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How to Write Better Editorial Articles
by Brian Konradt
Writing an editorial article may be one of the most satisfying forms of writing, especially for journalists trained to be objective at all costs. An editorial article can be about anything and from any standpoint; as long as you have an opinion and can support it with facts, you have the makings of an interesting piece.
We all have opinions, right? Yet not all of us are editorial writers and not all editorials are worth reading. What exactly makes an editorial article good -- and how do you write one?
KNOW YOUR THESIS
Too many people begin writing their topic with only a vague sense of opinion, never honing, or refining, that opinion into something sharp and distinctive. Be sure to have a solid grasp of what youre arguing and why youre arguing. Think about your topic and why youve chosen it first; what elements of the argument call to you? What angers or pleases you about this issue? Keep these things in mind as you begin to write.
MINE THE DATA
An editorial is only as good as its facts. Sure, you may think the death penalty is wrong and worthy of outlaw, but without backing it up with data, you have nothing but a half-formed opinion. Get the backstory, understand your argument inside-out. Research every tiny aspect of your topic and cite as many facts as possible; generalities are the death of interesting editorials.
CONSIDER THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Dont pigeonhole yourself into writing from majoritys opinion just because you can make easy arguments. Think long and hard about your position on the chosen issue and write from the standpoint that makes the most sense to you. Never, ever, ever compromise your beliefs for the sake of a byline.
Sure, exaggerating slightly is expected during a heated face-to-face, but hyperbole has no place in a well-written editorial. You can rarely back up statements such as "always" and "never" with factual data, so stay away from them unless the hyperbole has a definite, and obvious, literary purpose. Typically, including these words will make your editorial prone to justifiable, and often fatal, criticism.
UNDERSTAND THE OPPOSITION
The only way to create a fully formed editorial with tons of depth and poignancy is to understand what the other side is arguing. Research opposing viewpoints with the same voracious energy as the ones with which you line up. Take the time to understand what the other side is arguing and why; after all, you can only combat a particular argument if you know exactly what that argument is.