Make your oped sing

Make your oped sing

Every summer, we look forward to barbecues, pool time, and ah, yes, the “song of the summer.” The one that tops the charts, graces every party, and, ultimately, brings us back to the summer of (insert your favorite year here) every time we hear it.

The hottest tracks of the summer also can guide our writing. By following the principles of a hit song, writing can transform from something dull and forgettable to something that’s exciting and impactful.

A hit song first needs a great rhythm. Take Drake’s “One Dance,” the current leader of the summer charts. As soon as the staccato piano notes merge with the electronic beats, it’s hard to sit still. The central rhythm runs throughout the song, but it’s also varied — which helps to keep the listener engaged.

Writing, too, should have a rhythm. When read aloud, the piece should flow seamlessly. But it also needs variety. Try substantiating a point with a few long, legato sentences. Then insert a punchy remark. The varied rhythm will stick out to the reader — and drive the point home.

From Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” top summer songs also tell a relatable story.

A great oped also should appeal to a specific audience and frame its point in a story arc. It needs to have a catchy beginning (“Oh my god, Becky” has been a running joke for 14 years now), a sticky middle (you’re probably singing the chorus to “I Kissed a Girl” right now), and a show-stopping end.

Finally, songs win the summer crown if they evoke emotion. Listening to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” on repeat might make us confess to our crush. Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” might leave us feeling rebellious and booking a flight to Tokyo. And Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” might prompt us to wipe away a tear.

The best opeds should make their readers feel something. If a reader comes away feeling angry, excited, or motivated, then you’ve done your job.

Katie Behrman