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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
December 4, 2016
Canadian Excellence


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Centre for Teaching Innovation and Excellence

Laurier’s online script-writing course draws international interest

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Oct 17/07

WATERLOO — If one were to write this script, the main character would be very, very small, yet so interesting and wise that people the world over would seek it out.

The character would be based on an unlikely subject: an online script-writing course at Laurier with about 10 or 15 students each session.

It’s obviously not the number of students that makes this course an interesting character; it’s the students themselves. Some come from Ontario, others from Western Canada. Then there are the students, in growing numbers, who have come from Bangkok, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Australia.

“We market the course to people from playhouses, theatres and writing groups in Ontario and the western provinces, but increasingly, international students are finding out about us through web searches,” says Rebecca Kieswetter, marketing and communications coordinator in the office of teaching support services.

The six-month course, which began in 2002, introduces students to the craft of writing scripts for TV, film and theatre.

“Students enjoy the self-directed nature of the course,” says Dr. Leslie O’Dell, the Laurier English and theatre professor who designed and instructs the course. “It’s online, so time differences are not an issue for international students. It’s also very flexible for all students – they can write whenever they’re inspired and whenever they have time.”

O’Dell herself is also a big draw. In addition to the expertise she offers students from her experience teaching acting, playwriting and dramatic literature at Laurier, she has written a number of books on Shakespearean language and characterization, and has been a text consultant at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival for 16 seasons.

O’Dell describes the students as a “real range.” Some have always been curious about script writing, and see the course as an opportunity to try it out, some are further along in the process and want professional feedback, while others want to switch to a different medium. “I go through their scripts with a fine-tooth comb,” says O’Dell. “I also give them advice on networking and marketing their scripts.”

For Norm Forrester, a first-time script writer, the decision to enrol was easy. “I was hunting for a course on the Internet, and Laurier’s name coupled with an intelligent course description had my credit card out in seconds.”

After “falling in love with the process” of writing, Forrester signed up for the course a second time to finish his script. He credits O’Dell with “nurturing a freedom to develop, discover and create at your own pace.”

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in a process which ends with feeling,” says Forrester. “This course allows me to wish and dream again. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

For further information about Interactive Script Writing for Film, Theatre and Television, visit:

By Lori Chalmers Morrison
Public Affairs


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