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Alison Taylor-Brown

The Village View

Alison Taylor-Brown has an MFA in Fiction and a lifetime of teaching experience from preschool to university levels. She began the Community Writing Program for the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow and now directs The Village Writing School, whose mission is to foster the development of area writers through workshops, writers' circles, and coaching. Her column, Notes from the Village, appears weekly. To talk to Alison about your writing goals and dreams, contact her at alisontaylorbrown@me.com or 479-292-3665.

New project to feature local businesses

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Feature: a distinctive attribute or aspect of something.

Feature: A newspaper or magazine article or a broadcast program devoted to the treatment of a topic.

Now that the holiday stories are finished, we're hearing many comments from the writers like: That was great. It was fun to take a break from my book-length novel or memoir to focus on something/someone else. It was fun to write a shorter piece and have the satisfaction of seeing it finished.

At the same time these discussions were going on, I was thinking about the workshops we should offer in 2014 and considering what skills we need to be teaching to help our students write better AND build their publishing resume.

Feature stories are everywhere because they are very popular with readers.

The news feature, the profile, the review, the travel story, the evergreen are all types of features. Understanding how to put together these stories in the most professional and creative way will give our writers another path to publication beyond the magazines that only publish fiction or creative nonfiction of a certain type.

THE WORKSHOP

Since Rebecca Mahoney has published numerous feature articles in the Boston Globe, the L.A. Times, the Orlando Sentinel and many other newspapers, as well as Associated Press online, I wanted her to teach this workshop. But she also teaches at two universities in the Northeast and couldn't spare the time to come to Eureka Springs.

Now what did I say when we moved into our building and equipped it? Anyone, anywhere, can teach us anything about writing. So we will "beam" Rebecca in on Feb. 6 to teach us feature writing. The $20 workshop will be from 3-5 p.m. and is open to anyone interested in learning to write feature stories.

THE VILLAGE PROJECT

Then, we need to practice. We had so much fun interacting with the local communities during the holiday stories that we now are going to use our new writing skill to feature local businesses. Some cool story about the owners, their history, the business itself, the customers, the building -- whatever lends itself to an interesting story.

Hopefully, we can feature some small little niche shops that don't get a lot of attention, as well as some of the not-so-glamorous-but-utterly-necessary businesses that keep our villages functioning.

If you are a business owner, a writer may be contacting you. If you are interested in having your business featured in an in-depth story by a Village writer, let me know.

We will not just write these stories but will have a goal of sending them out to at least five publications. If you want to learn to write a feature, sign up for the workshop at VillageWritingSchool.com or contact me at alisontaylorbrown@me.com or 479-292-3665.

The stories of local businesses and the writers to write them: It takes a village to raise a story.