Anecdotes, those short narratives about a real incident or a real individual, often find their way in many feature stories. There’s a good reason for that: these mini-stories can help clear up a point (similar to an illustrative example) and make the piece feel more authentic.
If you’re planning to include an anecdote to further a point in your story, make sure it bears all of the following three qualities. Otherwise, you could end up with one that doesn’t really help the feature all that much.
- The anecdote has to be on-point. You use anecdotes for the same purpose you use illustrative examples — you want to drive home a point. If the anecdote isn’t perfectly on-point, you’ll end up having to explain how it relates to the idea and that’s not a good thing.
- The anecdote has to be memorable. Good anecdotes have the ability to stick out in the reader’s mind after they finish the piece. Always make a point of choosing ones that do.
- The anecdote has to be interesting. If you’ll use a boring anecdote, you may as well just explain what it’s supposed to mean. Injecting narratives is a way to give your writing more color and personality.