I need to write an opinion, narrative of only 80 words in length.

Examples: write about your fondest childhood memory/comment: homework should be banned, etc.

How are short-short pieces like this structured in order to be both complete and successful with so few words?

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Stacy, glad to have you here. To learn more about us, check out our tour and help center. I think your'e off to a good start. You asked a focused on-topic question in just a few words.
    – Cyn
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 4:49
  • Actually, see the difference between the edit and the original version for a good example of how not to do it (the latter) and how to do it simply and well (the former)... Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:31
  • 2
    I've rarely seen a question torn apart this hard by a single edit while still preserving the actual essence of the question. Any way to uprep an editor? Unfortunately in the process the focus has slipped towards non-fiction a lot, which only appeared a fragment in the original. I hope it is still useful to the asker.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 12:20
  • Thank you all for all your answers, they really appear to be useful. But I didn't initially mean I need an essay, but an opinion, a narrative. For instance: tell me one of your fondest childhood memories/comment: attitude is everything, etc. Concluding from your answers, I have to be precise, keep examples to a minimum, write no vivid description/long introduction, but be concise in everything. Is there a need to separate my writing into paragraphs?
    – Stacy
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 12:41
  • Regarding paragraphs, @MarkBaker had one paragraph in his 80-words answer, I had three. Both are valid. It depends on the flow of your piece. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 14:35

4 Answers 4


Any piece this short has to assume a lot of knowledge from the reader.

Therefore: write your piece like your would a conclusion to a longer piece, while leaving out any summarizing you may normally do.

Restrict yourself to the core knowledge you want to impart without necessarily supporting it directly.

And, as always, close with a particularly snappy or thoughtful line.

[[The above was 62 words. You don't have much more than that!]]

  • I love how people are answering in 80 words or less! Since you were the first one, take an upvote for that :) Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:54

You can most certainly write a nonfiction of 80 words, but, as Galastel says, it won't be an essay. An essay is an argument. It martials evidence in support of a point of contention. You can't do that in 80 words. In 80 words you can pen a proposition or an anecdote or an aphorism, all of which would be unexceptional at that length. This answer is a proposition. It cites no evidence. It clocks in at exactly 80 words.


I think it is pretty easy, even as a true story. Pick your story, and try Intro, Complication, Try, Resolution. One or two sentences each. Here are two 80 word solutions.

When I was ten, my allowance was three dollars a week. It didn't go far. One day, I saw the house on the corner had a yard full of leaves. I knocked on the door, and told Mister Jacobs I'd rake his yard for three dollars. If he had a rake. And bags. He did. He came out to help me bag the leaves! I raked four yards that day, and had fifteen dollars: First time I ever felt rich.

We have to get up too early to catch the bus, and go to classes all day, and then take the bus home. By then we have worked nine hours, and then we have to do an hour of chores at home and then do two hours of homework with no help! Children shouldn't have to work twelve hours every day. Practice problems should be done in school where we can get help from a teacher. Homework should be banned.

These are examples, so you can see the structure, even in 80 words.

In the first; Fact. Problem. Opportunity. Proposal. Success. Victorious Conclusion.

In the 2nd, two sentences outline the existing time suck on kids. The harm caused by the problem (children shouldn't have to work that hard). How it could be done differently and better (in class with a teacher's help). The Conclusion (Homework should be banned).


Eighty words isn't an essay. It's a few sentences - a paragraph or two. Enough to express one short idea, but not to develop or explore it.

You should therefore have a clear idea of what it is you want to say, and say just that. If you wish to provide an example to illustrate your point, pick one that would be familiar to the reader, and thus fit into one sentence.

Background, conflicting interpretations, discussion, consequences - no room for that.

(The above is exactly 80 words.)

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