Set-Up: Playing off our collective need — as Honors English II students — to (rigorously) improve our ability to:

  • grab our reader’s attention with a unique argument (the moment they start reading our essays)
  • analyze new literature from many perspectives (without being bogged down by plot summary)

…let’s take on the following writing challenge:


  • Write a compelling movie ‘trailer’ (a.k.a. television advertisement) that will inspire someone to want to read Beowulf (or at least go see the movie of said text).
  • Focus on the first 5 chapters (from “The Monster Grendel” to “The Monster’s Mother”).
  • Use actual text — i.e. real quotations, my lovely friends — from the story.


  • 3-4 sentences.  You may go for 5+, but only if every word truly matters.
  • # of Quotations:  2 minimum, 3 is slightly better, 4 is crazy great!
  • Keep in mind:  you do not need to use the entire line/sentence as a quotation.  Just use the key phrases/lines.  And make sure that you use quote marks.

Hint: While plot matters, you do not have time to waste in plot-summary-land in this short piece of writing.  Instead, use what you know about the story — tone, underlying ideas, metaphors, etc — to ‘sell’ the story.


25 responses to “W3, #5: HOOK ‘EM EARLY

  1. *cue music*

    “A powerful monster, living down in the darkness, growled in pain” as the music rang through Herot and Hrothgar’s men rejoiced. The strongest of the Geats, Beowulf, heard Hrothgar’s cries of pain as his warriors were devoured and sailed straight to the “distant Danish shores” to purge the evil from the great hall. Beowulf’s “hands alone shall fight for” him and only God can “decide who will be given to death’s cold grip”. Battling the evils of hell, Beowulf, “his heart firm and his hands ready”, fought for glory and fought for those that could not fend off the evil by themselves.

    *flash the words “Beowulf” across the screen, end music, and fade out*


    Mr. Long: Wow. An impressive response (especially since you were the first one) with regards to integrating the quotations without losing the power of your own ideas. The last line really resonates on a thematic level, too!

    While we have much to discuss in class in terms of analyzing the overall story, but your classmates can rest assured that you get it at this point. Well done.

  2. Whæt wē Garner in great days are brilliant movies of warriors and beasts. The most original of all is the tale of the almighty hero Beowulf. “Grendel was instantly seized himself.” Experience the adventure that Beowulf undertakes in combating the mightiest of creatures. “The iron sang its fierce song, sang Beowulf’s strength.” Watch the prowess of the dauntless Beowulf.


    Mr. Long: As a draft, I see potential in this response in the sense that each of the lines speaks to the “fierce song” that the story offers all its readers/listeners.

    At the same time, due to the quotation marks and lack of lack of transitions, it is difficult — at this moment — to know what is from the actual text and what is something you’ve written uniquely.

    I’d recommend that you re-write this so that your readers fully appreciate a) what you meant to say and b) how the actual text is used.

    Thanks for helping us see a draft that shows what is possible…and hints at what will be after a revision.

  3. “When darkness had dropped, Grendel went up to Herot [and] no savage assault could quench his lust for evil”.”The only survivors were those that fled him…hate had triumphed” in this once glorious land. “In his far off home Beowulf…the strongest of the Geats…would sail across the sea to Hrothgar where help was needed”. “Now Grendel and [Beowulf] are called together [and] God must decide who will be given death’s cold grip”.


    Mr. Long: Great choice of the line with “quench his lust for evil” — this will definitely grab the viewer’s ear/imagination. Also appreciate that you used the “…” to remove language you don’t need for this particular assignment. Clever and a good hint for others to consider in this and also formal essays. Also, nice job using brackets to change the word/name/pronoun. Most 10th graders are not aware of this technique…but it is often the only way to use a quotation in a way that feels natural in your own sentences. Nice work!

  4. Student #2 (follow-up revision)

    Revision after Mr. Long’s critique:

    Dare to see “that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors and made his home in a hell” if you are brave enough! Encounter the epic heroism of Beowulf, who fights for honor and glory, after Herot suffers “twelve winters of grief.” Be a part of the dauntless adventures of the almighty hero, “he who had come to them from across the sea, bold and strong-minded.” Watch to see if Beowulf will send Grendel to “his miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh.”


    Mr. Long Great use of “Dare to see…” at the beginning. Pulls the reader/audience in right away. And the focus on Grendel at first is really savvy. So is the use of “Encounter the epic heroism…” line. You’ve made an outstanding set of changes.

    My favorite part? The last line. Outstanding: clever and strategic all at once.

    Thanks for submitting a revision. Definitely impressed by this!

  5. First off, regards to Don LaFontaine, the voice of every movie trailer anyone my age has ever seen. He died on tuesday. When reading these responses i hear his voice in my head. So respect to him.

    here we go

    When all hope was lost(clip of attack)with a King helpless(clip of Hrothgar sitting alone in hall)his kingdom standing on the edge of a knife(to borrow a quote from Lord of the Rings). there was one man who rose up and brought down the righteous hand on the head of evil. The original warrior Beowulf defines heroism!(BOOM!Clip of Beowulf, sword raised)

    In theatres now.


    Mr. Long: I was just thinking about his death this afternoon in a very out-of-the-blue way. I’m glad you made the connection. Wonder how many of your peers realize how familiar his voice is in theaters everywhere?

    My only challenge to you is to go back and read the directions re: adding quotations from this story. Otherwise, this is a nice foundation that will give others ideas, too.

  6. (whispers) They came from the blackness…

    (flash silhouette of monster)

    “Distance [is] safety… the only survivors [are] the ones who [flee]…”

    (dimly lit bar – hushed) His name is Grendel… he “who haunt[s] the moors”… the “shadow of death [that hunts] in the darkness” and plagues the Danish kingdom of Herot… (Beowulf is seen turning his head towards screen in the background)

    (flash Grendel and Beowulf fight scene)

    The epic battle between hero and monster begins: “fate will unwind as it must.”

    (fade out)


    Enjoyed the “whisper” twist early on. And I appreciate how you really control this scene with directions that require more than just stringing the lines together. Believable version!

  7. There was a time where “hate had triumphed” and lives were controlled”by hell forged hands.”This monster’s reign would give birth to a hero known as Beowulf, the man that was “stronger than anyone anywhere in this world. Now he and the monster “are called together” for a “struggle for life”.

  8. A furious monster will devour a people “the only survivors…those who fled him” for his hide “blunted every mortal’s weapon”. (Clip of blood covered Herot hall)

    An epic hero will meet his match in a battle beneath the surface of hell…

    “No one knows its bottom, No wisdom reaches such depths,” (Hrothgar’s voice warning Beowulf, while pic of Beowulf fighting in the lake flashes across screen)

    As the “Screams of Almighty’s enemy sang” (clip of Beowulf Fighting)

    Will a godlike hero save a kingdom?

    Will fate control the outcome of the final battle between good and evil?

    BEOWULF flashes across the screen…

  9. Somewhere on the “distant Danish shores” lied a creature waiting for nightfall, day after day, feasting on Hrothgar’s men, but never “quenching his lust for evil”. And so, a warrior from the clan of the Geats comes to Hrothgar’s aid. To once and for all eradicate the evil that strikes fear into the hearts of every mans’ soul. As “the iron sings its fierce song” we will all know the legacy of the proud, brave, Beowulf.

  10. The warriors of the Danes were petrified when the “shadow of death” appeared in the hall of Herot for the first time. Every night, “that demon, that fiend” left, full of delight with “the blood [of men] dripping behind him.” Until Beowulf, the “mighty protector of men,” took on a task no man could. “In Beowulf’s bold strength,” take hold of your fate, as you watch Beowulf defeat and “live in greatness and courage!”

    Coming out of the dark in August 2009.

  11. Imagine a land, where everything was seemingly peaceful and ful of abundance, but just as soon full of the acrid stench of death and despair. That is what happens when a “powerful monster living in darkness ” is unleashed on the kingdom of the Danes. The monster, who “would never know the love of God”, drove the noble warriors and their king to the edge. But just as all seemed lost, a hero who can lift ” what a normal man could not”, would arrive. He will “have his final revenge” on the monster who would destroy this land of peace, and rescue the kingdom from the brink of darkness….

    He’s coming…..

  12. For an electrifying and thrilling experience, Beowulf “greater and stronger than anyone in this world” with fight to the death with Grendel who’s “thoughts were as quick as his greed” to provide the most heroic of stories. “In Beowulf’s bold strength and the firmness of his spirit” he will clash will evil, and create a brilliant screen play that will go down in history. Relish this heroic story with Beowulf and his proud followers.

    *Playing now in theatres near you*

  13. (cue slow, scary music)

    In a world…in which monsters roamed the earth (show Grendel)…in which honor was the best quality (show warriors)…in which fame was the greatest treasure you could have…one man(show Beowulf)…decides the fate of many (show people of Herot)…one man (show Beowulf again)…challenges the undefeated (show Beowulf facing Grendel)…one man (show Beowulf yet again)…attempts the impossible.

    (show really quick clips of Beowulf fighting, drinking, yelling, swimming, bleeding, stabbing, screaming, and other actions in rapid succession)

    BEOWULF. rated PG-13. Starts on such and such a day.

    JOIN THE CHALLENGE flashes across the screen

  14. In a world…where “The shadow of death hunted in the darkness,” (show the mead hall at night with Grendel’s shadow skimming by) and “hate had triumphed” over all, there was one warrior (show Beowulf standing heroically) who dared to face evil.

    (Pause) “Beowulf arose, with his men around him,”

    (show Beowulf with his men, all with drawn swords).

    The Battle…Had…Begun! (Show a quick clip of Grendel and Beowulf fighting).



  15. A hideous monster “snatched them unknowing in their beds, and ran out with their bodies, the blood dripping behind him.” A distant Herot hall is plagued by a force, “conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain.” But a strong force is found in the heroic warrior Beowulf who is prepared to “live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome [his] death!”

    Will this determination be a savior or will Beowulf, “longed only for fame” fail those of Herot hall and bring disgrace upon himself?

  16. “The only survivors were those who fled him.” Grendel, a monster who “liv[ed] in the darkness, growl[ing] in pain, impatient. He came to the great hall of Herot on a dark, brooding night. He “snatched up thirty men, smashed them unknowing in their beds.” None could stand against him. “So Grendel ruled,” for twelve years, until a hero came across the sea, seeking glory and riches. Beowulf, who “[rose] from the darkness of war,” who “drove five great giants into chains,” and “swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean,” sailed to Herot with fourteen of the greatest men he could find to face Grendel. So the invincible hero, greatest of men sails to Herot to confront the unbeatable monster who has ruled for twelve years of terror.

  17. Herot, a golden city ruled by Hrothgar,
    (Shot of warriors celebrating in the mead-hall)
    was a happy one by day.

    At night (show Grendel approaching), it was ruled by slaughter.

    “For twelve winters Hrothgar was grieved with the loss of friends and companions” with no solider brave enough to face the malicious creature, until (shot of Beowulf and men)… Beowulf.

    A warrior of the Geats, “helmeted, the silvery metal of his mail shirt gleaming with a smith’s high art”, declared “my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster.”

    Who will win the battle?
    “Fate will unwind as it must!”

  18. ****Ominous music****

    (In a dark voice) Hear the evil stirrings of the blood-thirsty monster who lives at the bottom of moors and spawns “a thousand forms of evil”. Grendel, “seeking no peace, offering no trust, accepting no settlement”, will now face the young and “righteous” Beowulf, in a battle that would determine the fate of mankind. Watch Beowulf against the “brood forever opposing the Lord’s Will”. Evil shall fear as Beowulf’s “iron [sings] its fierce song,” “for truth and right, Ruler of the Heavens.”

    ****Beowulf’s sword appears on screen with BEOWULF, then fades away as quickly as it appeared****

  19. (Hrothgar speaking, flashes of moving shadows-Grendel) He comes in the night…
    (screams and growls)
    He is ruthless…
    (Grendel creeping into Herot, ready to attack)
    “[relishing] the sight [of the sleeping soldiers], intend[ing] to tear the life from those bodies by morning”
    (Masses of people running and screaming)
    All flee from the wretched beast…
    (Beowulf unsheathes his sword)
    Save one
    (Beowulf running and fighting with Grendel)
    (clip of Beowulf speaking to Hrothgar while feasting in Herot)
    “It is always better
    to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.”
    (Beowulf leaving to fight the dragon)
    “living in this world
    means waiting for our end”
    (Beowulf runs with a war cry towards Grendel’s mother)
    (As they are about to collide, the screen goes black and words flash across the screen)
    Beowulf: The Warrior King
    (Hrothgar speaks softly in a rough voice)
    “Nor have I ever seen, out of all the men on earth, one greater than … you”
    9.7.08 AD

  20. [Scene of a grandfather and his young grandson]

    “Grandfather can you tell me a story?”

    “Why of course. What would you like to hear?”


    “Alright then today I’m going to tell you the story of the man they called Beowulf.”

    *music plays*
    (Voice of grandfather narrating)
    “A powerful monster, lived down in the darkness, [ growling] in pain” (flash of Grendel’s lair) who “ruled, fought with the righteous, one against many; and won; so Herot stood empty, and stayed deserted for years” until the one called Beowulf arrived.(flash of him arriving by sea and stepping on to shore) He was “strongest of the Geats-greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world.” This hero stays the night in the mighty hall waiting for the monster, but will he see the morning?

    [Fade out with scene of Beowulf waiting]

  21. Beowulf, often called ” the mighty protector of men” stands ready to fight the monster Grendel. ” Up from the swampland ” comes Grendel, ready to feed upon human flesh and bones. “Surely the Lord Almighty, Could stop his madness, smother his lust,” but he doesn’t. Come see Beowulf, and learn why the lord almighty has blessed this warrior.

  22. Grendel is a feared and neglected ‘monster’ who has been “shut away from men” for his entire life with no “friends and companions”. For Grendel, “no crime could ever be enough” to deal with his emotional turmoil. However, when Grendel meets an out-of-town hero, he appears to have met his match. Who will win, an angst-filled killer, or an arrogant teenager?

  23. *The music starts* *Fade in*

    “That shadow of death hunted in the darkness,” that not a single person could defeat. He feasted upon the warriors in the halls of Herot but there is one person who will fight to stop him. A man “Greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world,” will stop at nothing to defend the Danes from evil. “Beowulf, the strongest of the Geats.”

    *Flashes Beowulf across the screen with the letters stretched apart from each other.* *Music fades*

  24. Beware all monsters, all demons… The great warrior has come… He is the “mighty protector of men.” He is the vanquisher of the “shadow of death”… The vanquisher of “that demon, that fiend, Grendel” He is… Beowulf.

  25. When the light goes away, evil will come out and play. ” A powerful monster, living down in the darkness” has an unquenchable thirst for blood and human flesh. But, a hero will rise to ” purge all evil” from the lands. His name is Beowulf and he comes to seek out ” that fiercest of demons.” For his ” hands alone” shall destroy the evil that hugs this land, like a deep and horrible mist. Who will win this colossal battle, the most powerful of demons, or the hero of hero’s?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s