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”:
- the single most interesting point in your article or essay
- a current research finding (eg, “Novice freelance writers have higher blood pressure than established freelance writers.”)
- an interesting fact
- a question
- 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.”)
- a little-known event
- a season of the year
- an observation
- a definition
- a feeling, emotion, or mood
- dangerous or harmful objects in everyday life
- a place description
- an annual holiday
- a personal vacation
- an intriguing question
- 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.”
- good or bad advice
- an opinion
- a obituary
- a verse from the Bible
- a controversial idea
- statistical information
- a question
- a belief held by most people (eg, “Earning a living as a writer isn’t possible.”)
- a specific problem
- a common problem
- a declarative statement (eg, “Young freelance writers have it easy these days! Back in my day…”)
- a childhood memory
- received wisdom (eg, “Writing guru Anne Lamott once told me…”)
- a writing quip
- a shared trait or quality
- a dramatic, unusual, or surprising phrase
- a physical or mental condition
- historical figures
- statements of command
- an amusing or amazing encounter
- a how-to lead
- a hobby
- a current TV personality or celebrity’s actions
- a current news story
- a breakthrough secret revealed
- a cliché or overused expression
- a reference to astrology or zodiac signs
- describe a nationalist idea or action
- the effects of change
- a special promise
- an anecdote
- a quotation from a movie star or celebrity
- a dream or nightmare
- a profession or career reference
- common everyday objects
- 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.
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Fellow scribes, the best way to write an interesting lead is to make the reader want to keep reading more than anything else.