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A-Z on How to Write a Compelling Response Paper

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At the end of every semester, you are likely to be assigned to write a response paper based on a book that you have read or a movie you have watched. But the question comes to this – How to write a response paper? Now while most students tend to confuse a response paper with a formal book or movie review, it is the difference in the tone used in the papers that sets them apart. To get it right, you need to start from the basic.

What is a response or reaction paper?

By definition, a response paper is a short piece in which the writer conveys his/her reaction to a text that he or she has read. A response paper gives you the chance to communicate your viewpoint and the message that you have gleaned in relation to the text in question and the ideas it contained.

In case of a response paper, you can bend some of the regular rules of academic writing, if not break them. While a formal review follows a more professional and impersonal voice, a response paper can be written in the first person.  However, quite like an official review, you are still required to write a thesis with valid evidence from the work to back up your opinion.

To make things even clearer for you, our academic writers have jotted down all the essentials of a response paper template. So let us get started already.

How to write a response paper?

A response paper constitutes of two parts – first, a summary of the material you have read or viewed, and secondly, a detailed explanation of your reaction to it and why you feel so. So how do you write the introduction to a response paper? Read on to know more.  

For the Summary of the Work

The summary should start with a strong introductory sentence where you identify the author or the director of the book or movie. Add the title of the work exactly as is the name of the work of art which includes deformities in spelling and usual grammatical rules. In parentheses, include the name of the publisher and publication date of the book (the name of producer and release date in case of a movie).

Make the summary informative by highlighting all the critical aspects of the original work. You can use direct quotations from the book or the movie to illustrate important ideas. But keep it objective and factual.

For the Reaction to the Work

The second part of the paper focuses on your subjective impression on the piece of art that you have read, watched or listened to. It should start with a well-formed thesis statement that makes your overall opinion crystal clear. Don’t shy away from expressing your opinion in this part of the response paper. However, make sure that you back your claims and personal reactions with enough evidence. Also, strike a balance in critiquing and discussing the work by providing an analysis of the book.

At the end of the reaction, evaluate the merit of the work. Discuss the accuracy of the information, the completeness and organisation in the narration. You can also mention whether you would recommend the work to others or not, and why.

To help you better, here is a list of the essential response paper guidelines that you can need to keep in mind.

Steps & guidelines to writing a response paper

Here are the steps to follow to prepare an accurate response paper format:

Step 1 – Read or View it closely

Since a response paper is a written assessment of what you have observed while reading or viewing, you need to include subtle nuances in your writing. The more profound your understanding of a movie or a book, the better the chances of your response paper reflecting your expertise.

Step 2 – Record ALL Reactions

The more details in your papers, the better it is. So take down every impression that the piece of art makes on you. Do not consider any observation as trivial because every factor that touches you should go into your response paper.

Step 3 – Organise your Material

Make sure that you organise the data you have collected according to the paragraphs you want to include them in. One way to plan your paper as you take down your impressions is to write beside the notes where you want to use them. Also, place your points according to the scope of the area.

Step 4 – Edit the Paper carefully

Remember one thing – the mistakes you make will reflect your quality of understanding. If your writing is full of errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling and word-use mechanics, then the teacher will assume that you are not the right candidate to be judging an artistic piece. So devote enough time to edit the paper. Make sure that every paragraph presents and develops the same primary thought.

Step 5 – Reference your Paper

If you have use quoted material from the book or gone verbatim from the movie, then make sure that you cite the source properly using the appropriate documentation style. Moreover, if you have quoted views that professional critics have presented in print or other forms of media, you must give proper credit by citing the article or video.

To give you a head start, you can refer to the response paper sample provided below.

A sample of response paper template

– Written by Mary Johnson
– Published by ABC Publications Ltd.
– Published on 20th August 2017

Summary:Paragraph 1:

In the short story written by late bloomer in the world of literature, Mary Johnson narrates a story that could have had been an unfortunate anecdote from our lives. Her piece kick-starts with the story of a person attending a call on her cell phone while driving and then meeting with a crash. Following this, Johnson cites statistics that show how talking on a phone while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. In conclusion, she emphasises how we need to restrict the use of a cell phone while driving as well as educate our acquaintances to give up using cell phones while driving too.

Reaction: Paragraph 2:

Although Johnson puts out the problem and discusses it at length by pairing it with valid data, there is a lack of solutions in her writing. While her writing does scare us by reminding us of the many times we almost averted an accident due to distracting phone calls; I don’t find what I can do to take important calls and still be safe. So I would go further than the author by adding that we need to restrict this with proper driving laws. Since educated people might agree while the rest will argue, a law will be more binding on all. For example, the use of seatbelt has saved more lives ever since a law bill was passed on the same. And since technology is an integral part of our lives, I feel that we cannot abandon phone calls altogether. However, the correct changes in public policy can be the ultimate remedy for this malady.


I agree when Johnson says that cell phones can be fatal to us when used while driving. However, I feel that the author has only traced the problem but did not dish out a solution to it.

Parting Words:

To summarise, a response paper should be written from a personal perspective. But your claims should be well justified. A common mistake that students make while writing a reaction paper is to critique the work harshly without any clear explanation. So make sure that you back up your thoughts and opinions with concrete evidence from the work so that the reader knows what prompted such a reaction.

So use the expert-approved guide and give your best to write an honest response paper. And in case you need some guidance, you can read more online response paper examples. For customised writing help, do not shy away from resorting to taking assistance from professionals.

Need help to submit an impressive response paper?

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If you want to make an impression with your response paper, then our writer can help you with just the solution. We are powered by a team of 5000+ academic writers who have all the creative writing tips up their sleeves. They deliver stellar pieces of critique that reflects the perfect blend of both writing skills and information. You can also find several response paper samples, paper help on our site that you can use for quick reference.

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Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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