The keys to writing a reflection paper include thorough preparation and engaging ideas that provide insight into the subject of reflection. Unlike research papers, reflection papers are written in a less formal style, with the author's ideas and perspective being the focus of the essay. To substantiate these ideas, you must also incorporate supporting evidence from the subject of the essay and/or outside sources into your reflection paper.
Preparation is the first key to writing a reflection paper. If you were given an essay prompt, consider the prompt thoroughly. Keep the essay prompt in mind while researching your reflection paper to ensure that you meet all requirements of the assignment. Organize your ideas into an outline of your essay. Make notes of all the key points you will talk about, and arrange them in a logical order. This will help you stay focused when you write your essay.
The introduction of your reflection paper leads the reader into the key points you will discuss in the body of the essay. Talk about your preconceptions of the subject, as well as a brief summary of your initial reaction. For example, if your reflection paper is on a book, discuss what drew you to that particular book, your feelings while reading it, and/or your first impression after you finished. With the final sentence of the introduction, sum up your feelings in a thesis statement that outlines the key points you will discuss in the body paragraphs.
The body of your reflection paper elaborates on your reaction to the subject. Refer to your outline and introduction paragraph so that your body paragraphs are arranged logically. Each paragraph should flow into the next by building on the ideas you present. Include supporting evidence, such as direct quotes from the text on which you are writing, or quotes from secondary sources that discuss the subject. Be sure to properly cite all outside sources in the citation style appropriate to your essay.
The conclusion of your reflection paper ties together all of the key points discussed in the body paragraphs. Include a short summary of your concluding feelings on the subject, based on the points and evidence provided in the essay body. Briefly discuss the implications of the key points you made. Leave the reader with a concise idea that summarizes the subject of your reflection paper.