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

Creative Writing Portal

Creative Writing: An Adventure in Analogy

This entire month will be a deep dive into the analogical abilities of poetic language: similes, metaphors, epic similes, extended metaphors or conceits, metonymy, synecdoche, implicit metaphors, and more. We'll talk about cognitive and conceptual metaphors, the limits of literal language, and maybe even examine allegory. Through unpacking some famous and infamous examples of literary analogy, we'll learn how they work and why they sometimes fail. And of course, we'll try them out in our own writing, especially in poetry of various kinds.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Confessional Poetry

This class takes creative writers deeper into a common form of 20th- and 21st-century poetry in English. According to the Poetry Foundation, the original "Confessional poets wrote in direct, colloquial speech rhythms and used images that reflected intense psychological experiences, often culled from childhood or battles with mental illness or breakdown." This type of verse is honest, raw, and immediate. We'll explore what techniques can lift such writing above the merely personal into the literary. By examining models, we'll learn to improve our own confessional verse.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Free Verse

What makes a piece of free verse different from prose broken into lines? What makes a free verse poem "good"? Are there any rules? How does a poet decide what techniques to use, the length of lines, the internal metrical elements, and more? In this class, we'll use everything we know about formal poetry to analyze some great works of short free verse, then we'll try writing some pieces of our own. Prior experience in Poetry in Forms is recommended but not required.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Intro to Scriptwriting (10-Minute Scenes)

Learn the fundamentals of dialogue, action, and dramatic structure in this introduction to writing for performance. Working within the limits of one set, three actors, and ten minutes, participants in this class will learn the basic building blocks of script-writing by crafting short, stand-alone narratives for the stage. Though we will be looking at a few contemporary short plays as examples, the bulk of this class will focus on writing and workshopping your own original scripts.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Creative Writing: Long Project Preparation

Well-prepared writers enjoy more completion success! We will build worlds, plan character arcs, and try to define the bones of our stories during a month of glorious sub-creation! When you declare your intentions to the group, that act of bravery alone adds momentum to your writing efforts after the month is over. (This Module is great preparation before National Novel Writing Month)
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Lyric Poetry

In this course, we'll examine some great models of lyric poetry in English: short, tightly-crafted verses that pay close attention to the sounds of the words, may employ formal elements, and often express the narrator's (or poet's) internal psychological or emotional state. After analyzing some examples, we will compose our own lyric poems, revising them repeatedly throughout the month to achieve mastery of this demanding and rewarding approach to creative writing.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Narrative Poetry

Over the course of this month, each student will work on planning, developing, drafting, and revising one longish narrative poem. We'll read some great examples, then help one another plan the stories we want to tell, the characters who will carry the action, and the world in which the tale takes place. We'll workshop drafts and revise our narrative verses until we have a final piece that satisfies.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: One Month Story

We will walk through a complete project from pre-writing through writing, revising, editing, (revising, revising, revising), proofreading, and talking about publication options. Are you interested in finally getting down that memoir of your childhood? making a storybook for your grands? turning that daydream into a novelette? This adventure is for you! Whether your story is a draft, an outline, or a daydream, your project is welcome here in a place where we are aiming to finish it!
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Oral Storytelling

Storytelling might just be our oldest art, crossing time, cultures, and continents. Crafting a story suitable for telling demands a heightened awareness of audience, medium, and meaning. Telling a story requires fluidity in a register both intimate and stylized. We'll learn, create, and tell our short tales in a month of cooperative fun and work. We will use a collaborative and encouraging mode of feedback. You will end the month with two or three new stories to revise and practice and a toolkit for exploring this art.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Poetic Meter

This course is a creative writing intensive on the use of metrical patterns in English-language poetry. We'll study the most common meters that have traditionally been employed in English verse, learn to identify and scan them, then try using them in our own poetry. We'll play with patterns of sound and stress, listen to how meter work in words set to song, and maybe even dance a little, either metaphorically or literally, as we sway to the rhythms of words. Join me to learn how to set your words rockin'!
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms First in the Series

This class introduces students to some of the classic forms of European poetry, including sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, ballads, odes, and more. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, then compose our own poetry following those structures, which we’ll then workshop together.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: "Free Verse" Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the most important approaches to English-language poetry: so-called "Free Verse." We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, discuss to what extent the verse is free (and from what), then compose our own poems responding to those ideas, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer. This module would have the greatest impact on poets who have spent a long time writing in meter, and will work best for those who are adept at scansion, but can be attempted by beginners, as well.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms Series Series

This is the Landing Page for Prof. Higgins' Poetry in Forms Series. After her introductory class, Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms, Prof. Higgins will survey the class to see which course the Class would like to take next in the Series.

This page will be updated to reflect which module in the series is being offered once the class decides.
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Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms Series:
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Ballad > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Villanelle > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Sonnet > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Pantoum > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Sestina > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Ode > Link
• Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: "Free Verse" > Link
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NOTE: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series. There are no prerequisites.

Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Ballad Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the classic forms of European poetry: The Ballad. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn the metrical and rhymes schemes, then compose our own ballads following those structures, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Ode Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the classic forms of European poetry: The Ode. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn their rhetorical techniques, then compose our own odes following those models, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Pantoum Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the classic forms of European poetry: The Pantoum. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn the metrical and rhyme schemes, then compose our own pantoums following those structures, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Sestina Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the classic forms of European poetry: The Sestina. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn the metrical and rhyme schemes, then compose our own sestinas following those structures, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Sonnet Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the greatest and most enduring classic forms of European poetry: The Sonnet. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn the metrical and rhyme schemes, then compose our own sonnets following those structures, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Poetry in Forms: The Villanelle Continuing Series

This class takes creative writers deeper into one of the classic forms of European poetry: The Villanelle. We’ll look at some noteworthy examples, learn the metrical and rhymes schemes, then compose our own villanelles following those structures, which we will then workshop together. While this course belongs to a cycle of modules on Poetry in Forms, there are no prerequisites, and students can take one or many in any order they prefer.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Stories in the Darkness

Join the amazing Jennie Starstuff: NASA Solar System Ambassador with Sparrow F. Alden to talk about the coolest, trippiest space physics to inspire our fiction! We’ll learn stuff on one day to use as writing prompts for peer-review on the second day. The plan is to explore star lore and archaeoastronomy; gravity and relativity (things get really weird); stars and cosmic life cycles; and life in the cosmos (alien contact? Heck, yes!). What about the amazing spaces between? We will have wonderful sonifications (sound pictures) of some of the most wonder-filled, hard to believe astro science out there—just imagine the stories we’ll create!
Precepted by Jennie Starstuff and Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Weekend Intensive Series

Write in the New Year!

On December 30th and 31st and January 1st, we're going to celebrate creativity by attempting a complete short story! Our format will include nine SPACE class sessions, WriterSpace focus time in excellent company, Bandersnatch Breakout room for talking about our craft, peer feedback through google doc commenting and breakout room conversations, and an enthusiastic ringing in of the new year. So sharpen your quills, line up the inkpots, make a BIG casserole to last the weekend.

Here's the plan:
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Friday the 30th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern
6p - class session
7p - WriterSpace
8p - class session
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Saturday the 31st from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
9a - class session
10a - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
11a - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
12noon - class session
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Saturday the 31st from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern:
Nap time.
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Saturday the 31st from 3:00 PM to 9:05 PM Eastern:
3p - class session
4p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
5p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
6p - class session
7p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
8p - class session
9p - ringing in the new year in Grytviken, King Edward Point, Sandwich Island (time zone UTC-2)
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Sunday, the 1st from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
1p - class session
2p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
3p - class session & wrap up at 4p.
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Our goal is to create a completed short work in one weekend! Prompts, planning, focus methods, peer encouragement, machete editing, character crucibles — we’ll do it all. Writers will write between sessions as well as during.

You are going to end this amazing experience with a complete first draft of your story. What a way to begin 2023!
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Weekend Intensive (Dec 2022) First in the Series

Write in the New Year!

On December 30th and 31st and January 1st, we're going to celebrate creativity by attempting a complete short story! Our format will include nine SPACE class sessions, WriterSpace focus time in excellent company, Bandersnatch Breakout room for talking about our craft, peer feedback through google doc commenting and breakout room conversations, and an enthusiastic ringing in of the new year. So sharpen your quills, line up the inkpots, make a BIG casserole to last the weekend.

Here's the plan:
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Friday the 30th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern
6p - class session
7p - WriterSpace
8p - class session
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Saturday the 31st from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
9a - class session
10a - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
11a - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
12noon - class session
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Saturday the 31st from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern:
Nap time.
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Saturday the 31st from 3:00 PM to 9:05 PM Eastern:
3p - class session
4p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
5p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
6p - class session
7p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
8p - class session
9p - ringing in the new year in Grytviken, King Edward Point, Sandwich Island (time zone UTC-2)
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Sunday, the 1st from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
1p - class session
2p - WriterSpace, Bandersnatch, & peer review
3p - class session & wrap up at 4p.
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Our goal is to create a completed short work in one weekend! Prompts, planning, focus methods, peer encouragement, machete editing, character crucibles — we’ll do it all. Writers will write between sessions as well as during.

You are going to end this amazing experience with a complete first draft of your story. What a way to begin 2023!
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Workshop

We will meet to blend learning, discussion, and playing games with reading, appreciating, and commenting on one another’s work as it is submitted for peer review. Writers are encouraged—but never required—to submit new pieces in any state of draftiness or readiness up to 2,000 words each week for peer reading and feedback. Our Collaborative Feedback method, developed here at Signum University, asks us comment at the author's comfort level through a structured reader (not editor) response. We gather to encourage the story that the author wants to tell. Our philosophy of kindness first might just turn around your previous experience of writing groups.

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Note: A seat has been reserved in this module for a writer of traditionally marginalized identity. There is no form; simply write to [email protected] to identify yourself as someone who qualifies for and wishes to use this space in the writing group.
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Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Creative Writing: Writing the Hero

We need good tales of good people making heroic choices. Whether we write memoir, pure fiction, or a what-if-it-had-ended-well personal speculations, this module is about creating the characters whom we can admire, trust, emulate, and become. Writing these short scenes during difficult times balances our minds and hearts, and can be part of a personal path to hope. This module specifically allows us to write our inner heroes within a place of safety. When believing in heroes is hard, we need to write them anyway. Explore your own traumas, toils, and fears even if your bad situation is right now, and write your own next chapter, your terrified heroic first step.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Designing an orthography for your language

Too many of today’s languages—natural or constructed—use the Roman writing system. While you listen to the shimmering notes of your con lang flow from your tongue or in your imagination, have you ever dreamed of a completely new way of writing? This course will guide you through factors to consider while designing a writing system for your created language by investigating real-life orthography development for living, unwritten languages.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

Discovering, Understanding, and Loving Haiku

Known as the shortest form of poetry in the world, haiku overwhelm us with their beautiful imagery and evoke incredible emotions. Join preceptors Robert Steed and Pilar Barrera in this module where we’ll explore the historical, religious and cultural background of haiku, read and analyze a variety of haiku by different authors, and play with haiku as you’ll have the opportunity to write your own!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Robert Steed.

Fairy Tales: An Adventure from the Writer's Perspective

Come explore Fairy Tales from the inside! In the first meeting each week Pilar Barrera will lift up a Fairy Tale technique, character archetype, or trope. We'll discuss the story at hand and how that story technique makes meaning. Then, students try their own hands at that technique! What do we learn when we push these ideas to their logical extremes? In the second meeting, Sparrow Alden will facilitate a workshop-style discussion of our original tale-telling work; we'll encourage one another as writers and appreciate one another as readers! Our goal is to complete the month with a deeper appreciation for the tales we all love and a folder with one to four good drafts of original tales.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Sparrow Alden.

Food Writing: Writing Food

Sharpen your knives and your pencils, for we're about to stir up the cauldron of stories! Want to whet your appetite while workshopping your writing? Where else can you taste the sweet flavor of inspiration in both the kitchen and the office? In this module, we'll combine cooking and creative writing: Each week, you'll (1) read literary works that revel in the gustatory delights of gastronomic adventure; (2) try out a new recipe; and (3) write a creative response of your own! As long as you don't eat your poems and write on your pastas, you'll delight in this most delicious of months.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Geology of Fictional Worlds

This course introduces the student to the various aspects of geology and how they can relate to worldbuilding and mapmaking. This includes continents, plate tectonics, mountains, water, glaciers, planetary patterns, the distribution of rock types and natural resources, natural disasters and weather patterns. This background would allow students to better evaluate fictional maps as well as create them. Examples will be drawn from Middle-earth, Earth-sea, Westeros, Dungeons and Dragons, and suggestions from students.
Precepted by Shawn Gaffney.

How To Catch a Bandersnatch

Diana Glyer's marvelous book "Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings" is part literary biography, part how-to guide for setting up your own writing group. We'll read her book and talk through both aspects. We'll unpack what it reveals about Tolkien's & Lewis's creative writing methods, and we'll brainstorm how we might apply those to our own writing, whether individually or in groups. You're totally welcome to attend if your interest is in the scholarly aspect (the Inklings as writers in their time), the creative aspect (how collaborative writing groups work), both, or something else altogether! Either way, I'm sure you'll be inspired and encouraged by the example of these great--but very human--writers.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Natural or Synthetic?

As we all know, Tolkien drew heavily from Finnish for his languages. Learn more about the universal laws of grammar for natural languages in order to make your created language more appealing, vibrant, and convincing. In this course, we will explore basic facts about phonetics and phonology, general patterns about how natural languages do and do not encode meaning, the range of functions of parts of speech, and syntactical and morphophonemic nuances. We will examine the building blocks of languages which have actually been or are being spoken in everyday life in the primary world so you can enrich languages perhaps only ever expressed by your characters, only ever on the page.
Precepted by Eve Droma.

On Publication

This module is for writers of all kinds, especially creative writers, who have built up a body of work and would like to start sending pieces out for publication. We'll start with discussing the periodical market and submission of shorter works (poetry, short stories, essays, articles). Then we'll move on to talking about longer projects, and we'll workshop the documents you'll need for sending those out, including resumes, pitches, queries, cover letters, and samples. We will talk about literary agents, contests, grants, unagented submissions, developmental editors, specialized markets, and more. You'll leave this module with something ready to send out for consideration.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

The Compleat Game Master: Introduction to Game Mastery

Thanks to the success of streaming shows like Critical Role, D&D and other tabletop games are more popular than ever before. But according to surveys conducted by Wizards of the Coast, the average D&D campaign does not last more than six sessions, and players rarely advance farther than Levels 4-6. This series will address the short attention span of current TTRPG culture by equipping you with the tools you need to be a more "compleat" GM. In this first module, we will cover the true role of the GM (it might not be what you think!), the world-building assumptions implicit in various rulesets, how to design a setting which maximizes player agency, and how to write a gazetteer for your campaign setting. Participants will have the opportunity to produce their own 10-page setting gazetteer as part of this module.
Precepted by Richard Rohlin.

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.
Precepted by Chris Bartlett.

Worldbuilding for SFF Writers

While building an entire world may seem like a daunting or divine task, thankfully there are many great writers who have gone before and left behind their advice, instructions, and encouragement for creating a secondary universe of your own. In this course, we'll look at what some smart and skillful folks have said about subcreation, then apply their ideas to your constructed storyworlds. We'll talk about how to choose and develop the properties of your land, what unique objects it contains, what level of technology its inhabitants have reached, who those inhabitants are, what language(s) they speak, what the physical nature of the world is, how its logic works, and--most importantly--its atmosphere and the philosophical implications of each of your creative choices. You should leave this course ready to set stories in your secondary universe.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Writers' Workshop: The Different Body Problem

It's a sometimes inconvenient fact that characters have bodies, and sometimes, those bodies directly affect the stories we write about them. Writing characters who live in bodies that do not perform according to the cultural standard is a skill like any other part of the writer's craft.

In this course, we will look at examples from literature of how authors have dealt with what we usually call disabilities. Some have done well, others have materially harmed people with their writing.

We will also work with one another to hone our craft as writers who are telling stories so that we can find the new and inspirational, while leaving behind the worn-out clichés that make the lives of people like your preceptor materially harder.

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptor.
Precepted by Chris Bartlett.

Writing for Children

What makes a good children’s story? We’re going to address chapter books, cultural stories, and learning tales all through a lens of moral, cultural, and spiritual human development. Trying our hands at these forms should lead us to a nice folder full of works-in-progress at the end of the month. The December iteration of this module is designed to complete one treasured story gift for the holidays.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Writing Your Memoir

Your story is unique. Do you want to set it down on paper for yourself? For your family? No other person has accumulated your experiences; no other person has had your potential, learning, drive, disappointments, challenges, triumphs, and quiet joys. We'll explore a variety of media and forms for memoir writing, from picture books to blogs. We'll interview one another with kindness and encouragement and draw amazing stories out of each other—and ourselves.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].