How to Write a Response Paper

Usually, when a student receives an assignment to write a paper based on some article or a book, he/she thinks it has to be written in a professional manner and using impersonal voice. However, the basic rules can be forgotten if you are working on a response paper.
In a response paper, you have to write a strong thesis statement that has to be supported with your personal opinion and specific evidence from the book/article that you used.

Are you still uncertain how to write a response paper in college? Your task is to write a formal assessment of the analyzed book/article (possibly a film, artwork, song/melody, marketing campaign, etc.), but remember about including your own thoughts and impressions.

Below are some helpful tips for completing a response essay:

  • Write a thesis.
  • Make sure you have read the material you are writing on.
  • Do not hesitate to mark interesting information not to lose it.
  • Write down your ideas.
  • Compose an outline.
  • Put all the pieces together.

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Response Paper - State Your Opinion

Do not be shy to express your personal opinion in a response paper, even though you might feel awkward writing statements like “I feel” or “I think that”.
While working on a response paper, keep in mind the statements mentioned below:

  • I feel that…
  • I think that…
  • The readers can make conclusions that…
  • It seems that the author…
  • I did not approve…
  • I found it especially moving…
  • This was my favorite part, because…

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Tips for Response Paper Writing

Remember that a response essay is meant to have a personal touch, and should include your impressions and thoughts on the work you are discussing.
If you check any response paper example online, you will see that it is written in the first person. The use of ‘I’ statements is certainly normal in such assignments.

Previously to Writing

Read the object of your analysis for a few times. Study and read the material while brainstorming. Make sure that you understand the concept of the work before you start analyzing it.
As you are studying the material, write down the best ideas that come up in your mind. By doing so, it will be easier for you to start the writing process and see the general picture.
Hypothesize: when you already have the understanding of what the writer wanted to convey to the readers, then you also got the interpretation of the work. Write a thesis, when you know what you want to say and you know whether there are differences in the opinions (yours and the author’s).

Response Paper Format

Compose the basic outline: write down a list of ideas before composing a body.
Organize the main points and compose your writing. Organization is more beneficial for readers than it is for the writer. Good organization of ideas will help your readers to follow your main point from the first sentence to the end of the essay.

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The completed essay should have the following five sections:
The introductory part: the first paragraph. Insert in it the essay title and the writer’s name, together with a short paper summary.
Respond: start your reflections – your personal feelings about the work. It is your analysis and your view what matters in such an assignment.
Remember to cite the appropriate examples to support your ideas; such an approach will be helpful for the reader. The readers will comprehend your ideas and main points. If your words are well supported with the ideas from the book, it will be a good proof that your reaction is not biased.
Write the possible scenarios, in which you would disagree with the work.

Remember about the language you are using: in any assignment, the usage of language has to be checked. Any errors, even the smallest ones, can mess up all the writing and even the greatest points. Please, remember to watch out for:
Clearness: make sure the paper is clear and has no innuendo or secret meanings.

Avoid ambiguity in any forms: ambiguity, either lexical or structural, will be confusing for readers. Some expressions and words might have several meanings.
For example:
She shot the rat in her pajamas (the possible meaning is that the rat was wearing pajamas, when she shot it or that she was in her pajamas when she shot the rat.)
I wrote to her I would give her a ring on Monday (the word ‘ring’ can be colloquial or not here. In the context, it can mean that the speaker would give a girl an actual ring, or that he would give her a call.)
Do not write too much. It is hard for readers to focus on write-ups that are too long; there is a feeling of obligation to finish the essay that is too long and, possibly, boring. The best thing a writer can do is to put himself/herself in the reader’s shoes and try to write as concise as possible. This approach will eliminate any unnecessary diversions.
Avoid repetitive statements: make sure that the information in the essay does not appear twice.
Avoid any clichés and slang of any kind: even though this type of assignment needs a personal touch, try to be careful not to cross the line of professionalism.

Remember about revision, careful editing and proofreading
Revising the written material is definitely very important for the essay’s final outcome. Definitely, you want to submit the essay that is free from typos and errors.
It is reasonable that many writers are hesitant to revise their final work, as they are afraid of changing the whole structure. Professionals advise that editing, proofreading, and any revisions should take place after some time, so that the editing will be performed with a cool head.

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