How to write better dropped intros

It can be one of the best ways to start a story.

But writing the perfect dropped intro is an art.

And it’s one that many reporters struggle with.

As I wrote nearly a year ago, using this more indirect, feature-y, approach can be a great device to vary the pace of papers and websites, breaking out of predictable, formulaic writing.

But it does take a bit of practice – and, often, a bit of fine-tuning.

Because when you’re taking readers on the scenic route to a story, you’d better make sure your words are beautiful.

While the odd extraneous word won’t necessarily ruin a hard news intro, one out of place in a dropped intro can kill it stone dead.

So here are my golden rules for a top dropped intro:

  • make it snappy: ensure your first few sentences are short and staccato.
  • keep polishing: read and re-read those introductory paragraphs to make sure they flow smoothly, taking the reader on a journey that is both enticing and satisfying. Simply taking out a word, or rejigging a sentence, can make all the difference. I’ve taken the word it’s out of my third paragraph, then put it back in again.
  • get to the point: there’s a fine balance between intriguing readers and frustrating them with your verbose long-windedness. When you’re taking a slightly circuitous route to the nub of the story, you need to keep up the pace.
  • paint a picture: dropped intros can help you set the scene evocatively, drawing people into the story.
  • people power: the dropped intro approach can force you to think of the human aspect and angle to stories. A mini-case study can be an attractive way in, making a point or illustrating a theme more powerfully than an off-the-shelf general intro.
  • don’t force it: there are some situations where a Ronseal, tell it like it is, intro is the only option.

Taking a different approach to storytelling forces you to think about, and improve, your writing.

And that should lead to greater satisfaction for writer and reader alike.

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