♦ Opinion & Fact:
It is essential when writing an opinion essay to clearly separate opinion and fact.
When teaching essay writing and critical reading skills to students (adults), I have often been dismayed to discover that they accept written opinions as facts. Alas, such is the power of the written word!
How can we develop informed opinions if we unthinkingly accept the opinions of others as facts? Present the same facts on a particular issue to ten people and you could end up with ten different opinions which can be influenced by personal experience, interpretation, and understanding of the issues to name just a few. What happens to the facts? What’s real? Do we just listen to the loudest, most opinionated voices?
When you write an opinion essay, it is necessary to state your opinion/s very clearly. Everyone should have the freedom to state his or her opinion, however disagreeable it may be to others. An opinion is neither right nor wrong. A fact can be checked for accuracy and truth.
Importantly, you need to support your opinions with facts and examples, otherwise why should anyone accept what you say? How can you expect a top exam result if your essay is unconvincing?
♦ Essay Structure:
What is your topic and what is your opinion? State them clearly in the first paragraph. Use everyday language but not slang.
◊ Main Body of the Essay
You need to use facts and examples to support your opinion. The length of the main body depends on why you are writing. If you are writing for an exam, your time and word count will be limited and perhaps one or two paragraphs will be sufficient. If you are a journalist, this section could be several paragraphs.
Make sure that the reader can follow your ideas and examples easily. Sequence your facts logically. Chronological sequence is often the simplest. You may prefer numerical order.
Do not introduce irrelevant information. Use facts and examples that are directly related to your ideas in the introduction.
This is a repetition of the ideas in your introduction, using different words of course! This final paragraph lets the reader know that you have finished and acts as a summary of your ideas.
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I recommend that you read an excellent example of an opinion piece which I have included below. It was written by Jacinta Price, Councillor for Alice Springs (Northern Territory, Australia) on Facebook a few days ago, a wonderful example of evidence-based writing.
Note that Jacinta Price:
◊ states her feelings plainly and strongly in the first paragraph
◊ provides a wealth of facts and examples to support her opinions, and
◊ in conclusion, reinforces the views outlined in the introduction.