Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Little Red So Far

Thinking about Little Red Cap and lead writing:

There are four 'who's' in this story - LRC, granny, the huntsman and the wolf. It's hard to imagine a lead that didn't include all four, which most of you did. The obvious choice for first "who" is LRC. You might also lead with the huntsman since his is the decisive action. Leading with granny? Not likely since her victimhood is clearly subordinate to LRC. None of your leads begin with the wolf. Such a lead might read something like:

 A wolf was killed yesterday after eating alive a young woman and her grandmother. A huntsman saved their lives by cutting the wolf open.

I would call that an acceptable lead, if not an obvious first choice, since the wolf is the engine of the story.  Let's use our wolf lead to explore the Art of the Lead.  A lead like this illustrates the nature of news writing. It does not include a number of colorful and interesting details, but it does not **contradict** those details. That is, this account may be bare bones, but it will prove consistent with any of those details if they are presented later in the story. For instance, a reader of our wolf lead might assume that the wolf was immediately killed by his being cut open and only by the act of cutting him open. Not so. Apparently being filled with stones at the instigation of Little Red Cap causes the wolf's death. A close reading of the first two sentences shows that the lead does not misrepresent the facts of the story as they emerge later on. Of course, we might choose to put more of those colorful details higher up, resulting in this lead:

A wolf was killed yesterday after eating alive a young woman and her grandmother and then falling asleep in the grandmother's cottage. According to authorities, a huntsman attracted by the wolf's snoring saved the lives of the women by cutting the wolf open with a pair of scissors. (48 words)

Little Red Cap, one of the victims, suggested filling the wolf's stomach with stones, which resulted in his death.

At this point, you might "go chronological": "Little Red Cap met the wolf earlier in the day...," fleshing the story out.

Now let's see how many words it takes you to include the key details.

1) A huntsman came to the rescue of a young girl and her grandmother when he heard unusual sounds coming from her house. Upon arriving at the scene, the huntsman discovered a wolf sleeping in the old woman’s bed. He cut open the animal finding not only the grandmother, but a young girl as well. (49 words)The girl, little red cap, was on her way to bring cake and wine to her grandmother, when she was led astray by a wolf in the woods. After the perpetrator had ditched the girl, he ran to the grandmothers house. Using a ruse, he was able to enter the home and swallow the woman whole. He then dressed up as the grandmother and waited for the young girl, swallowing her as well.

2) A huntsman stumbled across a wolf who had consumed a grandmother and granddaughter. He was passing the grandmother’s home when he heard loud snoring, prompting him to investigate further. The wolf was found asleep in the grandmother’s bed wearing her clothes and cap. The granddaughter was delivering a bottle of wine and piece of cake from the village to her grandmother in the woods, who was ill at the time. Acting quickly, the huntsman cut the wolf open, freeing the grandmother and granddaughter. (originally 83 words)They sustained no injuries. They filled the wolf with heavy stones, killing him immediately after a fall.

3) Little red cap was eaten by a wolf disguised as her grandmother while attempting to deliver a piece of cake and a bottle of wine to her cabin in the forest one day.(uh oh - no huntsman, no multiple consumption, no rescue)

4) (Villager) Little Red Cap, a young resident of the village, has been rescued by a huntsman from the stomach of a predatory wolf, police reports say. Her grandmother, who lives just thirty minutes outside of the village, was rescued as well. (passive voice - give the huntsman some love) The culprit has been pronounced dead at the scene. (originally 50 words) Cap had been on her way to her ill relative’s home with a care package when she was initially approached by the wolf, who then lured the child to a hedge of hazel bushes as a distraction. He then ran to devour elderly woman, and subsequently posed as her so as to lure the child to the cottage.

5) Little Red Cap was headed to her sick grandmother’s house the other day, when an evil wolf tricked her off the trail. Upon her arrival, Little Red Cap saw the wolf had eaten her grandmother. Soon after, she too was eaten. Thanks to a passing hunter, both Grandmother and Little Red Cap (specifics!) were rescued from the horrific event. (originally 58 words)

6) A sweet young girl named Little Red Cap was eaten by a wolf disguised as her grandmother, when trying to deliver wine and cake to her grandmother's cabin in the forest. (One more sentence, please)

7) Once upon a time, a little girl known as Little Red Cap was walking through the woods to deliver a piece of cake and a bottle of wine to her sick grandmother. In the woods she came across a fox who asked her where she was going and told her she should pick some flowers for her grandmother. While Little Red Cap picked her grandmother flowers, the wolf entered the grandmother’s house and ate her. When Little Red Cap finally arrived at her grandmother’s house, the wolf ate her too. Luckily, later that night when the wolf had fallen asleep, a huntsman suspiciously approached the scene and quickly understood what had happened. The huntsman cut open the wolf’s belly and out came the little girl and her grandmother. They then filled the wolf’s empty body with stones, which would eventually kill him. (142 words - this can be tightened up *a lot* but it is shorter than the original) The huntsman kept the wolf’s pelt and the grandmother was able to eat her cake and drink her wine in peace.

8) A wolf ate a little girl with a red cap in the woods one day by disguising himself as her grandmother, who he also ate due to his hunger. (Now give the  huntsman his sentence)

9) A good Samaritan huntsman saved a girl known as “Little Red Cape” and her grandmother after he cut them out of the stomach of a vicious wolf that had swallowed them both. The girl and her grandmother are unharmed, but the wolf has died after they? filled him up with rocks. (51 words - this is my favorite)

10) A young girl and her elderly grandmother were attacked by a wolf once upon a time, officials say. The girl, known to her village as “Little Red Cap”, was bringing errands to her ailing grandma a half hour into the woods when the assault began. The wolf approached Red Cap and succeeded in luring her off the road; he then proceeded to her grandmother’s house, where he consumed both grandmother and girl after donning the senior woman’s clothing. Both individuals are alive due to the work of a passing huntsman, who cut the women out of the wolf’s belly with scissors. The huntsman had reportedly been tracking the animal for a long time prior to this incident, and took the wolf’s pelt after killing him for his crime. (128 words - notice preliminary cuts)


Tara said...

I started with info about the wolf but I prefer the leads starting with the huntsman I think that is a better idea.

rozr said...

My lead could definitely be shortened and cleaned up. This was a good exercise and I learned from the mistakes I made. Lead #9 gets straight to the point and is a good example for future leads.

Price said...

I realize I need to add more specifics to my lead. It could be longer. If I had to rewrite mine, I would start with the hunts man.