Aspiring writers need to build a portfolio of published work, and you can start with some Op-Ed pieces. We all have opinions, and most of us enjoy expressing them. The daily Letters to the Editor section is always full of opinions on politics, response to articles that were published, and every topic imaginable.
If you aspire to be a professional writer, instead of a Letter to the Editor, try for an Op=Ed piece instead. Remember, column space is at a premium. You have to convince the editor of the relevance of your topic to their readers. Choose a topic that touches on a larger issue. For example, a Letter to the Editor might be about a local library’s decision to filter its internet service to prevent children accessing pornographic sites. You need to address the larger issue which is personal freedom versus a desire to protect children. If you can address the issues behind the news, you will have more chance of selling your article.
Your Op-Ed must also be timely and written through your unique perspective. If you are a lawyer, give a legal perspective. Are you a parent – the same thing applies. You need to write quickly while the topic is still newsworthy. The fact that most newspapers now allow e-mail submissions is a great help in getting your piece out in good time.
A letter to the Editor can express outrage over an issue; but an Op-Ed piece must present a reasoned argument. Try to avoid writing in the first person singular. Your piece will be doomed if it is filled with “I think”, “I maintain”, In my opinion” etc. Write either in the third person or the first person plural. Your piece should reflect your opinion, but not be opinionated.
The length is usually 500 – 800 words. The trick is in learning to Address the issue with laser precision and focus on the kernel of your opinion. Don’t forget to document any quotations you make.
Writing Op-Ed pieces is a wonderful way for a writer to express an opinion in a powerful forum. A topic I wrote about recently which was published was on sex education in schools. Although I believe it is necessary in this permissive age for young people to learn about contraceptives and safe sex, I believe that alongside it should also be taught the advantages of purity before marriage; that young girls should not feel peer pressure to be promiscuous just so as to be popular’; that boys should remember that every girl they date is someone’s daughter or sister and that they should respect them in the same way they would want a family member to be respected. It brought many favorable comments, not just from religious people, but from many concerned parents also. Find a topic you are passionate about, that is newsworthy, and try your luck.
Just a reminder that my new e-book novella “Autumn Blessing” has been released by Prism Publishers in USA, and can be purchased from them, or from Amazon or Smashwords. Click on the links below.
For any of my other titles, go to My Books.