Strong Authorial Voice: Giving Your Opinion Without Writing "In My Opinion"
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An author has a strong voice (in writing) if he or she presents the information with conviction and authority. Using expressions such as "in my opinion" or "it is my belief that" weakens the author's voice. This lesson gives writers simple hints on writing with authority and conviction.
Click the links below to download the free PDF worksheets.
|Worksheet 1, Establishing a Strong Authorial Voice, 8 Exercises|
|Worksheet 2, Establishing a Strong Authorial Voice, 15 Exercises|
Written by a writing teacher for writing teachers.
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Writers sometimes use expressions that take away from their authority, expressions that weaken their prose and serve only as fillers. Such an expression is "in my opinion." Take, for example, the sentence "In my opinion, there should be an 11:00 PM curfew for teenagers." The introductory phrase serves only to cast doubt and timidity on the writer. Rather than advance the writer's position, it weakens it by calling attention to the idea that it's "only my opinion." Do not use the phrase "in my opinion," or other such expressions, in your own writing.
Expressions that Take Away Power
If you are writing an essay or report about uniforms in public schools, readers know that you are the author, no one else. The phrase "In my opinion" takes away from the strength of your writing. It fills space without adding any content and, in fact, diminishes your credibility as a writer. Such expressions include the following:
- In my opinion
- It is my belief
- I believe
- I think
- I feel
- My belief
- My thoughts on
- It seems to me
- It is my understanding
- We believe
Simply edit these expressions out of your writing. For example, there is little difference in content between the sentence, "In my opinion, public school students should wear uniforms" and "Public school students should wear uniforms." Stylistically, however, the second sentence is better. The first sentence is longer and less assertive than the second. In the second sentence, the writer states an assertion with confidence and conviction.
Sometimes you present an idea that belongs to someone else. In this case, you use the proper verb of attribution to give credit to the person whose idea you are presenting. For example, "James Sheldon contends that students in public schools should wear uniforms." In this sentence, the opinion belongs to James Sheldon, so it is correct to give Mr. Sheldon credit.
Write with confidence, style, and authority. Do not use expressions like "in my opinion."
Worksheet 1, 8 Exercises
Rewrite each sentence to convey a strong authorial voice. In other words, give your opinion without writing "in my opinion." You may modify each sentence in other ways to make it stronger.
- I think that what this mother is trying to explain makes perfect sense.
- It is my understanding that most men feel a bit emasculated when asked or forced to help complete tasks other than those classified acceptable by other men.
- I strongly believe that high schools should do something about the harassment of students who are different from most other students.
- I think Blomfield is incorrect in implying that people are judgemental if a man is unable to support his family due to unemployment.
- In my opinion as I read Paturel’s article, it seemed as if Paturel was the one who really needed to make peace with Brandon’s first marriage.
- Although people tend to feel they have to measure up to someone else’s level to be accepted, I think people should just be themselves if they really want to be accepted.
- I think that in our day and age that unemployment is a very common theme in America.
- I can see why many homosexuals, like Roberts, tend to hide their sexuality from their family.
Worksheet 2, 15 Exercises
Rewrite each sentence to convey a strong authorial voice.
- In my opinion marijuana is used by many Americans today and will be continued to get purchased illegally.
- I believe if given a proper chance and research, this cure has many unfulfilled potentials.
- After reading this article I can honestly say I disagree; just because it worked for him does not mean it is going to work for others.
- I never said that there was something wrong with being a little pudgy, as a matter of fact, most of us are.
- Above all, I believe that Pit Bulls do not act in a vicious manner on their own accord.
- Some argue that the internet makes us less human, more automated; I completely disagree because communication through computers will never replace human communication.
- While some believe that electronic communication is making us less likely to stray from our computers, I think it is making us more productive, allowing us to get more accomplished.
- However, what I feel is missing most from our lack of human contact is what’s most important – eye contact and body language.
- Although some believe that technology is responsible for our greatest achievements, I believe technology is responsible for humanity’s greatest downfall.
- I’m not saying technology should be denigrated and neglected because sometimes it is necessary to communicate with others via email, text, or other social media.
- I agree that the lack of personal contact with our fellow human beings does decrease potential opportunities for face-to-face discussions.
- I am not totally against the use of computers, because they do accomplish tasks efficiently and process information rapidly.
- Some people believe that the loss of personal contact makes us less human, more automated. According to my opinion, I strongly agree with this statement.
- I disagree that the internet has made us more automated; I believe that if email and social networking are used correctly, they can encourage more human interaction.
- In my opinion, I agree with the author that teenagers should not listen to music while they do homework.
Links for Writing in a Strong Authorial Voice
Finding web resources on this topic has proven a bit more difficult than I thought, primarily because most of the sites I consulted offer advice that is the opposite of what I offer on this page and in the worksheet.
Most sites encourage students to use expressions like "in my opinion" and "it is my belief that." If you come across a site that readers of this page and users of the worksheet may find useful, please let me know. I'll review it.