As The Daily Caller’s opinion editor, I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes for a great op-ed. What I’ve found is that the usual advice for how to write a great op-ed — craft a compelling hook, construct strong sentences and make sure the argument flows well — isn’t enough. Great op-eds are not only well-written; they’re interesting.
There are two ways to make an op-ed truly interesting. The first way is to be extremely insightful. Professional columnists like Thomas Sowell and Charles Krauthammer are often quite insightful. The bad news is that most of us aren’t.
The second (and easier) way to make an op-ed stand out is to introduce information — facts, statistics, graphs — that few people are familiar with. (In a sense, these sorts of op-eds are like news articles, but with a point of view.) People crave new information, especially when that information is relevant to hot political controversies. Often, these articles are structured as top 10 lists. For instance, last year the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional scholar, wrote an op-ed for The Daily Caller titled “President Obama’s Top 10 Constitutional Violations” that got around 100,000 hits.
A few other suggestions: be concise; try to make your argument as simple and easy-to-
understand as possible; avoid adjectives; write about a topic with which you’re familiar; and read “Style: Toward Clarity and Grace,” by Joseph Williams.
Ultimately, there’s no formula for writing a great op-ed. But if you follow the above advice, you’ll increase your odds.
Peter Tucci is The Daily Caller’s opinion editor.
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