After the headline, your lead – a simple, clear statement consisting of the first few sentences of your story – is the most important part of your article.
A lead must:
- Pull the reader in.
- Convey the basic information (who, what, where, when, why and how)
- Include only the most important information
- Tell the reader what is unusual or unique
- Focus on people doing things
- Tell reader why they should care
- Be accurate
If your lead isn’t compelling, chances are your reader will go elsewhere.
There are many ways to craft a lead. Two of most common leads are 1.) the hard news (or inverted pyramid) lead and 2) the delayed (or anecdotal) lead.
A hard news lead answers the basic information: who, what, where, when and why in the first paragraph. It is usually short, often fewer than 25 words, unless you use two sentences.
A delayed lead often sets the stage with some unusual details, incorporates a good quote, or sets a scene before conveying the basic information.
Here is an article on 10 Ways to Write a Great Lead