Saluting the most scintillating leads of the year

The folks at Poynter have compiled a list honoring the ‘Best Pulitzer Leads’ of the past year. The awards are informal, but the writing and storytelling lessons are instructive.

There are many methods to writing captivating, compelling leads—enticing storytelling salvos that propel readers into your piece—but it’s a delicate art that requires a deft editorial touch.

 

Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, has compiled a “Best Pulitzer Lead” list for four years now, and he’s just published this year’s winners.

Clark’s criteria for the honorees include:

Julie Johnson of The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, nabbed top honors for this jarring “narrative action” intro:

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Gino DeGraffenreid was about to jump back into his truck after loading a fleeing family into a police car when he thought he heard someone yelling amid the roaring wind and fire in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa.

He ran toward the voice and saw them: a couple wearing next to nothing, freezing amid an unprecedented fire belching smoke and raining firebrands.

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