Alien Story/Paper

DUE: Monday 11/21

Format: typed, 12 pt. font, 1.5 spacing, standard margins

Length: 5 pages*

Content: You will choose how to approach the Alien theme in your writing.  While stories are the most common type of writing I see for this paper, you may also choose to write an essay, screenplay, or…  If you have questions about what to write, come talk to me!

Prewriting: On Monday 10/24, we responded to the following prompts to get ourselves started on the papers.  We wrote on each for about 5 minutes, then took some time to add/combine ideas.

  • A story about an alien organism, disease, virus, etc.
  • A story that involves an alien environment.
  • Experiencing an alien custom/ritual/event.
  • Encountering an alien communication/Message/Language
  • A good ol’ story about an alien creature, monsters, aliens, etc., either extra terrestrial, or from this earth!

*If you have an IEP/504 accommodation that we should consider, let me know! 🙂


The Alien (unit) has arrived!

Like we did with Time Travel, we’ll focus our Alien work towards 3 outcomes:

  • Reading a book (with an in-class reading reflection)
  • Writing a story (“5-pager” this time)
  • Creating a Group Presentation

Due Dates for Alien Unit:

Tuesday, November 15th: IN CLASS written reflection on your book.  Bring the book with you and be prepared to explain how the alien theme is represented, provide text support for your ideas, discuss the author’s intent/choices.

Thursday, November 17th: Group Presentations.  Provide an “alien” experience for the class.

Monday, November 21st: 5-page alien stories due.  1.5 spacing, standard margins, 12 pt font.  Please make me the 3rd reader for your story.

What we’ll do in class between now and then:

(various days): classes in which we process the idea of “Alien” in various engaging ways.  We’ll get your groups planning and your stories started.

November 1,3, and 8: 3 classes for our Personal Essay Mini-Unit.  We’ll take a brief departure from our Alien work to write some of the best work of your life!

November 15-21: 2-3 classes to wrap up our Alien work: Reading Reflection and Presentations.


Writing Help:

Although we typically don’t look at it until second semester, the Hero’s Journey (see below) may help you extend the plot of your story and reach the 5-page threshold.

A quick reminder of “The Hero’s Journey”, which might be useful if you’re trying to extend your alien story.  Use any/all of these bullet points to inspire your story writing.  For more detail, see the link below.


  • Call to Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Supernatural aid/event
  • Crossing the Threshold
  • The Belly of the Whale


  • The Road of Trials
  • Meeting the Supernatural
  • Confronting Issues
  • Defying Death
  • Winning!


  • Refual of the Return
  • Escape from Winning!
  • Rescue from Without
  • Return to the Threshold
  • Master of Two Worlds
  • Free to Live!

Here’s a bit more detail (with some slightly different titles):

The End of Time (Travel)

Here come the End Times… for the time travel unit!  Be sure to get all the credit you deserve:

  • Monday, 10/3: IN-CLASS Reading Reflection/Forum.–DID YOU MISS IT? GET YR POINTS HERE: time-travel-reading-reflection-11
    • Bring your book to class on Monday, 10/3.
    • Be prepared to write about: Vehicle, Rules, Paradoxes as they occur in the book.
    • We’ll write for a while to collect our thoughts, then we’ll discuss our results with the whole group.
    • 100 points.
  • Wednesday, 10/5: GROUP PRESENTATIONS.
    • Show us your Time Machine.
    • Tell us the “story” of where it came from and how it works.
    • Explain the “science” and the rules/paradoxes as they apply to your creation.
    • Demonstrate how the machine works.
    • Each person: fill out a “Group Evaluation Form”.
    • 100 points.
  • Tuesday, 10/11: Stories (the “10-page” paper) DUE.
    • Format for paper: 1.5 spacing, 12 pt font, standard margins.
    • 300 points.
    • Extensions must be requested BEFORE the due date.
    • Papers may be emailed to or turned in the old way: printed out on paper.  If you email your paper, please copy/paste the text into the body of the email.  Do not send an “invite” to your google doc–for whatever reason, those tend not to work.

Writing Time Travel

The “10 page”* time travel story often seems scary at first, but it is actually quite fun.  You may submit several short stories, one longer story, or even a “factual” treatise on time travel.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:


Set the “present” scene before going time travelling.  Readers like to meet the characters and watch them make the time travel discovery.  Take time to set up your story, plant key plot elements (relationships, emotional background, plot mysteries), introduce your main ideas before you send your character(s) through time.

On Purpose/By Accident:

Does your protagonist “stumble” into time travel, or do they travel intentionally?  Did they build a time machine?  Were they trying to build something else, but ended up w/ a time machine?  Did they step into a mysterious fog, cave, or doorway?  Did they just wake up in a different time?


Portal? Machine? Genetic anomaly? Wormhole? Eclipse? Hot tub? Magic chair?  How does your protagonist travel through time?  What device makes it happen?  Describe it in detail.  What is the “science” behind it?  How does it work?  What powers it?  Is it always available, or only under certain circumstances?


Frequently an important component of your time travel RULES.  Can you only travel one direction?  Can you go back and forth?  Are there multiple timelines/dimensions?

Multiple travelers:

Is your protagonist the only time traveler? Are they part of a group of travelers?  Might there be other travelers that your protagonist is unaware of (at least at first)?  How many people know about the ability to time travel?  How many are capable of time travel?  Are there future/past versions of the time travelling protagonist that might show up in the story?

Were you in class on 9/13?

On 9/13 we test drove different writing ideas for the time travel stories.  We wrote for 5 minutes on each of the following ideas, then spend the rest of the class developing the ideas that worked the best.

  • Accidental Time Travel: protagonist is transported unknowingly and “discovers” they are in a new time.
  • Purposeful Time Travel: protagonist is aware of the time travel and “meant to do it”.
  • Forward: describe the protagonist’s experience in the future.
  • Backward: describe the protagonist’s experience in the past.
  • Loop: yup. In a loop.
  • 2nd Traveler: protagonist discovers the presence and influence of another time traveler: someone they know, themselves, someone who is monitoring them, etc.

Have fun:

Time travel stories are fun to invent.  You can explore new future landscapes, alternate realities, historical events, other dimensions… the possibilities are expansive.  Enjoy the ride!

*The 10-page length is a suggested stretch for the “average” writer.  The challenge is to write a much longer story than you have before.  For some, this might mean 15-20 pages, for others 4-7 pages… If you haven’t discussed this with me yet, please check in!

Time Travel Unit

We are starting our year with the Time Travel Unit.

We will compare our time travel experiences by discussing the common ELEMENTS OF TIME TRAVEL: The Vehicle, The Rules, and Paradoxes/Unexpected Problems.

Book: Find a book that involves Time Travel and have it with you in class everyday.  If your book won’t allow you to discuss the ELEMENTS OF TIME TRAVEL, choose one that will! Plan to finish your book by 9/30.  Be ready to write/talk about it in class on 10/3.

Group Project: Build and demonstrate a Time Machine; Presentations will take place on October 5th.

Paper: 10-page story (or treatise, or essay) on Time Travel will be due before 10/11.

So It Begins…

This blog is the place for:

  • Homework and assignments
  • Links to stuff we talk about in class
  • Extra credit info
  • Important schedule notes

Please get in the habit of checking this AND your grade on Synergy regularly.

If you miss a class, be sure to find out what you missed here so you can be all caught up when you return.

Score a point: mention this post and say “47”.