Reading to Respond: Encountering the Text
In preparing to respond there's no substitute for coming face-to-face with the text you'll be responding to and opening yourself up to it fully. Don't be one of those people who "reads around" the text, reading criticism of the text but never quite getting to the text itself. Eventually you may want to look at some of the secondary sources, the criticism, but start with the primary text. Immerse yourself in it. Know it, inside and out. Think of "reading" the text, regardless of whether it's a written text or a piece of art or a film or an historical artifact. Resolve from the beginning that this is going to take some time.