A good lead catches a readers attention and will start the story. It has to be short and catchy in order to get the reader to continue reading.
When writing a good lead you should firstly get to know what you are writing about by gathering and reading all the information necessary, basically collecting all the facts to sum it up correctly.
What really helped me figure out how to write a lead were to look at the five W’s, WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY. By answering those questions you get the basic information, the information the reader wants to or should know about in one or two sentences.
It is important not to add to much information in the lead as it would quickly lose its catchiness. Readers have too little time but too much news to choose from, so you need to make sure readers will want to read YOUR story. And by offering them an engaging lead, half the job is done. As soon as your lead catches someones eye and their attention, they will most probably want to continue reading.
An example of a good lead I found would be:
- Hong Kong (CNN) — The noodles were not just tasty. They were addictive.
This lead is short and catchy. It made me want to continue reading as I was suspicious and wanted to find out more about the addictive noodles. I guess the heading “tasty or addictive? Chinese restaurant serves noodles laced with opium poppy” was also engaging. As this lead is a startling statement, it does not include the 5 W’s, it just wants to grab your attention.
- Manhattan (Vice News)-–Tens of thousands of protestors turned out for the People’s Climate March Sunday in Manhattan, toting hand-held banners and paper sunflowers, chanting slogans, and demanding action ahead of upcoming the UN climate summit in New York.
This is a basic news lead, using the five W’s. We get the information about who its talking about, the protestors, what it is about, a climate march, when it was, Sunday, where it was, Manhattan and why it is happening, UN climate summit. This lead also contains strong verbs.
Here is a nice (very long) youtube video of how to write a good lead.