inessential by Brent Simmons

Suspended Ledes Suck

Suspended ledes serve no purpose but to demonstrate the writer’s cleverness, and I get angry every time I read one.

(A suspended lede is where the thing-being-talked-about is withheld right at first. Some one or a few provocative sentences, designed to grab the reader’s attention, appear first — and then there’s the big reveal of the actual subject.)

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This post, rewritten with a suspended lede, might have looked like this:

I hate it with the heat of a thousand white-hot stars on a summer afternoon, that overplayed gimmick, that tired writing tic that does nothing but draw attention to the writer’s cleverness.

Wow! What’s he talking about?! This is so danged interesting that I must keep reading! What a great writer!

The suspended lede.

Oh! Of course! That totally fits! What a great writer!

Puke. It’s so pukey.

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Respect your readers: tell them the subject right up front. Write well enough to keep their attention. Don’t draw attention to your own cleverness.