I have commended to your attention the catalogue of stale opening devices compiled by the late Dick Thien, trusting that you will know what to do when confronted by the Webster's Dictionary lead and the King James lead. Friends don't let friends write cliche leads.
This morning I opened the paper and my baleful eye fell on a stinking cliche not held up for scorn in Mr. Thien's list: "Ah, fried chicken."
There is an "ah" lead in a text in my vault that I bring out for the copy editing class. Some poor soul condemned to write one of the annual holiday stories opened a draft with "Ah, Memorial Day!"
The "ah" lead is universal. Since it can be used with anything,* it makes nothing distinctive. And, since it effectively means nothing and contributes nothing, it can be safely lopped off in every instance.
Remember that you as editor are like a surgeon; you heal with the knife.
*Ah, Memorial Day! Ah, Halloween! Ah, Independence Day! Ah, Arbor Day! Or, if you go beyond fried chicken: Ah, cronuts. Ah, risotto. Ah, farm-to-table radishes. You catch the drift?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun