In many ways, opinion essays can be the easiest assignments to start and the hardest to finish. Having opinions is part of what makes us human, but it is often not until we are challenged with defending our convictions that we ever question our assumptions. On the one hand, constructing a solid argument in support of your perspective is a great way to strengthen your convictions while swaying the opinions of others in your favor. On the other hand, you might find that your opinions are perhaps not so firm once you apply serious critical thinking to a topic. An opinion essay is not so much a chance for you to declare your decrees from the soap box as it is an opportunity to challenge your own principles.
While presenting both sides of an issue is critical to the format of an opinion essay, the purpose of this writing style is to make a rational argument that supports one perspective over that of another. If you are writing about a topic that you already have a passionate opinion on, this may be a snap. However, if you really want to see if your opinion can muster serious analysis, you might consider choosing to write an opinion that argues that the other side of the story. For instance, if you are writing about a political issue, writing an opinion essay that is an honest, passionate argument from the opposing perspective is a great way to understand how complicated many complex issues really are.
Regardless of your topic or opinion, the first step of actually writing your opinion essay is creating a concrete thesis statement that clearly declares your opinion within the opening paragraph of your piece. This is where you will assert your opinion on the topic at hand, and it is important that you phrase your opinion with sufficient authority to clarity the purpose of your text. As the reader continues to read your arguments, you want to ensure that he or she will continue to bare your thesis in mind.
While the format of an opinion essay is somewhat open ended, one tried and true method is beginning by discussing the opposing viewpoint. By beginning with acknowledgment of the opposing opinion, you are assuring your readers that you have taken the time to take the full breadth of the topic into consideration. After noting the basic principles that inform the opposing argument, you can then take a moment to present the inherent weaknesses in your opponent's case. This clears the way for you to present an argument that supports your opinion while pointing out how your argument addresses the weaknesses of your opponent.
However, it is not enough to simply point a few flaws in the claims of the opposing viewpoint. At the center of any good opinion essay is a logical argument that clearly supports your opinion. Take some time to consider all of the existing information that supports your claim and pick out two or three pieces of evidence that really drive the truth of your convictions home. Remember that you are making a logical argument and try to leave emotionally charged language to a minimum. By laying out your argument in calm but authoritative manner, your readers will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. Finally, wrap up your opinion essay with a concluding paragraph that summarizes your key points and ties in why your argument leaves little doubt that your opinion is correct.