Opinion Pieces Need Muscled Middles by Pamela Mytroen

Nonfiction has unique challenges with middles. A reader may notice that the body of the piece flops around in too many directions rather than delivering a muscled middle. This divergence should be addressed at the very beginning of every opinion piece by developing a focused thesis.

A thesis should perform three tasks:

1. Tell the reader which way the piece is bent (which side the writer is on)

2. Narrow the scope of the piece so that only support for the thesis is included; flab is not allowed.

3. Organize the piece so that the supportive points flow logically to the conclusion

A good thesis will include the topic, the argument or point the writer aims to make, and the how or why of the argument.

Two thesis examples follow.

“Recycling should not be enforced because it doesn’t help, but everyone should do it when they have time.”

The above example does address a topic (recycling), but it does not narrow the argument to one strong opinion. It is conflicted. Also, it does not set up any supportive points. It is too ambiguous saying merely that “it doesn’t help” but does not outline any specific reasons.

The following thesis is stronger:

“Recycling is a waste of natural resources because it uses more water and energy than is saved.”

The above thesis addresses a topic (recycling), states a clear argument (against recycling), and states two specific reasons why recycling is believed to be a waste. The reader can expect a middle (body of the piece) to stay tight and narrow as the writer will deliver evidence to support the points stated.

A wide middle is solved by a narrow thesis.

IMG_2790Pamela Mytroen is an “English as an Additional Language Instructor” and “Language Assessor” in Saskatchewan. She loves baking, reading, and spending time with her family, which has grown to include a sweet grandson. She writes for her local newspaper and, as Acquisitions Editor for Fellowscript, she enjoys working with writers to see their ideas in print. Contact her at writenow@shaw.ca

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