Most Important Tip to Writing a Paper or Essay
Read the directions.
Read them again.
Read them a third time.
Go over in your head, or re-write on a separate sheet of paper, all the things the instructor is asking you to do in the directions.
Write a thesis that corresponds directly with the directions. Feel free to copy the words of the directions in your thesis. Don't worry. This isn't plagiarism. It's making sure what you're going to write about is directly in line with the directions.
Write an outline (bullet points are preferable), that fits your thesis, and provides the sequence of your thinking, and how it's going to address your thesis, and the directions.
Re-read your outline. Make sure it does what the directions say. In fact, you might want to draw a line through each part of the directions, once you're sure you've got that covered in your outline.
If you've covered every point in the directions, you're well on your way.
Now you can start your paper.
So many - too many - times, students read the directions, but don't follow them. They write what they "think" the directions are asking. They write what they want to write about, not what the directions are asking for. They write something that pertains to the first part of the directions, then go off on a tangent.
When they do any of these - when they don't follow the directions - the paper is already in serious danger of being in the C range. Because if you're not following the directions, the paper isn't going to be what it's suppose to be. You might get a C for your thinking or creativity or for decent effort. But it'll be hard to get it above a C. Because it won't be what you were suppose to do.
I can't stress this enough. Read the directions! Follow the directions! If you have questions, ask your instructor. Get your questions clarified. Because there's a reason the assignment comes with those directions, and the entire purpose of the assignment is embodied in those directions.