Longform writing: how to write a beginning to hook the reader

Image originally published on the Online Journalism Blog

Beginnings: start from one person

Amelia Gentleman’s story leads on the ‘case study’ of David Clapson

Starting with action

Starting in a place

Place plays a central role in this BBC feature

Start with a detai

Starting with a question

This story’s central question is compelling enough on its own to keep the reader engaged in the quest for the answer

Starting with a problem

ProPublica’s Cruise Control uses an interactive image of a cruise ship to invite users explore the many ‘problems’

Starting with a revelation

This BBC Online report is a text version of a broadcast investigation — leading like this relies on the details being more interesting than the end result. Sometimes that’s the case in broadcast but it is harder to do in text.

Experiment

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Paul Bradshaw

Paul Bradshaw

Write the @ojblog. I run the MA in Data Journalism and the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism @bcujournalism and wrote @ojhandbook #scrapingforjournos