Writing historical essays

History essay writing is somewhat tricky for one very important reason - history is really not about dates and names and places.

A good college history essay should take the issues of a history class and represent them in an interesting way.

After all, history is all about telling stories and telling them in new and interesting ways.

I always tell my writing students that a good college essay should be argumentative or persuasive in nature.

The job of a college writer is to present an issue in a new and interesting way - not to simply rehash information.

This is the biggest mistake student writers make in history essay writing!

You should never approach a historical essay as though the "facts" are most important to the reader.

Facts alone are worthless.

The question lurking for your audience (especially your professor - an expert in history writing) is, "what do the facts mean?" For example: you would never want to write what I like to call the George Washington essay.

This is an essay that simply recounts the first G.W.'s life and times.

We call this a biographical essay.

Trust me: this is the last thing your instructor wants to see.

Your job is to take the life of George Washington and make it interesting.

In other words, you need to say something unique about the first president's existence and make an argument or take a new interpretation of the facts.

Information on its own is very boring.

The job of a good writer is to take everyday information and transform it into something unique.

Most beginning writers struggle with this part of the essay writing process.

It can be quite challenging to both present accurate information and look at it in a new way.

Of course, every college writer needs to spend time in the writing process on every essay to get the best results.

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