Master the Art of the Storyteller

Learn to engage readers with wordplay, metaphor and more in this creative writing workshop

“I am a better writer today than I was two days ago.”
— Chelsea Didde Rice, communications specialist, Ascend Learning

Master the Art of the Storyteller: in-house creative writing workshop imageMy husband likes to quote Anonymous, who said: “If a man speaks in the forest, and no woman is there to hear him, is he still wrong?” The communicator’s corollary: If you cover your terribly serious and important stories, and nobody pays attention, does your message still make a sound?

In this creative nonfiction writing workshop, you’ll learn how to write copy that grabs attention, keeps it longer, communicates more clearly, enhances credibility and is more likely to go viral.

You’ll walk away with proven-in-the-lab best practices — not just what to do, but how— for painting pictures in your readers’ minds so they read your message faster, understand it better, enjoy it more and remember it longer. Specifically, you’ll learn to how to:

Make it a Master Class. Plus, when you make it a Master Class, you also:

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“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser

Think Outside the Pyramid

Increase engagement, readership, sharing and more

“Everything that happens in the world is absolutely fascinating,” says an Associated Press reporter, “until you read it in the newspaper.” Until, that is, it’s been boiled down into the hierarchical blurtation of facts that is the inverted pyramid.

Why do communicators continue to use a structure that makes fascinating messages dull? After all, there is another option — a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, keep them reading longer and leave them feeling more satisfied after they’ve read.

In this session, you’ll learn a structure that can help you make all your messages more fascinating and engaging. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Organize your story in six easy pieces with our fill-in-the-blanks template.
  • Test your lead’s attention-getting power against our checklist of elements of a great lead.
  • Walk away with award-winning lead examples to model.
  • Avoid the “muddle in the middle” with five ways to organize the body of your piece.
  • Leave a lasting impression with our three-step test for writing a satisfying ending.

Color Them Fascinated

Rivet readers with juicy details

Fun facts and juicy details might seem like the Cheez Doodles and Cronuts of communication: tempting, for sure, but a little childish and not particularly good for you.

Not so. Concrete details are more like salad dressing and aioli — the secret sauces it takes to get the nutritious stuff down. Call it “The Vividness Effect.” It’s been proven in the lab again and again: Colorful details communicate better than dry, abstract information.

In this session, you’ll learn how to rivet readers with juicy details. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Show and tell: Help readers understand your big ideas by way of your specific details.
  • Play it SAFE: Six ways to add color to your message.
  • Write like a roller coaster: Are you losing them in the middle? Test your message so you can spot and fix the boring parts.
  • Write to be read: Where to sprinkle “gold coins” throughout your message to keep readers engaged.
  • Go from blah to brilliant in 15 minutes or less: Quick ways to add concrete detail to even the most tedious topics.

Paint Pictures In Your Readers’ Minds

Make their brains light up

Think of description as virtual reality: Describe a scent, and your readers’ primary olfactory cortexes light up. Describe texture, and you activate their sensory cortexes. Describe kicking, and not only do you stimulate their motor cortexes, but you stimulate the part of the motor cortex responsible for leg action.

But write abstractly — aka, the way we usually do in business communications — and readers’ brains remain dark. Want to stimulate some brain activity around, say, your CEO’s latest strategy or that brilliant Whatzit you’ll be releasing later this month? Description is the answer.

In this session, you will learn to make your readers’ brains light up with description. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Dig up descriptive details: Try WBHA, the most overlooked reporting tool there is.
  • Tune in to sensory information: Use our travel writer’s tip for going beyond visual description.
  • Answer the scene-writer’s question: You can’t write good description without it.
  • Take on The Popcorn Project: Practice our four-step process for writing vivid description.
  • Communicate, don’t decorate: Use this tip to avoid stimulating readers’ gag reflexes instead of their cerebral cortexes.

Get to Aha!

Master a creative process that works with — not against — your brain

Want to come up with fresher, faster, more inspired story ideas and writing insights? Welcome to the wonderful world of the creative process.

“The production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords,” writes James Webb Young, author of A Technique for Producing Ideas. “The production of ideas, too, runs on an assembly line.”

In this session, you’ll master a five-step creative process that helps you produce more and better ideas. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Take five simple steps to a new idea: The more you understand how your brain creates, the more creative you’ll be.
  • Write while washing the dishes: Find out why taking a walk, a nap or a break is actually part of the creative process.
  • Treat writer’s block, procrastination and formulaic thinking: When you understand the creative process, you can end-run some of the common problems that writers and editors face.
  • Avoid “creative incest”: Stop creating communications that are dull replicas of the same thing you did last year — and the year before that.
  • Practice Papa Hemingway’s advice on the creative process: Find out what to do after you come up with your brilliant idea.

Play With Your Words

Surprise and delight readers with wordplay

Neurologists call it “the pleasure of the text,” the reward readers get from figuring out figurative language. (It can be quite a reward: If your wordplay is funny enough, your readers’ brains even deliver a little dose of dopamine.)

That good feeling puts readers in an agreeable mood and may even open their minds to your message. In fact, one study found that ads using rhetorical techniques were 166% more likely to persuade readers and 229% more likely to be remembered than ads that did not.

The good news is that wordplay doesn’t take talent. It doesn’t take creativity. Instead, it takes techniques, tricks and time. In this session, you’ll get the tips and tricks you need to surprise and delight your readers with wordplay. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Go beyond twist of phrase: Learn to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words.
  • Find online tools that do most of the work for you: Walk away with links to some of the best (free!) wordplay resources — as well as ideas for how to use them.
  • Polish your skills in our wordplay workout: Get “recipes” for creating 14 types of wordplay, from anagram to etymology to oxymoron. (And yes, that portmanteau does make your butt look smaller.)
  • Get inspired by some of the world’s most creative headlines.
  • Stop writing groaners: Learn techniques that let you come up with surprising lines — and leave the clichés to the hacks.

Make Magic With Metaphor

Charm readers with compelling comparisons

It’s tempting to call metaphor the magic spell in a writer’s repertoire, the Penn and Teller of the page.

Metaphor has the power to persuade far better than literal language. It lets you say in five words what would otherwise take five paragraphs to explain. It makes readers’ brains light up, helps them think more broadly about your message — even (ahem!) makes you look more attractive.

But, as with other forms of magic, you’ll want to master a few tricks before you step onto the stage. In this session, you’ll learn how to charm readers with the magic of metaphor. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Get the zombies out of your message:Don’t let Dead and Dead2 metaphors eat your readers’ brains.
  • Get an analogy during an interview by asking one simple question.
  • Create a metaphor with our simple, four-step process.
  • Craft a compelling metaphor with our fill-in-the-blanks formula.
  • Polish your metaphor: Learn which kinds of metaphors to choose, which to avoid and where in your message to place them from 41 academic studies covering 50 years of research.

Master the Art of the Storyteller

Whoever tells the best story wins

Storytelling is “the most powerful form of human communication,” according to Peg Neuhauser, author of Corporate Legends and Lore. Indeed, stories can help you grab attention, boost credibility, make your messages more memorable — even communicate better.

Stories are so effective that Og Mandino, the late author of the bestselling The Greatest Salesman in the World, says, “If you have a point, find a story.”

In this session, you’ll learn to find, develop and write stories that engage readers’ hearts and minds. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find the aha! moment that’s the gateway to every anecdote.
  • Elicit juicy stories with the key question to ask during an interview.
  • Organize your material into a powerful story in just three steps with our simple storytelling template.
  • Start an anecdote with a bang — instead of a whimper.
  • Find anecdotes in the making with “WBHA.”

Get a creative writing workout with Wylie

Take your story from ‘meh’ to masterpiece when you practice your new skills on your own work

In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our practice sessions, you’ll get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.

Bring your laptop and a story to work on. You’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece. In these practice sessions, you’ll

  • Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
  • Gain valuable insights on your work from your peers and from Ann.
  • Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.

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“Other writing coaches tell you what to do.
Ann shows you how.”
— Roberta Laughlin, vice president, Mutual Funds Marketing, Northern Trust

About Ann Wylie

Ann Wylie photo

Get the word out Leave with proven-in-the-lab best practices for reaching readers at Ann Wylie’s in-house writing workshops.

Ann Wylie runs a training, editing and consulting firm called Wylie Communications. She works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out.

Her workshops take her from Hollywood to Helsinki. There, she helps training clients at organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work.

Ann has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her communications. She is the author of more than a dozen learning tools that help people improve their communication skills, including, a toolbox for writers.

Learn more about Ann

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“I learned more in this two-day class than I did in my two-year master’s program.”
— Rochelle Juette, communications specialist, Washington Closure Hanford

One-day writing workshop

  • Learn tips and techniques for Mastering the Art of the Storyteller in a customized, six-hour writing workshop.
  • Practice your new skills on your team’s own writing samples.
  • Continue learning after the workshop ends with a three-month membership to Rev Up Readership for up to 30 members of your team.
[Note: Discounted communication association workshops do not include customization or Rev Up Readership memberships.]

Two-day Master Class

In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our two-day Master Class, your team members will get a chance to write, edit and rewrite; get and give feedback; and leave with a totally rewritten piece. In the process, they will:

  • Master the techniques they learn in the workshop by applying them immediately
  • Get feedback with specific ideas they can use to improve your work immediately
  • Gain valuable insights on their work from their peers and from Ann
  • Learn to analyze and improve each others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for improving your own work

Half-day seminar

Just have half a day? Let’s focus on Making Your Copy More Colorful, Playing With Your Words, Mastering the Art of the Storyteller and Adding Meaning With Metaphor.

Add writing guidelines

Want to make sure everyone’s on the same page with your new creative writing techniques — including your approvers and reviewers? Let Ann develop customized writing guidelines, based on best practices, for your team. This is “the book” that lets everyone know, “Here’s how we write it around here.”

Your creative writing guidelines will include before-and-after examples of your team’s own headlines, leads, links and other story elements. That means your team will not only find out what they need to tweak, but how Ann would tweak it.

Add templates

Ever wish you had annotated models and checklists for writing your online messages? Let us develop formulas, templates and examples to make your online communications more effective and less time-consuming.

Your team will walk away with fill-in-the-blanks outlines they can use to write your most common types of stories, whether they’re tipsheets, survey stories, HR stories, product releases, webpages, brochures — you name it. Plus, you’ll get before-and-after versions of your own pieces illustrating each of the templates.

WWAD? Find out with this service.

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“A semester’s worth of knowledge in a few hours.”
— Amy Kappler, communications specialist, Burgess and Niple


We recommend that every communication team start their training with Catch Your Readers. In this essential workshop, you’ll learn to use the bait your readers like — in print and online.

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What grads say about Make Your Copy More Creative

Rating: 4.8 – ‎30 reviews4.8-star rating
“I didn’t want it to end.”
— Gary Burris, public relations director, Tec Labs
Top-notch! I’m sure this will change my storytelling in the same incredible ways as your PR class changed my press releases!
— Stephanie Sobotik, senior manager, Global Marketing Communications, Freescale Semiconductor


Fantastic and inspiring! Affirmed I am definitely working in a field that energizes me and that I love.
— Mary Schneiter, manager, Internal Communications, Constellation Brands


Ann inspired me to exorcise the dusty demons of my journalism career and embrace a livelier and more agile writer within.
— Laura Ingalls, senior manager, Communications, PetSmart Charities


“Worth every dime.”
— Brent Buchanan, managing partner, Cygnal


“Excellent, kick-you-in-the-butt skills that I can use forever.”
— Patti Monsoor, public relations and marketing, Utah Valley University Woodbury School of Business


“Excellent! I got my money’s worth before the chunky tomato soup even cooled at lunch on the first day.”
— Deborah Bass, public affairs manager


“Excellent. Ann’s workshop revived my love of writing and invigorated my skills.”
— Ken Koch, director of marketing, Francis Tuttle Technology Center


“I loved every nano second. I gained my youthful confidence back. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow!”
— Gary Burris, public relations director, Tec Labs


“I didn’t want it to end.”
— Gary Burris, public relations director, Tec Labs


“Very eye-opening. Who knew you could teach an old dog new tricks? I was humbled.”
— Larry Nuffer, manager, Corporate Communications, CDC Small Business Finance


Ann Wylie's Make Your Copy More Creative writing workshop

Master the Art of the Storyteller Get fill-in-the-blanks templates and formulas — plus over-the-shoulders help from Ann — for Making Your Copy More Creative.

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“If I were to write a headline and deck for Ann’s workshop, it would go something like this … ‘West Point for Writers: How to win the war for readers’ minds.’”
— Jim Rink, media relations specialist, The Auto Club Group

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Wylie Communications
949 NW Overton, Ste. 1102
Portland, OR 97209

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