Letters to the editor are a great way to express your thoughts to a big number of people. Recently, many people, especially Americans, exercise their freedom of speech through these letters. They find writing the letters liberating. This is purportedly because they refine public opinions in a constructive manner.
Some people view writing letters to the editor as a privilege. This is because not all people get to have them published. While writing may come easy, getting it published is another story. The letters pass through rigorous scrutiny. Editors will not simply approve them if they are written in bad taste.
Characteristics of Good Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor that make it to newspapers and magazines have certain characteristics. The editors would be looking for them when they go over your submissions. Here are just some of them:
Brief and concise letters to the editor
The letters need to be short and simple. A lot of publications impose word limits. The challenge is for you to express everything you want to say in a few sentences. Keep it to 300 words or less. If you think you could not express yourself clearly under this word-limit, consider writing op-eds instead.
Plagiarism-free letters to the editor
Editors would know if you just copy/paste your work. They would know if you misquote someone. They would know if you committed plagiarism. So use your own words. When quoting, make it accurate. Check your facts.
Libel-free letters to the editor
Letters to the editor are meant to drive a point. They must not be used to malign someone. Otherwise, you may be sued for plagiarism. Remember that freedom of speech is not without limitations.
Refined letters to the editor
Use appropriate language. This may be hard to do. This is because what can be considered as written in bad taste for others may be not for some. You are free to choose whether to follow the guidelines imposed by the publication. It is more prudent, however, to stick to them to increase their chances of being published.
Complete letters to the editor
Never write letters to the editor if you’re not ready to divulge your personal details. Publications require your name, address, and even contact information. Although there are editors who allow the withholding of the sender’s name, there are those that don’t.
Keep in mind these things when writing your submissions. This way, your efforts would not be wasted and your opinion, recognized. It takes guts to write such stuff. When you finally publish your letters, however, the sense of accomplishment that comes with it is priceless.