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How often have you heard, or perhaps even said something like, "Well, maybe I responded wrong, but so and so was wrong to do XYZ to me!" Responses are very personal; they are literally your output to whatever input was thrown your way. When writing a response essay, it's necessary to be subjective and passionate, yet respectful and professional. Try to remember that any responses you write to another author's work must be substantiated and you must prove your point with actual evidence. As a response essay writer, you must channel your feelings of reaction into logical and well-timed arguments to counter the basis of the original, proactive writing.
Now that it's clear just exactly what a response essay will encapsulate, it's time to create a basic pre-writing outline like is done in so many other essay pre-writing work. Start with a thesis statement; these are developed fairly simply in response papers. If you are responding to an article written in the New York Times by a newly arrived immigrant that bemoans the lack of services for their particular segment of the population, and you know of a slew of services that actually do exist, your thesis lies in the fact of responding to the author with hard facts. If a critic for your school's campus newspaper just slammed the latest flick from your favorite director, and you're seeing misinformation and sloppy writing trying to pass for knowledge, then respond with real industry standards and objective modifications to that original critique.
Once you've outlined your thesis, it's time to basically launch into the body without much further ado. To do this, start by taking the original author's opinions and verbage and considering the context of these words. Think about who the author is, what the author stands for, who their intended audience was. By taking a walk in the original author's shoes first, you may learn some of the underlying drivers and intentions to their work that may not normally shine through in their writing. This information will be helpful to you when responding to them in an objective way.
After you've done that, check out their data. Verify their statistics, and make sure they haven't made any mistakes in their commentary. Make sure you understand exactly what it is that is being presented in the original writing to the fullest extent possible. Once you've done this, it's time to start responding. Write your essay in a way that agrees and/or disagrees with the original work in as concise and clear a way as possible. Justify your arguments with the facts. If you don't have data backing up your response, there's no point to responding at all, because then your essay will be only grounded in opinion.
Once you've responded by using the methods and instructions above, conclude your essay. Don't beat the dead horse; be simple and direct when summarizing the most important points of your essay. Finally, make sure to note the context and derivation of the original writing that your response essay is written for.