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This process will likely involve some trial and error.
The sub-questions are designed to help you think about the topic.
They offer ideas you might consider, but they are not, usually, the key question or questions you need to answer in your paper.
For example, suppose your professor has asked you to write a paper discussing the differences between colonial New England and colonial Virginia.
It might seem like this paper is straightforward and does not require an argument, that it is simply a matter of finding the "right answer." However, even here you need to construct a paper guided by a larger argument.
After you have finished, read over what you have created.
Look for patterns or trends or questions that keep coming up.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.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.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?You might argue that the main differences between colonial New England and Virginia were grounded in contrasting visions of colonization.Or you might argue that the differences resulted from accidents of geography or from extant alliances between regional Indian groups.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.