Writing an OPINION COLUMN
Part 1 of English Exam
Step One: Choose an Appropriate
Topic
• 1) In the context of the Sec 5 English
exam, this is perhaps the most important
step. If you get off to a good start here
your task becomes much easier and your
chances of success much greater.
Step 1 continued…
• 2) The key is to read the entire literature
booklet and select a topic that is general
enough to incorporate the specific topics
of several of the articles in the literature
booklet. (e.g. child soldiers or child
labour)
Step Two: Make an Outline
• 1) The key to a good opinion column is to
start with a good plan. Without this, your
writing risks appearing random or
incoherent. “Plan what you write and
write what you plan” is very good advice.
Step 2 continued…
• Formulate your MAIN POINT – persuasive writing
should always be focused on persuading the reader of
a single point. This is what you want to say about your
topic. (THINK THESIS = What do you want to say ABOUT child labour?)
• Your main point/THESIS should be broad enough to
incorporate at least SEVERAL (2-5) supporting reasons.
• By replacing the italics in the following statement with
specific details one can arrive at the sort of clear strong
statement required:
“Someone should do something about something”.
Step 2 continued…
• Formulate at least 2-5 REASONS/FACTS in
support of your point – In order for your
writing to be persuasive you need to have at
least 2-5 reasons/facts in support of your main
point.
• We encourage you to use more than 1 article
in the literature booklet.
Step 2 continued…
• Select the external SOURCES you will
cite. Either select quotes that will
support each reason or make brief notes
on the information you will paraphrase.
Quoting vs. Paraphrasing
• In either case, because this is not an essay or a
research paper, you do not include a
bibliography. Instead you acknowledge the
source right in the text.
• For example: “According to the article Saving
the Child Soldiers by Bill Smith…”
Paraphrasing
• Paraphrasing should be used when
summarizing or describing the central aspect
of a text. Paraphrasing is more common in
opinion column writing.
• For example: “In the play An Enemy of the
People, Henrik Ibsen explores the theme of
power vs. truth…”
Quoting
• Quotes should only be used when there
is something specific about the author’s
words you need to reveal to your reader.
This could be a precise statistic or a very
specific phrase.
Step Three: Write Rough Copy
• Use your outline and the sample
structure below to draft your rough copy.
Step Four: Self-Edit For Spelling
• Read your rough draft and circle every
word about whose spelling you are
unsure. Then verify in the dictionary.
Watch the there/their/they’re.
Step Five: Self-Edit For
Punctuation
• Reread your article specifically
focusing on the punctuation. Check
the end of each sentence; check for
comma use; check for apostrophes.
Step Six: Self-Edit For Paragraphing
• Look at your longer paragraphs. Is
there any point where you begin on
a new topic? If so indicate with an
arrow that a new paragraph should
start.
Step Seven: Self-Edit For Grammar
• Check your verb and tense
agreement.
Step Eight: Write Your Good Copy
Sample Structure
•
Headline (Title) - Try to use some alliteration
•
By-line – your name
•
Lead (hook) – A shocking stat or a rhetorical question works well.
- Creatively introduce your topic
- Clearly present your main point
•
(50)
•
Present your 2-5 supporting FACTS: (each fact is its own paragraph)
This involves: POINT – state the fact;
PROOF – paraphrase or quote an external source;
ANALYSIS – comment on the proof presented.
(250)
Write about YOUR OPINION on the facts you have included (start with a strong
stance). Comment on each fact.
Transition in to a personal experience (optional).
(250)
•
Conclude by creatively restating your main point
•
Finish with a statement linking to your lead ( a CALL to ACTION works well). (50)
•
Headline / By-line / Lead (50 words)
2-5 FACTS (250)
Opinion + Personal
Experience (250)
Closing + Call-to- Action
(50)
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Writing an OPINION COLUMN