Sunday, February 19, 2012

Your Opinions: The Editorial

Today I want to talk about writing non-fiction. No, not a giant book on medieval art or anything like that, but your simple opinion piece. I've been thrown into the editorial writing world, (something that I never thought I'd do by the way) and I've learned a few things that I'd like to share for those of you looking to jot something up for your local newspaper.

1. Relevancy

Write about an issue that's going on in your community, and be specific. Don't write about just homelessness, because as sad as it is, there is ALWAYS going to be homelessness. Maybe the homelessness in your city or town has gone significantly up or some aspect of the normal homelessness population has changed or been brought to light. Now that's something to talk about, because it's new and different, but don't write about a static issue that is unchanging. Chances are that people have written it to death. Nobody wants to read something that they've read a thousand times before. So, write about an issue that is happening now and people are interested in reading.


I'm a big supporter of writing a crappy first draft and editing it later. That being said, you can't just spew ideas all over the place about your issue. Most issues have many sides and points. As much as you may want to talk about a couple different aspects of the issue, it's usually best to pick one and convince the reader to share your opinion. For example, the issue of a local library closing. You think it shouldn't close, and here is all the reason you can come up with:

-Loss of after school programs

-Provides good atmosphere for studying, thus students learn better

-Gives out community resources to be in tune with the global world

-Intelligent source of entertainment

-Has movies that are hard to get without buying them, because most people are turning to watching movies online

Those are five decent reasons, but there is no way to write about all of those in a way to convince the reader of the value of the local library. Sure, you could if you were writing a five page essay, but editorials are generally between 200 and 600 words. You have to utilize the words you're given. Pick the strongest reason, and write about it. I would probably include these points in my article about losing the after school programs:

-programs keep kids out of trouble

-fun education for kids

Resist the urge to add that other point in a quick sentence at the end of the editorial like this:

In addition to the loss of programs, the library shouldn't close because we'd lose the valuable resource of movie borrowing.

It distracts the reader from the point you're trying to make about the issue.

So, basically be concise and don't ramble about other ideas as they come to mind. Pick one idea and run with it.

3. Make it personal

Aside from writing with a distinct voice, which you should always do, you should use personal experiences in your writing. Briefly tell why the issue is important to you. To continue with the library example, maybe write a few sentences about your experience with the programs or a friend's experience. If you don't know why you care about the issue, think about it until you do. It's essential to convince the reader. Write about what the loss of the library would mean to you and your family instead of what it would mean to ALL children or the WHOLE community. This makes it more relatable, and people are more likely to side with you.

Of course there are many more ways to make an editorial good, but these are some that have worked out for me. In recap:

-Write about a current issue

-Pick a specific part of issue to write about

-Put some of "you" in it

Feel free to share you opinions, or advice on writing opinion pieces in the comment section!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is it Getting Hot in Here?

I came across this little romance meme, and in the spirit of Valentines Day (aka Singles Awareness Day) I thought I'd share. Basically the idea is:

"... to share one of your favorite kissing scenes from a book you've read, from your own WiP, make one up, or write about one of your own memorable kisses. Then hop around to feel how sweet, romantic, or downright steamy other characters are getting smooched!"
I'm not going to personally share any of my romantic writings, because, well, I'm not quite THAT bold yet (and because they consist of many "to be edited" comments!). Kudos to those of you who did, though! Check out all the links and more details at Writing with Hope.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Word(less) Wednesday: February 8/12

This week I decided to post a little story prompt picture instead of my usual wordy tidbits. I took this particular picture at our local farmers market, and that's all I'm going to say! Whether you spin a story from the picture, do a quick exercise with it or simply just look at it, use it to inspire yourself. We all know that we can use a little inspiration from time to time.

Feel free to post any first lines or ideas you come up with in the comment section!

Happy mid week to everyone!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When Plots Fall Apart...

This is my Insecure Writer's Support Group post for February. Find out more about it here.

I was rereading some of my work to put up on Snippets of Story (check it out in the page bar at the top of the screen, by the way) and I had to go back 20 or 30 pages to find something decent. That makes me pretty insecure in my writing. We all know what insecurities in writing leads to. Yep, not writing.

Lately I've also been thinking about the quote "Every word on your blog is a word that isn't in your book."
And you know what? It should say "Every word that isn't on your blog isn't in your book either."
At least that's the way it feels to me right now. I don't think I've sat down seriously and wrote anything since before Christmas. I've wrote a couple odd blog posts and about 380 words in my story.

Yeah, not that impressive.

You know what the problem is? I have no idea where I'm going anymore. Well, that's lie. I do know how it's supposed to end, but I don't know what's supposed to happened in between. That is resulting in pure filler scenes that have pretty much no point. I came up with all these wonderful ideas and thought I wrote them down. I didn't though. It's funny because I say it to my writer friends, "write your ideas down!", but half the time I do not practice what I preach. AND when I do, it's usually written down rather poorly. A few words here, an arrow there. You get the picture. I realized that I don't write things down because I think "How could I ever forget this idea? It's amazing!", and yet here I am wondering how I fit all those ideas together before.

My plan of action?
-A major plot reworking.

This means:
-Setting aside time to write EVERYTHING down in a master plan
-Thinking about ideas while doing anything that doesn't take my full brain (showering, working, cleaning, taking the bus, laying in bed etc.)
-Carrying notebooks with me to jot down ideas as they come

So am I insecure about my writing today? Obviously, but hey, it keeps me humble and forces me to get my but in gear.

Happy writing everyone!

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