Here are some helpful comments on writing history papers. You might also want
to look at the "Paper score sheet" that I use to
grade the papers. This will give you a sense of the different aspects of your
paper on which you should concentrate.
1. Every paper should have a title and moreover a thesis - an overarching answer to the question posed. It should address precisely the question posed. Moreover your essay should be organized around the thesis; choose your evidence (specific examples from the sources) to support your thesis. The thesis is what you are trying to convince your reader to believe is the correct answer to the question posed. Once you have decided on your thesis, prepare to write your paper by making an outline.
2. Every paper should have an outline. Begin by listing the different points you need to make to answer the question. Then go to the sources and choose the specific examples that support your points. Jot down the references under the point which they support. Only after you have done this should you then decide on what to say in the introduction and conclusion. Jot down the basic points of your introduction and conclusion at the beginning and end of your points. This is your outline. From your outline, you are ready to draft your paper.
3. The paper should limit itself to information necessary to answer the question. By the same token, you should use as much information as you have available that is pertinent to the question. Ask yourself with each sentence you write - does this sentence help support the interpretation I am advancing? Secondly what specific evidence (from the textbook or document reader or lecture) do I have to support this sentence? If the answer to either question is no, then you should modify or replace that sentence.
4. You should not make statements that are unsupportable by the evidence available to you. This is especially true of arguments about causality or influence - you can't use one document to prove its influence on another. Try to limit yourself to making statements that are plausible based on the source material available to you.
5. Finally, be sure to leave time to read over and revise your paper. In revising, you ought to simply sentences, verify that you have chosen the correct word, and above all, ensure that your statements are well-supported and build logically from one to the next to support a single, over-arching thesis.
This will result in a well-crafted, clear and convincing paper.