LEAD (OR LEDE) –
A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just “the lead,” it usually occurs together with the headline or title. It precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story. In the journalism industry, particularly in the United States the term is sometimes spelled lede. “Lede” refers to one or two sentences, not multiple paragraphs. Journalistic leads emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader. In journalism, the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called “burying the lead.”
It’s a product of having come from the “old school” world of journalism, I suppose.
While pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism, I was required to take an entire 18-week course on writing leads.
A beautifully crafted lead is a work of art. A substandard lead tarnishes every word that follows. Your lead is a “make or break” deal. Readers make an unconscious decision whether he will read on, or click off, after the first 30 words.
Here, I’ve written six leads that will lose me in a second. Some were published on WordPress today.
1. “Hello people! Haven’t blogged in awhile because I’ve been busy up to my neck. I finally started working on Friday and it has been “fun” if I can call it that. My boss is absolutely the nicest man ever, my colleagues are equally awesome, there’s free wifi! What more can a sister ask for? Well along with the job came more work.” (Well hello right back at you!!!!! I’ve been wondering where you were!!! You’ve been busy? Really!!! That’s awesome. I have no idea what this post is trying to say.)
2. “If your (sic) wondering where I’ve been lately, life’s just been to (sic) busy to be on the blog.” (With two fundamental grammatical errors, and ending with a string of three consecutive prepositional phrases, I pass on this one quickly.)
3. “Here’s a collection of musings, rants and ramblings from the last week.” (I don’t have time for ramblings; if you’re going to rant, please do it without telling me so, because I’ll be much more inclined to read; and I have no idea what a ‘musing’ is.)
4. “The hubs and I had the most awesome lunch today!” (I’m thrilled you and ‘the hubs’ enjoyed your fare and that you were so compelled to end with a slammer, but I refer you to the author of this book, whose sentiments I could not share more.)
5. “Needless to say, I was scared to death, but when reality set in, I knew we’d make the best of it.” (Congratulations on setting the world record for most cliche’s in a single sentence.)
6. “Another week of me being semi-lazy…” (I actually found this one in my reader today. Oh, how it compels me to read more…)
Want more readers?
Write good leads.