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August 20, 2016 - Posted to Writing
How to Choose the Best Reaction Paper Topic

Finding the perfect reaction paper topic can be as exciting as it can be troublesome. What a reaction paper asks of you is to express thoughts and emotions more than any other form of academic writing. While similar to many other forms of writing, reaction paper writing is much more personal and asks the student to play it close to heart.

With such a demanding task, it’s often difficult to choose a proper topic that will justify writing a reaction paper. Much like when you were trying to find a college you like, a reaction paper topic will come to you when you least expect it. But what are some of the ways of finding the best topic to write about when you just can’t get that creative spark going?

Consider your assignment

Looking for a reaction paper topic usually starts by receiving an assignment in class. Whether it’s an excerpt or an entire book, the reading material that you were given should serve as a starting point of choosing your topic. If you were given a freedom of choosing a topic in that particular reading material, then it all depends on what your personal preferences are. Do you like deconstructing characters? Do you find joy in analyzing the author’s writing style and going deeper into the reading material than the story it’s telling?

Your assignment should tell you everything you need in order to find a perfect topic to write about. If you just can’t seem to pinpoint the exact area of your material that you want to work with, you can look up some of the essay topics examples to get a better idea of what your reaction paper topic should look like. Keep in mind that you should always read your material closely in order to realize if any detail is causing you to react emotionally.

Research your assignment

Even though your reaction paper should be an original piece of writing, it’s always a good idea to get the gist of what others have written about your assignment. Try to do some research on the author of the writing, his life around the time of writing, what he or she was going through and what the general public perception of that writing was then and what it is now. Every little bit helps, since it might just peak your interest enough to base your thesis and topic around it.

While your professor might not indulge you, try looking for any papers that previous students have written about that material. This will help you avoid any subjects that were already written about. Often times a student chooses a topic thinking it’s the most original idea ever only to find out there are four other papers already written about it. Do proper research before choosing a topic and take every little detail into account.

Be objective

It may sound contradictory to writing a reaction paper, but try being as critical as possible when choosing your topic and subsequently writing your paper. While the assignment is asking you to express your thoughts and emotions towards that topic, you need to be objective about it and think clearly. Often times a student will write a reaction paper that is inconsistent and unorganized simply because he or she was driven by feelings instead of reason. Try to put your emotions and reactions into context before choosing a topic. You will appreciate it that much more afterwards.

Write down your reactions

Before choosing an adequate topic, you need to read your assigned reading material carefully. Make sure to keep a notepad close-by, since you will want to take notes on what reactions you have to certain events and sentences. This is the basis of a perfect reaction paper; having all the reactions and thoughts jotted down on a piece of paper and then read afterwards. Make sure to go through your reading material multiple times, since additional readings might provide some new perspective on past events.

Reaction papers are all about expressing what you really feel and you shouldn’t shy away from that. No one will judge the way you feel about certain developments in your assignment, since that’s the exact point of a reaction paper. Every one of us thinks differently, and you shouldn’t feel the need to cater to anyone’s opinions other than your own when writing a reaction paper. Choose a topic based on how you feel about the material and work your way from there.

Narrow your topic

Unless told otherwise, your topic should cover a very narrow point in your reading material. Try to find exactly what it is that attracted your attention and think of a way to put it into context of a reaction paper topic. Even a certain characters reaction at a very specific event can be considered a topic, so it’s up to you to figure out what you would like to write about. Reaction paper writing is a process, and you can make it easier for yourself by focusing on a single event and forming your thesis around that particular point.

Don’t make the mistake of writing a reaction paper about the whole reading material. While this is a valid topic and you will get the job done, it’s nothing worth remembering or noting later on. Write a reaction paper on the topic of your entire assignment only if you’re specifically told to do so. Sometimes the professor will want the entire student body to write about the same topic in order to spark a discussion later on, but if this isn’t the case, avoid generalizing your reaction paper.

If you write a paper about a topic that sparks the interest of your professor, your reaction paper might even serve as an example for future students who have the same assignment. Think outside the box, but inside the material you were given. The more original you are, the more your professor will appreciate your reaction paper for it.


A good way of finding your original topic is by brainstorming the idea of a reaction paper based on your particular assignment. You can either mind-map or free write, whatever works for you. The point is that these techniques allow you to write anything and everything you feel about the subject matter without doing any official writing. Find a comfortable spot and pick up a pen and paper. Use the opportunity to go crazy and connect the dots that you would otherwise overlook.

Consult with your professor

Consultancies are usually the step that most students skip over and start writing. They are what make a good paper great. The same goes for choosing a topic for your reaction paper, since your professor will always be available to talk and give you pointers. Try to discuss your assignment from the perspective of certain topics that attracted your interest. Tell your professor how you feel about them and what your general idea is. Use the idea of consulting with your superior (and your colleagues) as much as you can before deciding on your topic. Once you get a nod of approval, you know what your next step is.

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