WRITING THE ARTICLE
From: How To Write Special Feature Articles
(Category: PART I
VALUE OF A PLAN. Just as a builder would hesitate to erect a house
without a carefully worked-out plan, so a writer should be loath to
begin an article before he has outlined it fully. In planning a
building, an architect considers how large a house his client desires,
how many rooms he must provide, how the space available may best be
apportioned among the rooms, and what relation the rooms are to bear to
one another. In outlining an article, likewise, a writer needs to
determine how long it must be, what material it should include, how much
space should be devoted to each part, and how the parts should be
arranged. Time spent in thus planning an article is time well spent.
Outlining the subject fully involves thinking out the article from
beginning to end. The value of each item of the material gathered must
be carefully weighed; its relation to the whole subject and to every
part must be considered. The arrangement of the parts is of even greater
importance, because much of the effectiveness of the presentation will
depend upon a logical development of the thought. In the last analysis,
good writing means clear thinking, and at no stage in the preparation of
an article is clear thinking more necessary than in the planning of it.
Amateurs sometimes insist that it is easier to write without an outline
than with one. It undoubtedly does take less time to dash off a special
feature story than it does to think out all of the details and then
write it. In nine cases out of ten, however, when a writer attempts to
work out an article as he goes along, trusting that his ideas will
arrange themselves, the result is far from a clear, logical,
well-organized presentation of his subject. The common disinclination to
make an outline is usually based on the difficulty that most persons
experience in deliberately thinking about a subject in all its various
aspects, and in getting down in logical order the results of such
thought. Unwillingness to outline a subject generally means
unwillingness to think.
THE LENGTH OF AN ARTICLE. The length of an article is determined by two
considerations: the scope of the subject, and the policy of the
publication for which it is intended. A large subject cannot be
adequately treated in a brief space, nor can an important theme be
disposed of satisfactorily in a few hundred words. The length of an
article, in general, should be proportionate to the size and the
importance of the subject.
The deciding factor, however, in fixing the length of an article is the
policy of the periodical for which it is designed. One popular
publication may print articles from 4000 to 6000 words, while another
fixes the limit at 1000 words. It would be quite as bad judgment to
prepare a 1000-word article for the former, as it would be to send one
of 5000 words to the latter. Periodicals also fix certain limits for
articles to be printed in particular departments. One monthly magazine,
for instance, has a department of personality sketches which range from
800 to 1200 words in length, while the other articles in this periodical
contain from 2000 to 4000 words.
The practice of printing a column or two of reading matter on most of
the advertising pages influences the length of articles in many
magazines. To obtain an attractive make-up, the editors allow only a
page or two of each special article, short story, or serial to appear in
the first part of the magazine, relegating the remainder to the
advertising pages. Articles must, therefore, be long enough to fill a
page or two in the first part of the periodical and several columns on
the pages of advertising. Some magazines use short articles, or
"fillers," to furnish the necessary reading matter on these advertising
Newspapers of the usual size, with from 1000 to 1200 words in a column,
have greater flexibility than magazines in the matter of make-up, and
can, therefore, use special feature stories of various lengths. The
arrangement of advertisements, even in the magazine sections, does not
affect the length of articles. The only way to determine exactly the
requirements of different newspapers and magazines is to count the words
in typical articles in various departments.
SELECTION AND PROPORTION. After deciding on the length of his article,
the writer should consider what main points he will be able to develop
in the allotted space. His choice will be guided by his purpose in
writing the article. "Is this point essential to the accomplishment of
my aim?" is the test he should apply. Whatever is non-essential must be
abandoned, no matter how attractive it may be. Having determined upon
the essential topics, he next proceeds to estimate their relative value
for the development of his theme, so that he may give to each one the
space and the prominence that are proportionate to its importance.
ARRANGEMENT OF MATERIAL. The order in which to present the main topics
requires thoughtful study. A logical development of a subject by which
the reader is led, step by step, from the first sentence to the last in
the easiest and most natural way, is the ideal arrangement. An article
should march right along from beginning to end, without digressing or
marking time. The straight line, in writing as in drawing, is the
shortest distance between two points.
In narration the natural order is chronological. To arouse immediate
interest, however, a writer may at times deviate from this order by
beginning with a striking incident and then going back to relate the
events that led up to it. This method of beginning _in medias res_ is a
device well recognized in fiction. In exposition the normal order is to
proceed from the known to the unknown, to dovetail the new facts into
those already familiar to the reader.
When a writer desires by his article to create certain convictions in
the minds of his readers, he should consider the arrangement best
calculated to lead them to form such conclusions. The most telling
effects are produced, not by stating his own conclusions as strongly as
possible, but rather by skillfully inducing his readers to reach those
conclusions by what they regard as their own mental processes. That is,
if readers think that the convictions which they have reached are their
own, and were not forced upon them, their interest in these ideas is
likely to be much deeper and more lasting. It is best, therefore, to
understate conclusions or to omit them entirely. In all such cases the
writer's aim in arranging his material should be to direct his readers'
train of thought so that, after they have finished the last sentence,
they will inevitably form the desired conclusion.
With the main topics arranged in the best possible order, the writer
selects from his available material such details as he needs to amplify
each point. Examples, incidents, statistics, and other particulars he
jots down under each of the chief heads. The arrangement of these
details, in relation both to the central purpose and to each other,
requires some consideration, for each detail must have its logical place
in the series. Having thus ordered his material according to a
systematic plan, he has before him a good working outline to guide him
PLANNING A TYPICAL ARTICLE. The process of gathering, evaluating, and
organizing material may best be shown by a concrete example. The
publication in a New York paper of a news story to the effect that the
first commencement exercises were about to be held in the only factory
school ever conducted in the city, suggested to a special feature writer
the possibility of preparing an article on the work of the school. To
obtain the necessary material, he decided to attend the exercises and to
interview both the principal of the school and the head of the factory.
In thinking over the subject beforehand, he jotted down these points
upon which to secure data: (1) the origin and the purpose of the school;
(2) its relation to the work of the factory; (3) the methods of
instruction; (4) the kind of pupils and the results accomplished for
them; (5) the cost of the school; (6) its relation to the public school
system. At the close of the graduation exercises, he secured the
desired interviews with the teacher in charge and with the head of the
firm, copied typical examples from the exhibition of the pupils' written
work, and jotted down notes on the decoration and furnishing of the
schoolroom. Since the commencement exercises had been reported in the
newspapers, he decided to refer to them only incidentally in his story.
After considering the significance of the work of the school and what
there was about it that would appeal to different classes of readers, he
decided to write his story for the magazine section of the New York
newspaper that he believed was most generally read by business men who
operated factories similar to the one described. His purpose he
formulated thus: "I intend to show how illiterate immigrant girls can be
transformed quickly into intelligent, efficient American citizens by
means of instruction in a factory school; this I wish to do by
explaining what has been accomplished in this direction by one New York
factory." He hoped that his article would lead readers to encourage the
establishment of similar schools as a means of Americanizing alien
girls. The expository type of article containing concrete examples,
description, and interviews he concluded to adopt as the form best
suited to his subject.
The average length of the special feature stories, in the magazine
section of the paper to which he intended to submit the article, proved
to be about 2000 words. In order to accomplish his purpose in an article
of this length, he selected five main topics to develop: (1) the reasons
that led the firm to establish the school; (2) the results obtained; (3)
the methods of instruction; (4) the cost of the school; (5) the
schoolroom and its equipment.
"What part of my material will make the strongest appeal to the readers
of this newspaper?" was the question he asked himself, in order to
select the best point with which to begin his article. The feature that
would attract the most attention, he believed, was the striking results
obtained by the school in a comparatively short time.
In reviewing the several types of beginnings to determine which would
best suit the presentation of these remarkable results, he found two
possibilities: first, the summary lead with a striking statement for the
first sentence; and second, a concrete example of the results as shown
by one of the pupils. He found, however, that he did not have sufficient
data concerning any one girl to enable him to tell the story of her
transformation as an effective concrete case. He determined, therefore,
to use a striking statement as the feature of a summary lead.
From his interview with the head of the firm, and from a formal
statement of the purpose of the school printed on the commencement
program, he obtained the reasons why the school had been established.
These he decided to give _verbatim_ in direct quotation form.
To show most interestingly the results of the teaching, he picked out
four of the six written exercises that he had copied from those
exhibited on the walls of the schoolroom. The first of these dealt with
American history, the second with thrift and business methods, and the
third with personal hygiene. For the fourth he selected the work of a
woman of forty whose struggles to get into the school and to learn to
write the teacher had described to him.
Figures on the cost of the school he had secured from the head of the
firm according to his preliminary plan. These covered the expense both
to the employers and to the city.
His description of the schoolroom he could base on his own observation,
supplemented by the teacher's explanations.
For his conclusion he determined to summarize the results of this
experiment in education as the firm stated them on the commencement
program, and to give his own impression of the success of the school.
Thus he sought to give final reinforcement to the favorable impression
of the school that he wished his article to create, with the aim of
leading readers to reach the conclusion that such schools should be
encouraged as invaluable aids to the Americanization of alien girls.
OUTLINING THE ARTICLE. Having selected the main topics and having
decided in a general way how he intended to develop each one, he then
fixed upon the best order in which to present them.
After his introduction giving the striking results of the school in a
summary lead, it seemed logical to explain the firm's purpose in
undertaking this unusual enterprise. He accordingly jotted down for his
second topic, "Purpose in establishing the school," with the two
sub-topics, "Firm's statement on program" and "Head of firm's statement
The methods of-instruction by which the remarkable success was attained,
impressed him as the next important point. His readers, having learned
the results and the purpose of the school, would naturally want to know
by what methods these girls had been transformed in so short a time. As
his third topic, therefore, he put down, "Methods of instruction."
For his fourth division he had to choose between (1) the results as
shown by the pupils' written work, (2) the cost of the school, and (3)
the schoolroom and its equipment. From the point of view of logical
order either the results or the schoolroom might have been taken up
next, but, as all the explanations of the methods of instruction were
quoted directly in the words of the teacher, and as the pupils'
exercises were to be given _verbatim_, he thought it best to place his
own description of the schoolroom between these two quoted parts.
Greater variety, he foresaw, would result from such an arrangement. "The
schoolroom," then, became the fourth topic.
Since the pupils' work which he planned to reproduce had been exhibited
on the walls of the schoolroom, the transition from the description of
the room to the exhibits on the walls was an easy and logical one.
By this process of elimination, the cost of the school became the sixth
division, to be followed by the summary conclusion.
He then proceeded to fill in the details needed to develop each of
these main topics, always keeping his general purpose in mind. The
result of this organization of material was the following outline:
I. Summary lead
1. Striking results--time required
2. Commencement--when and where held
3. Graduates--number, nationality, certificates
4. School--when and where established
5. Example to other firms
II. Purpose of school
1. Firm's statement on commencement program
2. Head of firm's statement in interview
III. Methods of instruction
1. Practical education
2. Letter writing--geography, postal regulations, correspondence
3. Arithmetic--money, expense accounts, reports of work
4. Civics--history, biography, holidays, citizenship, patriotism
5. Personal hygiene--cleanliness, physical culture, first aid,
6. Cotton goods--growing cotton, spinning, shipping
7. Means of communication--telephone, directory, map of city,
routes of travel, telephone book
8. Study outside of classroom
IV. The schoolroom
1. Location--floor space, windows
2. Decorations--flowers, motto, photograph of Miss Jessie Wilson
3. Furnishings--piano, phonograph
4. Library--reading to the girls, _The Promised Land_, Mary Antin,
V. Results shown by pupils' work
1. Italian's theme and her remarkable progress
2. Russian's essay on saving
3. Polish girl's exercise about picture
4. Woman of forty and her work
VI. Cost of school
1. Expense to firm
2. Cost to Board of Education--salaries and supplies
3. Entire cost per pupil
4. Returns to firm outweigh cost, says employer
VII. Summary conclusion
1. Results quoted from program
2. Impression made by girls receiving diplomas
THE COMPLETED ARTICLE. Since the establishment of a school in a factory
was the novel feature of the enterprise, he worked out a title based on
this idea, with a sub-title presenting the striking results accomplished
by the school. The completed article follows, with a brief analysis of
the methods used in developing the outline.
TAKING THE SCHOOL TO THE FACTORY
HOW ALIEN GIRLS ARE BEING CHANGED INTO INTELLIGENT AMERICAN WORKERS BY
INSTRUCTION DURING WORKING HOURS
In from twenty to thirty-five weeks I. SUMMARY LEAD
an illiterate immigrant girl can be 1. Striking results
transformed into an intelligent, efficient Striking statement
American citizen, in this city, in two sentence to
without interfering with the daily work avoid unwieldy sentence.
by which she earns her living. Only
forty-five minutes a day in a factory
schoolroom is required to accomplish
such striking results.
This has just been demonstrated at 2. Commencement
the first commencement of the only Timeliness brought
school conducted in a New York factory. out immediately after
The classes have been held on striking statement
one of the upper floors of the white
goods factory of D. E. Sicher & Co.,
49 West 21st Street, where the graduation Address has local
exercises were held last Thursday interest
Forty girls--Italians, Poles, Russians, 3. Graduates
Hungarians, Austrians among Note concrete details
the number--received the first "certificates
of literacy" ever issued by the
Board of Education. Twenty weeks Striking results
ago many of these young women could emphasized by device
not speak English; many of them had of contrast
never been to school a day in their
lives. Every one present on Thursday Impression on audience
night felt that this was indeed a commencement of remarkable
for these girls. results
It is due to the instruction of Miss Teacher's name has
Florence Meyers, formerly a public local interest
school teacher, that the girls can now
speak English, write good letters, make
out money-orders, cash checks, and
send telegrams. They have also been Additional concrete
taught the principles of our government, details of striking
the importance of personal hygiene, results
and the processes by which cotton
goods used in their work are manufactured.
The school was organized this year 4. School
at the suggestion of Dudley E. Sicher,
head of the firm, in co÷peration with
the Board of Education, and has been
under the supervision of Miss Lizzie E. Principal and school
Rector, Public School No. 4, Manhattan. have local interest.
What has been accomplished in this 5. Example to other
factory, which is the largest white firms
goods muslin underwear plant in the Veiled suggestion to
world, will doubtless serve as an example readers
to be followed by other firms.
Its purpose the firm expresses in II. PURPOSE OF SCHOOL
these words: "To hasten assimilation 1. Firm's statement
necessary to national unity, to promote
industrial betterment, by reducing Statement in general
the friction caused by failure to comprehend terms
directions, and to decrease the
waste and loss of wage incidental to the
"When a girl understands English 2. Head of firm's statement
and has been taught American business
and factory methods," says Mr.
Sicher, "she doesn't hesitate and Statement in concrete
blunder; she understands what she is terms
told and she does it.
"Intelligent employees do much better
work than illiterate ones, and since
we can afford to pay them better wages,
they are much more contented. From
a business point of view, the school is a
The instruction that has accomplished III. METHODS OF INSTRUCTION
such remarkable results has
been eminently practical. "There 1. Practical education
was no time to spend in teaching the
girls anything but the most necessary Teacher's statement
things," explains Miss Meyers, "for I of her problem
could have each one of them for only
forty-five minutes a day, and there was
much to be done in that time.
"Here was a girl, for example, who Problem concretely
could hardly say 'good morning.' shown
Here was another who had never written
a word in her life, either in English
or in any other language. The problem
was how to give each of them what
she most needed in the short time allotted Statement of general
every day. This essentially plan
practical training I organized under
several subjects, each of which was
"When I undertook to teach letter 2. Letter writing
writing, it meant teaching the English
language, as well as writing and spelling.
It meant teaching the geography
of the country, the postal regulations,
and the forms of business and personal
"In teaching arithmetic, I use money 3. Arithmetic
and show them how to make change by
means of addition, subtraction, and
division. I also ask them to keep personal
expense accounts and to make
out reports of the work that they do.
"Civics included American history, 4. Civics
the lives of our statesmen--for these
girls are so eager to be true Americans
that they want to know about our great
men--the origin of legal holidays, the
merits of our system of government,
the meaning of citizenship, and the essence
"Hygiene is another important 5. Personal hygiene
subject. American standards of living,
personal cleanliness, and sanitary regulations
have to be emphasized. To
aid in counteracting the effects of long
hours at the sewing machines, we have
physical culture exercises. Instruction
in first aid measures is also given so
that they will know what to do in case
of an accident. The nutritive value of
different foods in relation to their cost
is discussed to enable them to maintain
their health by a proper diet.
"As these young women are engaged 6. Cotton goods
in making muslin underwear, it seemed
desirable for them to know where cotton
grows, how it is spun, where the
mills are and how it is shipped to New
York. After they understand the various
processes through which the material
goes before it reaches them, they
take much more interest in their work,
as a part of the manufacture of cotton
goods into clothing."
The use of the telephone, the telegraph, 7. Means of communication
the subway, surface lines, and
railways is another subject of instruction.
A dummy 'phone, telegraph Method of presentation
blanks, the city directory, maps with in this paragraph
routes of rapid transit lines, and the changed for
telephone book, are some of the practical variety
laboratory apparatus and textbooks
that are employed.
"We encourage them to learn for 8. Study outside of
themselves outside of school hours classroom
many of the necessary things that we
have not time for in the classroom,"
says the teacher.
To reach the schoolroom in which IV. THE SCHOOLROOM
this work has been carried on, you take 1. Location
the elevator to the last floor but one of Note effect of using
the factory building. There you find "you"
only a portion of the floor space cleared
for tables and chairs. It is a clean,
airy room with big windows opening
on the street, made gay with boxes of
Flags of many nations about the 2. Decorations
room appropriately represent the many
nationalities among the pupils. On Note character of
one wall hangs a card with the legend: decorations selected
Four things come not back:
The spoken word
The sped arrow
The past life
The neglected opportunity.
A photograph of Miss Jessie Wilson,
now Mrs. Francis B. Sayre, occupies
the space between the two windows.
The picture was presented to the girls
by Miss Wilson herself, just before she This shows enterprising
was married, when a party of them with spirit on the
Miss Meyers went to Washington to part of teacher, girls,
give her a white petticoat they had and firm
made themselves, as a wedding present.
After Miss Wilson had shown them
through the White House and they had
seen her wedding presents, she gave
them this signed photograph.
A piano and a phonograph at one 3. Furnishings
end of the room make it possible for
the girls to enjoy dancing during the
noon hours on three days of the week,
and to have musicals on other occasions.
Shelves filled with books line the 4. Library
walls of a smaller office room opening
off the schoolroom. On two days of
the week during the noon hour, the
teacher read aloud to the girls until
they were able to read for themselves.
Then they were permitted to take
books home with them. Besides this,
they have been encouraged to use the
public libraries, after being shown how
to make out applications for library
"One girl is reading 'The Promised Concrete example
Land,' by Mary Antin," Miss Meyers has "human interest,"
tells you, "and thinks it is a wonderful as related in
book. She was so much interested in the teacher's own
it that I asked her to tell the others words
about it. Although a little shy at
first, she soon forgot herself in her eagerness
to relate Miss Antin's experiences.
She told the story with such
dramatic effect that she quite carried
away her classmates. If we had done
no more than to teach this girl to read a
book that meant so much to her, I believe
our school would have justified
Mary Antin herself accepted the Is this paragraph
girls' invitation to attend the graduation out of logical order?
exercises, and made a short address.
The pupils' written work was exhibited V. RESULTS SHOWN BY
on the walls of the room on the occasion PUPILS' WORK
of the exercises, and showed conclusively
the proficiency that they have
The greatest progress made by any 1. Italian's theme and
of the pupils was probably that of an progress
Italian girl. Before coming to this
country, she had attended school and Example of greatest
besides this she had been teaching her progress is put
father at night whatever she had first
learned during the day. Her short
essay on her adopted country read:
This country is the United States Note use of narrow
of America. It is the land of freedom measure without
and liberty, because the people quotation marks for
govern themselves. All citizens love examples quoted
their country, because they know
that this freedom was earned by men
who gave their lives for it. The
United States is in North America.
North America is one of the greatest
divisions of the earth. North America
was discovered on October 12,
1492, by Christopher Columbus.
The fact that Columbus, one of her Is this comment by
countrymen, had discovered the country the writer effective?
in which she and her father had
found a new life, doubtless appealed to
her keen imagination.
That a Russian girl appreciated the 2. Russian's essay on
lessons she had received in the value of saving
opening a dime-savings account, is indicated
by this composition:
I must save money out of my earnings
to put in the bank. I know that
money is safe in the bank.
To deposit means to put money in
Cashing a cheque means changing
a cheque for money.
How practical lessons in personal hygiene 3. Polish girl's essay
may be emphasized in connection
with the teaching of composition was
illustrated in an essay of a Polish girl
written under a picture of a woman
combing her hair:
She wished to comb her hair.
She takes the comb in her hand.
She combs her hair.
She wishes to brush her hair.
She takes the brush in her hand.
She brushes her hair.
She combs and brushes her hair
She washes her hair often with
soap and water.
The pathetic eagerness of one woman 4. Woman of forty
of forty to learn to read and write was and her work
told by Miss Meyers in connection with
one of the pieces of work exhibited.
"She was an old woman; at least she "Human interest"
seems to me to be over fifty, although appeal heightened
she gave her age as only forty," explained by quoting teacher
the teacher. "She couldn't _verbatim_
read or even write her name. Despite
her age, she begged for a long time to
be permitted to enter the school, but
there were so many young girls who desired
to learn that they were given the
preference. She pleaded so hard that
finally I asked to have her admitted on
"It was hard work to teach her," Progress in penmanship
continued Miss Meyers as she pointed could not be
to some of the woman's writing. The shown by quoting
first attempts were large, irregular exercise
letters that sprawled over the sheet
like the work of a child when it begins
to write. After twenty weeks of struggle,
her work took on a form that, although
still crude, was creditable for
one who had never written until she
was over forty. "Her joy at her success
was great enough to repay me
many times over for my efforts to teach
her," remarked Miss Meyers.
The exact cost to the firm of conducting VI. COST OF SCHOOL
the school, including the wages 1. Expense to firm
paid for the time spent by the girls in
the classroom, has been itemized by
Mr. Sicher for the year just closed, as
Floor space $175.00 Short table of figures
Rent, light, and heat 105.00 is comprehensible
Janitor 357.00 and not uninteresting
Wages at 17ó an hr., 40
Total cost, 40 girls $672.00
Total cost per girl 16.80
The Board of Education, for its part 2. Cost to Board of
of the school, paid out $560 for the Education
teacher's salary and for supplies. This
was an expense of $14.80 for each pupil.
The entire cost for educating each 3. Entire cost per pupil
one of the forty girl workers, therefore,
was only $31.60.
That this money has been well spent 4. Returns outweigh
is the opinion of the employer, for the cost
school work increases the efficiency in
the factory sufficiently to make up for
the time taken out of working hours.
"I would rather have these girls in Head of firm's statement
my employ whom I can afford to pay given to convince
from ten to twenty dollars a week," readers
declares Mr. Sicher, "than many more
whom I have to pay low wages simply
because they aren't worth higher ones.
From a business point of view, it saves
space and space is money."
That the result has been what the VII. SUMMARY CONCLUSION
firm had anticipated in establishing
the school is shown by the following 1. Results quoted from
statement which was made on the commencement program
program: "It is the present
belief of the firm that the workers Note appeal of
who have been thus trained have "efficiency" to
gained from 20 to 70 per cent in efficiency." practical readers
How much the girls themselves have 2. Impression given
gained more vital to them even than by girls
efficiency was very evident to everyone Note patriotic appeal
who looked into their faces as they received in closing
the certificates that recognize phrase, which was
them as "Literate American Citizens." a happy choice.
ANOTHER ARTICLE ON THE SAME SUBJECT. This commencement at the factory
school furnished another writer, Nixola Greeley Smith, with material for
a special feature story which was sent out by a syndicate, the Newspaper
Enterprise Association, for publication in several hundred newspapers.
Her story contains only 375 words and is thus less than one fifth the
length of the other article. The author centers the interest in one of
the pupils, and shows the value of the school in terms of this girl's
experience. The girl's own account of what the school has meant to her
makes a strong "human interest" appeal. By thus developing one concrete
example effectively, the author is able to arouse more interest in the
results of the school than she would have done if in the same space she
had attempted to give a greater number of facts about it. Unlike the
longer article, her story probably would not suggest to the reader the
possibility of undertaking a similar enterprise, because it does not
give enough details about the organization and methods of the school to
show how the idea could be applied elsewhere.
The beginning of the shorter story was doubtless suggested by the
presence at the exercises of Mary Antin, the author of "The Promised
Land," who addressed the girls. The first sentence of it piques our
curiosity to know how "the promised land" has kept its promise, and the
story proceeds to tell us. The article, with an analysis of its main
WONDERFUL AMERICA! THINKS LITTLE AUSTRIAN
WHO GRADUATES FROM FACTORY SCHOOL
"The promised land" has kept its I. STORY OF REBECCA
promise to Rebecca Meyer! MEYER
Eight months ago an illiterate Austrian 1. Striking statement
immigrant girl, unable to speak or beginning
write English, went to work in a New Note effective use of
York garment factory. device of contrast
To-day, speaking and writing fluently
the language of her adopted country, Second and third
proficient in other studies, she paragraphs show
proudly cherishes the first "certificate striking results in
of literacy" issued by a factory--a one concrete case.
factory which has paid her for going to
school during working hours!
It was Rebecca Meyer who received 2. Commencement
this first certificate, at the graduation Note that Rebecca
exercises held on the top floor of the is the central figure
big women's wear factory of D.E.
Sicher & Co. It was Rebecca Meyer
who delivered the address of welcome
to the members of the board of education,
the members of the firm, her fellow
employees, and all the others gathered
at these exercises--the first of Dash used to set off
their kind ever held in any commercial unique element
"Isn't it wonderful!" she said. 3. Rebecca's statement
"When I came from Austria, I hoped Slightly unidiomatic
to find work. That was all. How I English is suggestive
should learn to speak the English language,
I did not know. It might take
me years, I thought. That I should go
to school every day, while I worked--who
could dream of such a thing? It
could not be in any other country except
Dudley E. Sicher, head of the firm, II. STORY OF THE SCHOOL
in whose workrooms a regularly organized 1. Origin of school
class of the New York public Note method of
schools has held its sessions all winter, introducing head of firm
stood smiling in the background. Mr.
Sicher is president of the Cotton Goods
Manufacturers' Association. It was
he who conceived the idea, about a
year ago, of increasing the efficiency
of his women employees by giving them
an education free of cost, during working
"One of the first and most noticeable 2. Results of school
results of the factory school has Statement of head
been a marked decrease in the friction of firm
and the waste of time caused by the
inability of employees to comprehend
directions. A girl who understands
English, and has been enabled thereby
to school herself in factory methods
and conditions, doesn't hesitate and
blunder; she understands, and does.
And what then? Why, higher pay."
No wonder Rebecca Meyer is grateful III. CONCLUSION
for the 45 minutes a day in which Rebecca again made
button-sewing has given place to study--no the central figure
wonder she thinks America must Appeal to reader's
be the wonderland of all the world! pride in his country.
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. 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
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
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,
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
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
"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
"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
"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.
INCIDENTS. Narrative articles, such as personal experience stories,
confessions, and narratives in the third person, consist almost entirely
of incidents. Dialogue and description are very frequently employed in
relating incidents, even when the greater part of the incident is told
in the writer's own words. The incidents given as examples of narrative
beginnings on pages 135-37 are sufficient to illustrate the various
methods of developing incidents as units.
STATISTICS. To make statistical facts comprehensible and interesting is
usually a difficult problem for the inexperienced writer. Masses of
figures generally mean very little to the average reader. Unless the
significance of statistics can be quickly grasped, they are almost
valueless as a means of explanation. One method of simplifying them is
to translate them into terms with which the average reader is familiar.
This may often be done by reducing large figures to smaller ones.
Instead of saying, for example, that a press prints 36,000 newspapers an
hour, we may say that it prints 10 papers a second, or 600 a minute. To
most persons 36,000 papers an hour means little more than a large
number, but 10 papers and one second are figures sufficiently small to
be understood at a glance. Statistics sometimes appear less formidable
if they are incorporated in an interview or in a conversation.
In undertaking to explain the advantages of a co÷perative community
store, a writer was confronted with the problem of handling a
considerable number of figures. The first excerpt below shows how he
managed to distribute them through several paragraphs, thus avoiding any
awkward massing of figures. In order to present a number of comparative
prices, he used the concrete case, given below, of an investigator
making a series of purchases at the store.
Here's the way the manager of the community store started. He
demonstrated to his neighbors by actual figures that they were
paying anywhere from $2 to $8 a week more for their groceries and
supplies than they needed to. This represented the middlemen's
He then proposed that if a hundred families would pay him regularly
50 cents a week, he would undertake to supply them with garden
truck, provisions and meats at wholesale prices. To clinch the
demonstration he showed that an average family would save this
50-cent weekly fee in a few days' purchases.
* * * * *
There is no difference in appearance between the community store and
any other provision store. There is no difference in the way you buy
your food. The only difference is that you pay 50 cents a week on a
certain day each week and buy food anywhere from 15 to 40 per cent
less than at the commercial, non-co÷perative retail stores.
The other day an investigator from the department of agriculture
went to the Washington community store to make an experiment. He
paid his 50-cent weekly membership fee and made some purchases. He
bought a 10-cent carton of oatmeal for 8 cents; a 10-cent loaf of
bread for 8 cents; one-half peck of string beans for 20 cents,
instead of for 30 cents, the price in the non-co÷perative stores;
three pounds of veal for 58 cents instead of 80 cents; a half dozen
oranges for 13 cents instead of the usual price of from 20 to 25
cents. His total purchases amounted to $1.32, and the estimated
saving was 49 cents--within 1 cent of the entire weekly fee.
Since to the average newspaper reader it would not mean much to say that
the cost of the public schools amounted to several hundred thousand
dollars a year, a special feature writer calculated the relation of the
school appropriation to the total municipal expenditure and then
presented the results as fractions of a dollar, thus:
Of every dollar that each taxpayer in this city paid to the city
treasurer last year, 45 cents was spent on the public schools. This
means that nearly one-half of all the taxes were expended on giving
boys and girls an education.
Of that same dollar only 8 cents went to maintain the police
department, 12 cents to keep up the fire department, and 13 cents
for general expenses of the city offices.
Out of the 45 cents used for school purposes, over one-half, or 24
cents, was paid as salaries to teachers and principals. Only 8 cents
went for operation, maintenance, and similar expenses.
How statistics may be effectively embodied in an interview is
demonstrated by the following excerpt from a special feature story on a
workmen's compensation law administered by a state industrial board:
Judge J.B. Vaughn, who is at the head of the board, estimates that
the system of settling compensation by means of a commission instead
of by the regular courts has saved the state $1,000,000 a year since
its inception in 1913. "Under the usual court proceedings," he says,
"each case of an injured workman versus his employer costs from $250
to $300. Under the workings of the industrial board the average cost
is no more than $20.
"In three and one-half years 8,000 cases have come before us. Nine
out of every ten have been adjusted by our eight picked
arbitrators, who tour the state, visiting promptly each scene of an
accident and adjusting the compensation as quickly as possible. The
tenth case, which requires a lengthier or more painstaking hearing,
is brought to the board.
"Seven million dollars has been in this time ordered to be paid to
injured men and their families. Of this no charge of any sort has
been entered against the workers or their beneficiaries. The costs
are taken care of by the state. Fully 90 per cent of all the cases
are settled within the board, which means that only 10 per cent are
carried further into the higher courts for settlement."
PROCESSES. To make scientific and technical processes sufficiently
simple to appeal to the layman, is another problem for the writer of
popular articles. A narrative-descriptive presentation that enables the
reader to visualize and follow the process, step by step, as though it
were taking place before his eyes, is usually the best means of making
it both understandable and interesting.
In a special feature story on methods of exterminating mosquitoes, a
writer in the _Detroit News_ undertook to trace the life history of a
mosquito. In order to popularize these scientific details, he describes
a "baby mosquito" in a concrete, informal manner, and, as he tells the
story of its life, suggests or points out specifically its likeness to a
The baby mosquito is a regular little water bug. You call him a
"wiggler" when you see him swimming about in a puddle. His head is
wide and flat and his eyes are set well out at the sides, while in
front of them he has a pair of cute little horns or feelers. While
the baby mosquito is brought up in the water, he is an air-breather
and comes to the top to breathe as do frogs and musk-rats and many
other water creatures of a higher order.
Like most babies the mosquito larva believes that his mission is to
eat as much as he can and grow up very fast. This he does, and if
the weather is warm and the food abundant, he soon outgrows his
skin. He proceeds to grow a new skin underneath the old one, and
when he finds himself protected, he bursts out of his old clothes
and comes out in a spring suit. This molting process occurs several
times within a week or two, but the last time he takes on another
form. He is then called a pupa, and is in a strange transition
period during which he does not eat. He now slowly takes on the form
of a true mosquito within his pupal skin or shell.
After two or three days, or perhaps five or six, if conditions are
not altogether favorable, he feels a great longing within him to
rise to something higher. His tiny shell is floating upon the water
with his now winged body closely packed within. The skin begins to
split along the back and the true baby mosquito starts to work
himself out. It is a strenuous task for him and consumes many
At last he appears and sits dazed and exhausted, floating on his old
skin as on a little boat, and slowly working his new wings in the
sunlight, as if to try them out before essaying flight. It is a
moment of great peril. A passing ripple may swamp his tiny craft and
shipwreck him to become the prey of any passing fish or vagrant
frog. A swallow sweeping close to the water's surface may gobble him
down. Some ruthless city employe may have flooded the surface of the
pond with kerosene, the merest touch of which means death to a
mosquito. Escaping all of the thousand and one accidents that may
befall, he soon rises and hums away seeking whom he may devour.
A mechanical process, that of handling milk at a model dairy farm, was
effectively presented by Constance D. Leupp in an article entitled, "The
Fight for Clean Milk," printed in the _Outlook_. By leading "you," the
reader, to the spot, as it were, by picturing in detail what "you" would
see there, and then by following in story form the course of the milk
from one place to another, she succeeded in making the process clear and
Here at five in the afternoon you may see long lines of sleek,
well-groomed cows standing in their cement-floored, perfectly
drained sheds. The walls and ceilings are spotless from constant
applications of whitewash, ventilation is scientifically arranged,
doors and windows are screened against the flies. Here the
white-clad, smooth-shaven milkers do their work with scrubbed and
manicured hands. You will note that all these men are studiously
low-voiced and gentle in movement; for a cow, notwithstanding her
outward placidity, is the most sensitive creature on earth, and
there is an old superstition that if you speak roughly to your cow
she will earn no money for you that day.
As each pail is filled it is carried directly into the milk-house;
not into the bottling-room, for in that sterilized sanctum nobody
except the bottler is admitted, but into the room above, where the
pails are emptied into the strainer of a huge receptacle. From the
base of this receptacle it flows over the radiator in the
bottling-room, which reduces it at once to the required temperature,
thence into the mechanical bottler. The white-clad attendant places
a tray containing several dozen empty bottles underneath, presses a
lever, and, presto! they are full and not a drop spilled. He caps
the bottles with another twist of the lever, sprays the whole with a
hose, picks up the load and pushes it through the horizontal
dumb-waiter, where another attendant receives it in the
packing-room. The second man clamps a metal cover over the
pasteboard caps and packs the bottles in ice. Less than half an hour
is consumed in the milking of each cow, the straining, chilling,
bottling, and storing of her product.
PRACTICAL GUIDANCE UNITS. To give in an attractive form complete and
accurate directions for doing something in a certain way, is another
difficult problem for the inexperienced writer. For interest and
variety, conversation, interviews and other forms of direct quotation,
as well as informal narrative, may be employed.
Various practical methods of saving fuel in cooking were given by a
writer in _Successful Farming_, in what purported to be an account of a
meeting of a farm woman's club at which the problem was discussed. By
the device of allowing the members of the club to relate their
experiences, she was able to offer a large number of suggestions. Two
units selected from different portions of the article illustrate this
"I save dollars by cooking in my furnace," added a practical worker.
"Potatoes bake nicely when laid on the ledge, and beans, stews,
roasts, bread--in fact the whole food list--may be cooked there. But
one must be careful not to have too hot a fire. I burned several
things before I learned that even a few red coals in the fire-pot
will be sufficient for practically everything. And then it does
blacken the pans! But I've solved that difficulty by bending a piece
of tin and setting it between the fire and the cooking vessel. This
prevents burning, too, if the fire should be hot. Another plan is
to set the vessel in an old preserving kettle. If this outer kettle
does not leak, it may be filled with water, which not only aids in
the cooking process but also prevents burning. For broiling or
toasting, a large corn popper is just the thing."
* * * * *
"My chief saving," confided the member who believes in preparedness,
"consists in cooking things in quantities, especially the things
that require long cooking, like baked beans or soup. I never think
of cooking less than two days' supply of beans, and as for soup,
that is made up in quantity sufficient to last a week. If I have no
ice, reheating it each day during warm weather prevents spoiling.
Most vegetables are not harmed by a second cooking, and, besides the
saving in fuel it entails, it's mighty comforting to know that you
have your dinner already prepared for the next day, or several days
before for that matter. In cold weather, or if you have ice, it will
not be necessary to introduce monotony into your meals in order to
save fuel, for one can wait a day or two before serving the extra
quantity. Sauces, either for vegetables, meats or puddings, may just
as well be made for more than one occasion, altho if milk is used in
their preparation, care must be taken that they are kept perfectly
cold, as ptomaines develop rapidly in such foods. Other things that
it pays to cook in large portions are chocolate syrup for making
cocoa, caramel for flavoring, and apple sauce."
By using a conversation between a hostess and her guest, another writer
in the same farm journal succeeded in giving in a novel way some
directions for preparing celery.
"Your escalloped corn is delicious. Where did you get your recipe?"
Mrs. Field smiled across the dining table at her guest. "Out of my
head, I suppose, for I never saw it in print. I just followed the
regulation method of a layer of corn, then seasoning, and repeat,
only I cut into small pieces a stalk or two of celery with each
layer of corn."
"Celery and corn--a new combi
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