Escape from the Deathstar

         Alex spun. A rising sea of stormraiders surged below him, snatching, lunging, grasping, but they couldn’t reach him.  Doubling-back, he scrabbled for the hatch. His hands gripped   He wrenched it open. A sudden blast of heat flattened him against the hot steal. He knew this was his only chance. If they caught him this time they’d finish it.

As quick as a flash, an enemy was upon him.  He lashed out. The stormraider reeled backwards with a metallic crack.  Alex twisted past the splintering glass. His eyes flashed.  A laser fired, pounding steel and rock.  The blast ricocheted and Alex spun through the burnt hail of powdered rock. He wheeled round, leapt and landed in a crouch. He felt deafened by the siren’s high-pitched scream. Breathless now, he clambered on. He stumbled and swerved, but still sprinted, sprinted for the shuttle.

Guided Reading; reading as writer

Read the text to, or with, the children and discuss its context and text type etc.

  • Establishing the genre Are the children familiar with genre of SciFi? Which clues can they find in the text which confirm that this passage is not placed in the contemporary world? 

  • Writing an action sequence Action is tricky to write – to pad action out beyond ‘ they shot him and he died’. Can the children find examples of all these textual devices which create movement and suspense in an action scene?

0    deliberately short sentences. Lots of short, choppy sentences give a breathless feel. Note also the use of longer sentences towards the end to relax the pressure a bit.

0    Lots of action verbs, so it’s pacy.

0    Lack of adjectives and adverbs – the description is provided mainly through the use of powerful verbs

0    A sense of the desperation of the main character. How does the writer show Alex is frantic and not just tell us? E.g.

             use of verbs like scrabbled, tugged;

 describing how his body reacts – ‘his    eyes darted’… ‘breathless’ 

  • Actions come in threes. Ask the children to scan the text to find examples of series of actions which come in threes. Discuss the power and rhythm of sets of three linked verbs, when each builds on the one before, compacting the action. (It’s a well-known rhetorical device – ask the children to listen out for it in politicians’ speeches.)

  • Repetition Discuss the use of repetition in the final line. Do the children think it is effective? Can they think of reasons why the writer might want to repeat the same word twice?

  • Comma splice. Remind children of the fact that each clause containing a subject and verb chain must be separated be either a connective, a semi-colon or full stop. A comma is too weak to mark the boundary between two clauses:

Commas are, too weak and weeny. If you’ve got two clauses, don’t stick one inbetweeny

      Reread the text, helping the children to find   and discuss different ways of separating clauses and different uses of commas.

Guided writing: writing an action sequence

  • Use the three verbs pattern. Ask the children to think of three short lines using action verbs, e.g. ‘He lunged. He grabbed.  He twisted.  Why would it be wrong to write He lunged , he grabbed, he twisted ? Can the children think of ways of incorporating all three movements into one sentence?

  • Repeat with a different sequence of verbs. Can the children think of ways of incorporating sound effects into their short action sequence?


 Speaking and Listening

The children will need a piece of paper or individual white boards. Reread the A3 text to them, one sentence at a time, asking them to write all the punctuation they think should have been used in the sentence. At the end of every sentence, pause to check which punctuation marks the children have recorded. Discuss any errors and discrepancies.

&    Work together to complete the worksheet, discussing appropriate punctuation.

Image description

 Independent Writing

Ask the children to write the next paragraph in the story. It should be the final action sequence in which Alex has another encounter with one of the storm raiders but manages to escape. Remind them of the points you will look for when marking.

Marking criteria

Have the children:

  • Avoided comma splice errors?

  • Created a good action sequence using short sentences and powerful verbs?

  • Used sequences of three action verbs?


Tracking the targets

In all writing activities, check that the children are

  • Avoiding the comma splice


fear-show dont tell_1.pdf
Build a descriptive vocabulary - show don't tell