Tips How To Write A Response Paper

The major difference is that a response paper is more personal and it requires a personal touch, this means that you are not to just write according to the topic mechanically but according to your impression on the work you have read. A response paper can be written on a play, book, article, speech, or any literary work. This can also be a reaction paper because your write up is seen as your reaction to the reviewed work.

This is why a reaction paper is written in a fist person active voice. The use of ‘I’ might be prohibited in easy writing but it is definitely a norm when writing a reaction paper, although, as it is with easy writing, you are expected to come up with your thesis and analyze the work according to your point of view.  This article will be written in three parts with step-by-step guidelines to writing a response paper.

Part One: Before Writing

  1. Read and reread: the first practical step is that you read the write or watch as the case may be. You need to read and study with an open mind and not judge the work before you even start maybe based on your previous notion about the owner of the work. Understand the concept of the work first before you even start to analyze at all.
  2. Jot down your thoughts: as you read and study, advisably at the second reading, begin to note and jot down your thoughts on each page. The parts where you agree with the author and the part where you don’t. it is important to take not of this point because if you say you will just start analyzing after reading, you may lose some cogent point and miss out the major part of the work.
  3. After reading: when you are done with your first and maybe second perusal of the work, gather your note with you have jotted your thoughts and impression of the work. Read it and reflect on it. While you reflect, the general idea will begin to form in your head, begin to write down this general idea differently. Record them as they come. Don’t worry about the fact that it is still jumbled together at this point.
  4. Hypothesize: at this point, you already understand what the writer is saying and you have digested the concept of the paper, you have also gotten your own interpretation of the work. You know the part where you agree and disagree with the author so you can now come with a thesis with the help of your jottings.

Part Two: Writing The Response Paper

  1. Write outline of your write up: make a list of your ideas before constructing a body for it. This is where you began to highlight your full write up and not just your impression of the work you reviewed.
  2. Organize your outlined point appropriately and construct your write up. Organization benefits the reader much more than it does the writer. This will enable your readers follow you from the first sentence to the last one. He or she will be able to see how the various points you make in your write up work together and how they support your thesis.
  3. Write the full essay: This can be divided into five parts:
  • The introduction: Your introduction must be in the first paragraph. This must include the title of the work you are reviewing and the writer’s name, a brief summary of the work. This must also contain your thesis and opinion for the work.
  • React: this is the beginning of your reaction write up. At this point you begin to write what your feel about the work. It is expected that you analyze this work based on your view and not anyone else’s. don’t be scared to write out your mind about the work. Remember to talk about the shortcomings and successes of the work, not just the success or shortcomings.
  • Back up your reaction: go back to your first not and gather points to back up your reaction. Commending or condemning a work without appropriate evidence and reference from the work is baseless and unprofessional. Citing appropriate example from the work to back up your point will help the reader to understand your point and follow your writing. This will prove your reaction isn’t biased and sentimental. Of course it is alright to cite and compare this work with other works of like themes but it very important to bring out your points and back them up from the work itself.
  • State possible scenarios that would have made you disagree with the work(if you agree with it) or that would have made you disagree with the work(if you disagree). For example:

“ I would have understood the reason for ending the play that way if the anti-climax had been complete but it wasn’t so I don’t.” or “Had she referred to his skin color as the reason for his retrogression I would have totally disagreed but thankfully she did not.”

  1. Language use: like any write up, the use of language should be consciously checked. Any kind or form of error can mess up the write and useless good points. Below are what should be watched out for:
  • Clarity: make sure your write up is clear and free of any innuendo and hidden meaning.
  • Avoid any form of ambiguity: Any form of ambiguity, be it structural or lexical, will definitely confuse your reader. Ambiguous words and expressions are words or expressions that have more than one meaning. Examples,
  • He shot rat in his pyjamas. (it could mean that the rat was in his pyjamas when he shot it or that he was wearing pyjamas when he shot the rat.)
  • I told her I would give her a ring tomorrow. (the use of ring here could be colloquial or not. Therefore it could mean that the speaker would give the lady a ring or that he would call the lady.)
  • Be concise: Reading too long write ups can be somewhat frustrating because you will feel obliged to finish the essay and at the same time resent that fact that a single write up is taking so much time. The best way to do this is to put you in the shoes of the reader and write as concise as possible. This will even help you eliminate unnecessary diversion from the point.
  • Avoid unnecessary repetitions: particular information should not appear twice in your essay.
  • Avoid vulgarism, clichés and slangof any kind: despite the fact that this write-up needs a personal touch, you need to be careful as not to cross the line of professionalism.

Part Three: Revise, edit and proofread

This is the last but definitely a very important part. Submitting an essay without editing can be downright disastrous. It is expedient the essay be error free by the time you are submitting.

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It is understandable that most writers are usually afraid of the revising their work because of the fear of changing the structure, this is why it is advised that proofreading, editing and revising should happen after some time (a day or so) so the editing could be done with a cool and level head.