Beyond Literary Landscapes—Composition

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


In contrast to previous column’s primarily focusing on literary genres and authors, this week, the Beyond Literary Landscapes column turns to you, fellow writers, and offers advice how to improve your compositions.


Composition can be defined as “a broad term that can refer to any (usually nonfiction) work and how a piece is written.”  In particular, it consists of four modes, namely description, exposition, narration, and argumentation.

Some works offering helpful tips on how to improve your composition include On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., and E.B.  White.

However, students may also simply consider what they are currently reading as inspiration for improving their own personal writing styles.   What do you like about a particular author’s writing style?  Is it their tone?  Their use of imagery?  Allegory?  Or, perhaps, is it simply their storytelling techniques?


These works focus on writing from a United States context, but they can be used by students writing anywhere in the world.


These works were published in the 21-st centuries.


These works may be of interest to AU students who would like to improve their writing styles, either for their course assignments, or for their personal writing projects.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Composition are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in this topic may consider enrolling in ENGL 255: Introductory Composition, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “focuses on essay-writing at the university level.  In order to improve the necessary skills, students study examples of good writing, do a brief introductory assignment, write two short summaries, participate in online discussion forums, and complete three essays covering a spectrum of styles and purposes.”  (Please note that this course does not require prerequisites, but suggests ENGL 155: Developing Writing Skills or ENGL 177: English for Academic Purposes).

Students who hope to develop their writing skills even further can consider ENGL 353: Intermediate composition, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “takes a practical approach to the art of essay writing by having students apply the major principles of composition in five essay assignments.”  (Students are required to have taken the above mentioned ENGL 255: Introductory Composition, as well as ENGL 211: Prose Forms as prerequisites).  Happy reading!