“Read your lead and then count the number of words you use before you reach the one that is strong and essential and cannot be the thrown away. This is very often the news point. If you go beyond three or four words before reaching that “must have” word then stop and rewrite. You should be hitting strong, essential words very quickly after you start to read the first sentence.
Try this one:
That’s a 42-word intro, and you have to count 13 words before you reach the first word that grabs you: “hostage”. You get there much sooner this way: “A Baldonian woman held hostage for 12 weeks by Philippine rebels is remarkably well despite reports she was ill and had contemplated suicide, a doctor said after she returned home on Tuesday.” The attention-grabbing word “hostage” is the fifth word and the news point that she is well is reported sooner in the sentence.”