Carol's First Alien Draw

story by Angelique Fawns , Illustrated by Sarah Davis

Learning intention

I am learning to experiment with stylistic features of authors so that I can engage my readers in the emotional experiences of the characters I create.

Success criteria

  • I can consider the impact of statements with and without imagery.
  • I can identify emotions felt by characters.
  • I can compose examples of imagery to evoke emotions in readers.
  • I can include my examples of imagery in a short story.

Focus question:

How does language help readers evoke feelings from a text?

Essential knowledge:

View the section on imagery from the video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol, created by The School Magazine (from 1 minute 52 seconds up to 3 minutes 41 seconds). Ensure students note that imagery brings two different things together to say something different about each of them.

Tell students that imagery includes any descriptions that allow the reader to imagine the world of the text.

Inform students that authors strive to create an emotional response in readers, and that they use language with the goal of engaging readers in the emotional experiences of characters.

Prior to reading Carol’s First Alien Draw display the following statements:

  • Amit feels sad.
  • My heart pumped hard.
  • Nerves made me twitchy.

Discuss the impact of these statements by considering the following:

  • What emotions are the characters feeling? (Sadness, fear, nervousness)
  • How vivid are the descriptions of the emotions the characters are experiencing? (Not very)
  • Do the statements evoke emotional responses in readers? (Probably students will respond that they don’t)
  • Rate the emotional response the descriptions create in you from 1 to 10, with 1 being minimal response and 10 being incredibly engaged in the emotion the character is feeling. (The score may be around a 3 or 4)

Read Carol’s First Alien Draw with students or listen to the audio version. Display the following extracts from the story:

Even she, the most bow-legged of cowboys, had an extra bounce in her step as she joined the entry fee line-up. She rolled her neck, trying to loosen up the shoulder she’d cracked at the beginning of the season.

Being Phoenix’s Youth Champion Bull Rider was one thing, but conquering a six-legged Occet from Oberon? Her calves quivered as she imagined the challenges of the ride.

Discuss the same questions as previously:

  • What emotions are the characters feeling? (Excitement, fear)
  • How vivid are the descriptions of the emotions the characters are experiencing? (The descriptions are vivid and clear)
  • Do the examples evoke emotional responses in readers? (Most likely students will conclude that they can imagine Carol Clingen excitedly awaiting her turn in the rodeo and her nerves at the challenges)
  • Rate the emotional response the descriptions cause in you from 1 to 10, with 1 being minimal response and 10 being incredibly engaged in the emotion a character is feeling. (Students will probably give these descriptions a higher score, around 7 to 9)

Discuss the examples of language that helped create the emotion evoking imagery, for example, bounce in her step, rolled her neck, her calves quivered. Emphasise that the imagery in Carol’s First Alien Draw helps readers create clear images of the scene and the emotions in their minds which allows them to connect more deeply with the character’s experiences.

Inform students that they will be composing their own examples of imagery that evoke emotional responses in readers. Tell them that first you will be composing examples collaboratively.

Discuss emotions authors often wish to evoke in their readers and jot ideas on the board, for example:

  • Pity
  • Fear
  • Longing
  • Sadness
  • Triumph

Select one of these examples, such as fear. Sketch the outline of a body on the board. Discuss places in the body where students experience fear and the way it feels, such as:

  • their chest feeling tight
  • their legs wobbling
  • their teeth chattering.

Label each example on the outline of the body. Select one example, such as the chest feeling tight. Remind students that selecting evocative language allows writers to convey emotion in the texts they create. Compose examples of imagery to describe the emotion selected by completing one of the following steps:

  • Create figurative language to compare the idea by thinking of what else might feel similar, such as wearing tight clothing or being packed tightly into a jar of pickles, for example my chest felt like I was inside a tightly packed jar of pickles
  • Engage a number of senses to describe the feeling such as, the metallic smell of fear lingered in my nose, my mouth felt parched, and I felt my heart hammering in my chest
  • Create a vivid image of the character, for example, they stood rooted to the spot, knees knocking together, licking their lips as if desperate to quell the dryness on them.

Discuss plot ideas for stories that might evoke fear, for example, a spooky story set in an abandoned house, a story about a lost pet, apprehension about the first day at a new school. Choose one idea. Discuss ways to incorporate the imagery into a brief story about a character experiencing fear, noting key plot points on the board, for example:

  • describe the way a character feels entering an abandoned house
  • outline how they might react as they pluck up courage to open a sealed door
  • describe their shock when a bat flies from the room.

Students may work with a partner or independently for this task. Remind them of the steps they need to complete to compose their emotion-evoking imagery, including:

  • Select an emotion
  • Identify where in the body you feel the emotion
  • Create examples of imagery
  • Include the imagery in a short story.


Peer assessment:

Once students have completed their short stories, instruct them to swap with someone else. Tell students that they should read each other’s stories before scoring the emotion the story evoked in them out of ten, with one being least amount of emotion and ten being most.

The webpage Effective Feedback has more information on the types of feedback.

Exit slip:

Prior to the end of the lesson, discuss the following question and instruct students to note their responses in their workbooks:

  • How does language help readers evoke feelings from a text?