One by one neighborhood dogs disappear. One by one the ransom notes arrive. When Toby Martin and her best pal, Freddy, discover Toby’s dog is the next intended victim, they become first-rate detectives.
Question from the e-mail: Someone asked me to write a "short opinion piece" about an event she is planning. I went last year, she said, so I "know all about it." But I write mystery stories. Years ago you had a handout about writing for the editorial page. Do you still have it?
Answer: Yes, Marge. See below.
Personal Opinion? Baloney!
The two easiest kinds of articles to write are Personal Rxperience and Opinion essays. Each of us has a lifetime of personal experiences from which to draw. Opinions are like noses. Everyone has one.
Personal experiences can be shared with your children and grandchildren, with old friends, or just with yourself as a journal entry. They also, if you are willing to share them with others, may make good columns for publications from national magazines right down to your local newspaper.
Start with the Lead:
The lead is the most important thing you have to say about the subject. If you can tie it up with a hook, so much the better. A good lead for an article on how paramedics saved your life would be, “I died three times on Christmas eve and lived to tell about it.”
Then put the details of the medical emergency and the Certified Emergency Technicians response in the second paragraph. Then just tell the story as it happened to you, with your own thoughts and feelings.
Every article has a point. The personal experience / medical emergency article outlined above might be used to point up the importance of funding for emergency services.
Personal Opinion differs very little, except instead of writing about yourself, you would choose to write about an event or an issue – Say, baloney. Here’s the outline:
The lead: Make a statement about something
The price of baloney is $4.89 a pound. and write a couple of lines about how it used to be 10 cents a pound back in the Great Depression, and was still expensive in a time when the average man’s salary was $1 a day, IF he was lucky enough to have a job.
The body: Give examples and tell anecdotes
People used to say they were spreading baloney when people told lies or exaggerated the truth. (And give some examples of people who have told lies, some amusing, some serious. Girls who’ve lied, or to whom guys lie, politicians and how many lies they tell, the way government cuts medicare, and SSI, but spends millions to study the Whooping Crane.)
Make your point:
Lots of people will hand you baloney.
The conclusion: Use the lead to confirm your point and make the piece come full circle
Think about the baloney people slice for you every day. Even when people give it away for nothing, baloney can be very expensive.