Checklist for Writing the First Paragraph (lead)
- The lead is specific and compelling—not vague and abstract or statement of opinion, but is clear, concise and easy to understand.
- Complete sentences and proper tenses have been used.
- Simple sentence structure; long phrases or clauses avoided.
- The lead is concise. If the lead exceeds four typed lines—rewrite it.
- The lead begins with the main reason for the story.
- The lead is of local interest and current to today’s news.
- Strong, active and descriptive verbs have been used. Passive verbs such as “is, are, was and were” are avoided.
- Every name that appears in the lead is essential. No names that require lengthy identification later in the story have been used.
- Proper identification, such as titles, have been used with names.