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5 easy steps to the perfect opinion piece

So you are ready to take that leap into the world of opinion article magic? Let’s go! Here are five easy steps to writing opinion articles on the fly…

Step 1
 Do your research.

I don’t mean in-depth, hours of online research. I just mean for you to quickly find out what is going on in your niche or area that you want to write about. What are the hot topics? New products? New laws or changes in the marketplace? Get an idea of what people are talking about. Check high-profile websites in your niche. Check forums and social media.

Step 2
 Choose a position.

What makes an opinion article unique is when you choose a position on an issue. You begin to grow your voice and that is what will resonate with readers. Don’t be wishy-washy. Make a choice. Either you like it or you don’t. Either it won’t work or it will. Either it’s relevant or it isn’t.

Step 3
 Write in the first person.

I have read countless opinion articles by folks who weren’t comfortable with step 2, and so they hide a little bit by writing in the third person. While writing in the first person is used mainly in fiction, by using it, you are firmly saying “In my opinion”, “I believe”, “I think”. This makes it clear exactly where you stand, and presents you as an authority on the topic that you are discussing.

Step 4 Include supporting facts and/or examples.

When you are writing an opinion article providing supporting facts makes your article stand out as an opinion from a “credible expert”. Including examples, facts, statistics, quotes or whatever you have that can support your position and your opinion on what you are writing is persuasive.

Step 5
 Don’t overanalyze the article.

Just write it and put it out there. Let it do what it’s going to do.

As an example this piece written by Nikki Gemmell was perfectly timed being published in The Australian on Valentine’s Day!

First love: why is it so powerful?

THAT dangerous allure of first love: why is it that an early, defining passion can whisper through our blood our entire lives, becoming the standard of intensity by which all other partnerships are measured? Why is it that in stumbling across an old photograph the memory of lips from long ago can leap under your fingertips? 

I’ve received euphoric emails from readers rekindling early romances through social media. “He was a perfect first lover,” wrote one, “and it was the foundation for my entire sex life. You think your first experience is ‘normal’ but I found out that mine was extraordinary. The second time around (after 20-odd years) it’s still wonderful, but the first time meant no barriers, no holding back.”

No holding back – the key to the vividness of first love. We throw ourselves into it, often at an age when we’re at our most insecure and vulnerable. We’re raw, open, impetuous; feel more alive than we’ve ever felt. We don’t love just a little, quietly or calmly; we’re wild with love. The term “limerence” means an obsessive love, like you’re drugged; you feel literally addicted to the other person and it’s common with a first love. “Desire, in my case, was an ardour of the spirit, a savage ecstasy which took possession of my brain,” according to French writer George Sand.

As we get older a cautiousness often closes over us. We grow wary. “When they’re younger, women see all the good in men and ignore the bad; but as they get older, they see all the bad and ignore the good,” says a mate in her 50s.

No wonder the idea of recapturing that intense high of first love can be tempting. One reader finally acted on a haunting, unconsummated attraction. “I’d thought of her every day since I was 14.” They had been classroom sweethearts before she moved away. Married three decades later. Familiarity was key – literary editor Diana Athill said her first love made sense because they knew each other well, had similar backgrounds.

Are subsequent loves always going to be calmer, more rational, with a more sensible appreciation of the beloved? My emailers were exultant that they’d attempted to recapture past emotions – and succeeded. I hope it works out for them. As Cicero said, “To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.” And extremely elusive.

Then there’s the other side of the coin – what a mate dubs “graveyard sex”. Sex with an ex. She’s been recycling one lover in particular. Their first night back together was memorable. “His hands were so big they seemed to be in three places at once,” she said, grinning so wide her eyes narrowed into slits like a cat with the most decadent cream. But the sex after that was never that spectacular: and it was never really about sex. She’d gotten him this far… she now wanted the great leap forward.

But she’s learnt to her cost that this man’s too clever to settle down: he prizes solitude above anything. Never enfolds his girlfriends with the great calm of a cherishing, never gives them the gift of security; so while they’re with him they’re obsessed. Always thinking, “When’s this going to end?” There’s a courage to loving openly and he’s never shown it. He loves sloppily.

My mate goes back, again and again. Just as she’s extricating herself he calls, his voice like a hand reaching inside and twisting her stomach. They sleep together and her spiral of exhilaration and terror begins all over again. She’s not meeting anyone else. Her love is like black-market money: vast riches, but there’s nowhere legitimate to deposit it. His love is draining her. She cannot be free of it; exists in a territory brimming with sadness and ghosts. Graveyard sex is making her mournful, and clingy, and old. Who was it who talked about a cage in search of a bird? But no one can tell her this. She won’t listen, has to work it out for herself.

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