The emotional effect of fiction on readers is more than just luck.  It's a craft.  

Based on psychological research and extensive study of what makes novels emotionally gripping, workshop participants will discover how to go beyond showing or telling to create an emotional journey for readers--one unseen but nevertheless deeply felt and ultimately unforgettable.

Spend three days learning about the craft of writing emotion. Topics and techniques include:

  • 3rd Level Emotions: Emotional surprise and subtlety even in high-action scenes.
  • Small = Big: Using small details to build big emotions in readers.
  • Making Inactive Scenes Matter: What's happening when "nothing is happening".
  • Tension & Energy Shifts: How to pace a novel's unseen emotional plot.
  • Emotional Hooks & Bonding Readers: Unnoticed dimensions of great openings.
  • Plotting the Non-Plot Driven Novel: It's not about forcing out plot but posing the right questions.
  • The Emotional Plot and the Reader's Map: Plot considered as emotional opportunities.
  • Emotional Goals and Turning Points in Scenes: The inner scene and how to shape it.
  • Scenes or Postcards: What's literary/what's commercial; changing versus illuminating; using both.
  • Story Worlds We Don't Want to Leave: It isn't the place itself but what we experience there.
  • Emotional Language: Poetry on the page comes not from words or imagery but from rhetorical devices.
  • Moving Readers with Change: Arc, step-by-step changes, cascading change, turns toward virtue.
  • The Emotional Mirror: Finding unused story potential by having protagonist interview author.

Whether you’re just beginning a new project or revising a completed work, this workshop is for you!

As with all of Free Expressions’ offerings, this will be a hands-on and intensive few days, so come prepared to work hard, be filled to the brim with useful information, and to connect with other writers in a supportive and challenging environment.



Workshop Check-in: 8:45 AM
Class: 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (with break for provided lunch)


Class: 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (with break for provided lunch)


Class: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM


Early Registration: $449 USD
    Houston:  Prior to February 3, 2017
    Seattle: Prior to May 13, 2017

Regular Registration: $529USD
   Houston: After February 3, 2017
   Seattle: After May 14, 2017


  • Lunch - Friday and Saturday
  • Coffee/tea/water in classroom each day
  • All handout materials, and more!


Houston Workshop:

Hyatt Place Houston Airport
300 Ronan Park Place, Houston, TX 77060
RESERVATIONS: Discounted Room Rate: $79 a night with code provided in confirmation details after registering for the event.



Seattle Workshop:

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport - Southcenter
16500 Southcenter Pkwy, Seattle, WA 98188
RESERVATIONS: Discounted rate of $149 a night to conference participants, code provided in confirmation details after registering for the event.