Finding Your Lead

by شيري ريشياردي
Oct 30, 2018 in Journalism Basics

Question approach: Answer in less than 25 words. What is the story about?

Focus approach: This is the reason for the story. It is also the nut graph. Write the focus graph first. Then determine if the lead you are considering will lead to the focus. If not, find a lead that will.

Tell it to Mom approach: This is a conversational way to look at leads. If you were telling your mother or a friend or a colleague about the story, what would you say? Then write the lead as you expressed it. You can clean up language later.

Multiple approach: Try writing many different leads. Jot down an idea or several difference sentences and plan to fix them later. Don't suffer until you get the perfect lead, then go back and polish.

Memory approach: Without looking at your notes, what do you remember as interesting, unusual, newsworthy? That may be a good clue to the lead.

Focus on a person approach: This often is a good way to get into a story. But don't choose just any person. It must be someone crucial.

Narrative approach: Do you have a good story to tell? Try the storytelling method of placing the reader at the scene and recounting an event as it happened.

Anecdotal approach: Did you gather any interesting anecdotes about your subject? Will one of the anecdotes lead to your focus? If not, this approach may not work. The anecdote should reflect a theme.

Descriptive approach: Do you want to set a scene or show the person in action? Is the description interesting enough to compel the reader to continue with the story? If so, this approach may work.

Mystery approach: Can you phrase your lead so that the reader is treated to a surprise? Does the lead foreshadow something that will be explained later in the story?

During the reporting approach: When you are doing the reporting, listen for possibilities of a good lead and star your notes when you think you have something that might work.