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Writing tips

Writing a good opinion piece is similar to writing a good news story or a feature: it requires clear thinking, communicating an unambiguous and simple message, and all in an engaging way.

Here’re some ways to achieve that:

  • Analyse your subject matter: Be objective and provide both sides of the story if necessary. Don’t just raise an issue, ensure you provide a solution - otherwise it’s a pointless story. Provide readers with insight and answers.

  • Find interesting topics to write on: it’s vital to attract readers and keep them reading. Ensure your piece is topical, current, and fashionable. Look at news stories for inspiration.

  • Include your opinion: that’s the point of writing this piece in the first place. Readers expect it. But be prepared to defend your opinion with facts. Sitting blandly on the fence is a no-no - be unequivocal.

  • Spark a reaction: your job is to make readers agree/disagree/change their view or to make them angry/spark them into action. Write with conviction and aim to inspire your readers into action.

  • “Chat” to readers: this kind of writing tends to be more conversational and informal than a news story. Ask rhetorical questions. Know your audience - you often have a dedicated readership. Use analogies from everyday life to illustrate a complicated or technical point - it’s more understandable and relevant to the reader.

  • Finally, ensure accuracy throughout: double-check spelling, grammar and facts. Does your argument make sense? If not, your integrity and authority can be questioned because expert readers will be quick to pick up on errors.

Can you think of other tips for good opinion writing? Please post your thoughts in the comments area, read other learners’ comments, and like those that are helpful to you.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Journalism

University of Strathclyde

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