Reposted on: Sunday, 21 June 2008
Exercise: In less than 400 words, write an op-ed essay in which you try to persuade readers to take your side on a controversial local issue. Exclude religious disputes or national issues.
The city's not keeping up with the potholes on major traffic arteries? The parks are unkempt? The mayor's a dolt? School policies need to be reformed? One way to get something done about these things, or whatever else you might want to change, is to write an op-ed article for your local newspaper. Writing this kind of essay can help you learn to write paying non-fiction for magazines as well.
Writing to persuade is not easy. Calling the mayor an idiot is not enough; you need to show your readers that his or her policies are not working. If you want the park system expanded, you must show how this will make life better for taxpayers. A rant seldom persuades--a reasoned argument can make a difference. This is your opportunity to write the first draft of an essay that will promote your cause.
These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop.