Here you are! You've gone through each chapter of Creators Academy and you're feeling pretty confident you've leveled up your writing skills. You've got our Movie Pilot Style Guide on lock, you know how to craft the perfect headline, you understand how the various formats work.
But what happens when you have a burning idea in your head that isn't news, or a listicle, or a quick social piece? Maybe you have an opinion about a bit of trending news, or a theory, or even just have a topic that's been kicking around in your brain that will take a bit of extra work to get down on a page.
That's where the editorial comes in. You might also see it referred to as an opinion piece, op-ed, thinkpiece, or long form. But writing a great editorial is more than just letting your thoughts wander freely for 2,000 words. There are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Do You Have Something Clear And Definitive To Say?
Editorials, by their very nature, have a point. Whether it's a personal opinion, a thesis you want to explore, or a research piece, the reason for an editorial needs to be clear. Before you put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), ask yourself a few questions:
- Is there enough here for a full editorial? - Sometimes, an idea will pop into your head but it's vague. Spend a few minutes thinking about it. Nine out of ten times, you'll realize it's not a strong enough topic to warrant an entire editorial.
- Do I really have something definitive to say about this? - If you're not sure what point you're ultimately trying to make, then once again, spend some time thinking about it before putting pen to paper. If you can't come up with a conclusive point, put it on the back-burner until you do.
- Am I adding something new to the conversation? - Thinkpieces are everywhere, especially when it comes to trending topics. Don't just regurgitate what's already been said by others. The best editorials are ones that approach a topic from a unique angle or add something new to the conversation.
Do You Know Your Audience?
Once you know what you'd like to write about, now you have to figure out for whom you're writing. Keep this audience in mind as you write, because it will dictate the tone of your article. You'll write differently for a general audience than you would for one who already has a deep (or at least a working) knowledge of the topic, for example.
If you choose to write a piece that is controversial or a minority opinion, that's fine! But keep in mind that you'll have to choose your words even more carefully. It's also important to treat the opinions of others with respect, even if you disagree with them. Your piece should illuminate a different perspective, and open up a topic to debate and dialogue, not diminish or ridicule the voices of others.
Does Every Paragraph Support Your Argument?
One of the trickiest things when writing an editorial is making sure to stay on track. It's easy to wander away from your original point until you're not quite sure how to get back to it. And if you're lost, your readers will definitely be lost.
The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure that every paragraph works to support the one that comes before it. Think of your article as a bridge across a river; every paragraph is a stepping stone to the next in that bridge. The first sentence of every paragraph should pick up where the last one left off and further flesh out that idea. Consider the opening few paragraphs of this editorial, for example:
That's the intro. It sets the stage; it puts the framework in place and argument into context. Take a look at the next paragraph:
This paragraph is supporting the intro, expanding upon it. The introduction set up what we do; the paragraph above explains how we do it. It provides concrete examples of the behavior described in the intro. But remember what I said above about needing a point to your article? It happens in the shift of the next paragraph:
See how each paragraph is a link in a chain, supporting the one that came before it? Keeping this in mind as you write helps to keep you from wandering off track while also ensuring that you're making a coherent argument.
Is Everything You've Added Absolutely Necessary?
When writing an editorial, it's as important to know what to leave out as it is to know what to put in. It's common to want to add everything you know or have learned about the subject into the editorial. Sometimes, you'll have to cut out a bit you really like if it doesn't directly support the argument you're trying to make, no matter how much you love it.
Less is often more. Length is no indicator of quality. If you say what you want to say clearly and concisely, you won't need 2,000 words to do it. When you're reading over your editorial, keep these points in mind:
- Everything you've written should be relevant - Everything you write should support the central idea or clarify a point further. If it doesn't do this, it's actually detracting from your article rather than adding to it, and should be cut.
- Is it interesting to your audience or just to you? - It's understandable to want to add something you find interesting to your article. But if it's only in there because you find it interesting, chances are your audience won't feel the same because it's only sidetracking them from the main point.
- Cut any repetition - Remember, if you've made a point clearly the first time, you won't need to repeat yourself later. Cut any repetitive sentences or paragraphs that are simply rewording something you've already said.
So there you go! If you keep the above guidelines in mind, they should help you tremendously as you take on your next long form article. If you're looking for more inside tips about writing a solid editorial, give us a shout anytime in the Creators Academy chat!
You guessed it! Your final assignment is to write a killer editorial piece, really paying special attention to your topic choice and using the vital ingredients to argue your opinion with smooth transitions between paragraphs.
- Do you have a clear idea that you want to flesh out?
- Can you write at least 5 main points you want to discuss that you can turn into paragraphs, with each point connecting to the next one?
- Have you been through a ruthless self-editing process to make sure everything in the final version is relevant and necessary?
- Have you answered what you promised the reader in your title and introduction?
Make sure your introduction, body and conclusion all act to support your main thesis, and be ruthless with excluding any non-essential sentences that don't add value to your finished product. Make use of everything you've learned in previous chapters, and try to put all your new skills to use in your last article of the course.
Don't forget - once you've submitted your final assignment for Creators Academy, you can apply to become a Verified Creator, where you'll have your own personal mentor and receive a Revenue Share for your articles!