Assignment #2: The Same Thing, Only Different


This assignment can be completed in as much or as little space as you require. However, if you prefer guidelines, assume you have 1-page. The goal of this assignment is see how plot and genre inform story by examining some of your favorite examples.

  1. Determine which genre(s) you want to explore in your own story. Briefly describe the key elements (or describe why you love the genre).
  2. Pick your two favorite stories from this genre (books, movies, comics, etc), or the ones you’ve seen most.
  3. Break the stories down into component parts (using Thesis/Anti-thesis/Synthesis, Monomyth [hero journey], and/or STC genre beats [three-act structure]).
  4. Reflect: What do you see when you Compare/Contrast the stories? What tips/tricks/tropes do you see repeated? What might you use/blend/change in your own stories?

Here is a link to the Prezi from Wednesday if you wanted more details on stories/plots/genres: 

Example draft for Assignment 2:

I am drawn to the genre of Science Fiction because it is such an open canvas, where anything and everything is possible. While many action and horror stories are told in this genre, what I find most exciting are the way a world can be used to tell a story. For example, two of my favorite science fiction stories, which have been both movies and books, are Dune and Ender’s Game.

enders-game-poster-2 Enderbook

In Ender’s Game, the world is the future of Earth, where an alien threat has forced the military to recruit young gamers, who think more creatively, to help them defeat the ‘bugs.’ The story follows the hero’s journey pretty closely, beginning (thesis/act 1) with a tough life on earth, where Ender (a nickname earned by always being the superior player who ends games) is picked on for being weak and different. The anti-thesis story of act 2 begins when he is entered into a distant space academy to train with other young gamers. The zero-gravity training was my favorite aspect of the story, where Ender must continually outsmart the other gamers. Soon, those who doubted and looked down on Ender see him as a great thinker/leader, and those same people become his team in the Act 3 finale, when Ender takes his final exam against a simulated attack on the alien home world. The synthesis of the story is expressed in how Ender has come to understand the bugs and how they think, using their collective thinking approach against them. Ender sacrifices his fleet to blow up the alien world, but instead of passing his exam, he learns that he had been remotely piloting the actual human fleet. He won, he ended the game, but at the cost of many lives he didn’t know he was risking. The ending is a bummer, but it shows how war makes boys into men and men into monsters.


In Dune, the world is completely different from any other science fiction story, even though the plot has been explored in many other stories. Paul Atreides is a young prince who is trained in various elite arts (including using his voice as a weapon). His father, the Duke, is given stewardship of Dune, which is where a remote desert planet and the only place to find ‘the spice,’ which is used to power space ships and extend life. Paul’s story is also a classic hero journey as he is forced to grow up and do battle when his father is murdered and he is stranded in the desert. His journey has him join up with the Fremen [desert people], who he trains and recruits into an army. Harnessing the power of the sand worms, the finale has him destroy those who murdered his father and become the ruler of Dune.

Both stories have the same general arcs of a young boy, trust into a dangerous and challenging world. They face death, train, and recruit others before achieving victory. Both feature young males as the hero/protagonist and would be called young adult stories if they were written today, but since they’re both over 30 years old, they’re called classics. While the story of exceptional teenagers growing up under duress offers a lot of dramatic potential, modern YA stories are often forced into a PG-13 framework for the sake of marketability and I prefer the older versions of these ‘science fiction coming of age’ stories because they embraced the darker lessons of politics and war.


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