Monday, March 8, 2010

Class Encourages Students to Write Their Story

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College PR Manager

“Everyone has a story to tell,” said Sandi Marinella, the Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at Rio Salado College. “So we created a creative writing program to help people develop and write their stories.”

Rio Salado College started helping people write their stories over a year ago when it launched the introductory course for the program. Based on the demand they are developing courses that will allow aspiring writers to take a variety of classes and complete an Academic Certificate in Creative Writing.

“We have classes that appeal to everyone,” added Marinella. “The program is quite diverse, and we want to draw people from all walks of life.”

In the coming month, the Tempe-based college plans to release a second series of classes, which include Introduction to Fiction Writing and a course on writing scenes, Topics in Fiction. The new courses focus on in-depth writing of short stories and development of scenes to create stories, novels, or film scripts. Current elective classes in the program include magazine article writing, modern fiction, children’s literature, and contemporary cinema.

“When we launched the first classes last year, we were pleasantly surprised by our online enrollment,” said Marinella. “We have high expectations for our new classes.”

Marinella isn’t the only person excited about the classes. Students have flocked to the classes and are thrilled to share their work.

“I'm enjoying this class very much,” said student Seth Anderson, who is enrolled in the Introduction to Creative Writing class. “I've been a writer for a long time, but through this class I've been exposed to more ideas and techniques. The class keeps me accountable each week and keeps me writing - and thinking about writing - all the time.”

Besides brushing up on his skills and learning new approaches to writing, he said the classes keep his attention, too.

“My teacher has given us some fun assignments that didn't feel like I was just going through the motions to get a grade,” said Anderson, of Tempe. “I'm allowed and encouraged to be creative and think outside the box.”

“The Introduction to Creative Writing class has a lot of high-interest activities,” added Marinella. “The students get to create a character, create a setting, write the same scene with two unique voices, write a “short short”( story), prepare a query letter to send to a publisher, and create a polished story to send out and actually market.”

Being thoroughly engaged is a concern of many students who take online classes, but Anderson thinks the writing classes are well suited for the online platform.

“I've taken other online classes in the past and I missed the discussion and interaction that a classroom allows,” said Anderson, who holds degrees in economics and Russian. “However, writing is such a solitary activity that a creative writing student doesn't need to be in a classroom. Some assignments that I have had in the class I'm taking now required us to upload one of our short stories for peer editing. A student doesn't need to be in a classroom to do that.”

Additional classes focused on non-fiction writing and novel writing are expected to rollout in coming months, and the entire program is slated to be available by the end of the year.

To learn more about the Creative Writing Program at Rio, please visit or contact the program coordinator at