If you think that summaries and reviews are enough to write about books and movies, we’re gonna surprise you! A response paper is another genre in this category. For those who have never heard of it, we have provided this awesome guide. In addition, one of our writers has created an exclusive response paper example for our readers. Our instructions are simple and concise, so don’t hesitate and start learning!
What Is a Response Paper?
A response paper is a piece of writing in which the author expresses his or her opinion on a certain idea or theme developed in a chosen piece of art (story, novel, movie, picture, song, etc.). It is also frequently called a “reaction essay.” The main purpose of the response paper is to express a personal point of view and defend it using arguments. Response paper format requires an essay-like structure. We want to highlight that this genre is not a summary or a review! Learn more about the writing process from the guide below.
How to Write and How Not to Write a Response Paper
Before writing the first draft of your response paper, you should learn the theoretical material. We promise that you won’t be bored by our lists as they are short, useful, and understandable. Firstly, we’ll give you a few tips on how to make your paper better. Then, we’ll provide you with a list of mistakes that you should avoid while writing your response paper example.
5 Dos to Write an Excellent Response Paper
- Use first-person narration
This is a unique trait of response papers. As you express your personal opinion and emotions, don’t hesitate to use first-person pronouns (I, me, mine, my) and expressions. There are a few useful phrases that you can use in your piece of writing:
- In my opinion
- I suggest
- I strongly believe
- I think
- This book/movie makes me feel
- I agree/disagree with the author
- It is obvious to me that
- I was shocked/surprised/amazed by the moment when
- This idea is baseless/persuasive
- It seems to me that
- Provide arguments
In addition to expressing your opinion, you also have to prove your point of view. Thus, you need a good argumentation strategy. You can use real-life examples, comparisons, statistics, and quotations to enforce your thesis statement.
- Examine the context
We never know what exactly a particular film editor or writer went through while creating their masterpiece. But we can, at least, try to imagine the circumstances. Analyze the historical and social contexts and biographical facts. Maybe this knowledge will help you to achieve a better understanding of the author’s idea.
- Include personal connections
A response paper is a great opportunity to use your imagination. Imagine that you have a conversation with the author or with the characters. What would you like to ask? What answers would you expect to hear? This technique will help you to look at the book or movie from different perspectives.
- Express emotions
Don’t be afraid to share your emotions with readers. Of course, you shouldn’t overuse exclamation marks. Yet, don’t neglect the opportunity to tell how the analyzed piece of art has influenced your mood.
5 Don’ts to Avoid in Your Excellent Response Paper
- Don’t skim
Skimming won’t help you to deeply understand the thoughts of the author. Take your time and be attentive. The devil is in the details. What if you miss the most compelling argument because of the rush?
- Don’t summarize
Remember that a response paper is not a summary! Your readers want to know how you feel about the book or movie, and they don’t want to read another summary. Of course, you can provide brief information about the film or book in the first paragraph. Anyway, you need only three or four short sentences for this section.
- Don’t review
You shouldn’t evaluate the writing language, acting, or editing. These factors are important for movie or book reviews, but not a response paper. You express your opinion about the ideas of a particular book or movie and the author’s viewpoint.
- Don’t use additional sources
In contrast to research papers, response papers don’t require using scientific or other sources. However, we recommend you to ask for recommendations from your instructor if you are not sure about this point.
- Don’t be baseless
Phrases like “I like” or “I don’t like” are not enough to express your personal opinion. Of course, it’s enough for a friendly conversation, but in your paper, you have to enforce your thought with strong arguments.
10 Steps to Compose Your Response Paper
We hope that our instructions will make the whole writing process easy and understandable. Get to work, our favorite readers!
1. Read or watch thoroughly
It doesn’t matter what piece of art you analyze. Try to not miss anything, because every detail can influence your perception and opinion. We also recommend you to watch movies twice if you have enough time. The first watch is to get an overall impression, and the second one is to pay more attention to detail.
2. Take notes
Don’t rely on your memory only. We are sure that your brain is in good form, but you are not a computer, right? Short notes will help you to memorize all the necessary details. Moreover, they will be a good template for your outline.
3. Find critical articles or reviews
If you can’t use additional sources in your response paper, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a quick look. We don’t recommend you to copy someone else’s ideas. Yet, professional articles and reviews can inspire you or offer a different perspective.
4. Choose the idea
As a rule, long novels are not focused on one certain idea. Authors develop a wide range of various themes. Consequently, you have to pick one of them to provide your response paper. It is easier to choose a central idea, but you can always pay attention to less developed topics if you want to create an original paper.
5. Formulate your thesis statement
Response paper format requires a thesis statement. This sentence reflects your opinion on the topic. In the main body, you provide arguments to defend your point of view presented in the thesis statement.
6. Look for evidence
As we mentioned above, expressing your personal opinion is not enough. Explain to your readers what reasons made you think so and why you consider your viewpoint to be valid. Look for persuasive quotes, real-life examples, and, finally, use your own logical thinking!
7. Compose an outline
In order to structure your thoughts, we suggest you to create a detailed plan. You can write a list, draw a diagram, or make a table. Don’t forget to include keywords and good phrases that have already come to your mind.
8. Write the first draft
Now, you have notes, the topic, the thesis statement, and a plan. Congratulations! You can start writing! Don’t be too demanding, as you have a chance to correct the mistakes later. On the other hand, the better you write it, the less work you’ll have to do later.
9. Make a break
Our brains can’t always remain tensed and concentrated. Get distracted! Go for a walk or take a nap. After a small pause, your brain will certainly work better, and the next step will be easier.
10. Edit and proofread
We know that you are not a big fan of editing. This process is boring but necessary. Even the best ideas provided in your response paper can be ruined by a great number of grammar and spelling mistakes. So, don’t neglect the opportunity to polish your writing.