Writers are often accused of being opinionated, and this is precisely because they have something to say. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you feel strongly , then writing about it allows you to do a number of important things:
- You can examine the subject more closely than you might have had a chance to before.
- You can explore aspects of which you might not have been aware.
- You can examine the alternative viewpoint – perhaps you’ll change your mind.
However, just as communicating verbally brings with it a set of constraints, conventions and rules of thumb, so does communicating your opinion in written form.
Here are some hints you might want to consider if the core of your idea is something you specifically want to say:
- Identify your audience – Who should hear what you have to say? Will you be preaching to the converted or will you have to convince your readers?
- Select the form of writing which will best suit what you have to say – Form will sometimes be dictated somewhat by the depth and complexity of the message. For example, if what you have to say is complicated, or finely nuanced, or depends on understanding several perspectives, then encapsulating the necessary level of detail in a short story or a poem is going to be difficult.
- Be careful about saying too much – Remember that the more you say, the more your core idea has to compete with other themes.
- – This common refrain refers to the practice of letting your poem’s imagery or your novel’s characters show the reader how, for example, divided loyalties lead to unhappiness, rather than just telling the reader that this is the case. While there are instances where telling is the better option (see some of these mentioned in Navigating Your Path), as a general rule, showing is preferable.
- Establish whether that which you have to say is opinion or fact – You might want to consider using a different tone depending on whether you’re giving your opinion or reporting a fact.
- Be careful with polemics – Polemics (similar to ‘rants’ in contemporary usage) aren’t as common a form of writing as they used to be, social media aside. Polemics preach to the converted and seldom convince the unconverted.
- Consider an appropriate level of balance – If there is an alternative view to what you want to say, you should consider whether or not to balance your work with an acknowledgement of the other view, or of common ground. In some forms of writing, in satire, for example, the alternative view is made plain without necessarily being articulated.
- Be careful with privileged language – If you intend using language that only some readers will understand or recognize, you could consider providing appropriate context to make the meanings clear, or providing a glossary, or footnotes.