52 Ways to Write Interesting Leads – Attract and Keep Readers

Need good ways to start your article, essay, or book? Writing an interesting lead or introduction that attracts and keeps readers is one of the most difficult things about writing (next to finding the perfect title for your article, chapter, or book!).

Your lead has to hook editors, publishers, and readers — and your introduction has to have pizzazz, razzle dazzle, and sparkle!

“Your first sentence is the most important part of the entire equation,” writes Jenna Glatzer in Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. “Put yourself in a busy section editor’s shoes. Today, you have to make two assignments, edit two more, check up on a writer whose work is late, help a writer who is having trouble…” and the list goes on and on.

So, you need a killer hook. The first sentence has to capture the editor so fully that it will stick in her mind even after she’s sidetracked by 10 different tasks, says Glatzer.

If your writing is boring, dull, lifeless, flat, or downright dead, read Word Painting: A Guide to Write More Descriptively.

Want to Attract and Keep Readers? 52 Ways to Write Interesting Leads

Writing interesting leads will be less difficult with these helpful writing tips for “killer hooks”: 

  1. the single most interesting point in your article or essay
  2. a current research finding (eg, “Novice freelance writers have higher blood pressure than established freelance writers.”)
  3. an interesting fact
  4. a question
  5. an element of fantasy (eg, “Imagine a time when earning a living as a writer could be as easy as eating double chocolate chip cookies.”)
  6. a little-known event
  7. a season of the year
  8. an observation
  9. a definition
  10. a feeling, emotion, or mood
  11. dangerous or harmful objects in everyday life
  12. a place description
  13. an annual holiday
  14. a personal vacation
  15. an intriguing question
  16. a shocking statement (eg, “Writing interesting leads is the only part of a freelance writing career that makes someone want to tear their eyelashes out.”
  17. good or bad advice
  18. an opinion
  19. a obituary
  20. a verse from the Bible
  21. a controversial idea
  22. statistical information
  23. a question
  24. a belief held by most people (eg, “Earning a living as a writer isn’t possible.”)
  25. a specific problem
  26. a common problem
  27. a declarative statement (eg, “Young freelance writers have it easy these days! Back in my day…”)
  28. a childhood memory
  29. received wisdom (eg, “Writing guru Anne Lamott once told me…”)
  30. a writing quip
  31. a shared trait or quality
  32. a dramatic, unusual, or surprising phrase
  33. a physical or mental condition
  34. historical figures
  35. statements of command
  36. an amusing or amazing encounter
  37. a how-to lead
  38. a hobby
  39. a current TV personality or celebrity’s actions
  40. a current news story
  41. a breakthrough secret revealed
  42. a cliché or overused expression
  43. a reference to astrology or zodiac signs
  44. describe a nationalist idea or action
  45. the effects of change
  46. a special promise
  47. an anecdote
  48. a quotation from a movie star or celebrity
  49. a dream or nightmare
  50. a profession or career reference
  51. common everyday objects
  52. info about current and/or historical events

When you’re writing a lead, heed Jenna Glatzer’s tip in Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments:

Find examples of great introductions, such as “Joe Smith doesn’t want to be a priest anymore.” Then, figure out why that intro works.

The best, most interesting introductions create a question in the reader’s mind, such as  “Why?” Or “How?”

For more tips, read 5 Steps to Writing a Killer First Chapter – How to Wow Readers.

Fellow scribes, the best way to write an interesting lead is to make the reader want to keep reading more than anything else.

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4 thoughts on “52 Ways to Write Interesting Leads – Attract and Keep Readers”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    My favorite way to write an interesting lead is to grab a quotation from my source, or start with the most fascinating tidbit from a story that directly relates to my article. The introduction often writes itself – if there’s enough meat to the story (or chapter!).

  2. dude you have no idea what you write and i am pretty sure even u dont know a thing… your thoughts are vague and arbitary and so is ur style of writing.. makes little sense… just absurd.. think before you write… possibly from the readers perspective… Good luck 🙂

  3. I have been searching forever for this. I teach 6-8 writing and struggle every year to explain how to start off a story or essay. Now I have a handy list.
    Thanks so much!

  4. Thanks for sharing these ways to begin your articles or chapters, Mike.

    I especially like #1 — the idea of presenting an interesting fact that dispels a commonly held myth. Myths are SO hard to fight! That is, people seem to believe what they want to believe or what they grew up believing, even if they’re presented with evidence to the contrary. I like playing with that in my introductions. 🙂
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..8 Ideas for Blog Posts or Magazine Articles at Halloween =-.