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Top opinion article mistakes
by Jay Gutman
2015-01-21 09:54:58
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2015 will be my 10 year anniversary writing opinion articles for all sorts of publications. I’ve read many opinion articles, and have learned to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. Here’s a list of the mistakes I see when I read opinion articles, I’ve done some of them myself. The list is in no particular order. This list is from a reader’s perspective only, not from a writer’s perspective. I can only tell you which articles I find pleasant to read, and which ones I don’t.

DON’T write an opinion article over 600 words. I know a lot of people do, but in my experience, any opinion article over 600 words will have a “TL;DR” effect, or a Too Long; Didn’t Read effect.

DO keep the tone of the article neutral. I read a lot of opinion pieces that seem to be too angry about stuff, or too happy about stuff. Just like when having conversations with people, neutral tones tend to be more appreciated.

DON’T state the obvious. I skip a lot of opinion articles because they seem to state what we all know and have read thousands of times, and don’t seem to add new information.

DO show both sides of the story, but indicate what side you stand on. If you only indicate the side of the story you stand on without looking at the other side, then you will probably be accused of being biased.

DO try to use a little bit of humor. The best opinion pieces I found were the ones that made me laugh, although only use humor where appropriate.

DO keep the audience in mind. Are you preaching to the choir, or are you trying to convert the masses? Some articles preach to the choir when they are written like they are trying to convert the masses. In fact, the best articles are those that are written like they are preaching to the choir, but are really trying to convert the masses.

DO try to leave ideology out of the article, unless it specifically states that it’s about ideology. We all like animals, all think everyone should be equal. But then many of us eat animals, and have settled with the idea that some are more equal than others.

DO try to be informed about the topic you’re writing about. Too many articles I read make sweeping generalizations and lack the kind of expertise we all like.

DO try to go against conventional wisdom. I really like articles that teach me something that was the complete opposite of what I always thought was true.

DO try to use your expertise to your advantage. I’m always disappointed when people who are in a position to inform me fail to do so. For example, if someone from Afghanistan, Iran or North Korea or any country we have misconceptions about writes an article, I often hope that they will enlighten me about their country rather than write the usual conventional stuff.

DO make it sound like you’re having fun writing the article! Too many opinion pieces I read are way too serious, upset, disappointed or angry about life. We all like someone who makes us feel better after a long day at work, or a day at work procrastinating, rather than someone who depresses us.

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Mirella Ionta2015-01-25 20:43:44
I like the opinion articles/ editorials that have a sarcastic, humorous tone and bring to light what the masses of society seem to dismiss as being trivial. Those articles that shine truth over a situation that is deluded by media propaganda are always the best.

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