If you want to get your point across fast and effectively, turn your writing on its head.
It inverts the traditional ‘thesis, antithesis and synthesis’ approach tutors teach at school or university, where you begin with a proposition, discuss an opposing view and end with the conclusion.
Journalists put the interesting points at the start of a story (the summing up) to make it more compelling. It encapsulates the message succinctly so if you read it on its own it still makes sense.
The first paragraph should include the most attention-grabbing, wow-inducing angle or ‘hook’ to hang the story on. The Sun’s Kelvin Mackenzie called this: the ’Ere Doris factor. If you had just heard a bit of tantalising gossip, what would you say first to a friend on the bus to get their attention?
Is it: “Ere, Doris… I was in the supermarket the other day, doing my shopping, when who do you think bumped into my trolley? None other than George Clooney!”
Or: “Ere, Doris…George Clooney bumped into my trolley when I was shopping at the supermarket yesterday.”
Which of these sums up the story best? Pat yourself on the back if it’s the second example. It captures the ‘who, what, when, where and how’ of the event. Now all it needs is a compelling, active and dynamic headline to go with it. ‘Clooney’s off his trolley’ anyone?