Let me give you a piece of my mind
An opinion piece is ‘an article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news’.
Have you ever been so outraged at a news item you’ve read that you wanted to dash off an indignant letter to the editor? How often have you sat at a coffee shop and wondered about the way people behave in groups? Have you ever had to defend your dislike of a popular trend at a dinner party?
An opinion piece is a great way to make your voice known – or even to find your voice as a writer. It can help you find a theme for an article, a blog, or even a whole book. Even if you don’t wish to publish it, it’s a great way to organise your thoughts and structure your arguments.
Seven tips for writing an opinion piece
- Give it your voice. An opinion piece is your chance to voice your beliefs, values, and insights. It must be subjective and passionate, your personal take on something that has shaken you up, that sits uncomfortably in you.
- Don’t be afraid of controversy. Don’t hesitate to go against popular opinion, to shake some trees or point a finger. You have to be fearless in your approach. No one wants a middle-of-the-road attitude.
- Think strategically. Argue logically. When you write, know what you want to say and make your case in a critical and persuasive way. Imagine your opinion is on trial. Your argument must get the jury on your side.
- Start with a bang. Start with an intriguing question and attempt to answer it. (Why is it there is an angel to find you a parking space but no angel to find you hot sex?) Or start with a powerful statement and then defend it. (I will never pay for toll roads.)
- Keep your tone consistent. Your piece can be funny or angry, indignant or perplexed, subversive or straightforward. Just make sure it suits your writing personality and that you keep it consistent.
- Use metaphors to simplify complex ideas. If you want to explain the world’s population explosion, say it’s like adding the population of a major city to the world every month. If you want to make a point about making dangerous partnerships in government, maybe use the allegory of the Frog and the Scorpion to explain it.
- Test your structure. The best opinions will fall apart if there is a mushy structure. Make sure it has a great beginning, engaging middle, and powerful end.
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