Suspenseful Techniques and Character/Setting Description

Class began the usual way. Students completed a welcome activity that had them practicing with commas in both compound and complex sentences. They had to determine if the sentences below were correct or not and be able to explain their reasoning. It was clear it was a difficult thing for the students, so we will be reviewing it more and more in the coming days.

I was upset, because I lost my phone. (Incorrect. The AAAWWWUBBIS is in the middle of the sentence, and you don’t put commas before an AAAWWWUBBIS.)

There was a crash, and then it was silent. (Correct. “And” is a FANBOYS, and you put a comma before a FANBOYS when you have a complete sentence on both sides, and you have that in this case.)

When they get home, we’re leaving for dinner. (Correct. The AAAWWWUBBIS is at the beginning of the sentence, so a comma should go after the first clause.)

I knew I had homework, but left it at school. (Incorrect. “left it at school” is not a complete sentence, so you shouldn’t put a comma before the FANBOYS.)

Notebook Thinking and a minilesson for the terrifying scene were kind of tied together today. One of the requirements of the scene is that students use at least one of the following techniques: repetition, foreshadowing, or short/fast sentences. We have talked about these things throughout the reading of multiple stories, but as a reminder, I wrote this on the board today:


Next, students each received an excerpt from the first chapter of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls. This excerpt is a perfect example of what we’re looking for in the terrifying scene assignment. It all takes place in one setting, there is minimal dialogue, and the mood is created through excellent description and repetition. As students followed along in their text, I showed a portion of the video below (stopping at 5:46) where Liam Neeson reads the chapter so students could see the effect the repetition of the name “Conor” has on the overall mood.

Students were invited to write about how they plan on using repetition, foreshadowing, or short/fast sentences in their own pieces.

After writing time, students all received the handout below that gives an example of both a character paragraph and a setting paragraph. Students had some time to read through the example, and then I went over the expectation on the rubric with them before they worked with partners to identify all of the figurative language within these two paragraphs.

A Terrifying Scene – Developing Setting and Characters

Students MUST have a paragraph dedicated to setting and a paragraph dedicated to a character or object (For example, if a student doesn’t have another character in the scene that could be described in a creepy way, he/she might spend a paragraph describing a doll, a poster, or a music box.) Both of these paragraphs should have description that enhances the creepy atmosphere, and they both must contain different types of figurative language.

Students had the remaining time in class to work.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Connotation/denotation/mood quiz tomorrow
  3. Rough drafts due FRIDAY
  4. Book orders due THURSDAY