How to Write a Great Lead? Adapted from work by Celeste Gledhill Cafeteria Writing January 6th, 2012
The beginning of a story is called the “lead” of the story. How a story begins is very important. If you don’t say something interesting in your lead, then people won’t want to read the rest of your story.
My Trip to the Mall One day, I went to the mall. I got in the car, and my mom drove me to the mall.
The Day I got Scared One time I was at home and I was eating on the couch. The television was on. I was watching my favorite show.
When I Went to the Beach My mom said, “We are going to the beach today.” And I started to get ready. I put on my shoes and clothes. I went to the car.
A good lead catches the reader’s attention, making them want to read more! A good lead also makes the writer want to write more.
Grab Your Reader’s Attention by Writing a GREAT LEAD!! Use these Six Simple Letters P – paint a picture A– show action D – use “dialogue” I – use interesting facts or ideas S – use sound effects (onomatopoeia) Q – ask questions = A Spectacular Start to Your Writing
Paint a Picture with Your Words You can create a picture of the story, setting or a character in the reader’s mind by using descriptive adjectives and strong verbs.
STORYTELLER’S NOTE Now I suppose that you have heard about the mighty logger Paul Bunyan and his great blue ox named Babe. In the early days of this country, Paul and Babe cleared the land for the settlers so towns and cities could spring up. And you probably know that Paul was taller than a redwood tree, stronger than fifty grizzly bears, and smarter than a library full of books. But you may not know that Paul was married and had two fine children.
When I look through my window, I see a brick wall. There is trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars.
Action – Show Some!! You can also set up the action for the entire story in a few sentences. Use some STRONG verbs to start your story. This always grabs the reader’s attention.
None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Forest. Forest is not a thicket of trees. Forest is a boy. A sick boy. A boy sneezing and coughing all over my desk and pencils. I caught Forest’s cold and had to stay home from school on Tuesday. Tuesday is Vocabulary Day at Webster School. Follow my advice: Never get sick on Vocabulary Day.
“Dialogue” Just say it with a “quote”. You can start with a line or two of “dialogue.”
Chapter 1 Before Breakfast “Where’s Papa going with that Axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast. “Out to the hoghouse,” replied Mrs. Arable. “Some pigs were born last night.” “I don’t see why he needs an axe,” continued Fern, who was only eight. “Well, said her mother,” said her mother, “one of the pigs is a runt. It’s very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it.” “Do away with it?” shrieked Fern. “You mean kill it? Just because it’s smaller than the others?”
Interesting Fact Grabbing your reader’s attention is a piece of cake if you give them an interesting fact or detail about your story. Did you know that dolphins and whales are mammals that swim in the ocean and still breathe air. Most islands in the oceans originally formed from underwater volcanoes. Bethesda Elementary is one of six elementary schools in the Berkmar Cluster.
In 1864, the Civil War had torn apart our nation. It was the Union North against the Confederate South. Whispers of freedom spread through the slave cabins across the South. Parents like Addy’s whispered plans for freedom deep into the night. Taking their families to freedom was risky, but many felt staying enslaved was worse. They could no longer stand to see their family members beaten and sold away.
Start with a Sound and Add on a Simile Just start with a sound followed by a simile to describe just how intense that sound is. Either of these strategies can be used to make a GREAT BEGINNING to your story. WAHHHHH! WAHHHH! WAHHHHH! The baby was crying so loud it sounded like a police siren coming down the road.
Another jagged edge of lightening flashed as I crept into the dry shed! “1-2-3-4-5-6” I counted. CRACKLE, CRACKLE BOOOOOM, KA-BOOOOOOM, the thunder bellowed. It was dark and I was scared. “I’m here, child,” Grandma said softly from the doorway. “Hurry now, we haven’t got much time. We’ve got everything but the secret ingredient.”
Question? Start your story with a question. If you ask a question at the beginning, your readers will find themselves wanting to answer it.
How does a dinosaur say good night when Papa comes in to turn off the light?
Leads are Very Important Great leads or “Grabbers” should catch the reader’s attention and make them want to read the rest of the story. They should make the reader feel curiosity, humor, wonder, sympathy, anger, sorrow, fear, or mystery.
Let’s Grab the Reader’s Attention Use PADISQ to write an AWESOME lead with this boring topic. Coach Stancil is a funny guy.
Let’s Grab More Attention! Use PADISQ to write an AWESOME lead with this boring topic. The little dog was cute.
Let’s Grab Some More! Use PADISQ to write an AWESOME lead with this boring topic. I have a good time at recess.