Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Composition Portal

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Academic Writing Skills

This module covers some of the basic skills which will improve your academic, scientific, and professional writing. ‘Academic Writing Skills’ is ideal for those who are looking to start an undergraduate or postgraduate course, to resume/advance their academic career, or simply to improve the objectivity, accuracy, and clarity of their writing style. Eight individual lessons cover the following topics: how to structure your academic essay; how to argue in an academic essay: evidence, logic, analogy, and other reasoning skills; how to conduct a literature review; how to use citations and references accurately and effectively; things to avoid in academic writing (Part I and II); how to reduce subjective style; how to write successful funding proposals. Hamish Williams (PhD in literary studies) has written 4 books (academic and fiction) and published over 25 academic articles and chapters.

Creative Writing: Aristotle's Poetics for Story-Tellers

What makes a good story? How can we make our characters feel like real people?

Using a combination of recorded lectures, in-class discussion and exercises, you will find out how to employ Aristotle’s precepts on character, theme and emotional catharsis to enrich your creative practice. You will also discover how Aristotle’s teleological understanding of causality can help you discover the final design of your creative work. This module will be a must for fiction authors, screenwriters and directors, RPG game masters, or anyone who wants to weave a dynamic tale!

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Introduction to the Poetics
• Workshop 1: Your Narrative's Purpose

• Lecture 2: Character and Theme
• Workshop 2: Discovering Your Character and Theme

• Lecture 3: Structure
• Workshop 3: Unfolding Your Story's Structure

• Lecture 4: Catharsis
• Workshop 4: Sticking the Landing
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Introduction To Writing In Community

Have you wanted to write a story but didn't know how to get words onto a blank page? Once the words were there, did you wonder how to find out if those words affected your reader the way you meant them to?

In this SPACE module, we will look at where ideas for stories come from. We will take our ideas from our thoughts to the page. Then we will learn, in a supportive community using the Collaborative Feedback method, how to ask for and receive the feedback our stories need to thrive.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Will Estes

Creative Writing: Story Revision Workshop

We will meet to discuss strategies for revising a piece of writing, including finding your own vision for your story, big-picture developmental editing, and crafting scenes. Writers are encouraged to apply revision strategies between sessions and discuss their work during class if they want to share. Writers will also have the opportunity to explore different editing strategies to help them shape their story into their own vision.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Catherine Conners

Creative Writing: Tools of the Song Writer

What are the songs that stick in your memory? Are they catchy earworms that have you humming their melodies all day? Are they complicated jazz numbers, where lyrics give place to musical elaboration? Are they ballads, where the story is the thing?

The answer varies from listener to listener, but the great songs of whatever sort have some things in common. We're going to look for these things together, considering the conventions of different genres, poetic styles and their interaction with musical choices, a bit of music theory (that won't hurt a bit, I promise) and arrangement.

Each class session, we will listen to and talk about two or three songs. we'll discuss the choices the song writer(s) made, and how they affect your experience as a listener. We'll also look at how a single song might be interpreted differently by different artists, because performance is an inseparable element of how a song lands.

Students need have no grounding in music theory, or be musicians. All that is required is a love of music, and the desire to learn a little about the song writer's craft, whether that's in aid of becoming a more discerning listener, or because there's a song buried in your soul that you've not yet written.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Creative Writing: World-Building in Action

How do you world-build without losing your reader? In this module, we will consider techniques on the scene level to embed world-building seamlessly into your narrative without bogging the reader down in exposition. Considering examples from J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin and Frank Herbert, we will learn from the masters to bring your world to vivid life. Focusing on viewpoint, characterization, word choice, and narrative conflict, we will workshop how to draw your reader in and make your universe feel like a real place. No matter your genre, this module will enrich your commercial fiction and help make your vision a reality.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Ink Spots and Tea Stains: What we Learn from C.S. Lewis's Writing Habits

C.S. Lewis is one of the most prolific and influential writers of the 20th century. And yet, in his early career as an Oxford don, he viewed himself as a failed poet. Moreover, his most canonical and transformational writing happened during the most stress-filled periods of his life. This short course allows students to peek into the writing life of C.S. Lewis. Our goal is to see through the lines of printed text by visiting the letters and archival remains of Lewis in a virtual setting. Most of C.S. Lewis's papers remain undigitized and unpublished, available only locally at archives in North America and England.

As Professor Brenton Dickieson has visited these archives, he is able to invite students to appreciate C.S. Lewis's writing life by looking at the way that he consciously and unconsciously built his literary career. This course is for writers who are developing their own habits and literary life-prints, as well as folks who are curious about C.S. Lewis's life beyond the biographies and bestselling books.

The Music of Middle Earth

In this module we will explore the musical storytelling of works related to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. This discussion-based course is not targeted to musicians, and no prior musical knowledge or skill set is required. Rather, the course seeks to discuss how music can tell stories, and how music interacts with text, poetry, and adaptation. A familiarity with the work of Professor Tolkien is very helpful.

This course will study three types of musical adaptation: music inspired by Tolkien’s writing, work that has taken Tolkien’s poetry and put it to music, and music written for adaptations of Tolkien’s work. Each of these types of composition comes with their own unique storytelling approaches and outcomes.
Precepted by Jack Schabert

Writers' Workshop: Storycrafting with the “Mutinous Crew” of Ursula K. Le Guin

What are the tools of the writer’s craft, and how can we sharpen them? In this module, we will learn about the writer’s toolkit through guided writing exercises and group discussion. We will use exercises from Ursula K Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story to explore tools like pacing, narration, point of view, syntax, and diction. Practice your writing technique, hone your craft, and embark on a journey with us through the “Sea of Story.”

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].