I’m teaching a one-day workshop for Clarion West on Sunday 8 October, 10am-4pm: What Readers Like—And Why. It will be held in an accessible space (I will most probably be in a wheelchair) in the U District of Seattle, and costs $150. Fourteen participants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is open.

I’ll be asking students to do a bit of pre-work, no more than 20 minutes of reading or viewing. This way we can begin with a shared foundation and spend more time actually practising some tools and techniques.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years, particularly the last 12 months (more on that in a future blog post), thinking about how readers respond to narrative. In this workshop I want to share what I’ve learnt about why some moments, characters, or settings live in a reader’s heart and mind for years while others might prompt them to throw the book at the wall. What brings a reader in and what shoves them out? What makes a reader relax and trust you and what will provoke a visceral, negative response? And can you ever harness that visceral response?

I see this as being equally useful to writers of fiction and creative non-fiction; I’d welcome both. What kind of things will we be talking about? Word choice, of course, but also the shape of sentences and paragraphs, what is and is not effective in terms of imagery, how story works, and more.

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. Also—because this is always one of my goals—that in addition to learning nifty stuff you will have a blast.


  • One-day workshop for Clarion West, on Sunday, 8 October, 10am-4pm
  • in an accessible space in the University District, Seattle
  • for 14 participants, selected on first-come first-served basis
  • and costs $150 for six hours of face-to-face discussion, exercise, and workshop.

Registration is open. See you there!