Writing a Response Essay

A response essay, sometimes called a reaction paper, is a distinct kind of academic writing. If your professor asks you to produce a response essay, it essentially means that you should share your reaction to something, be it a movie, a book, a peer-reviewed journal article, etc. Thus, you might expect that your response essay will be extremely personal. It will provide a space for sharing your emotions, but you should still follow an academic style of writing.

Some of the most popular response essays are based on articles and books. Professors often ask their students to read a book and write an opinion piece. The tips below apply well to all sorts of response papers, whether they are based on books, articles, or something else.

  • What is your attitude towards the book? Do you feel positive or negative about the author?
  • Do not forget to make notes as you are reading the book or watching the movie. You cannot remember everything.
  • While writing your response paper, pay attention to detail. You will have to use these details as the basis for your analysis and opinion making. Your teacher must see that you have read the book or watched the movie. Prove it!
  • Pay attention to the style and language used by the author. If you are reading a book, you can focus on the analysis of metaphors and stylistic convergences. Do not just list them! Use some of them as examples to illustrate your points.

When your professor asks you to produce a response essay by a specified deadline, he or she expects that you will display a deep understanding of the text or movie, and that your conclusions will be based on a thorough analysis of textual evidence. Thus, you cannot simply say that you like or dislike something. You must prove it.

Another thing you should remember is that your professor has read dozens of similar and even identical works. Therefore, you should be creative enough to write something really outstanding and impressive. Your opinion message or response paper should be different from every other paper, but you may still want to follow the recommended outline:

  • Thesis statement. This is the central thought you are going to articulate in your paper.
  • Body of the paper. Expand on your thesis. Share your opinion in a more detailed and systematic way. Use facts and evidence from the piece you are discussing in your paper.
  • Conclusion. Now summarize your opinion. Do not include any new information in this part of your work.