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Reaction Paper: How To Write

Creating this kind of writing requires two crucial things: understanding of what you write about (the piece you react to) and knowledge of what your feelings towards it are. When you come to terms with these two parts, you can start building the task from introduction to conclusion.

The purpose of a reaction paper is to focus your thinking on a theme when a close material examination.

Reaction paper – meaning of a term

As the name suggests, this written piece serves to express your subjective emotions and considerations on the matter. It is not a formal analysis, it is an emotionally charged expression of what you think, and in this, it is more effortless in execution and presentation. This is a piece where personal pronouns and phrases of the kind ‘I think’, ‘I believe’ and ‘I find’ are wholly appropriate.

But to react, you need an understanding of guidelines across which to express views and to do this. You need to have a grasp of class materials, as well. So first refresh in memories topics from class, discussions, textbooks, and then along with these guidelines develop and express your response.

How to start a reaction paper

Sometimes it is said that you need to know what the instructor wants to read in your writing, and so adjust the narratives to these assumed expectations. But the instructor has already shaped his or her views on the matter. So the real focus is what you think and what you have to say.

Your paper will include two essential parts: a brief review of the source and your personal opinion of it. So no matter what, you have to acquaint yourself with the material:

  • a book;
  • an article;
  • a movie;
  • a lecture;
  • or a museum installation.

Write down your point of view as it forms in your mind, thoughts, impressions, comments, as they will be the outline and the backbone of your writing. Copy citations from a source if they are significant for your evaluation. It will help you to cite them appropriately in the text.

When you are done with this preparation stage, you are ready to make a draft of an essay.


You will write three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Introduction names the source that you write a reaction to, say what it is about, and mentions your view on it in a generalized form. This generalization is called a thesis, a thought that will organize the writing. So come up with an argument that fits into a sentence or two, and then it will get easier to write.

Body of the task will first present points you want to mention, but be careful to arrange them orderly, do not mix everything. Typical response papers dedicate one section to the source overview and 3-4 chapters to personal thoughts and explanations. Each section, called a paragraph, explores an individual opinion, plus evidence, and probably some theoretical support from the class. It is not researched, but you need to show that you remember what you learned. Everything finishes with a conclusion.  


By this stage, you already have a plan and its detailing. You see what key thoughts to put into body paragraphs and what evidence to apply to support what you think and explain why you react in such a method. Empty criticism looks weak and dull, but the discussion with proof to promote sparks real interest.

So while shaping the final draft, say what you plan to say, it is your opinion that matters, but show that you have grounds for thinking in such away. If you refer to the source, cite it in proper format and attach a list of references, as usual in essay writing. After finishing, let the novel sit for a while and reread it, preferably aloud. It will help to detect slips that otherwise evaded your attention.

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Reaction paper outline

We covered this point, but let’s go over it once again, so that you learn how to write a reaction. In your framework, you separate the introduction, body, and conclusions.

The introduction mentions what you will discuss and how you feel about it (a.k.a. your reaction).

The body consists of smaller parts, each of which has its topic sentence, evidence, and some summary in the end.

The conclusion restates your thoughts, so do not add anything new to this section.

Add a reference list if you provide direct quotes from it.

Format of reaction paper

The format depends on what instructions say. There are a few original formats to be employed across all kinds of research papers. APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, or Turabian are five basic formats that you can easily find on the web. The most reputable resource on these formats is Purdue Owl, the university-based writing center that sets standards for these formats. Google APA or MLA Purdue, and you will get a sample of how to format correctly. The main differences will be about the title page, headers, and list of references. The narration itself will have the same structure as mentioned above for all styles.

Examples of reaction papers

Examples of response essays can be found all across the web, some better and some not so. Yet their structure and meaning are all the same, so once you read one or two, you have seen them all. Just look through them to see good literary tricks, borrow ideas (not literally, of course), or get inspired.

Let’s imagine that you are asked to write a reaction response to some imaginary play.

You will first give its title, like ‘Simple Story’ and author, John Dow. Then you will proceed to describe the plot (briefly).

‘The play revolves around the family secret that threatens to destroy the family and identities of its members. One of the children is adopted but is not informed about it, and through a nasty incident, the truth transpires. Both children and adults go through the painful process of reevaluating blood ties, family ties, and the love they share. The play explores issues of trust, doubt, self-identification through family, loss of roots, and their re-discovery. In the end, the family manages to reunite. Psychological lessons and insights of the play stirred in me both admiration of a playwright’s mastery and doubts about withdrawing such information from children’.

The introduction to writing a reaction is here. In the first body section, you will dwell more on the play and how the family resolved the problem. In the next sections, you will explain why you admired the idea and execution of the play. And why you are concerned with the decision not to tell kids about adoption (or other issues that interest you). The conclusion will ensue. If you are insecure and prefer that this trouble be taken off your shoulders, use our writing services and get the comprehensive report in no time at all. Access an excellent and affordable academic paper now!

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