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

Creative Writing • General HumanitiesFantasy StudiesLanguageGradOther

Creative Writing Modules

Creative Writing: Anatomy of a Scene

A scene is arguably the most fundamental building block of a story, but is often overlooked in creative writing courses. In this craft-focused module, we will dissect the structure of a great scene. Considering short examples from classic books, films and TV shows, you will discover how a great scene establishes context, advances the plot and reveals character. Using Signum’s collaborative feedback method, you will have the opportunity to develop individual scenes in a supportive workshop. Whether you are a beginning writer or looking to further your skills, this module will help you create scenes with intentionality and precision.

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

Creative Writing: Anatomy of a Scene (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

In this craft-focused module, you will dissect the structure of the most fundamental building block of a story. By analyzing scenes from classic books, films, and TV shows, you will discover the key questions to enhance your scenes and narrative conflict on the scene level. In a supportive, kindness-first workshop, you will have the opportunity to share and develop individual scenes.This module will help you craft scenes with intentionality and precision.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

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: Character & Voice (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

In this craft-focused module, you will discover techniques of characterization and voice, two of the biggest things readers are looking for. You will see how a character’s verbal and non-verbal communication reveals who they are, while also developing your own individual narrative voice. In class, you will analyze film clips and excerpts from published authors to unpack their techniques, before applying them in short writing exercises. In workshops, you will have the opportunity to share your novel-in-progress and receive feedback in a kindness-first, supportive environment. In your journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. The module aims to hone your skills in creating organic dialogue, and boost your confidence in your own voice.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Crafting Unforgettable Characters

What makes a character unforgettable? Join us as we unpack techniques to create characters who leap off the page and live in the minds of your readers! Discover how to create tests that reveal who your characters truly are, how to create an effective ensemble, and how the tiniest character details change everything about your story. Using Signum’s collaborative feedback method, you will have the opportunity to discover your characters’ wants, needs and fears in a supportive workshop. Whether you are a beginning writer or looking to further your skills, this module will help you craft characters who feel like real people.

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

Creative Writing: Creating Interactive Fiction Games with Inform

This will be a beginner's guide to creating text-based, first person interactive (computer) fiction using the Inform software. We'll discuss what kinds of stories work, how to make interlocking loops of choices for our readers/players, and how to create a world with only a small text box to work with! From installing the program through learning a core group of commands, from designing a non-frustrating game through adapting to the fast-paced nature of these games, we will laugh, try things, and have fun. How do we help our readers create the ending that's best for them?

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

Creative Writing: Cultures in Fantasy and Science Fiction

This module takes a deep dive into imagined culture. How can you integrate imaginary customs, traditions, art, values and social norms seamlessly into your narrative? Analyzing examples from authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert and Margaret Atwood, you will discover how details such as clothing, body language and colloquialisms can enrich your world. Whether you are a beginning writer or looking to enhance your current skills, this is the ideal module for anybody who wants to make their universe feel like a real place!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Discovering Novel Revision (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Has your draft reached the dreaded muddy middle? In this module, you will learn skills and strategies to examine a novel draft with fresh eyes. You will learn to do large-scale edits for topics such as plot, character arcs, and stakes to shape your story to your vision. We will also use collaborative feedback and discussion during class as you discover your own revision process.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Emotional Stakes (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Congratulations! You have Characters in a Setting enacting a Plot!

In this workshop you'll explore how your motivations for writing and the themes which worry or puzzle or fascinate you shape your stories. You’ll identify your methods for exploring these themes and consider other methods consonant with your authorial voice. How are your characters changing and responding to their own explorations? You'll examine tools for finding what elements have already slipped into your stories, possibly subconsciously, and tools for intentionally using such emotional connection points to bring more strength to your stories. Each class will introduce a few new tools, offer in-class prompts for trying them, and open the floor to discuss our discoveries and their relevance to our works in progress.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Fantastic Beasts and How to Write Them

Manticores, Owlbears and Kappas, oh my! In this quirky module, we will continue our deep dive into world-building, with a particular focus on monsters and imagined creatures. Using extracts from ancient myths and medieval bestiaries as writing prompts, you will have the opportunity to share short pieces or extracts from longer projects in a supportive workshop. Alternatively, you can let your imagination run wild as you populate a menagerie with creatures of your own devising! A fun module that will help you fill your world with uncanny fauna.


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

Creative Writing: Historical Fantasy

Step back in time and unleash the fantastic! In this module, you will unlock the secrets of transporting readers into historical worlds that incorporate magic, myth and legend. Unpacking examples from authors such as Michelle Paver, Lian Hearn and Mary Robinette Kowal, you will discover how to fuse the writing techniques of realistic historical fiction with those of fantasy. You will then have the opportunity to write short pieces based on fun writing prompts and share them in a supportive workshop, or you can share extracts from an extended project if you prefer. A fascinating module that will help you bring life to worlds of wonder and delight.


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

Creative Writing: Historical Fiction

Whether your story is set in fourth century Greece or nineteenth century Japan, this module is all about bringing historical worlds to life! Unpacking examples from authors such as Jean M. Auel, Lindsey Davis, Hilary Mantel and Marcus Zusak, you will discover how to draw upon primary sources, create historically authentic dialogue, use compelling details and deal with anachronisms. Using fun writing prompts, you will then have the opportunity to write short pieces and share them in a supportive workshop. A fantastic module to help you transport readers into your favorite era of history!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: History and Politics in Fantasy and Science Fiction

Let’s go deeper into world-building with this exploration of history and politics in fantasy and science fiction. How can you write a sense of history and add political conflict to enrich the setting of your world? Unpacking examples from authors such as Robert Jordan, Samantha Shannon, Frank Herbert and James S. A. Corey, you will discover how to seamlessly integrate history and politics into your world-building. You will then have the opportunity to share your own world-building in a supportive workshop. This is the perfect module for any writer who wants to make their world feel immersive.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Monkeys With Typewriters

In this hybrid module, we will explore Scarlett Thomas' book on writing advice, Monkeys with Typewriters. Starting with a brief introduction to literary theory and how it pertains to writers, the module will explore the philosophy and practice of storytelling. Through a combination of lectures and in-class exercises, you will discover tools to tell dynamic stories based upon your own life experiences, learn about the eight basic plots, unlock techniques of characterization and improve your work on the sentence level.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Introduction
• Workshop 1: What do I bring to the story?

• Lecture 2: Plot Structures
• Workshop 2: How to Have Ideas

• Lecture 3: Narration and Characterization
• Workshop 3: Telling Your Tale

• Lecture 4: Starting the Novel
• Workshop 4: Sentence by Sentence
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: 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 Dr. Liam Daley

Creative Writing: Late-Stage Revisions (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Have you finished (or nearly finished) a whole story draft? In this module, you will learn how to craft an ending that makes your entire story shine. You will also learn techniques for ensuring readers are immersed in your story and experiencing the emotional journey you intended. We will use collaborative feedback and discussion during class to help you refine your skills as a storyteller.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

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)


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

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!

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. 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 create, practice, and tell our short tales in a month of cooperative fun and work. We will use a collaborative and encouraging mode of feedback to focus both on the construction of your story and on its performance. You will end the month having written an original tale, fiction or memoir or drawn from myth and legend, which has been written specifically to be shared aloud. You will also carry forward a toolkit for exploring this art.
Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Pitching Your Story

You've written an epic book or an incredible screenplay, but what comes next? In this module, we will discuss how to make your story irresistible to potential buyers and entice readers to pick up your book! Examining successful examples combined with my experience in attracting publishers and an agent, we will workshop your query letter, synopsis and blurb, before finessing your verbal pitch. Whether you are looking to a traditional writing deal or an indie career, this module will help you sell the sizzle in your narrative.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Pitching Your Story (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Congratulations! You've written an epic manuscript. What comes next? In this module, it’s time to celebrate with your peers, discover how to make your story irresistible to potential buyers and entice readers to pick up your book! In class, you will analyze examples of successful pitches before developing your own in fun, engaging exercises. In a kindness-first workshop, you will have the opportunity to develop your query letter, synopsis and blurb, before finessing your verbal pitch. Whether you seek a traditional publishing deal, indie publishing, or are writing for yourself, this module will help you sell the sizzle in your narrative and appreciate your work for the gem that it is.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Plot & Structure (Novel in a Year) First in the Series

Are you up for an adventure? Whether you plan ahead or improvise, begin right here with as little as a blank page and a vague idea. You will learn about two characteristics of a story this month: developing your plot threads and designing a story structure that will serve your unique tale. We’ll examine how plot threads can influence each other to amplify your story’s impact. By studying different story structure methods, you’ll discover or possibly invent the right structure to carry your tale. Using a very simple writing journal, you’ll identify your strengths as an author and techniques for your toolbox. Every session will feature discussion, writing exercises, and — best of all — Collaborative Feedback on our stories.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Popular History and Historical Biography

In this module, discover how to craft gripping non-fiction narratives about complex historical events and figures. Learn how to entertain and inform the reader using creative writing techniques such as close viewpoint and character conflict without sacrificing historical accuracy. Using Signum’s collaborative feedback method, you will have the opportunity to develop your own projects in a supportive workshop. Whether you're a beginning author or a history buff, this module offers a unique opportunity to spin new threads in the rich tapestry of the past.


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

Creative Writing: Prologues and Opening Chapters

The first pages of a novel are absolutely crucial, but so hard to write! In this module, we focus specifically on creating a compelling opening to draw readers into your narrative. As a group, you will unpack examples from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Harper Lee, George R.R. Martin and Herman Melville to discover how to make the reader feel they are in safe hands. Using Signum’s collaborative feedback method, you will have the opportunity to develop the opening chapter of your book in a supportive workshop. This incredible module will help you make your book impossible to put down!


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

Creative Writing: Religion in Fantasy and Science Fiction

In this module, we continue our exploration of world-building, asking deep questions about religion in fantasy and science fiction. How does religion affect the day-to-day life of your characters, or their sense of morality? To what extent do your characters believe in the soul or the afterlife? How do magic and science interact with religion? How does religion relate to spirituality in your universe? Is it possible to be an atheist in a world where gods walk among humans? In this module, you will have the opportunity to write short pieces based on writing prompts, or share your ongoing projects in a supportive workshop. This is a wondrous module for anyone who wants to deepen their imagined universes!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Setting as Character

In this module, you will discover how to make your story's setting a vivid and fully-realized character in its own right! Through fun and engaging writing exercises, you will learn techniques to create immersive environments that grow and change along with your characters. Find out how to use sensory details to create a feeling of place in your story. Using Signum’s collaborative feedback method, you will have the opportunity to develop your settings in a supportive workshop. Perfect for beginning authors or those looking to enhance their craft, this module will help you craft settings that live and breathe.


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

Creative Writing: Setting & Worldbuilding (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

In this module, you will discover how to make your story's setting a vivid and fully-realized character in its own right! Through fun and engaging writing exercises, you will learn techniques to create immersive environments that grow and change along with your characters. Find out how to use sensory details to create a feeling of place in your story. In workshops, you will have the opportunity to share your novel-in-progress and receive feedback in a kindness-first, supportive environment. In your journal, you will continue to document the process of writing your novel as your story unfolds.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Start Writing Mysteries!

So you think you'd like to write a mystery, but it seems overwhelming? Join us to examine the essential elements of a murder mystery: a setting, a sleuth, a murder victim, the murder method, a cast of suspects, the cast who assist the sleuth in investigating and solving the murder, as well as lists of actual clues and red herrings to plant in the story. We'll also discuss how the genre conventions affect your development of general fiction elements (e.g., plot, character, pacing). Brainstorm, refine rough ideas into workable ones, and get help starting on your story-specific research. Leave class with a semi-plan: not an outline, but a collection of notes you can use to write a complete first draft in whatever writing style you prefer.

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!


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

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: The Different Body Problem (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

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.



Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: The Hero’s Journey

How can we rise through suffering to become heroic? This hybrid module takes a deep dive into the stages of the hero’s journey structure and its applicability to your story. Considering different approaches to the Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, you will have the opportunity to share and reflect upon your character’s journey in supportive workshops. Whether your hero is slaying a dragon or exploring the dark depths of their psyche, this module will help you craft an epic journey.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: Introduction to the Monomyth
• Workshop 1: Call to Adventure

• Lecture 2: Archetypes
• Workshop 2: Challenges and Temptations

• Lecture 3: The Heroine’s Journey
• Workshop 3: Death and Rebirth

• Lecture 4: Challenging the Monomyth
• Workshop 4: Transformation, Atonement, Return
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: The Suspense is Killing Me!

How do you keep the reader on the hook? This module is all about building and maintaining tension throughout your narrative. Considering examples from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl and Stephen King, you will unpack techniques on the line, scene and structural levels to heighten suspense and keep the pages turning. Discover how to pull off a cliff hanger without frustrating readers, how intentional use of white space is the “secret sauce” of effective writing and much more! You will also have the opportunity to write short pieces based on writing prompts for feedback in a supportive workshop. Whatever your genre, this is a brilliant module for any writer looking to enrich their practice.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

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: Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Note: Though this module is open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, we strongly recommend that students participating in this module will have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence.

You’ll spend this month building on all the skills you’ve learned through the Creative Writing: Workshop modules by reading each other’s nearly completed novels. Now you’ve built a community of encouragement and good communication and have a deep familiarity with each other’s projects & styles: so, whether you’re copy editing or madly layering in a gamma plot, lean into the group for collaborative feedback to bring this novel to fruition.

Collaborative Feedback: A method of supportive feedback which lifts up excellence and encourages your own story in your own voice. You will read and comment kindly on others’ work as well as having the option to share your own writing (which we very much hope you will do). For more information, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Villains

What drives a person to make bad choices? And what makes villains such fascinating characters? Is the villain really the hero of their own story, and why are we so drawn to stories of redemption? This module is all about creating characters who are as despicable as they are compelling. You will have the opportunity to write short scenes from the villain’s viewpoint and workshop them in a supportive environment. If you want to create villains your readers will love to hate, this is the module for you!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Weekend Intensive

A Feast of Writing!

In one weekend, we're going to celebrate creativity by attempting a complete short story, novelette, or novella! Our format will include SPACE class sessions, WriterSpace focused writing time in excellent company, Bandersnatch Breakout room for talking about our craft and peer feedback, and an enthusiastic celebration of Story. So sharpen your quills, line up the inkpots, make a BIG casserole to last the weekend.

Here's the plan:
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Friday from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Eastern
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Saturday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Saturday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern:
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Our goal is to create a completed first draft 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!


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

Creative Writing: Weekend Retreat

Write Our Hearts

Come for gentle writing. Introspection. Self expression in a circle of caring and community. Come gather virtually in the Cottage in the Woods with Sparrow: she literally wants us to prep food ahead and get away from the family and the dishes for forty eight hours to write our stories. It's so hard to find time for ourselves, so let's intentionally make that time. From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon there will be writing to prompts, conversation, ideas, blocks of free writing time. Does your heart ache to express a private grief on the page? Is your subconscious telling you to rewrite a story? Do you need to rewrite your story?

Here's the plan:
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Friday from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Eastern
8p - Community, Evening pages, and Escape
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
9a - Morning session: affirmations and choices
10a - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch (that's "quiet space and talking space")
11a - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
12noon - Noon session: Shedding Light & Writing Metaphors
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern:
Nap time.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Saturday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern:
3p - Group session: Recovery
4p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
5p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
6p - Group session: Encouragement and Deeper Dives
7p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
8p - Group session: Leaning In to the Circle of Our Community
9p - Sweet dreams until tomorrow
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
1p - Group session: Our Story, Our Song
2p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch (envisioning our stories' growth)
3p - Consolation & wrap up at 4p.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Our goal is to write our hearts. Is that memoir? Is that a new story just for yourself? Is that a long, long prayer in the form of a poem? Writers might write between sessions as well as during.

You are going to end this amazing experience with something that is uniquely yours. Whether this turns out to be a narrative, creative nonfiction, or a huge list of Be-Happy-Attitudes, this deserves to be on your page, just for you.


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





A seat has been reserved in this module for any writer (especially a beginner) of marginalized identity to support them finding their voice. Please simply write to [email protected] to identify yourself if you wish to join the class.





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

Creative Writing: Workshop (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

Using a kindness-first approach, we will read, appreciate, and comment on each other’s work as we deepen our understanding of writing craft. You will be encouraged to submit new works in progress at any level of development for peer reading and feedback. Our Collaborative Feedback method guides you to comment at the author's comfort level through a structured reader response. This workshop will foster a positive and encouraging environment to support our growth both as individuals and as a writing community. We gather to encourage the story that you want to tell.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Workshop (Novel in a Year) Continuing Series

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. You are encouraged — but never required — to submit new pieces in any state of draftiness or readiness for peer reading and feedback. Our Collaborative Feedback method, developed here at Signum University, asks you to comment at the author's comfort level through a structured reader (not editor) response. We gather to encourage the story that you want to tell. Our philosophy of kindness first might just turn around your previous experience of writing groups.

Novel in a Year Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Tree Workshop (Novel in a Year 11) which, while open to all who have a mature writing project ready for close scrutiny, is designed specifically for students who have completed at least 4 previous modules in the Novel in a Year sequence). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, 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

Creative Writing: Writing Computers

What does a computer scientist wish that writers knew? That we are building aliens right here on Earth? That perception is not what we think it is? Join us for four weeks of learning, writing, and feedback. In "How Does Hacking Actually Work?" we'll learn to write far more complex and realistic scenes than Hollywood. In "Computer Perception" we'll talk about detecting the simple presence of volts and the most subtle patterns of the cosmos. In "Computer Interfaces" we're going to cook up stories about the Alien, the Understander, and the Quality of Misunderstanding. Finally in "Atemporal Decision Theory" we're going to ask enough questions about Truth, sentience, and honor to fill adventure after adventure with artificial and artisanal intelligences. Each week we'll have a learning and discussion day plus a day to reflect on "This idea made me ask 'what if?' and reach for my keyboard."

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

Creative Writing: 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.

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

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

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.

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

FanFiction: Middle-earth

Do you imagine other tales set in Tolkien's beautiful Middle-earth? First person? FRP campaign design? Screen plays? Other minds and hands will come together to create and discuss "what if" for our own fanfiction. We will use a little peer-reading and a lot of focused discussion to move each writer deeper into the story they love. Expect to end the month with a folder full of story seeds or big progress on one big project.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

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.

Novel in a Year: Creative Writing Series Series of 12

Are you ready for an adventure in writing? Over the course of twelve months, you and your story will go from the beginnings of planning, through the stages of creating your first draft, and revising that draft, all the way to emerging with a novel that is finished and ready to submit for publication or personal accomplishment or family enjoyment. Each class in the series will draw upon lessons from the previous classes. In addition, we will build a community of writers who go through the experience together, encouraging each other and being sounding boards for each other.

Note: Anyone is welcome to join our Novel in a Year modules at any time (the only exception is Novel in a Year 11: Tree Workshop, which is designed specifically for the cohort). Each module is designed to stand alone without prerequisites. However, for the richest experience, the full twelve-month sequence of modules will carry you from blank page through to completing your novel. In a writing journal, you will track your progress and moments of unexpected, joyful discovery as you continue your novel. Whether you are looking to publish commercially or simply writing for yourself, our program is designed to nurture your individual writing journey. Our workshops place kindness first, lifting up excellence and encouraging you to tell your story in your own voice. For more information about our Collaborative Feedback model, check out our video here.

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.

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.

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

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.


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