Final Writing Assignment – A Personal Profile Article
You are going to write a story about a classmate. Try not to make it a simple biographical profile but rather a story about a current passion, a major past life event, or a dream for the future.
Take at least 30 minutes to interview each other. You can ask the questions below or any others you’d like. Try to find an interesting ‘angle’ and pursue that by asking lots of follow-up questions.
- What’s on your mind these days?
- What’s something most people don’t know about you?
- What were the most significant events/turning points of your life?
- What do you want to be doing in 5, 10, 20 years?
- What is your biggest regret?
- Who are your heroes and role models?
- What are you most proud of so far?
- What’s your favorite (book, quote, movie, song, etc..)? Why?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What would you like to change about yourself?
- How would you describe yourself? How would you like to be described?
- What have been the highlights and lowlights of your life? time at BUFS? semester?
- Tell me about your family. Close friends.
- How would you describe your family culture?
- What were you like as a child? teenager?
- What was your dream job as a child? What is it now?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What have been the best and worst parts of your university experience?
Writing a Personal Profile Article
- How to Write a Profile Feature Article – The New York Times
Decide on an approach. Outlining your story is the best way to start. This means reviewing your notes, marking the most interesting or articulate quotes, making a list of important points, and creating a structure into which you can fit your information. Spend extra time of the beginning of your story. Readers will decide whether to proceed based on the capacity of your lede to grab their interest.Put your story in context. You must help answer a reader’s biggest question about any story: Why should I care?
- Show, don’t tell. It is tempting to describe a room as messy or a person as nice. But carefully-observed details and well-chosen verbs make a much stronger impression than adjectives.
- Focus on what’s most compelling. Before you start writing, think through all the information you have and all the points you plan to make. What’s surprising? What’s important? What’s useful?
- How to Write a Profile StoryThat theme should be introduced in the lead, it should be explored and often it will be returned to at the end of the story. Something of a person’s character, spirit and style will then be revealed through that theme.
Be Curious: Good reporting skills equal good observation and listening skills. If you don’t understand something, ask the person to explain. Underline or circle all names, ideas, etc you’re unsure of so you can double check them.
- Seven Tips for Producing Great Profiles
Avoid Factual Overload
Too many beginning reporters write profiles that are little more than an accretion of facts about the people they are profiling. But readers don’t particularly care when someone was born, or what year they graduated from college. So yes, include some basic biographical information about your subject, but don’t overdo it.Avoid Chronologies
Another rookie mistake is to write a profile as a chronological narrative, starting with the person’s birth and plodding through their life up to the present. That’s boring. Take the good stuff – whatever it is that makes your profile subject interesting – and emphasize that right from the start.
Make a Point About Your Subject
Once you’ve done all your reporting and gotten to know your subject reasonably well, don’t be afraid to tell your readers what you’ve learned. In other words, make a point about what kind of person your subject is. Is your subject shy or aggressive, strong-willed or ineffectual, mild or hot-tempered? If you write a profile that doesn’t say something definitive about its subject, then you haven’t done the job.
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