Common Mistakes: Weak ledes

January 14, 2010: Issue 323

Writing a strong lede can be a daunting task.

That’s why we so often resort to the tired construction above. Even without the cliché “daunting task,” this lede is weak.

Any sentence that fits the pattern “<verb>ing an <adjective> <noun> can be a <noun phrase: synonym for challenge>” tells the reader something she already knows. Instead, tell her how you’re going to help.

Here’s an example (one of the 9 million—no joke—that turned up when we did a Google search on “can be a daunting task”):
Removing lingering odors from the home can be a daunting task, but many easy steps can be taken to insure that embarrassing odors are eliminated.

And here’s our suggested rewrite:
Does your house stink? Here are six easy tricks to eliminate lingering odors.

Back to Style on the Go Archive
Back to BHG Stylebook Table of Contents