Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hooking Your Reader

Do you have trouble hooking your reader? Are you uncertain how to begin your story or article? Here are a few leads which should grab your reader's attention and help direct the focus of your piece.

1. Anecdote - One of the most popular leads, the anecdote provides an illustration of how you or someone you interviewed handled a problem, and it can serve as a way to draw your reader into your article.

2. Question - Ask a question which is pertinent to your subject matter. For example, an article on working out could begin: "Have you considered the benefits of water aerobics?"

3. Summary - The idea of this lead is to provide immediate facts to the reader and can answer the who, what, when, where and why of your article.

4. Attention Grabber - I used this lead for a story, "Learning Tolerance," which appeared in Listen. "Unfortunately, bigotry isn't innocent or harmless. It finds its way into our society, both blatantly and covertly." This statement was designed to grab my reader's interest and make her want to keep reading.

5. Quotation - Do you have an expert you've interviewed for your article? Starting with a quote from the interview will help to lead into your story. Be sure, though, that the quote you choose sets the direction of your article.

6. Description - A descriptive lead can be similar to your summary lead, however, in this you will focus more on setting the scene. This can be particularly useful if you're working on a travel piece.

If you're not sure what type of lead to use, look at magazine articles. See how other published writers begin their stories. Find the one which works best for your voice and for the piece you are writing.

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