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Reverse your articles

If you are writing about a new idea, mechanic, or technology, start with it. Talk about what it is before you start contrasting it with what it isn’t. Start by explaining the new thing and why the new thing is so good.

If the reason the new thing is good is because it’s different from an old bad thing, and you really, really wanna contrast and compare in order to make it super clear how much better the new thing is, I guess you can, but please move that to the end of your article.

It’s difficult to write positively, to write “new first”—we are so trained to tell stories chronologically—but we have the life-changing magic of editing. I need to edit my texts a ton, but that’s how I write: make a mess, then clean it up. This essay you’re reading right now started out just as backwards, just as “bad first”; my first draft of it started with a rant about how the typical Lobsters article is a rough read.

The article writer has invented some new technology, Bar, which is so much better than the old technology, Foo. You’ll never have to use Foo again.

But that’s not how the article starts. Instead, it spends ten pages carefully going over Foo in detail, explaining every nook and cranny, often with a disparaging tone. And then a brief blurb about Bar and why it’s better and use Bar from now on OK bye.

This is lede-buryingly backwards.

For people who do know Foo, we already know all that stuff so you’re wasting our time.
For those who don’t know Foo, well, the entire point of Bar is that you’ll never have to use Foo again so why do you first need to learn about Foo before we can get to Bar?

(Around half the time, it still ends up being the case that good old Foo was better after all. But today, I’m all about how we write about our stuff, not how to make better stuff. The new Bar is an improvement often enough, so don’t be afraid to put it front and center in your posts explaining it.)