Don’t Bury The Lead

In school, most writers have been taught to write articles and essays in linear order, meaning you start with the beginning of an idea, then the middle, and then you conclude it with the end.

This, however, doesn’t usually work well with blogs.

The problem with writing in a linear fashion is that most people who read blogs have little time and are impatient.

Most readers don’t want to wait until the final paragraph of your article to get the main point of your post.

In journalism school they call this “burying the lead,” which means making readers work for the main point of your story.

But you don’t want to make anyone who reads your blog to have to work for the main idea. Instead, you have to learn to give them the main idea first and then expand on that idea by giving them everything else after.

Journalists call this the “inverted pyramid” structure, where the most important info is at the top.

In the book “Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” Chip Heath says,

“The inverted pyramid is great for readers. No matter what the reader’s attention span – whether she reads only the lead or the entire story – the inverted pyramid maximizes the information she gleans. Think of the alternative: If news stories were written like mysteries, with a dramatic payoff at the end, then readers who broke off in mid-story would miss the point. Imagine waiting until the last sentence of a story to find out who won the presidential election or the Super Bowl.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped reading an article or a blog post because I lose interest after reading the first few lines.

This is why news reporters are taught to lead their stories with the most important information first.

If I know you or I have a relationship with you, then the lead paragraph doesn’t matter as much, but when it comes to engaging new readers, the lead matters.

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23 thoughts on “Don’t Bury The Lead

  1. Yes absolutely, it has happened to me as well. I become impatient to reach till the end and leave reading an article sometimes. Today’s world is more about making people attracted towards your article. The point you raised with the journalists is so fitting here. The main story and the details will follow.. BREAKING NEWS..

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Believe me your posts are really meaningful and they always direct the readers to start thinking.. I really like the way you do your homework before writing a post and quote real life examples to support your thoughts! Thanks always for sharing such amazing ideas that can help a lot of people in many ways!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is an interesting idea. I suppose that is the main idea of engagement. Certainly the idea of the headlines are the main key with grabbing attention. But what if your article cannot be written in such a way? What if it has to be written in the form of an essay?

    I had a mentor and a friend who thought me something that I never forgot. Whenever it comes to public speaking, writing essays, articles, etc.. one of the things that most people do tend to forget is that the average human attention span is about 10 minutes. This means that the a person can only give you 100% concentration for 10 minutes at a time.
    Those who know this, will pace their articles and presentations accordingly; without boring the reader / listener.

    Another good way to look at it is to organize your article much like building a house. Every house has a foundation; that is your topic. Every house has a door.. this is your introduction. When you enter your house, you see many rooms. These are your various points and in every room, there is a window.
    This is the main key for engaging your audience… if a house has no windows, it would be dull and claustrophobic. The same can be said for an article / presentation.
    The windows represent a ray of sunshine and light, it could be an interesting illustration or joke; related the main topic or the point. This basically allows to listener / reader to identify with the point at hand. If he / she remembers the joke or illustration, remembers the point. Remembers the point, remembers the article.
    Finally comes the roof, standing as the end and the conclusion to the whole topic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you know what I think I agree with you. I like what you wrote in this comment almost a little bit better than what I wrote in my post. you worded that very well. I do think there are times to write a piece like an essay. I know with me, I tend to write my posts like a “house” more so that an “inverted pyramid.” I see your point and I agree with it. It depends. Both ways when done correctly work well

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Everything nowadays is becoming faster and faster. We are used to getting it all in a click of a mouse. I do agree you should engage your readers. But, we should give something a chance and be patient and focused. Not every thing gets fulfilled in a second.

    Liked by 1 person

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