I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how readers respond to narrative, particularly fiction. Cognitive poetics, the neuroscience of narrative empathy, evolutionary and literary theory—it’s easy to get lost in the different but passionate arguments. So I try to answer simple questions: Why do readers respond more strongly to some fiction than to others? How does the writer immerse the reader in a story? What is it about this particular word, or sentence, or paragraph that persuades the reader to trust the writing?

I’ll be teaching What Readers Like—And Why, a one-day workshop for Clarion West, on Sunday, 8 October, 10am-4pm, in an accessible space on the University of Washington campus, Seattle. Space is limited to 14, and will cost $150 for six hours of face-to-face discussion, exercise, and workshop. My plan is to create a template that participants can use as a guide to analyse their own and each others’ work, to help them answer questions about how, as readers, they responded at various points in the text. My hope is that writers can then take that template home and use it to strengthen their own writing.

It will be the fourth time I’ve taught a one-day class for Clarion West. All the classes are different but they do tend to fill fairly quickly. I don’t know when exactly the class opens for enrollment but I wanted to give those who might be interested a heads-up. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, so I’ll do my best to post another reminder closer to the time.