On Writing Well - Part II: Chapter 9 The Lead and the Ending Summary & Analysis

William Zinsser
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If the first sentence of a piece does not draw the reader to the next sentence, the article is a failure. But what makes a good first sentence? Zinsser has no formulaic answer, other than a good lead is one that works. Any particular article may have two or more possible good leads, but the idea is to use the one that works best.

The basic idea is that readers want to know right away if the article is worth reading. Zinsser writes:

"Therefore your lead must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading. It must cajole him with freshness, or novelty, or paradox, or humor, or surprise, or with an unusual idea, or an interesting fact, or a question. Anything will do, as long as it nudges his curiosity...

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