Avoid general, historical, or flowery introductions. Don't use phrases like "Since the dawn of history, philosophers having been arguing about..." or "Webster's Dictionary defines free will as..." Rather, begin by stating your position, the position you will be arguing for. A good way to start is with the phrase:
"In this paper, I will argue that..."
It's fine to use the first person. This is a paper in which you will be giving reasons in defense of your position.
Make sure that your paper is organized and has a clear structure. Before you start to write a draft of your paper, think about what the main points are that you wish to make, how they relate to one another, and in what order you'll present them. It may help the organization of your paper to give the reader a "map" of the paper in your first or second paragraph. For example:
"In this paper I will argue that.... First, I will explain this. Next, I will set out that. Then I will show the weakness of this position. Finally, I will give my reasons for supporting the other position."
Look to see that each point you make somehow helps to support your main thesis. If it does not, leave it out.
4) QUOTATIONS AND PARAPHRASING
Use quotes only to support or back up points that you are making. Do not use quotations in order to make or set out main points in your paper. The same goes for paraphrasing. Avoid stringing together a series of quotes or paraphrased passages, especially when setting out the position of a philosopher. You should familiarize yourself enough with a position so that you can describe it in your own words.
However, put in textual references to primary sources, even when describing somebody's position in your own words, so that an interested reader would be able to look at the place where the philosopher in question states the position or argument you're explaining. I'd prefer that you use the author-date citation format (although ( MLA citation format is also OK) for modern sources, and the standard scholarly conventions for referring to ancient texts. Also, do be careful not to plagiarize. If your ideas were influenced by a secondary source, cite that source. We'll be discussing plagiarism in class, but here is a good introduction to what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
Remember that this is a position paper, not a research paper. For most classes, the material we've looked at should give you plenty to engage with philosophically, and you should not go searching through secondary sources finding out what a bunch of other people have said. (But if you do, you need to give proper credit!)
Make sure that your writing is clear enough that somebody not already familiar with the material and ideas you're talking about could understand what you're saying. By doing so, you show that you understand what you're talking about--unclear writing is often the product of unclear thinking.
If you're attacking somebody else's position or argument, make sure that you're attacking his or her actual position, not some straw man. Philosophers have said all sorts of things that initially seem bizarre or simply incomprehensible. Before dismissing somebody as holding a silly or incoherent position, ask yourself: do I really understand what this person is saying? If you do think you understand the position, but still think that it seems outrageous, be charitable and try to see if you can find good reasons why an intelligent person might hold such a position. You don't have to agree with the position. But by being charitable, you will help make your own argument stronger, if you do end up disagreeing with somebody else.
7) GIVE ARGUMENTS AND CONSIDER