How to write a HONY style Human-Interest Story

For my origin piece, I’m using a personal narrative detailing a car accident I was in when I was 18. The story is pretty personal, but something I want to work with and alter to make relatable to a wider audience. I also feel like when I was doing the original writing, I was constrained by my page limit and used over-explanations and superfluous language to meet a certain page number. For these reasons, I originally thought I’d like to convert my piece into a magazine type human interest story, but then I got some feedback on an idea I had to mimic a sub-genre of human interest story modeled after the brief and monologue-like Humans of New York stories, and decided to roll with that.

I love the HONY series because the author does a great job of using an opening statement that draws the reader in, and the stories are able to convey so much about the person in as few words as possible, something I want to mimic to an extent with my own writing.

For this project, I would collect not only my story, rewritten in quotations, but also the stories of other people who have gone through tragic/life changing events. I would try to get approximately 10 different stories from different people, each under 200 words but with enough information to transmit the same effect as a full story, just as the Humans of New York project does.

In order to understand what makes a human interest story itself so interesting, I looked at an article entitled “How to Write a Good Human Interest Story” on booksoarus.com. According to this, there are 5 main keys to writing a good human interest story:

– pick a topic that you like, something that appeals you

– focus on getting the emotion right- think about what you want the reader to feel

– highlight positivity

-describe people, places, attire, and time so people can picture the story

– end it on a positive note

This same article also states that headline choice is important because you want something that draws the reader in without giving to much away about the center of your story. Additionally, you want to include a conclusion that leaves a “good taste” in the reader’s mind.

In another article entitled “The Power of the Human Interest Story” on zazzlemedia.uk.co, it is stated that a human interest story serves to put “people at the heart of the events,” which is what I’d like to do with my writing. Another part of this article that I find interesting is when it goes on to explain how news stories in the past were usually framed around certain people and events as a way to more effectively explain emotional situations, like war.

I’ve never really had the opportunity to write HONY style human-interest stories. Even in my high school newspaper class I was always a sports and news writer, and since I’ve been in college, all I have done is research papers and limited creative writing. I think this will make this experiment a challenge for me as I find the excessive emphasis of emotional conveyance within this genre very daunting.

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