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The beginner's guide to writing opinion pieces

I, as many regular readers may know, engage in writing opinion pieces every now and then. Most recently, I have had many pieces accepted for publication on the Newsroom website. In this blog, I want to talk briefly about the process of writing an opinion piece for publication, either online or in print and provide ideas for any other budding opinion writers/commentators out there.

Admittedly, I haven't written any opinion piece for print media (apart from numerous letters to the editor) but have done so more for online media. 

The most important element of an opinion piece is to, obviously, have a strong opinion about something in the first place. The second most important element is being able to construct a logical flow of argument which will grip the reader from beginning to end. The third element (and most vital) is that the piece is written in response to an event or issue which is occurring at the time and is able to be submitted quickly for potential publication.

When writing an opinion column, some people (including myself) and many of our best media commentators tend to write in a stream of consciousness way - in other words, both words and thoughts tend to come out simultaneously while writing. For other people (particularly first timers) this may not be the case and so it's important to perhaps write down a few key bullet points first about what you want to say and then create a rough structure of how the argument will flow. This is, just to given an example, similar to the process involved in preparing a school or university essay.

The next step is to consider whom might be interested in publishing the piece. There are a growing number of media outlets out there and, depending on what the piece is about, you may want to consider where it might best go.

The best thing to do, in this instance, is to Google relevant websites and publications which might accept it. Alternatively, you may want to make contact before writing an opinion piece with the commissioning editor(s) of the publication or website concerned. I have done the latter on many occasions but for first timers with very little or no publications history, you may want to check first with the publication concerned.

Next you either write up the opinion piece (using the ideas suggested above) and submit and await word on whether the publication will accept or not, or make contact with the editorial team who will ask you to submit a piece which they will (fingers crossed) publish.

After that, if you're successful, then they may accept other offers depending on what the topic is and whether it's timely. And as for the length of any article, editors will often provide guidance on this too.

So, there you have it - the beginner's guide to writing opinion pieces! Happy writing!