How to write a response paper
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How to write a response paper

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After completing every semester, students are most likely to be asked to write a response paper on a recent movie they saw or a book they read. Students often get confused on how to write a response paper? Though many might think of a response paper as a generic movie or book review, there is a difference in tone when it is writing a response paper. Let’s start from the very basics to get it right.

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What is meant by a response paper?

By very definition, a response paper is a short written document that allows the writer to convey his reactions to something they have seen or read. With the help of a response paper, students can communicate their responses and thoughts concerning the topic.

After learning how to write a response paper, you will not always need to adhere to formal reviews and write in the first person. However, just like a formal review, a response paper also demands valid facts and evidence to back up your claims and opinion.

So, how to write a response paper?

A response paper can be divided into two distinct parts- the first part contains a brief description of what you saw or read, and the second part will contain the explanation for your reaction and arguments.

The summary of the work: This section should start with a very strong statement identifying the author of the book or the director of the movie. Make sure to include the exact title of the work you are scrutinizing, including spelling and grammar errors. Also, add the name of the publisher or producer and the release date in parenthesis.

When learning how to write a response paper, make sure that you highlight all the critical aspects of the original piece in your introductory summary. Important ideas from work can also be highlighted with the help of direct quotations from the book or movie.

The reaction of the work: This section of the paper will focus greatly on your impressions of the original piece. Start with a strong thesis statement to make your opinion and stance very clear to the reader. This is the part where you express your opinions, so make sure that you don’t shy away. Just make sure to back up your claims and arguments with valid facts and pieces of evidence. Try to keep a balance between critiquing and discussing the original work.

After completing this section, evaluate the merit of the work by discussing the accuracy of the information provided and the cohesiveness and organization of the narration. It is also a great opportunity to showcase the originality of your work to the readers.

For students struggling with how to write a response paper, here are a few quick guidelines that you will need to keep in mind.

  1. Assess very closely: Since the main objective of a response paper is to convey the writer’s impression of a certain book or film, there is a critical need to introduce subtle nuances in your writing process. The better your understanding is of the book or film, the better will you be able to convey your reactions toward it.
  2. Record your reactions: While watching the film or reading the book, make sure to keep a journal to note your reactions while doing so. The more details you have, the better. Don’t count any reaction as trivial; make sure to note it down.
  3. Organise: After you have read or seen the original piece, organize the data that you have collected. Go through the journal that you made in the previous step to take down your impressions and reactions to the work. Create a proper outline and place points in proper sections.
  4. Edit the paper: After organizing the data and creating the outline, you can start with the paper. Any paper requires good writing skills and a response paper is not different. Check for spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and punctuations before submitting your paper. If your views align with professional critics in other forms of media, make sure to credit them in your paper.

A sample template of how to write a response paper:

“Cell phones are dangerous.”
Written by John Doe
Published by ABCD Publications
Published on 20th July 2018

#1 Paragraph: Summary
Based on the short story by a late bloomer in the world of literature, John Doe tells a story that could have a negative impact on our lives. He starts his piece with the unfortunate story of a person who was on his phone while driving and meets with an accident. Following this example, John points out the statistics that show using a cell phone during driving is equally dangerous as drunk driving. In conclusion, John wraps up by emphasizing the need to curb this habit and educate acquaintances on the dangers.

#2 Paragraph: Reaction
Though John goes into great detail to discuss the problem using valid data, a lack of solution can be seen in his writing. Though the piece reminds the readers about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, there is no clarity on how important calls are to be received while driving and still be safe. It is in the good interest of the public that a law should be made to restrict such practices. While many educated people are aware of the dangers, many are still ignorant towards the perils of using a cell phone while driving, and therefore a law will be binding to all. An example of this can be seen with the rules regarding seat belts, which has helped to save countless lives since it was introduced. As technology has become an indispensable part of our lives, it is impossible to abandon phone calls altogether, but policy changes would go a long way to remove this problem.

#3 Paragraph: Conclusion
I agree with John’s view on the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. However, it is evident that the author stressed significantly on the problem without providing any concrete solution.

To conclude, you should write a response paper from a personal perspective but make sure all your claims are well justified. One of the major mistakes students fall for when learning how to write a response paper is that they tend to be very harsh critics without any concrete evidence. Make sure you do not make the same mistake and back up your arguments with proper evidence from reliable sources.

Frequently asked questions

I am getting confused about how to write a response paper? Where do I start?

Start by following our guide on how to write a response paper where step-by-step descriptions are given for your help. If you are still confused, try looking for professional services offering help on writing response papers on various topics.

Do I have to follow strict writing guidelines while writing a response paper?

Apart from the generic rules of writing a paper, there is actually no strict rules on writing a response paper. Use the first person when writing a response paper from your perspective.

What are the main sections of a response paper?

For those learning how to write a response paper, the paper can be divided into two sections for simplicity, namely, the summary paragraph and the reaction paragraph.

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