Welcome back! Are you ready to make your opinion or argument paper really shine? I hope so. Here we go.
This is hard to do – especially if you’ve written about something that really matters to you – but try to imagine that someone else wrote your paper and this is the first time you’ve seen it. Then ask yourself the following questions. Be honest with your answers! Your paper and your opinion deserve the best treatment you can give them. Now’s your chance to fix whatever isn’t quite working and strengthen your argument. Yes, now – before you send it out and try to convince other people to see things the way you do.
- Is your viewpoint clear? Will readers know exactly how you feel and why you feel this way?
- Does your opinion or argument need more support? Is the support you gave it convincing, effective and related?
- Have you connected with your readers by relating to them in some way? Will they see you as a trusted, reliable person?
- Have you used the right tone and writing style for the people you want to convince?
- Did you include any opposing views? Did you explain why the opposing views aren’t as good as yours?
- Did you end with a strong comment? If you asked your readers to do something, do you think your paper has convinced them to do it?>
- Do you think your paper will change your readers’ opinion or views?
Once you’re happy with the answers to all those questions, it’s time to get a bit pickier. Look at each sentence and every word. Are they all needed? Does every one count? Don’t waste your readers’ time on unnecessary words.
Did you use transitional words or phrases to connect the different points you made? Smooth transitions between ideas keep readers from getting lost or confused. You don’t want them wondering where you’re headed – you want all their concentration on your arguments!
Does your opening paragraph mention all the points you made? Does your last paragraph sum up your opinion or argument? Make sure they do! There’s an old, old saying about how to deliver and organize this type of writing. It’s old, but it’s still true so here you go: First you tell them what you’re going to tell them (your opening paragraph). Then you tell them (the body of your paper). Then you tell them what you told them (your conclusion). And yes, when you’re trying to convince others, it can and often does take that many times to do it.
Now it’s time to read your paper out loud. Listening to the sound of your words lets you know if there’s any awkward sentences or choppy writing. Make sure your sentences are complete and grammatically correct. Vary the structure of your sentences if your voice sounds choppy.
Once you’re happy with the way your paper sounds, get out a ruler and hold it under each line as you read. This trick keeps your eyes from wandering ahead and may help you spot missing, repeated or misspelled words.
No matter how careful you are, chances are you won’t catch everything. You’re too close to it and you’ve spent too much time with it. You’ll never see your writing as clearly as someone else will. It happens to everyone. That’s why writers have editors. It’s also why you should consider posting your work here for others to review.