News writing is excellent training. I took journalism classes when I was 19 or 20, then really learned to write on the Hinsdale (Illinois) Doings. I had to get the who, what, where, when and why down in the 30-word “lede” (spelled that way so’s not to confuse it with Linotype “lead.”). Tough job. Try it.
Then news writing leaped back a hundred years. The soft and fuzzy lede would begin something like, “It was an idyllic day in June when nine-year-old Tabitha and her perky terrier, Mikey, romped down the sidewalk. Unbeknownst to them, Charles Meriwether left the bar inebriated and got into his buggy. The Gods must have cried in anguish as Meriwether’s buggy approached the corner where little Tabitha….” Well, you get the drift.
Now we’re back to requiring a narrative hook—the first handful of words that will capture the reader at his screen, make him click through to another Web site, and continue reading. Tough job. I began looking at leads from the RSS feeds that pour into my mailbox each morning. What I found is a picture of how short our attention span is—and how readers can be manipulated to click on links. Read more of how to “Hook Your Readers” at http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/hook-your-readers/#comments.
Oh, Tabitha? Along about the 10th paragraph you learn she'll be okay. But the dog is dead.