I work with a fantastic group of young writers who are pros at mining their everyday lives for inspiration for comment pieces. It can sometimes be tricky to strike the right balance with a faith-based opinion piece. The most common pitfall is resisting the temptation to turn your piece into a devotional or a sermon. Here are three things to consider:
Make sure your idea resonates with you personally—experience is a great starting point. Maybe it is an article you read recently, or an issue you’ve been discussing with a friend, or an experience from work. What has been on your mind lately?
Do some research. Think about where and how you have seen others grapple with the same issue. How has other media tackled the heart of the issue you are facing? Are there wider issues in society to be addressed? Read widely and note important issues.
Consider how the issue intersects with your faith. How does your idea fit within a Christian worldview? What do other Christians think? What does the Bible say? Do you need to change or adjust your behaviour? Are you encouraged? Are you challenged?
Work at incorporating elements of each of these stages into your final piece. Often writers get stuck in one of these three stages. Some writers only cover their experience, others focus too much on outside sources and many writers don’t go beyond Bible quotes and reflection.
Remember to keep it within the boundaries of ‘comment’ or ‘opinion’. This means tight, succinct and to the point. Most newspapers limit the word count of an opinion piece to between 400-1000 words.
I’d like to stress this is one way to develop a comment piece—not the only way! However, every writer should consider the three bases: a good idea, how society (your readership) responds and how it intersects with faith.