Writing great leads: 41 tips on how to do it better
If you read this blog, or you’ve educated yourself in any way about journalism, you’ve probably heard plenty of advice about writing leads. I certainly have. But Buttry, who is the director of community engagement and social media at the Journal Register Co. and a longtime writer, editor and teacher, comes up with some tips I’ve never heard.
Among the 41 distinct pieces of advice Buttry gives, for example, is “Tell your story in three words.” That’s a good one. If you can boil your story down to three words, a noun, an active verb and an object, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea what the lead should be.
Dewey defeats Truman. Har.
There’s a lot more good advice than that at the link. Don’t miss it.
By the way, you may have noticed I’ve stopped spelling it “lede.” That’s because Howard Owens, digital pioneer and publisher of the hyperlocal site The Batavian, convinced me in this post that the “lede” spelling is not old-time newsroom custom from the days of hot type, it’s phony nostalgia, a faux-linotype-age artifact invented just as hot type was being phased out.
I dislike nostalgia—you know, it just ain’t what it used to be—so “lead” it is.