Read critically. Be sure that you are accurately and fairly representing the author's argument, purpose and main ideas.
Examine your audience. What can your instructor and classmates be expected to know about the text and about your experience, and what will require more support and explanation? What do they need to know about what you think is important from the text and the viewpoint you're responding to in your paper?
Focus on one main idea from the text rather than the events that are used to illustrate or support that idea or other ideas. Which text and main idea from that text will you respond to? And what is the nature of your response?
Develop your essay with personal evidence that is relevant to the main idea you've isolated for your response. Why do you react the way you do? That is, what cultural influences/factors have shaped the way you consider and react to the author's viewpoint? (How does your own cultural identity impact your response to this main idea?) What in your experience/observation helps explain your reaction? How can you explain in a way that your readers can fully understand your response?
Organize your essay in a way that presents your ideas clearly and logically for readers.