Don’t Lede Me On

I hate it when an article ledes me on. Things start off promising – the header is enticing, the sub-heading is clever and the lede is saying all the right things. It’s strong and gives a great angle. It asserts a particular opinion, thought or idea and whispers sweet nothings of all of the supporting facts to follow. In fact, the darn thing tells me it’s going to satisfy a particular question and then…I read the article.

After hundreds of words and several opportunities, the article ends without giving me everything it promised. My time is precious and if I need to bill you – expensive. A weak article always makes me feel like the publication accepted my invitation out, ordered from the expensive side of the menu and then high-fived me on the way out the door – or worse, asked me for $50 in the form of an advertisement on the next page.

Writers work hard to craft a strong lede. We want to hook ’em fast and hard. Once hooked, however, your audience expects you to deliver. Don’t tell them there are 10 tips to creating the perfect rock garden and only give them eight. Likewise, if you start your lede off with an anecdote, please follow-up on the person in the anecdote. Readers began the article with them, they’d like to hear how things turned out.

A lede is never meant to carry the whole article. A lede introduces the topic and angle. The paragraphs that follow are called supporting paragraphs or the body of the article for a reason. Those paragraphs provide researched facts and information to support the initial topics.

The best way for a writer to ensure they have satisfied all the promises of their lede is by editing from a reader’s point of view. The editing process isn’t just for grammatical errors, it’s used to find holes in a story. While editing, ask yourself:

  • What’s missing?
  • Have I explained each point in my lede?
  • Are the supporting paragraphs strong enough to support the lede?
  • If I had never heard of ____ before, what would I ask or need to know?

Great writing is not only hooking readers in the beginning, it is also defined by its ability to leave readers knowledgeable and satisfied. Be vigilant during the research and editing phases of article writing and make sure your article lives up to its lede’s promise.





6 responses
  1. Christina Crowe @ Cash Campfire Avatar

    Well said. I’m often disappointed when I read a strong introduction, only to be let down with the supporting paragraphs, especially if a key point was mentioned and there’s nothing in the body of the article that expands on that key point.

    This can be a great exercise for all writers, especially writers struggling to effectively end a piece. Great article!

    1. Terreece Avatar

      Christina, thanks! I sometimes re-read the article looking for the points I missed LOL! Then I want to strangle the writer after I realize, nope, I read it all…

  2. Tom Johnson Avatar

    Hi Terreece,

    I agree completely. I hate reading an article that pulls a bait and switch. I always end up wasting more time rereading it to make sure that I didn’t miss some information that connects the intro to the body.

    Btw quick question, I thought that the intro to a story was called a lead, have I been misspelling it this entire time?

    Great article, keep up the good work!

    1. Terreece Avatar

      Tom, Ha I just said the same thing to Christina about rereading LOL!

      Lede or Lead it’s spelled both ways. Lede is the old-school way of spelling it a hold-over from newspaper days. Well, there are still newspapers…:0)

  3. Chris Murano Avatar
    Chris Murano

    Is a lede the same as a lead?

    1. Terreece Avatar

      Yep Chris it sure is. The “lede” spelling is an old holdover from the newspaper industry.

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