Lead Me to a Good story, but Don’t Lead Me Astray
You want to write a great lead line to a story. It takes practice! Below are the fictional stories where you can give it a try, but first check out the article about how to write great lead lines. You can find it here: Lead Me to a Good Story, but Don’t Lead Me Astray.
Practice Story #1: Narrow escape for mother and child during severe weather
You are in wall-to-wall weather coverage at a cable news station. Right now, your coverage area is experiencing strong wind, heavy rain, and fierce lightning. It’s a scary situation. So, managers decided to stick with the coverage for a bit. Your assignment desk just called you in the booth to tell you a huge tree fell on a car in part of your coverage area. A mother and her 2-year-old daughter were inside the car at the time. Get this – they escaped without a single scratch, but it was close. Just a couple of inches closer to the driver’s side of the car could have spelled disaster. This is now part of your breaking weather coverage. All you have at the moment is a photo from fire rescue of the tree on top of the small car with the mother in the background hugging her daughter and a firefighter holding an umbrella over their heads. Your assignment desk sent a crew, but they have not arrived on scene just yet.
Practice Story #2: High altitude rescue
A worker is on top of a crane, 10 stories high working to build a retail super center. The crane is one of the ones workers have to climb to get to the top. It’s really hot today, and the worker started feeling dizzy and weak. He couldn’t climb back down for medical attention, so he called for help. Orlando’s fire department arrived on scene, and its high-rise rescue team got to work immediately climbing to the top, attending to the worker, and getting the stretcher ready to rappel a rescue team member and the patient down the side of the crane to an awaiting ambulance. It’s quite a sight! Your assignment desk says the helicopter is already on scene, and a photographer will be there shortly for live pictures on the ground. Your news director wants you to go on the air right now for this breaking news.
Practice Story #3: Manhole explosions in downtown Toledo, Ohio
Your newsroom phones are starting to go wild. People are calling reporting explosions downtown. Your newsroom is close to the area, so you send a crew, and they get incredible video and sound of a manhole cover flying through the air following a loud explosion. There is smoke everywhere. You can also see a few flames coming from the hole where the manhole cover used to be. No one knows exactly what’s happening, but there are at least half a dozen fire trucks and two ambulances with their lights flashing. Officers are shutting down streets in the immediate area, and there’s talk of evacuating some nearby buildings as a precaution, although rescuers have not done that yet. You are writing a lead that eventually pitches to your live reporter on the scene. The incredible video and sound that the crew shot is inhouse for your use.