COM 351: First writing assignment

Your first assignment is to write a profile of a classmate. The assignment is due on one week.

Key elements of a profile include:

  • An interesting lead. You need to hook the reader right away. Try to capture the reader’s attention and then keep it.
  • Lively quotes. The reader needs to know you were there. You interviewed your subject. This isn’t some second-hand story taken from a press release or a web site.
  • Anecdotes. Funny, sad, touching or dramatic anecdotes will boost your story’s appeal. Profile stories should entertain and inform.
  • Perspective. What stands out about your subject?
  • Background. Some description of how your subject got to this point in his or her life. You don’t need to tell your subject’s entire life story, but give some idea of the person’s journey. And try not to raise questions unless you can answer them. For instance, don’t say your subject is motivated by a great personal tragedy that occurred a decade earlier and then never tell your reader what happened. Don’t leave holes in the story.
  • Color. Some description of your subject. What does he or she look like?
  • A logical flow. Add transitions between paragraphs when needed.
  • Another point of view. Interviews with at least two people who know your subject are required. These will help enrich your profile. Keep in mind that profiles aren’t necessarily puff pieces. Just because you are writing about someone doesn’t mean you work for the person or are the person’s public relations agent. What matters is that you try to tell the truth. Your story should have balance. If a politician with a supposedly spotless record turns out to be a child molester – and you have some evidence or proof – then that’s your story.


  • Please type your story, print it out and give me a copy of it by the start of class on Jan. 24.
  • Make sure your subject knows that your story may appear online for the world to see.
  • Your story must include your subject’s first and last name, age and town of residence.
  • Your story should contain at least 400 words. That is roughly two pages long – 12-point type, double-spaced. Note the word count at the bottom of your story
  • Your story should include an element of timeliness or human interest.
  • Your profile should include quotes. This helps give life to your story.

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