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Leads and Endings. Getting the reader’s attention and letting them go. Function of a Lead. Grab the reader’s attention Tells something about the subject of the story Shows significance of the story Shows what kind of story it is: news, feature, profile, research Establishes pace and tone
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Leads and Endings Getting the reader’s attention and letting them go.
Function of a Lead • Grab the reader’s attention • Tells something about the subject of the story • Shows significance of the story • Shows what kind of story it is: news, feature, profile, research • Establishes pace and tone • Establishes the writer’s voice and authority
News leads • From AGJR 203 • Includes the 5 Ws • Can easily be overloaded • Easier than feature leads • Identifies what is important
Feature leads • Can withhold information • Offers a variety of choices to the writer. • Should propel the reader into the subject matter.
Direct or Delayed • Breaking news – Direct • Creating a human slant – Delay • Compare these: Tracy McBain roamed the library for an hour Thursday night, looking for a place to study. She didn’t find a single empty seat. Frustrated and angry, she went outside to ponder her next move. “Is it my imagination or does the library get more crowded every semester?” said McBain. Its not her imagination. The overcrowded library has long caused problems for State students, and now may cause more trouble for the University. State University could lose its accreditation if it does not expand the library within five years, university officials were warned yesterday.
Types of Leads • Straight Lead • Scene Lead • Anecdote Lead • Significant Detail Lead • Single-Instance Lead • Face or Point-of-View Lead • Direct-Address Lead • Word-Play Lead
10 Overused Leads • “That’s the Word” • The Chair-Leaning • The Mystery “It” • The Uncommonly Common • The Atypically Typical • The “No exception” • The Quick-Trip-to-the-Almanac • The One-word • The Calendar Cliché • The Rodney Dangerfield
Focus • Each story has one main idea to which all other ideas relate • Having trouble – try a diagram Supporting Ideas Supporting Ideas Supporting Ideas Main Idea
Why is a lead so important? I look at leads as my one frail opportunity to grab the reader. If I don’t grab them at the start, I can’t count on grabbing them in the middle—because they never get to the middle. Mitch AlbornDetroit Free Press
Function of an Ending A good ending must: • Tell the reader the story is over. • Nail the central theme of the story to the reader’s mind. • Resonate—stick with the reader and make them think.
Function of an Ending 2 A really good ending can: • Surprise the reader. • Present a twist on the story. • Do something unexpected—that turns out to be exactly right.
How to Write an Ending • Write the ending first, so you’ll have a destination to aim for as you write. Or at least have the destination in mind. • Don’t make it an afterthought: it’s your last chance to influence your reader, so make it count.
Types of Endings • Anecdote Ending • Detail Ending • Face Ending • Quote Ending • Scenic Ending • Not-the-Obvious Ending
Why is the ending so important? If leads are like flashlights that shine down into the story, endings can be eternal flames that keep a story alive in a reader’s head and heart. Chip ScanlanPoynter Institute
Learning from a Master “Mopsy has looked into the face of death, and it is whiskered.” Lead for a story about a bobcat terrorizing household pets in a Florida neighborhood, told from the point of view of a chicken who survived. Writer: Rick Bragg
Your Turn • Based on our discussion, write three possible leads for your feature story (or stories). • Turn in your leads before you leave lab today.