I think Frank McCourt's a whiner.
Did that lead get your attention? If I were an accomplished writer like Frank McCourt, I would go into the body of my article right now, but I'm not, so I'll, instead, weaken the lead with unnecessary verbiage, something McCourt's and my students have mastered.
In his book Teacher Man, he pokes fun at the notion that English teachers read literary classics. They, in fact, read Jose's and Susan's and Mary's and Antonio's horrible essays.
I got tired of reading crappy essays, so I made a rule in my class: if the lead didn't grab my attention, I wrote a 'D' on the paper and stopped reading. After assigning 38 'D's I figured I should actually teach students how to hook the reader with dynamite leads. Teaching students how to write leads will make your life more enjoyable. Here's the very lesson I taught, beginning with my lone objective.
- Students will recognize quality leads, write quality leads, and revise really crappy leads.