We've all seen this type of lead over the years:

Author John Q. Fuddyduddy once wrote that petunias are God's gift to gardeners.

It's the type of lead which should make newspaper reporters cringe, especially ones who are tuned in to their audience. Firstly, reporters are taking a huge risk that their readers have ever heard of John Q. Fuddyduddy. Secondly, why would readers care?

Before you write a lead that goes something like In the Hollywood movie, My Mother Ate Uncle Joey's Tomato, actor Gino Pasquale said a tomato is a work of art, be aware that you may be failing to connect to a large portion of your audience. Once again, maybe Gino Pasquale said something about a tomato at some point in time. But ask yourself, will my readers care? Will my readers even know of a Gino Pasquale? Will they have seen the movie My Mother Ate Uncle Joey's Tomato?

Most often, these types of leads are derived from a reporter's own interests. Perhaps, they are from a reporter's favourite movie, book or show once seen on television. The pitfall with many of these types of leads is that they represent what interests the reporter, not the readers. Be careful. More times than not, the obscure (FILL IN THE BLANK) once said . . . lead doesn't work.

It's a good reminder that you're writing for readers . . . not about what interests you.

-- Gregg McLachlan