Former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and a contributing editor for Discover whose latest book is Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health–And How We Can Save Ourselves (Rodale Books, August 2013). Ms. Marsa has written for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Los Angeles, Playboy, and Popular Science, and was featured in The Best American Science Writing, 2012. She is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing.
Writing nonfiction is essentially a craft, like carpentry or pottery. My primary objective is to arm my students with the fundamental tools they need to write nonfiction: how to shape their ideas into marketable stories, how to ferret out the basic facts, the pithy quotes, the incisive anecdotes that illuminate points or reveal character, and how to winnow a mass of material down to the essentials. Then, I teach them how to erect the scaffolding of their stories, building layer upon layer to add dimension and resonance, and honing and polishing what they have to a gleaming finish. Nonfiction writing becomes elevated to an art when all these components are blended into a seamless whole. If I can convey to my students the satisfaction in mastering these techniques, and do it in a nurturing and supportive atmosphere that inspires them to their best work, then I have done my job.
Our Students Say it Best!
“Ms. Marsa was excellent. The course was focused exactly on the critical issues that writers face. Additionally, her guest speakers were very knowledgeable and engaging.” – Writers’ Program Student