This summarizes the major ideas of the tale in only 19 words, which is all that is required for a good lead. Related: Ledes; Lead story.
A good lede should achieve three things: Give readers a summary of the story's important elements. Make readers want to read the narrative. Complete both tasks in as few words as feasible.
The first thing that a good lead does is it gives readers a quick overview of the story's main characters and themes. In one sentence, the lead should provide enough information for someone who hasn't read the full article or chapter to understand what the piece is about. The lead shouldn't be so vague that it leaves room for interpretation or confusion about the subject matter.
In addition to being clear, the lead should also make readers want to read more. If you can accomplish this with just a few sentences, then that's ideal. But sometimes leads are short because they need to be concise; when writing for print, there's usually no way around this limitation. In that case, a good lead will still get its message across by using different styles of writing or by including relevant images or tables.
Finally, a good lead should tie up any loose ends and bring the story back to where it began. This final step is especially important if there were multiple scenes in the story that don't necessarily go together chronologically. By tying them all up, the writer ensures that the reader understands everything that has happened up until this point.
When the noteworthy section of a tale does not appear at the beginning, where it is expected, a writer "burys the lede." Assume two persons were killed in a home fire. The newspaper article reports that three people died in the fire. Only after reading further down the page do readers learn that there are only two children inside the burning house.
This is an example of "the lede" being buried. It means that although this incident is important, what you read about it first is even more important. So be sure to read all the way through any article or report you find online!
Also called "the hook", the lead is that which catches your attention and makes you want to read on. In writing, it's the opening sentence or paragraph of a story, essay, or paper. The goal is to get your audience interested enough in the topic to keep reading.
As a reader, it's your job to keep reading until you've reached the end of the piece. That's how you know if something has been buried. If it isn't clear from the start why someone should care about the topic, then it probably needs to be said later in the text.
In journalism, we call this technique "lead-ins".
Here are some writing strategies for creating an effective lead:
Concerning Ledes. The "lede" is the beginning of a news piece, and it is frequently in the first paragraph, as in an essay. The term "lede" is an intentional misspelling of "lead" to avoid misunderstanding in the days when lead type was used for printing. Today, lead typesetting is done with hot metal, so the two words can be used interchangeably.
Lede has been used since at least 1539 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). It comes from the name of a newspaper that was published in Leipzig between 1770 and 1773. The OED says this word is derived from German, but I think it's related to Latin legere ("to read").
So, a "lady's ear" is a small ornamented box used to store jewelry. A "ledger" is a book containing accounts. And a "lede" is the first sentence or paragraph of a newspaper article.
What exactly is an alternate lede? It's a more creative, contextual lead that's generally a lot more enjoyable to write. It expresses an intriguing concept or the substance of a narrative in an original way. It can be as simple as writing a new first paragraph for each chapter or scene, although that's not necessary. The point is that an alternate lead gives readers new information about the story they want to learn more about.
Alternate leads are important because they give readers insight into what makes a story interesting. If you're writing fantasy, an alternate lead could describe an unusual weapon or character trait. For science fiction or crime stories, it could be something as simple as telling us how someone learned about the status of their missing father.
The best stories often tell two kinds of tales: those that reveal something about the human condition and those that entertain us. An alternate lead is useful in both types of story because they help you expand your imagination and come up with new ways of telling old ones.
8 excellent examples of lead phrases and paragraphs
A variety of leads