Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Sometimes we have a great article idea but we don’t know where to start. Where do I begin? How do I make my readers hooked? The introduction or “lede” to an article is always crucial. It is dictates the tone of your article, raises the point you want to make, and will decide if your readers will continue reading or not.
According to Naveed Saleh, a good lede should have a good hook. The hook is what makes your article interesting and newsworthy.
We know it can be quite a challenge so here are some tricks in writing a good introduction:
- Summary lede or Hard News lede– delivers the 5 W’s and an H in the 1st paragraph, getting to the most important or compelling information immediatelyEx: One hundred ninety six countries signed the climate agreement after two weeks of negotiations in Paris, France.
- Analysis lede – introduces a story where the basic facts are already known and where readers are looking for explanationEx: The signing of the climate agreement in Paris marks the end of the fossil fuel era and the beginning of a clean development pathway.
- Quotation lede – Starts with a quotation. Saleh reminds us to use these lede with care. “The quotation you use must be darn good — brief, interesting, and topical.”Ex: “The Paris Accord for the climate is accepted!,” says Laurent Fabius, president of the climate negotiations, as he bangs his gavel on the last day of the 21st conference of parties (COP), binding 196 countries to act on climate change.
- Narrative lede – sets the scene for the article by introducing the main players. According to Naheed, this is best to use when narrating a chronological story and may incorporate creative writing elements such as allegory and figurative language.Ex: The climate negotiations has been delayed for a day and hundreds of observers gathered inside the plenary hall, waiting for three hours, before key players COP president Laurent Fabius, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and G77+China lead negotiator Joyce Mxakato-Diseko entered the room with smiles on their faces.
- Shock lede – Literally shocks the audience. Use if the story involves an unexpected element.Ex: The Paris climate agreement almost did not come to fruition after the United States threatened not to sign the agreement over the use of the words “shall” instead of “should” in the document.Ex: The Paris climate agreement almost did not come to fruition after the United States threatened not to sign the agreement over the use of the words “shall” instead of “should” in the document.
- Scene-setter/Scenario lede – introduces the article by highlighting a key location in the story. It is good to use if the location is important to the story.Ex: Paris, the city of lights which days ago was dimmed by terrorist attacks, now lights the way to a better planet as 196 countries sign the climate agreement after two weeks on negotiations.
- Opinion lede – Usually written for opinion editorial essays and shows the opinion of the writerEx: It was an excruciating and painful two weeks inside the climate negotiations before 196 countries finally agreed to take climate change seriously. But while the world celebrates this new agreement, I can’t help but ask: how sincere are governments in taking action?
Saleh, N. (2013). The Complete Guide to Article Writing: How to Write Successful Articles for Online and Print Markets. Writers Digest Books.