Writing History

Well, for my first blog, I'd like to discuss the tricks of writing a quality history paper. First of all, there is an excellent guide for new and experienced writers called Writing History by William Kelleher Storey. This book walks students through every stage of the writing process, from narrowing down topics to revising drafts. I recommend this book to any student interested in history, especially those considering on pursing history studies in college. The first trick I can offer to students is to pick a broad topic of interest when preparing to write a paper. As you research the topic, you will be able to narrow down a more specific topic that interests you. For example, if you are instructed to write a paper on a certain aspect of World War I, start by doing a quick reading of major World War I events. Through this reading, you might find that Hitler's use of concentration camps interest you. Now that you have a general topic, you might try a second general reading to get an overview of Hitler and concentration camps. Once you have a basic overview of the subject, you can further narrow your topic to something manageable in your word/page limit. At this point, you can start looking at a very specific topic, such as the Armenian genocide as a precursor to Hitler's genocide against the Jewish population. After choosing a specific topic, you can finally begin your in-depth research. The note taking step is perhaps the most import aspect of researching. It is important not to copy verbatim a source's words while taking notes, that can encourage plagiarism down the road. Use your sources to make inferences and draw conclusions based on what other authors have said. While you should not copy sources word for word, it is still a good idea to extract key quotes that you think will be imperative for your paper. After you have finished researching and taking notes, it is always a good idea to create an outline for your paper. This will make the writing process easier and more focused. As the writing process begins, remember that it is not necessary to begin with the introduction. Sometimes it is easier to start with the body of the paper, and save the introduction and conclusion for last. However, it is a good idea to write down your thesis [main argument] at the top of your paper so that you do not get off track while writing. After you have finished your first draft, it is time to revise and edit your paper. This may not be the most fun part of writing a paper, but I promise it is very important. Once you have revised your paper, make sure to reread it several times to find any missed errors in grammar or syntax. The last trick I can give is to have a friend/family member read over your paper to make sure you haven't missed any other errors. And on that note, try to enjoy your paper writing experience and don't stress out.


Natasja J.

If You're Having Trouble With History...

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