The craft of nonfiction

When writing nonfiction articles, in many ways, one’s opening/lede matters even more than it does in fiction–one has fewer words, and is trying to convey information as well as story–the very first paragraph really does have to let the reader in and point them in a direction, so they’ll read the rest of the article. The lede is what pulls all the rest of the story into a coherent whole, and ideally one comes back around to it in some way, though this doesn’t always happen.

Often, finding the lede is the hardest part of the story–because nonfiction often doesn’t as clearly have the narrative or thematic coherence of fiction, and one has to dig for it.

Or sometimes–like today–one finds one has too many possible ledes, rather than too few. I can see at least five possible ways into this fairly short article; the challenge will be choosing the one that pulls all the rest together best.

For once, I’m not doubting there’s a there there–instead, I’m wondering which there I want to aim for.

(As an aside: does anyone know whether lead or lede is the current accepted usage? I seem to see both in equal proportion, these days.)

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