The one-day workshop I’m teaching for Clarion West on Sunday, 8 October, is full, but it’s still possible to add a couple of names to the waiting list. Given that there’s almost always a cancellation or two due to the vagaries of life, the first couple of people on that list stand a very good chance of getting in. Apply here for the waiting list.*

The workshop is called What Readers Like—And Why:

Why do readers respond more strongly to some fiction than others? How does a writer immerse a reader into the protagonist’s world and persuade them to feel as the protagonist feels, see what she sees? Using examples, you’ll discuss the neuroscience behind what makes a particular word, sentence, or paragraph more likely to evoke empathy in a reader. Then with writing exercises and discussion you’ll learn how to analyze fiction—yours and others’—to discover how to make it more powerful. Prepare for this workshop with assigned reading and viewing, and come ready to learn how to make your readers’ hearts beat faster.

Only a bit of the workshop will be neuroscience; there’ll be a lot of stuff about genre and reader expectations, about awe and joy and reversals, about the sense of recognition. Also many other things I haven’t figured out yet. Most of it will be learning what makes great fiction gripping, and how to check your own work to make sure you’re enticing your reader rather than repulsing them. So it’s not just about what makes great story but also what makes a reader think, Ugh! and throw the book at the wall. We’re all different, though, so I’m expecting some of the discussion to be, y’know, lively…

One more thing. Until Clarion West commits to a timetable for accessible summer workshops, this will be the last thing I teach for them. This may or may not have any bearing on whether or not you apply.

* There’s still space in two other workshops, taught by J.M. Sidorova and Kij Johnson.