When I first sat down to write this Op-Ed piece, I had a lot of trouble deciding where to begin. I completed lots of research on overfishing when I wrote my essay, and I knew what position I wanted to take. What I found most difficulty was capturing the style of writing. An Op-Ed piece has a very different purpose than an essay. It seeks to persuade the reader towards one course of action. I tend to avoid specific opinionated statements when I write and focus instead on presenting facts and broad statements. After reading through the first draft of my Op-Ed, I realized I had made this same mistake. As a reader, I did not feel at all inspired to pursue action upon reaching the conclusion of the article.
So I set out to revise my Op-Ed plans before even reaching a rough draft to submit. I started by doing additional research to find a recent event in the news that related to overfishing. I came across a story on a whale that had been found dead, washed up on the shore because of fishery practices. This seemed like a great place to start that would evoke a reaction from the reader and potentially push consumers to action.
My next thought as I began writing the Op-Ed around this focus was who is my intended audience. I wanted the piece to reach all consumers no matter what type of consumer they were within the marketplace. This left me with a question of how best to engage the consumers who do not directly consume fish for food. I did additional research into other uses of fish for products such as fertilizer and pharmaceuticals, and also on how the fishing industry relates to the economy.
This information allowed me to further establish my thesis and controlling idea for the Op-Ed. I modified my position of how people can decrease their fish consumption to reduce the problem of overfishing, and instead presented a more inclusive view that all consumers have an impact on the fishing industry through their product purchases and can create positive change even if they are not directly consuming fish for food. With this thesis in mind, I proceeded to re-write the rough draft of my Op-Ed and found it much easier to do so. I was able to explore the tone of the piece more and found myself adding opinions that were very true to my beliefs, but more strongly worded than my usual writing style.
This rough draft was submitted for peer review. It was helpful to have several readers, as their feedback noted a few flaws in my organization. There was a bit of disconnect between the action I believed consumers should take and the impact that they potentially would have, which slightly confused my readers. The confusion in the material led the readers to be less motivated to take any action at all. The feedback helped me to realize how important concise and clear language is, and the necessity of not making any assumptions. I often provided evidence and a solution in the text, but did not do a good job of linking the two together. At one point it even sounded like I was supporting overfishing because of this disconnect which was not my intent. I learned that cause-and-effect must be presented in order for the reader to be inspired to take action.
I also improved the format of the Op-Ed, working to keep paragraphs short and focused around a single idea, while also expanding on some of these disconnects to make my piece accessible for the audience I intended. Overall, writing this piece has shown me how different the genre is from the essay I wrote on the same topic, and has provided an important experience in writing more opinionated pieces.