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Sunday, April 5 • 10:15am - 11:30am
9M: Working Backwards: Understanding & Leveraging How Readers Think

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Limited Capacity seats available

To write is to create a spell that moves an imagined world from one mind to another. Giving form to the intangible is a solitary and exacting task; it is easy get lost in the intricacies of craft, and forget that however beautiful or potent our words may be, it is only when a reader utters them that the spell is cast. 

This session examines the reader’s role in summoning these visions. Using insights from cognitive neuroscience, and a close examination of our own responses as readers, we will focus on how the brain perceives and processes text, how it constructs an entire world from ink marks on paper. We will notice that the same words can conjure up quite different images for different people, and attempt to understand why that is so. We will talk about how certain details are experienced viscerally, and why some are more vivid and memorable than others. We will also look at larger, overarching questions like how narrative structure shapes a reader’s experience, or the reason conflict is considered so crucial to a story, and whether there are other ways of achieving similar effects.

You will come away from this discussion with a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the readers’ perspective, which will help you appreciate the impact of the words you put down, and evaluate the consequences of your creative choices. This session is appropriate for writers of all levels, at all stages of their work. The insights gained here can be applied while writing a first draft, during editing or even revision. 

avatar for Tasneem Z. Husain

Tasneem Z. Husain

Tasneem Zehra Husain is a theoretical physicist and a writer. Her work has appeared in Nautilus, as well as various anthologies of science writing for both adults and children. She is a columnist for 3quarksdaily.com, and the author of the popular science novel Only The Longest Threads... Read More →

Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor