LEADS: Readers are the bees; your lead is the flower

A LEAD is the “make it or break it” part of a story. It should be catchy enough to attract readers, memorable to elevate your story, and informational to keep them reading. 

leads_3-page-pdf-google-driveCrimson standards:

  • Write two leads for every story (front end leads and alt. leads)
  • Must be thirty words or fewer
  • Give the 5Ws for a professional look
  • Do not start with a QUOTE, WHEN, or THERE

Learn from the best:

Tristan Aird is undeniably the best lead crafter that has worked for Crimson.  ->



1. Put a Face on It:

“Last year’s star goalie, senior Juan Sanchez, isn’t eligible to play this year. He was born too early. Sanchez can’t play because of the University Interscholastic League policy.” (Hillcrest HS, Dallas, TX)

2. Going to Matter:

“Two possible changes in state legislation currently under discussion in Springfield could have an impact on teens who drink and drive.” (XRay, St. Charles HS)

3. The Stats:

Defying conformity, over 65 percent of 46 teachers indicated on a recent survey that they don’t follow the attendance policy all the time. (Maroon, Austin, TX)

4. The Conflict:

“Coach Jeff Jones is back coaching football this fall even though a parent/citizen group fought to get him removed during the summer.” (Arlingtonian, OH)

5. Then and Now:

“Many children long to become fire-fighters but only a few actually grow up and get the chance to hose down a major blaze.

When they put a five-gallon pump & 40 pounds of equipment on your back & say, ‘Put that out,’ most would probably change their minds,” said senior Jason Stegall, a third year Emergency Fire-Fighter for the Nevada Division of Forestry.” (Red & Blue, Reno HS, NV)

6. The Colloquial:

“Meetings held recently indicate that soon students “making a run for the border” at lunch won’t have to run very far. In fact, they won’t even have to leave the building, thanks to a new cooperative program between Taco Bell & the district’s food service.” (Argus, Gresham OR)

7. The Surprising Question:

“Would you consider murder a public service? Most people would not, but Abbey & Martha Brewster are not like most people. They are characters from Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic & Old Lace,” which… (Little Hawk, City HS, IA)

8. Noise:

“Squeak. Squeak. The student store is being forced to pack up & move out due, in part, to a problem with sweet-toothed mice.” (Academy Times, Wright Academy, Seattle)

9. Storytell:

“Creaking to a stop outside the University of Illinois at Chicago’s pool building, the old yellow school bus brought U-High’s 6-1 boys swim team to the site of a Jan. 27 meet with St. Ignatius. The wolves’ meets take place at the Circle Campus, across Roosevelt Road in the Near South Side neighborhood, because Ignatius doesn’t have a pool of its own. Leaving the bus, everyone briefly headed back out into the sunny but chilly afternoon, past various broken bottles & empty cans into the huge brick pool building, which looked like a warehouse.” (University High School, Chicago, IL)

10. Then and Now:

“Protesting students brought DISD to a near standstill last year after the district cut hundreds of teaching positions. Now, with students back in class & teachers rehired, many people wonder what has been learned from last year’s chaos.” (Hillcrest HS, Dallas, TX)

11. The Dialogue:

“Hey Ashley, this is Michael. How would you like to go out with me tonight? I’d love to Michael; where are we going? Well I was thinking we’d just go see a movie. Click.” (Trojanier, Rigby HS, ID)

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