Burt Helm and Max Chafkin studied award-winning articles and found that the following qualities prevail among them:
1. Write no less than 6500 words.
2. Ditch the present tense. It is finally, mercifully, out of fashion.
3. In general, avoid anecdotal ledes, nut grafs, kicker quotes and foul language.
It may also be heartening to know that the word "cocksucker" has never appeared in any story that has either won or been nominated for a feature writing prize.
Ah, almost forgot.
4. Be male.