Slugs Lede 3-1

After class on on Tuesday, I had an epiphany.

We had each submitted a delayed lede for a story covering Terry Hazen’s talk about bioremediation in the Gulf of Mexico. In class, Ken projected them all on the board, and critiques them one by one. I has struggled with my lede for a simple reason: it was the worst lede ever. I kept trying to rewrite it, tweak it, reverse it, sharpen it, squeeze it, something. But it started stupid and stayed that way.

In class, I noticed that no one else approached the lede the same way I did. I had a choice of 10 completely different ledes up there on the board. I could pick my favorite and reject the rest. How I wished I could have done that for the assignment!

So, for our next assignment, I did. Ten was ambitious, so I decided on three. I came up with three completely different ideas for my lede, and turned my favorite one into an actual sentence. Now I know it’s not the worst lede ever because I’ve got two worse ones right in front of me. It may not be great, but, baby steps. I suddenly had control of the lede instead of the other way around.

So now, for ever more (or till I find a better strategy), I shall think of three ledes for every one I have to write.

0 Responses to Slugs Lede 3-1

  1. SandeepR 16 October, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    I think coming up with multiple ledes is a really good idea.

    In fact, during my internship one of the editors at Popular Science made me write 10 completely different ledes for a news story I was writing.

    Till then, my ledes were generally either not interesting enough or too predictable for the magazine. (They actually banned any ‘Here’s the problem, this is how this invention/research will fix it’ ledes, since those had become so common in their news section.)

    Sure enough, one of the 10 I submitted (I think it might have been the 8th…) was actually chosen for the final article.

    Of course, it was hard and time-consuming to come up with 10 original ledes, and I doubt we’ll always have the time to do that.

    But maybe I can also start with three…

  2. danielleventon 16 October, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    I love your lede in the PopSci article!

    I’m having a rough time finding ledes I’m happy with too. I think your suggestion of looking for multiple good ones — instead of the single, glowing ideal — is excellent. Three ledes all around!

    • SandeepR 16 October, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks! I was just happy at least one of the ten worked…

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