By Rabea Stueckemann
The biggest lesson I learned is how important it is to spend as much time as possible with the subject, not only to conduct the interview, but especially to see that person interact with his or her environment. Seeing how she talked to her students and colleagues and also how they reacted to her was vital in order to be able to describe her character. I noticed how crucial it is to use all senses in order to write a feature story that captures the reader’s attention.
In the beginning, I found it difficult to maintain an adequate balance between providing the reader with enough information about the subject, while also leaving enough freedom for imagination and interpretation. In that sense, I learned a lot about the art of painting a picture. Making the subject come alive in a story that engages the reader rather than providing a summary of his life is what I found to be most challenging.
This relates to the importance of finding my own style. I felt like starting out with more of a news writing style. What I took away from this assignment is that if the writer does not include his personal voice and experience, the subject he is writing about will hardly become alive.
After all, it is exactly this close relationship between writer, subject and audience that I enjoy about profile stories. I see it as a form of art to create an atmosphere that allows the reader to feel like he is in the writer’s place and personally knows the subject.