Staring at the blanks screen, the cursor blinking ominously. This is going to be tough.
You have tossed around countless idea, chosen your topic and spent the time to do your own research. You have coffee and the afternoon off. The article will just flow out, right? Not always. The hardest part of writing is often the beginning.
If you have ever been in this situation, you know that many times writers will just stop there. Nothing will be written — the idea for your freelance article will be lost. Your good idea does not have to die like this. There are some hints to write an effective lede.
What is a ‘lede’?
A ‘lede’ is the journalist word for the first paragraph of an article. The lede provides the hook, the interest, to make the reader continue reading. Without a good lede, your freelance article may not be read at all.
How can I craft a good lede?
There are three good ways to craft a lede that captures the interest of a reader. Choosing the right one for you will depend on the type of story that you are writing. There are no hard and fast rules for which type of lede is correct for each story topic, only guidelines.
Paint a picture.
Use your lede to let the reader see your article topic. Use concrete details to convey the scene, and lots of them. These kinds of ledes are often used for feature stories, such as travelogs or human interest stories. Be sure to be specific in your description of the scene. A lede that paints a picture should be at home in a novel, in details and word usage.
Use two actions and an observation.
A good way to come up with a lede is to think of two actions and one observation that can be associated with your freelance article’s topic. Look at the lede for this article. Two actions: staring and blink and the observation that something will be difficult. This type of lede is a good way to draw people into an article and get them to question just what is going on. Readers with questions will keep reading. It is when there are no more questions that readers grow bored. This type of lede can work for any topic and type of writing.
This is the typical journalism lede. It answers the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. This type of lede is best left for strict news reports, where information takes priority over form. The benefit is that all the information is presented quickly and the rest of the article can be dedicated to providing details and color to the event.