3 Steps To A Better History Essay

Be on time at the place you've agreed to meet for the interview. 4 Conduct the interview(s). Even if you are using a recording device, take notes during the interview, as they can help you look for specific points in the recording to incorporate into the essay. Using a recording device (with permission) is almost always advisable, as it permits you to save your note-taking for jotting down your insights on contexts, themes, how your subject approaches the questions, his/her comfort level, and so on. Be patient and respectful as you ask your questions and wait for responses. Give the interviewee time to reflect, and you will likely be rewarded with more insightful answers. A few deeper responses are usually better than many superficial ones. Immediately after the interview, write down your thoughts and impressions about the interview and interviewee. They may help you shape the essay. Always end the interview by thanking the person. Part 2 Writing the Essay 1 Decide what format your interview essay will have. If the essay is a class assignment, the format will likely be pre-determined. Clarify with your instructor whether he or she expects questions and answers, long quotations, or paraphrasing, and if the primary focus should be the interview itself or in placing it in a larger context. [7] Generally, interview essays can be in one of several formats: Narrative format. This form allows paraphrasing of some information the interviewee says, along with direct quotes for the material you most want to emphasize. This is the most likely format for a class assignment, and offers the most opportunity to add context and analysis. Conversational format. This is a looser format than the formal writing style required for most essays. You can address the reader directly and use both first and second person. This format can be suitable for anything from class assignments to magazine articles. Question-and-answer format. This form presents your questions to the interviewee, followed by the interviewee's responses. (That is, the text looks something like this: (Your Name): How long have you been in the circus? (Interviewee's Name): About 35 years.) These are always direct quotes, although you may insert explanatory material in parentheses and substitutions, such as a person's name in place of a personal pronoun, in brackets. This format is best suited for essays with only a single interviewee or a closely related group, such as spouses or the core cast of a TV show. 2 Plan an outline of the essay. The outline will depend largely on the essay format you are following, but a strong introduction, which clearly identifies your subject and the goals and focus of your interview, is always important. Read over your interview notes and listen to any audio / video recordings you have. Utilizing both whenever available will allow you to thoroughly consider both the highlights of the interview and the most significant themes to emerge from it. These, in turn, will inform your outline of what information your essay will cover and how it will appear. One possible outline could be an introduction that starts with an anecdote about the interviewee and then presents your thesis statement, several key points that support the main focus, and a conclusion that summarizes the information presented. Traditional school essays often utilize a five paragraph format (introduction, three supporting paragraphs, conclusion), and this can often work with interview essays as well. 3 Develop a thesis statement. If the purpose of your essay is only to present your interviewee to your reader, your thesis will likely be a brief summary identifying the person and his or her background, accomplishments, and qualifications. For instance: "John Doe eagerly volunteered to serve his country in Vietnam in 1967, and is fortunate to still be here to share his story." If, however, the purpose of your essay is to use your interviewee's comments to support a position or examine a larger theme, your thesis will probably be a statement of that position or theme, with the interview / interviewee placed within that context. For instance: "John Doe's mixed feelings of pride and betrayal reflect those shared by many Vietnam veterans still with us." Regardless of essay format, make your thesis clear and concise, and be sure that the remainder of your essay refers back to it. See How to Write a Thesis Statement for more advice. 4 Flesh out your essay. The body of your essay needs to follow the selected format while supporting the thesis and providing substantial coverage of the actual interview. Interviews can sometimes produce a good deal of repetitive answers (even with high-quality questions), so you may need to trim repetitions and unnecessary elements from the body of your essay. Make sure that whatever material you do keep remains true to both the spirit of the interview and the overarching focus of your essay. A handout from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina (available at http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/oral-history/) provides a wealth of valuable materials on interview essays. It includes, for instance, examples of how to utilize the same interview materials in a transcription (question-and-answer format), a presentation of individual experiences (quotations and paraphrases), and the placing of the interview / interviewee in a larger context (paraphrasing and quotations with ample explanation). 5 Proofread and revise your work. Any type of essay, including interview essays, should be thoroughly proofread and carefully revised to provide maximum clarity and impact. Reading over the essay yourself is a good start, but it is always wise to have another set of eyes look it over as well. Another reader is likely to catch errors, repetitions, and unclear sections that you have glossed over. Go back to your original interview notes, recordings, and transcripts, and make sure that your essay continues to reflect the actual interview. Layers of editing and revising can sometimes cause the essay to drift away from the original source and intent. You may even want to let the interviewee read it over to ensure that it captures his or her voice. 6 Document your sources. Depending on your assignment, you may not need to explicitly cite the interview itself, but always check to make sure. Always cite any supplemental materials, however. Any materials you used for research, information about the interviewee, or context for the essay itself should be referenced in the approved citation format for your essay. Make sure one more time that any direct quotations from your source are placed in quotation marks, and any paraphrasing is done without quotation marks. Don't put words in your subject's mouth, and respect the words that do emerge from it. Community Q&A

3 Steps to a Better History Essay 3 Steps to a Better History Essay 3 Steps to a Better History Essay
3 Steps to a Better History Essay

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