Three great leads to engage your readers

Your lead needs to grab people by the collar or get them asking questions, said Ann Wylie at a recent workshop sponsored by PRSA Puget Sound.

There are three good types of leads, according to Wylie:

  • Concrete: Engage one of the five senses or offer a startling statistic.
  • Creative: Use words that involve suspense or conflict. Talk about something weird, unusual or surprising. Or be descriptive, paint a picture with your words.
  • Provocative: Give concrete information that will provoke your readers to ask the question.

Some leads to try: human interest, wordplay, prescription, metaphor, anecdote, juicy details or startling statistics.

Some leads to avoid: abstraction, background, throw-away, question that’s broad or abstract, quotation, pack of facts or announcement. Those tend to be boring. They may be appropriate elsewhere in your story, but not in the first sentence.