In journalism, the “lede” is a paragraph that piques reader’s interest and sets the direction of the article. It might be a few paragraphs or several hundred words, depending on the story. But no matter how long or short it is, it should be well-written and able to catch the reader’s attention immediately.
1. Use a strong verb
Strong verbs add action, vitality, color and zest to your writing. Using weak verbs can make your writing limp and listless. If you want to write with gusto, hone your ferocious self-editing skills by ferreting out and eliminating flabby verbs and replacing them with vibrant ones.
To determine whether a verb is strong, think about the sensory connotations of that word–does it paint a clear picture in your reader’s mind? Does it allow your reader to hear, see, smell or touch something? If it does, that verb is probably a strong one. You can use a thesaurus to find stronger alternatives for weak verbs. Sensory verbs include movement (cleave open, break in two), sound (pound, thrum, shoot, tap), sight (sheet) and touch (dab). They help you draw readers into your story and experience your words. You might even discover your own voice through this process. If you’re interested in learning more about strong verbs, download a copy of my strong verbs list here. And remember, you can always experiment with new verbs to discover which ones work best for you!
4. Make it memorable
The lede is a key part of your introduction, so make sure it’s concise and conveys the essential information you want to convey. The best way to accomplish this is to start with background information, which will get the reader up to speed on what you’re talking about, then omit details that may distract from your message or cause them to lose interest. If you don’t have the time to create a comprehensive intro, you can also use a lede that is focused on one point and includes vital information in the following sentences. These ledes can be just as effective as traditional ones.