When we read a book or watch a movie, we often criticize their content. We consider if we like or hate them, how much they are interesting and well-developed for us. We also think whether other people should read it or listen to it. When being a student, you may get a similar task — criticizing a book on the pages of your essay.

What Is a Critical Response Paper?

This is the piece of writing in which you criticize another piece of writing, it contains the deep analysis of the text, your comments to different fragments of it, and your personal thoughts. When writing such a document, you should investigate not only the content of a novel but also the technique of the person who wrote it.

Almost any text can be used as the subject of your critical paper. You are able to inspect books, articles, online pages, short stories, and other types of content. Each of these types needs a different approach and methods of interpretation.

Many people consider “criticism” as expressing the negative opinion about something. However, it can also be very positive if you mostly like the author’s technique or even praise it. You can highlight the moments of a studied novel that you like or dislike and explain your point of view to readers.

Purposes of Critical Response Writing

To write a good article, you need to make a deep analysis and gained a good background in this field. If you are studying a sci-fi novel written in the 1960s, you should also study what other sci-fi novels were written in the same year and how they are connected with the topic of your study. It lets you gain more knowledge and become an expert in the field that you study.

It also lets you improve your analytical and researching skills. You don’t just read a book but look how it is written, think about author’s thoughts when he or she was writing it, the originality of the work and its meaning for other people. It lets you learn to notice more than other people do, such skills will be very useful for every student.

Working with texts is one of the common activities for students. Almost all people can read books but only very experienced people can notice hidden metaphors, comparisons, and references. By researching other texts, you learn to get their actual meaning, cultural context and significance.

In the age of content, we receive a lot of information every day, and we should be able to filter it and concentrate on the content that is actually needed for us. When you inspect other texts, you learn to see which of them deserve your attention and which of them are not worth reading and it helps you to filter only helpful content.

When analyzing texts created by your friends, you let them see the quality of their papers. You can give them your clever advice. To do it well, you should read a lot of similar works before, it lets you compare different pieces of writing and find out which of them are better.

Stages of a Critical Response Writing


Before working with the text, you should summarize it. The book can be very huge and you can’t analyze all its text in a small document, that is why you should focus on several arguments, then work with them in your paper.

Tell your readers what this particular book is about, what was the background for its creating, who is the author and how they came to the idea of this novel. Your readers may not ever read this book, so they need a short description that lets them get your point of view.

You should also tell about the techniques applied by the novelist, their original approaches and tools. Each popular book has its hidden secrets, you can be the person who uncovers and share them other interested people from your class.

The background of the author can tell much about history of their writing. Books of all novelists are based on the events they saw in their past, the ideas they had in their minds, and the views they popularized. If you notice the connection about writer’s actions in real life and plots of their books, you can get more useful information.

Read other works by this writer and look at how they are different or similar. It helps you to see the original style, identify the main techniques that were originally used in all the books written by this person, and find the common patterns.


Start with identifying the key purpose of the novel or non-fiction text you are writing about. Guess what the author wished to tell you by its text, what were their objectives, and what we should learn from this piece of writing. If you study this work well, you will notice the main ideas and how the author wants to present them by using different writing techniques.

Then, consider whether this purpose was actually significant and has a meaning for society, because even if a text is popular and well-accepted by people, it doesn’t mean that it has to be read. You should also make investigation and find out whether the purpose was achieved, and if it wasn’t, think about what were the reasons for it.

If the content is too wordy, too small, not clear, full of cliches, not interesting, too poor, or has other issues, write about it in your document. If there are many such issues, provide your evidence and give citations from the studied book to prove your position.

Writers are humans, that is why they also have their biases and can make mistakes. Many popular classic books contain the fragments with the content inappropriate for the modern society. You should analyze whether biases and false assumptions could affect the quality of the writing.

Even if the book contains a great idea, it doesn’t mean that it is written well, that is why many readers will not read even a part of it. Analyze the quality of the text and consider if the writer made it compelling for readers. If you notice that people are not involved in reading easily and it is difficult for them to reach even the 20th page, it doesn’t let the writer express their ideas.

Use the correct methods to support your opinion. Provide the references to the original, compare the subject of your research with other similar works, give your evidence. Show that you don’t just judge other writers but have the necessary background for doing it. When making references, use the appropriate citations and quotations style required for your article.

Reading the original work is just a small part of the tasks you have to do, you should also read similar responses of other people and study the historical background of it. You have to be familiar with the main subject of your paper if you need to get a good grade for your document.

Common Structure or a Critical Response Essay

Start your work by introducing your paper to your readers. Give them information that is necessary to know before reading the main content. Tell them what is the subject of your work, what fragments of the book you are going to analyze, what you are going to get in the result. They should learn more about the criticized text before reading your paper.

In the Summary section, you present the main plot of the analyzed book, information about its writer and their biography. There you also tell readers about the purpose of its writer, the points in the text that support this purpose, and the main ideas. Don’t present your own opinion in this part, only facts.

In the Analysis section, show how the writer presented their arguments in the book and how much they are significant. Identify what is the purpose of this book, like convincing readers, giving them facts about something, or just letting them relax. Here you can also give many references and analyze methods used by the writer.

In the Response, you can provide your own opinion. Argue for or against different arguments, consider where the writer is right or wrong, analyze whether he or she reached their goal by writing this book, and persuade your readers of your position. There you can also use references to the original writing.

To conclude, write one more time about your thesis arguments and remind readers of the main ideas discussed in your paper. Don’t offer new ideas in this part, only highlight what was written earlier.