How to Write a Response Paper

How to Write a Response Paper
Category: Education

If you have been assigned a response essay, you need to be well versed in how to write a response paper in an effective way. One of the main features that make a response essay different from the other essay types is that a response paper is more personal in nature and it requires more personal attitude. As such, if you have been assigned a personal essay, be sure to discuss the topic in a more creative manner – without just focusing on structural elements and mechanics. Your essay should provide an impression on the reader. As a rule, response papers are written on an article, book, play, speech, video or any literary work in general. Moreover, it can be written as your reaction to a watched movie/ video or a recently read literary work.

As such, due to the great difference from the other essay writing types, it is essential to know how to write a response paper before actually starting to write it. Normally, you need to write a response essay by using the fist-person pronouns in active voice. This is another feature that makes response paper different from the rest of academic essays that are normally written by using third-person pronouns. As in the other essay writing types, you are required to formulate a thesis statement and then discuss and analyze your work according to the claim or argument put forward in it.

One of the best response paper guidelines is to follow specific pre-writing and writing stages and be consistent in your work on the essay.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Response Paper

  1. Pre-writing stage

If you have an article or a book to reflect on, make sure you read it carefully and attentively. Two times is the required minimum if you want to submit a successful response essay. If you need to respond to a video, make sure you watch it twice as well: once for the general understanding and the other time for more detailed understanding also paying attention to specific devices, features, phrases, etc. Overall, it is important to get general understanding of the work given for response and analysis without applying critical thinking or judgment.

As you read or watch the assigned materials, make sure you jot down all the important information that will be needed in the process of writing a response paper. Also make sure you highlight the parts that are controversial or that you clearly agree or disagree with. Such analytical approach to reading is important as it helps you to understand the author’s viewpoint and motifs behind writing a specific literary work.

Make sure you write down what your overall impression of the work is. Try not to switch on your thinking mode but appeal to emotions and feelings first. Make sure you reflect on your thoughts and feelings about the work in your essay as well.

Put forward the central hypothesis of the essay. At the end of the pre-writing stage, you probably understand what idea the author conveys and what he/ she wants to tell with the work.

  1. Writing stage

If you want to know how to write a good response paper, make sure, you start your writing process by composing an outline. Brainstorm ideas that you want to include in the paper and then organize then in a logical, coherent, and consistent form in your outline. The outline will help you save your time during the actual process of writing and developing arguments.

After you have brainstormed and written down the main ideas of the paper, try to organize them according to the topics or separate units. This is one of the first steps towards constructing your body paragraphs, which should be united by separate ideas.

You may as well look through a response paper example found on the net if you want to get a more clear idea of what a response essay looks like. Here, however, try to find these samples in reliable sources.

The overall structure of the essay may look as follows:

  • Introductory paragraph. This is the very first paragraph of your essay, which should introduce the video or literary work you respond to while also mentioning the writer’s name, title, etc. Also make sure to include a brief summary of the work alongside with providing the background of the issues you respond to. Make sure to finish the paragraph with a strong and clear thesis statement as well as your personal opinion.
  • Develop body paragraphs. First, provide your reaction to the issue discussed in the book, article or video given for analysis. Rely merely on your personal thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Make sure you cover both strengths and weaknesses alike.
  • Make sure to support your reaction by providing reliable and plausible evidence from reputable sources. While referring to others’ opinions, make sure to cite the sources properly according to the assigned citation style. If appropriate, relate the given work to the adjacent works in the field. Make sure you use clear and comprehensible language. Do not use words with hidden meaning, such as metaphors or irony whatsoever.
  • Be structural and clear. Any form of ambiguous writing may distance your readers from the central thought you intended to convey. By providing some dubious sayings, you will confuse your readers.
  • Be brief in your discussion. Make sure you avoid lengthy sentences since they may confuse your readers and make them tired in the process of reading your essay. The best way to structure your essay is to imagine as if you are a reader: how would it be easier for you to read the paper? What structure would be easier and clearer? Just ask yourself such questions before you submit your assignment.
  • Avoid repeating the same ideas or words throughout the paper. If you have mentioned something once, you do not need to introduce the same idea into the essay again.
  • Do not use slang, clichéd phrases, vulgarisms, and jargon. First of all, these words are not appropriate for formal academic writing. Second, they may make the overall idea confusing and not clear as your readers have the chance of not understanding what you mean.
  1. Post-writing stage.

At this point, you need to edit, proofread, and format the paper. When it comes to editing, pay attention to the content, structure, logical development of ideas, etc. when you proofread the text, you need to make sure the paper is free from flaws, errors, and typos. Under flaws and errors, we mean mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, which may provide a bad impression on your reader. Overall, never undermine the importance of post-writing stage since it is important to submit a well-crafted essay. Proper and thorough editing will ensure that you do not need revision of your paper afterwards. Hopefully, with the help of our tips, you will know now how to write a response paper.


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