or how it affects other family members or something else? The general background information on this topic can always go in a separately written 2-3 paragraphs, as a ‘box’ within the feature. To decide on the ‘peg of the story’ about breast cancer, see what’s been happening in the medical world lately.

Next, we try not to be didactic. So don’t preach, unless you are a very wise, old scientist and everyone knows you to be so; or you are writing a personal column or a blog. Instead of telling people to do something a la a preacher, we say it through facts, expert opinions, researched findings, and results of studies done by professionals and experts. We don’t just say stuff. We prove with all the research we have undertaken for the benefit of the readers. Only a few didactic statements are allowed, but more than a few such lines begin to weigh the feature down.

People will read if Bill Gates is writing about computers or Tiger Woods is writing about golf or Mother Teresa is writing about social work. Unless you are an expert in a field and well known to be so, you are better off sticking to other experts’ researches, works, findings, wordings, quotes, etc., to advance your arguments. So, when you sit down to write a feature, always write with a skeptical scientist as a reader in mind. This type of reader doesn’t buy an argument easily. He has to be convinced about the authenticity of every argument and idea you put across in the feature.

Any questions on these? Give us a tinkle or shoot us a mail.

Harpreet Bhagrath