Question Leads

Is it okay to start a piece with a question lead?
Yes, but it depends on how you use it.

I just started this section with a question, and it drew you immediately into the topic. What’s wrong with that? Many newspaper editors object that journalism answers questions rather than asking them, which is pretentious nonsense.

Question leads engage your readers, and, done simply, start you off with a conversational tone. Readers will expect you to answer that question quickly, and get impatient if you don’t, which will help you get to the point. They’re the easiest kind of lead to write.

Questions leads have one drawback: they’re addictive, especially when you feel punk. It’s Monday, and you’re got post-weekend blues, so you get yourself going with a question lead. On Tuesday, you’re coming down with the flu, so you just slide in with a question lead. That night, your dog Stump dies, so you get through Wednesday with a question lead. And on Thursday, …. Question leads are so easy, they can become a crutch.

The best opening for your readers answers the question “What’s this about?” right away. How do you figure that out? Ask and answer a question that strikes at the heart of the matter, like this:
What this about?
Well, is it patriotic to save money in a consumer-spending crisis?

Type the question as a draft lead, then answer it, then develop the topic. When you revise, delete the question and buff up the answer. And you’ll have a terrific lead in record time.

Published in: on February 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm  Comments (5)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good advice. I used to tell my students that news stories answered questions, not raised them.

  2. I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the blogger lovers except this article is actually a good piece of writing, keep
    it up.

  3. Thanks, Generating Leads. I love knocking down the crap journalists say to each other without thinking. Don

  4. Hey I am so thrilled I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was
    looking on Bing for something else, Regardless I
    am here now and wojld just like to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round entertaining
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and
    also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more,
    Please do keep up the superb b.

  5. So enthusiastic and explanatory; in other words, it is comprehensive. Thanks and keep the good work up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: