In newswriting, we’ve been working on leads. Out of the 139534 things I can’t do in the world, writing a kick-butt lead is not on the list. Even if the other 730 words of my story suck like thick gravy, I can almost guarantee that the first 18-35 words will keep you reading. At least that’s the goal.
My teacher had us look at some of the leads we wrote last class, based on a cartoon of Little Red Riding Hood.
They were all about this caliber:
“A young girl by the name of Little Red Riding Hood, has a close encounter with the Big Bad Wolf but gets away. What started out as an innocent trip to her grandmothers house through the woods ended up turning into a life changing event. Her lumber jack father had to save her life. Little Red Riding Hood, she came out of it alive and with learned many lessons.”
All of the really bad leads brought back a memory from last year…
Lowery was on break was BYU-I “interning” for the Ledger (Remind me to never, ever, do this). She wasn’t allowed to help edit, she was assigned to help us exclusively with out leads. I’m sure she hated it. The leads were terrible of course, but that’s what you get from a bunch of 15-17 year olds. The new rule was that we couldn’t have a lead more than 18 words.
For me, being the disgustingly flowery writer I was, this was about as possible as switching my major to math. It wasn’t going to happen. I’m sure I balked for days, but after that February I learned something that will help me for the rest of my newspaper career (however long that is…)
I learned to make those 18 words count.
Newswriting bores a me little simply because I went through all of this four years ago. We’re even using an almost identical textbook. It’s good, I guess. It means I had a had really, really good experience back in the day…I’m just ready for something new.
I could write more pointlessthingsyouneverreallyneededtoknow, but I’m listening to Pandora, and it keeps playing this video. Despite it’s level of stupid, If I have to listen to it one more time I’ll probably be checking under my roommate’s bed for an ax tonight.