It’s been a while since I’ve shared my journalist juice here on Freelance Writing Dreams, so I thought you might like some tips on how to write effective feature story leads. Typically, straight news stories use summary leads, but you’ll want to craft a catchier, more enticing lead for your feature story.
Come up with original, inventive leads to keep your reader engaged in the feature. How do you accomplish that? Practice. Before too long, you’ll write innovative openings for your feature stories like a pro journalist.
Exercise your lead creating muscle by writing an example for each type of lead below. For instructional purposes, let’s assume the feature story is about the Paleo diet – a nutritional lifestyle that has taken hold of the health and fitness community.
Check out these types of original leads to get started:
- Quick burst lead – This lead contains a series of terse, direct statements, much like a how-to article: Start with lean proteins. Add antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Get healthy fats from nuts, seeds, fish oil, and grass-fed beef. These are the basics of the Paleo diet – the healthiest way to eat.
- Surprise lead – This lead includes an element of surprise: New, compelling evidence shows that cutting saturated fats may actually hurt heart health rather than protect it.
- Contrast lead – This type of lead makes a point by opening with differences or opposites: Crash dieters achieve a rapid, yet fleeting change; while Paleo dieters get a quick, lasting change with increased health and energy.
- Figurative lead – Use a figure of speech when opening with this lead: The benefits of the Paleo diet present a holy grail that’s eluded nutritionists for decades.
- Allusion lead – With this lead, you open your story with a reference to classic literature: She has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of old sent their diseased to the troubled pool of Bethesda. Following the Paleo nutrition plan has healed many of symptoms of metabolic syndrome – a multi-pronged disease. (Literary reference: Jane Eyre, 1947, Charlotte Brontë)
- Expert lead – Open with a quote from an expert: According to Dr. Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Answer, “People lose body fat, gain muscle, strength and endurance, while virtually all indices of health improve.”
- Suspense lead – This lead technique uses an open-ended beginning: Peyton Clark had serious doubts about any nutritional plan – especially one with precepts that departed so markedly from traditional diet plans. She needed something that worked, not another fad.
- Question lead – Have you been looking for a nutrition plan that’s both easy to implement and provides rapid, lasting results?
Come up with your own feature topic and story angle. Then try crafting inventive opening leads using these techniques. With practice, you’ll transform your openings, leading the reader into the topic with expert skill – like a pro journalist.
My next installment will address the types of feature stories used in both digital and print media. Booyah!
Sparkle with us: Please share your thoughts and even your sparkly, innovative leads in the comments below.