10:35 AM

Hello Y'all!
My name is Jessica from over at Younghomemakers.blogspot.com.
This is my first article for the "Writing Saturday" which Sarah is holding. I am starting off with the subject of story leads. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these, I'll tell you what they are.
A lead is the first sentence of a book, article, essay, etc. which has the main purpose of grabbing the readers attention right off the bat and making them want to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Here are some examples of leads...
1. The question- "What is going on over there?"
2. The statement- Katy is very sad.
3. The exclamation- "Oh No!"
4. The problem- Amanda's foot was caught between two beams.
5. Use a quote- '"Do you believe?" He cried."' (this was taken from the book "Peter Pan" by:James M. Barry)
6. Show Action- Thomas pulled hard on the thick rope.
7. Start with dialogue where characters are talking about a specific problem- "If we don't do it, the cave will fall in on us." Willis said. "But I'm scared." Ruby whined.
8.create a sense of foreboding. Like something important is about to happen.- Mandy walked the the silent halls with chills running down her back. Something didn't feel right. She couldn't put a finger on it, but something was out of place.
9. Make something funny happen.- Caroline ran to the laundry room only to discover the washer was overflowing with soap suds.

This is what the lead should do...
1.Capture the readers interest.
2.Introduce your subject or problem
3.Move smoothly into the body of your piece.

Depending on what you are writing, you will want to pick different leads. Different leads will grab your attention more than others and make your piece have different vibes to them.

Now let's look at the same story with several different leads versus not having one at all.

1. (Exclamation)
Amazing! Derek had never seen Mount Rushmore, and the thrills it brought him were beyond imagination. He just loved history. Derek had been saving for this trip for three years. Now that he was here, he had a hard time putting it all into perspective.

2. (The Question)
"Are you a tour guide?" A woman wearing a red hat asked him.
"No." Derek replied politely. "I believe that they stop doing tours around five o'clock. It's 6:30 now."
"oh, well thank you."
Derek looked back at Mount Rushmore to let it sink in once more. He was finally here. After three years of saving, he had finally saved enough money to make the trip. He sighed with sadness. He should be getting back to the hotel. It was getting late, and He had a flight to catch in the morning.

3. (Showing action)
Derek leaned over the rail to get a better view. Mount Rushmore. No matter how many times he had wished to come here in the past, Derek had never actually believed it would come true. He sighed with contentment. It felt so good to be here.

4. (None)
--- This one turned out to be really difficult for me. I am so used to writing with leads, that even just trying to make one boring with a simple statement was considered a lead. Here is my attempt.

Derek visited Mount Rushmore. He had saved for three years. even though he had dreamed of coming for years, he hadn't actually ever believed it would come true. A nice lady in a red hat asked him if he was a tour guide. Derek answered, no. Soon it would be time for him to get back to his hotel. He had a plane to catch in the morning.

Do you see the differences? Which one did you enjoy reading the most? Which one made you want to keep reading to find out what happened next?

Did you notice how boring number four was compared to numbers one-three? Also, did you notice how different leads can tell different sides of a story?

So that is the basics of a lead. Grabbing a readers attention, no matter what you are writing, is very important. A lot of times, the lead is what makes a person unconsciously decide whether they are going to continue reading. Some people may pick up a book read a few sentences and put it back down. They probably don't really know why they don't want to read it, they just know that it doesn't interest them or grab them in a way that they can't put it back down until they find out what happens next. They aren't curious about it.

Hope this gave you all some great insight and ideas!

Jessica P.

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  1. That was very interesting to read, and I'll keep it in mind next time I'm writing a story! :-)