WRITING AN OP-ED PIECE

If you just want to criticize something, write a letter to the Editor. But if you want to write an op-ed article, be constructive. We all have opinions and most of us like to express them. Next time an issue comes along, that you feel you must comment on, write an op-ed. Most newspapers don’t pay for them, but they are very satisfactory for the author.

Choose your topic well. Column space is at a premium. Give careful attention to the subject matter. Be relevant by choosing a topic that touches on a large issue. For example, if you are responding the a local library’s decision to filter its Internet service to prevent children from accessing pornographic sites, don’t just offer an opinion on the decision – a Letter to the Editor would suffice. Instead, address the larger issue – personal freedom versus a desire to protect our children.

Address the events of the world around you through your unique perspective. Let your areas of expertise color it – as an attorney, a psychologist, or maybe as a parent. Watch the news for items suitable for your unique commentary. Keep abreast of local, national and world-wide events. You won’t be qualified to write on every issue, but find those you are qualified to write on.

An op-ed differs from a Letter to the Editor – while the former can be filled with angry rhetoric, an op-ed must present a reasoned argument. Don’t be merely critical. A good opinion piece will challenge readers to find a solution.

Usually the acceptable word count is between 500 to 800 words. You don’t have unlimikted space to make your point. So learn how to focus. The narrower your focus, the better.

Don’t forget to document any references or quotations. You must be able to back up any statements you attribute to others. Writing op-eds is a wonderful way for a writer to express an opinion in a powerful forum – and you may even be paid for it.

Happy writing. I am here if you need any help (free) with your writing problems. I have some discount books available of the latest of my 14 novels – “Searching for Sarah.” You can contact me at dwaysman.com Good luck.

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