When I began writing novels, I was told that tany book would sell on the strenght of the opening page. You have to get the reader’s attention fast. You need a good hook to grab them.
The hook is even more important in Journalism. Every day papers have headlines that shout ‘buy me’ and they have produced some real classics.
One of the best headlines ever was on the cover of Variety during the Great Depression. It was
HICKS NIX STICKS FLICKS
It’s briliant, but also strange as it really needs to be read out loud to work.
Also, it doesn’t translate too well outside the states. Hicks are country folk, nix means they don’t like something, I think sticks is fairly universal for the countryside, and flcks are of course movies. But a headline saying country folk don’t like films about the countryside just doesn’t work, does it?
I have an article that I saved from the free newspaper the Metro from July 3 2009 with the most wonderful headline:
‘Wrestling midgets are killed by fake hookers’
This is not great writing. It is just one of the most ridiculous stories ever – you could not make it up. That said, this is not to detract frm the fact that two men were killed.
Two Mexican midget wrestlers were found dead in a hotel, apparently after being drugged and robbed. Alberto aka ‘La Parkita’ or ‘Little Death’ and Alejandro aka Espectrito II, both 36 years old, were famous figures in their field. They apparently had their pre fight alcoholic drinks spiked by the fake prostitutes in a htotel room who had not allowed for their small size, so instead of knocking them out they were killed.