February 18, 2018

Master the Art of the Storyteller in Portland

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

My 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:

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

PRSA members: Earn 4 APR maintenance points!

Save $100 when you register by April 22.

Portland creative writing workshop image

Portland | July 25-26, 2018

Save $100 when you register by April 22.


“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.

Save $100 when you register by April 22.

Register now

Participants’ comments

“Ann transformed my writing in a mere 12 hours.”
— Brent Buchanan, communication, advocacy & political professional, National Experience

“It was awesome. I wish I could take it every month to remind myself of all the tools and tips.”
— Allie Nicodemo, communications specialist, Arizona State University

“I learned techniques that improved my writing; I only wish it had been 20 years sooner!”
— Shelley Nelson, campus director, Arizona Christian University

“I typically wouldn’t spend this much on a workshop, but this was so worth it.”
— Bonnie Leedy, CEO, School Webmasters

“I feel invigorated and excited about writing again. I like that you incorporated participation, so we could immediately put into practice what you were teaching.”
— Danielle Rush, communication specialist, Indiana University Kokomo

More participant comments
“Utterly worthwhile, both to career copywriters and people who just want to communicate more effectively.”
— Meg Elison, social medical marketing, Ripple

“I can use these tools right away, right now!”

“This workshop was truly one of the most useful ones I have attended.”

“I didn’t want it to end.”

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

“Ann is brilliant and arms you with the tools to succeed.”
– Katie Anselmo, internal communication manager, Comcast

“Very helpful and engaging material. Really appreciated the opportunity to connect with other communications professionals and share learnings, challenges, and have Ann weigh in with the expertise! The research she provided is going to go a long way in helping me support the strategic communications work I do!”

“Fabulous. Not surprised but nonetheless delighted that this was everything I’d hoped for, and more.”
– Sasha Nyary, senior news writer and copy editor, Mount Holyoke College

“Fantastic! Often times, I come to these workshops and speakers give good ideas but aren’t always scalable to a company as large as the one I work for. These tips are relevant regardless of audience size. So helpful!”
– Angelica Kelly, lead consultant, internal communications, AT&T

“Perfectly executed and incredibly helpful.”
– Torie Robinette, communications specialist, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority


Ann WylieAnn 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 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 RevUpReadership.com, a toolbox for writers.

Learn more about Ann.

Location & accommodations

“Makes me want to go back and revise everything I’ve done in the past three years.”
— Blythe Campbell, director, communications and marketing, NANA Development Corp.


Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center

Ecotrust, The Natural Capital Center
721 NW 9th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

Directions, Maps and parking information

Meet me in Wordlandia

As a writer, I hope you’ll love literary Portland as much as I do. Here, you’ll find the world’s largest bookstore (just a few blocks from our workshop), an annual writing weekend called “WordStock,” and — the weekend after our workshop — a free playwrights festival that is one of the highlights of my year.

Vacation in paradise

Vacation in paradise Why not stay for the weekend to see the Columbia River Gorge — just 30 minutes away from our workshop venue? Photo by Jenny Cestnik

Why not make a long weekend of it?

Within 90 minutes, you’ll find yourself at the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast or Oregon’s celebrated wine country. (Check out The Seven Wonders of Oregon.)

And you don’t need to leave town to enjoy James Beard Award-winning chefs, Beervana, food carts and all the other Portlandish elements that make my adopted hometown so much fun. Don’t miss my favorite restaurant, Andina, which serves modern Peruvian cuisine.

Maybe we’ll run into each other!


Hotels near the Master Class

Please contact hotels directly for room rates and booking.

Daily schedule

8:15 a.m. Registration
9 a.m. Workshop begins
Noon Lunch
1 p.m. Workshop resumes
4 p.m. Workshop ends


Your ticket includes morning coffee and tea, lunch and afternoon refreshments.


“Absolutely the best money I’ve ever spent. I learned more about writing for my audience from Ann in one day than I have in any other seminar.”
— Carie Behounek, marketing communications coordinator, COPIC Companies
Save $100+
Save $300+
Save $700+
Training, lunches, workbook
$281 worth of learning tools for $100
$297 subscription to Rev Up Readership for $100 more
30-minute one-on-one phone consult with Ann ($500 value)


  • Save $100 when you register by April 22.
  • Save $100 if you’re a Rev Up Readership member. (Join Rev Up Readership.)
  • Save $100 each when you bring two or more colleagues. (Big group? If you have 10 or more colleagues who would benefit from training, contact Ann to schedule a customized, in-house writing workshop.)
  • Save $50 each when you bring one colleague.

Payment policy

Your registration is not complete until you have paid in full. If your company requires an invoice, please use either the printable invoice or the email confirmation you will receive. Both will include the details of the workshop, including the dates and the workshop fee.

Payment methods

You may pay by credit card or check.
Amex, Mastercard and VIsa credit cards accepted


Can’t make it?

  • Send a colleague. We’ll miss you! But please feel free to send a friend in your place. No charge for substitutions.
  • Transfer to a different Master Class. Choose one of our upcoming workshops. No charge to transfer.
  • Don’t cancel! But if you must, please cancel via email:
    • by May 25, and receive a full refund, minus a 20% handling fee.
    • by June 25, and receive a 75% refund.
    • Sorry, no refunds after June 25.

Course cancellations

We reserve the right to cancel workshops. If we do, we will apply your registration fee to another workshop or refund your fee. But we will not be responsible for any additional costs you have incurred, such as airfare or travel expenses.


You’ll receive confirmation of your registration by email. Please white-list Ann@WylieComm.com and orders@eventbrite.com to make sure you receive your registration materials. If they don’t arrive within an hour of your registration, please contact us directly.

Don’t miss your chance.

Our Master Classes sell out quickly. If you’re interested in attending, please act now.


Frequently asked questions

May I pay by check or purchase order?

Yes, please contact us at Ann@WylieComm.com. Let us know how many and what type of tickets you need, attendee details and your preferred payment method. We will issue an invoice or purchase order if you need one.

Do you offer any discounts?

We have no doubt that the Master Class will be the best money you invest this year on your professional development. But here are six ways to reduce that investment or boost your return on it:

  • Save $100 when you register by April 22.
  • Save $100 if you’re a Rev Up Readership member. (Join Rev Up Readership.) Save $100 if you’re a PRSA member. (Join PRSA.) Click “Enter promotional code” and enter your promo code.
  • Save $100 each when you bring two or more colleagues. (Big group? If you have 10 or more colleagues who would benefit from training, contact Ann to schedule a customized, in-house writing workshop.)
  • Save $50 each when you bring one colleague.

I booked my ticket without applying the discount code. Or I received the code after booking the ticket. Can I get a refund for the discount?

Sorry, but you need to apply the discount code when you purchase. We are not able to apply discounts after the fact.

I booked my individual ticket, and now I’m bringing colleagues.

Can I still get the group discount? Please email us, and we’ll send you a special discount code your colleagues can apply to get the discount.

Should I bring a laptop?

Yes, please bring one. You’ll need it to edit your work and get feedback from your peers and Ann.

Should I bring my writing sample to the workshop?

Yes, please bring your writing samples to the workshop. You’ll write, rewrite and edit and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

How do I contact you?

Please email us at Ann@WylieComm.com.

May I update my registration information?

Yes. Please go to Eventbrite and update your registration information and dietary information.

Should I bring my printed ticket to the workshop?

Yes, please bring a copy of the ticket to the workshop.

What is the dress code for the workshop

Business casual.

Do you accommodate special dietary preferences?

Please specify your dietary preference when you register.

Can you you accommodate special needs (accessibility, nursing mothers, etc.)?

Yes, we will do everything we can to accommodate your request. Please contact us by email and let us know what you need.

Will you sell my personal information?

No. We never share personal information with other companies.

Do you have any advice on what to tell my boss about why I should attend this writing workshop?

Here is a draft letter that you can use to help convince your boss. Also attached is a one page fact-sheet about our workshop.

Save $100 when you register by April 22.

Questions? Ann@WylieComm.com; +1 (503) 954-2289.