A LEXICON OF LEDES
A number of these are lifted from Jack Hart’s concept of “a lexicon of leads” in his book A Writer’s Coach. Another excellent source is Vir Bala Aggarwal’s Essentials of Practical Journalism (here’s a Google preview). This is not a complete list. The leads listed tend to skew to my general writing style, that of narrative nonfiction, rather than typical news stories.
Short punchy emotional thematic sum up statement. For a while, Lydia used these consistently.
“Ice reigns in the arctic.”
Summarizes the story. It’s instantly clear – good for issues stories of breaking news.
Leaves out confusing details in order to hook the reader
A story with a beginning middle and end. Should illustrate the story’s central theme.
Launches into action of a story with character in a scene pitting them against some kind of complication. A “bookend narrative” begins with relevant action, changes to the standard feature style for middle, then completes the narrative as a kicker
SCENE SETTER LEDE
Description of scene – might contain action, sense of place. Used for topics involving a location.
SCENE WRAPS or GALLERY LEDE
Series of scenes or pictures that all illustrate that something is happening in a variety of places to show a trend.
SIGNIFICANT DETAIL LEDE
One specific small detail that illustrates the story’s theme
SINGLE INSTANCE, MICROCOSM, or EMBLEM LEDE
Starting with one example that illustrates a larger topic, or if one person is emblematic of the issue.
Some sort of maxim like statement. I find this weak.
“The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them.”
Also used to be banned from newsrooms
“The picture you get from some waterproof cameras look like they were taken underwater even when they weren’t.”
Similar to the Quote Lede.
Starts with a question, often rhetorical. A lot of editors don’t like them.