Writers spend a lot of time on that first sentence in their story.
If the first sentence doesn’t entice readers to the next one, all that hard work creating the story goes down the drain.
In case you’re stuck, here are seven tips on creating the perfect lede.
1. Don’t start off with numbers
There’s no easier way to kill a story than by starting off with numbers. Just don’t. If your story is number heavy, keep the figures farther down in the body of the text. And always round them to the nearest whole numbers, unless the exact number is necessary to the story.
2. Read it out loud
By doing this, you’ll be able to hear whether you stumble as you read. If you’re stumbling, so will your reader. By reading the lede out loud, you can finesse it prior to publishing.
3. Tell me in one sentence
I always jot down in one sentence what a story is about before I begin to write or research my story. You could write this sentence on a sticky-note and post it on the corner of your computer screen, or just write it out on the corner of your notepad. This is a great habit that’ll help you focus on what your story is about. That crisp, clear focus also helps with crafting the perfect lede.
4. What’s the big deal?
Tell readers what makes this story different from all the other ones on your blog. I write a lot about SaaS businesses and I’m constantly considering fresh approaches to writing stories on the same subject. What makes this SaaS software’s function different from the last one’s? Your lede should indicate why your story is fresh.
5. Keep it short
A short lede that focusses on one key point is better than a long lede stuffed with confusing or conflicting elements (a problem that often comes up in the B2B space). You’re not answering the who, what, where, why, when, and how in your lede. And try to keep your lede to around 25 words. Anything longer and readers will leave the page.
6. Buried gems in your story
It’s a good idea to read over your story once it’s complete. You might have a nugget of interesting content in your story that may work better as a lede. If something within the story sounds more interesting than the lede, consider starting off with that point. It’s important to rework your story a few times. Don’t settle for a lede.
7. Got writer’s block? Don’t stare at your screen.
It happens to every writer. The worst thing you can do is sit in front your screen. Go out for a coffee. Stretch. Play with Fido. Relax. Do anything but work on your story. When your mind is fresh, come back and start again.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.