How to Write an Excellent History Essay
Understanding the components of a history essay is vital to writing a good essay. The task may seem daunting at first, but breaking it down into parts makes it much simpler. The same is true for any task that seems difficult in the beginning.
Writing about history is not so different from typical writing pieces. It needs to be pre-planned, well-researched, and written in a clear, easy-to-digest manner. As long as you follow the basic guidelines listed below, you can ace any history essay in the future.
Just make sure you give yourself enough time and commitment to see the essay through. Though, with the busy lives we lead, it can sometimes be difficult to set aside the time you need. At times like these, you can buy your essay papers online for college, written with proper English grammar. It will save you a ton of time and effort at a marginal cost!
If that’s not something you want to do though, keep reading to learn more about writing that perfect history essay.
What you need to do before writing the essay
Even if you have the subject matter in mind, don’t put your fingers to the keyboard just yet. It’s important that you first plan how and what you’re going to write. Keeping that in mind, here are two questions you need to find the answers to beforehand.
How are you going to structure the paper?
For any good essay to be convincing, it needs to have a natural flow. The points you mention need to be in chronological order and should make sense when you read between them. If you have facts mentioned haphazardly in the text, it is only going to confuse a lot of the readers.
Your aim should be to tell the reader a story. They should be able to follow your line of thinking until the conclusion and reach the same decision. As such, knowing the structure you’re going to follow early on will help you dissect your argument. Here is a basic outline of a structure you can follow:
- Introduce the subject
- State your own position on the subject
- Provide a brief summary of your sources
- Lay out the evidence
- Analyze the sources and use the evidence to support your case
- Write your conclusion
What is your leading argument?
When writing a history paper, the goal is usually to answer a specific question about that subject. For example, “Which incident was the largest mass murder ever recorded in human history?”. You need to use facts to create a convincing case around what you’re writing about. If you don’t have a main point to drive across, the essay will end up seeming weak and unreliable.
If you don’t have a valid argument in mind already, do some more research! Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I writing for and why am I trying to convince them?
- Why should the reader keep reading what I have to say?
- What do I have to include in the essay to prove my point?
You yourself should find the argument convincing. If you don’t believe what you’re writing about, why should anybody else? Just make sure you find enough corroborative evidence to support your point of view.
Breaking down the essay
Once you’ve completed the first section, it’s time to move on to actually writing the essay. To simplify the writing, let’s divide the essay into sections:
The First Paragraph
The first paragraph is where the reader gets their first impression of your writing. It needs to start off strong to entice the reader to continue reading. If the writing is “boring”, chances are the reader is going to be put off from reading the rest of your essay. This will definitely influence their opinion of what you have to say.
Use the first paragraph to clearly outline your understanding of the topic. Establish the point you are aiming to reach and break down the question. The aim here should be to provide your points while suggesting that you will be substantiating them further on.
The two things you don’t want to do in the first (and second) paragraph(s) are:
- Avoid the question entirely and give a general explanation of that time period
- Start off with the chronological happenings of that time in history. (For example, “This all started when *the person* was born in 1881.”)
The In-Between Paragraphs
Everything past the first two paragraphs is the meat of your argument. You’ve explained to the reader what you’re talking about and how you’re breaking it down. Now you have to consider how you’re going to discuss each section with the relevant evidence.
Since you’ve already come up with a structure for your essay, this part is made much simpler. Think about the order in which you want to present your evidence. It wouldn’t make sense to simply write down all the information you have gathered. It needs to be structured in a way where the reader understands each point before moving on to the next.
You can use the following as an outline to simplify every point you want to make:
- Start with a line or two about the point you are making
- Explain the idea in further detail giving your own points of view
- Substantiate your claim with enough evidence (quotes, timelines, or facts)
Use this structure for each point you make so there is a logical flow to the writing. This way, it won’t feel so jarring moving from one point to the next.
Here’s what you need to avoid doing in the middle paragraphs:
- Don’t go into too much detail about everything. In the research phase, you may have found a trove of information. But, you only have a limited number of words to write on. Make sure you only explain the important sections relevant to your argument. You can summarize the other less important information into a couple of lines.
Use real evidence and not “opinions”. Different historians will have their own opinions of that time in history. Using these to corroborate your argument is nonsensical. Use only documented facts and figures to back your points.
In this section, you have to sum up everything you’ve said and give the reader a final verdict. This is typically done in two ways depending on your middle section:
- On the basis, you were exploring multiple avenues/issues – State which avenue is correct
- On the basis, you’ve had one main answer you were driving towards – Finalize your case and provide your final point of view
The final section should be just that. Don’t try to extend and push your points further here. All that should have been completed in the middle section.
For the perfect conclusion, here’s what you should avoid doing:
- Don’t bring in new evidence/points to assert your claim
- Don’t write about another issue relating to the subject
- Don’t end with a random question about that time
Only write about the topic at hand. Doing anything more may only reduce the impact of your overall argument.
Max Malak, a business expert at Studybay, talks about how writing about history is not so different from typical writing pieces. When it comes to writing about any analytical essay, you need to know how to write the right arguments and give evidence when needed. Only then will you have a persuasive paper.