NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #4

How many times have you read an article in the newspaper, or on a blog, or in a magazine and it made you hopping mad, or it was full of errors that needed correcting and you wanted to respond—but didn’t because you didn’t know where to start. Here’s a few tips that might get you over the hump and expressing your opinion.

The typical editor likes short and to the point editorial submissions. They won’t take the time to edit down your comments, they’ll just toss them and use somebody else’s letter. Lest you think letters to the editor are a waste of time, they are often the most frequently read section in newspapers and magazines. Given the lack of quality control that may not be the case for blogs.

So, don’t write a book, keep it down to a couple hundred words, and focus on your main point. Here’s the contradiction, you most likely can’t do this in one pass. Often, you will need to wax eloquent for several hundred words, just to get your thoughts on paper.Then you can whittle your writing down to where you clearly lay out your points in a few concise sentences. The biggest mistake budding editorialists make is trying to compose perfect prose from the start, word by word, sentence by sentence. The result is they lose their train of thought and the broader concepts they hope to articulate, and they quit, frustrated, in about the third sentence.

If you have multiple topics or arguments, pick the one you like best and save the others for another day or another format. You can burn up 200 words very easily.

Your objective should not be to blow off steam, although that’s no crime, it’s to persuade others who have not yet made up their minds on the subject matter. Usually, you will not accomplish this task if you are insulting, condescending, harshly critical, or otherwise obnoxious. You want others to read your words with an open mind, don’t start out alienating two thirds of the human race.

It’s perfectly OK to just have an opinion, no facts and figures required. You don’t want stop signs, speed humps, or flower pots in the middle of your street, fair enough. Just saying that may encourage others who agree with you to speak up. It is the squeaky wheels that get the grease, and always has been.

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