If you think of writing as a process and break it down into smaller steps, you will find that paper-writing is manageable, less daunting, and even enjoyable.Writing a history paper is your opportunity to do the real work of historians, to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into the past. In a history class, even if you are not writing a paper based on outside research, you are still writing a paper that requires some form of argument.
Write out the key question at the top of your draft and return to it often, using it to guide you in the writing process.
Also, be sure that you are responding to every part of the prompt.
Based on what you have brainstormed, what do you still need to learn about the topic?
Do you have a tentative argument or response to the paper prompt?
Any history paper you write will be driven by an argument demanding evidence from sources.
History writing assignments can vary widely--and you should always follow your professor's specific instructions--but the following steps are designed to help no matter what kind of history paper you are writing.For more information, visit our section, "Understanding Paper Prompts."Before you even start researching or drafting, take a few minutes to consider what you already know about the topic.Make a list of ideas or draw a cluster diagram, using circles and arrows to connect ideas--whatever method works for you.Make sure you distinguish the key questions from the sub-questions.Otherwise, your paper may sound like a laundry list of short-answer essays rather than a cohesive argument.Use this information to guide you as you start your research and develop a thesis.Depending on the paper prompt, you may be required to do outside research or you may be using only the readings you have done in class.After you have finished, read over what you have created.Look for patterns or trends or questions that keep coming up.A helpful way to hone in on the key question is to look for action verbs, such as "analyze" or "investigate" or "formulate." Find such words in the paper prompt and circle them.Then, carefully consider what you are being asked to do.