Courses and Workshops

Creative Non Fiction

Does your blog need a boost? Would you like to complete a memoir or pitch an essay? Creative nonfiction has become a dynamic, wide-ranging form that demands its own space at the literary table. Essays and long-form pieces blur memoir, travel, reportage and commentary. Food writing gets mixed up in social history. Nature writing combines science, descriptive lyricism and cultural studies. This seven-week workshop (with 1 month Sommerlochpause for the entirety of August) provides a supportive space for writers of all levels to get a sense of the tremendous possibilities of nonfiction, whether they’re working on existing texts or looking for fresh ideas. We’ll give close feedback, explore texts from a wide range of writers and try out creative exercises. We’ll discuss the ethics and intricacies of wrestling fact into narrative while crafting descriptions that are vivid but accurate.

Please email to sign up.

SUSANNA FORREST is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction titles that incorporate history, travel, memoir and reportage. Her latest, The Age of the Horse, is published by Atlantic Books in the UK and Atlantic Monthly Press in the USA. It’s currently being translated into Japanese by Hara Shobo. Described as “outstanding” (The Times) and a “work of art” (Booklist), its been an Amazon best-seller in the UK and Australia.

She’s written for the New York Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Times and others, and got her first break editing and commissioning writers like Michel Faber, DBC Pierre and Sarah Hall at the Erotic Review magazine. In 2016 she won the Sophie Coe Prize for an essay on food history.

Telling Tales: The Art of Creating Stories

Stories can entrance, engage, even possess us.  Every one of us has a story to tell; factual or fictional, cool documentary or heartfelt family journey, practical travelogue or sparkling flight of the imagination.  But to become an accomplished storyteller one needs time, a conducive environment, and a sensitive guide to direct and refine individual talent.

In June best-selling author Rory MacLean will lead an exclusive, two day, weekend creative writing workshop in Berlin.  Participants – to a maximum of sixteen – will be guided and supported on their creative journey.  Both amateur and professional writers are invited to apply.  No experience is necessary.  The only requirement is the passion to tell a story.

The course will include morning talks on the craft of narration and introductory workshops on gathering material, note-taking, voice and structure. Rory will underline the importance of writing from the heart, using honesty and personal experience to fill one’s creative work with feeling and excitement.  Afternoons will be dedicated to exercises and — if possible — one-to-one discussions or project pitches, helping to draw out individual skills.  Together Rory and the participants will unpick the transformation of our ordinary encounters, epic journeys, family histories and imaginative quests into prose. Whether you aspire to writing journalism, a blog, memoir, personal essay or documentary, take this rare opportunity to work with one of the Reader’s favourite writers.

To sign up we are asking for a deposit of €30 to reserve your spot. Email to book your place.

Rory MacLean is the author of more than a dozen books including the UK top tens Stalin’s Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Berlin: Imagine a City, a book of the year and ‘the most extraordinary work of history I’ve ever read’ according to the Washington Post.

He has won awards from the Canada Council and Arts Council of England and written about the missing civilians of the Yugoslav Wars for the ICRC, on divided Cyprus for the UN’s Committee on Missing Persons and on North Korea for the British Council.

His works – wrote the late John Fowles – are among those that ‘marvellously explain why literature still lives’. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he divides his time between the UK, Canada and

Discover the Poet Inside

Have you always wanted to write poetry, but never known how to start? Or maybe you already have a practice, and are looking for a good excuse to spend a weekend delving deeper? 

This is a rare chance to work with the award-winning poet and live artist Ryan Van Winkle, who we’re bringing over from Scotland especially to inspire your work. The Scottish Poetry Library’s former Reader in Residence will guide you through a variety of forms and styles—revealing how to take risks, steal techniques, and unearth with your own poetic voice. Famed for his lively, inspiring workshops, Ryan spreads the love of poetry wherever he goes. We’re unbelievably lucky to be hosting him.

You’ll come out of the weekend with a notebook stuffed with ideas and the confidence to push forward with new projects you haven’t even thought of yet. Ryan will also share his insider knowledge of the publishing industry, offering guidance for those who are getting ready to submit to magazines, publish a chapbook or put together a collection. This course is also highly recommended for fiction writers who are interested in experimenting with or honing their voice, or any who are interested in what it means to be a poet. 

To sign up we are asking for a deposit of €30. Email to reserve your space.

RYAN VAN WINKLE is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner, The American Poetry Review, AGNI and Best Scottish Poems 2015. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016. As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq.

Ryan has been a workshop leader and tutor since 1999. In that time he’s worked with dozens of writers helping to develop and encourage their work. Ryan has been working both on-line and in person for The Poetry School in London. He has also been a creative writing tutor at the SUISS Summer School at Edinburgh University. 


Got a great idea for a screen or stage play? Want to develop it properly before writing your first draft? Written that first draft, but got a bit lost along the way? Preparing to send your script out, but would like to put it to the test and get feedback from professional scriptwriters before you do?

The Reader Berlin’s Scriptwriting Lab with Donna Sharpe and C.J. Hopkins is an intensive 5-day script development course designed for both beginning and more experienced screenwriters and playwrights. Through an inspiring mix of lectures, workshops and individual mentoring sessions, the Lab will provide you with the practical tools and knowledge you need to take the next step in your writing process. And to relax? An optional evening programme, including a final celebratory dinner, will be on the cards.

Course Tutors:

Donna Sharpe has written and directed award-winning documentary films for the BBC; had her first play workshopped at the Royal National Theatre Studio, London; and has a major historical drama series in development with ITV Studios and ZDF, as well as two feature-length screenplays optioned by independent producers. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from U.E.A.

C.J. Hopkins began writing for the stage in New York City in the 1990s. His plays have been commissioned, produced and have toured internationally, playing theatres and festivals such as Riverside Studios (London), 59E59 Theaters (New York), Belvoir St. Theatre (Sydney), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), and the Du Maurier World Stage Festival (Toronto), among many others. His playwriting awards include the 2002 Best of the Fringe Firsts in Edinburgh, Scotsman Fringe Firsts for New Writing in 2002 and 2005, and the 2004 Best of the Adelaide Fringe award. Editions of his plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (Methuen) and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. He holds a B.A. in Cinema from the University of Miami.





“Some might think that the creativity, imagination, and flights of fancy that give my life meaning are insanity.”  Vladimir Nabokov

Everyone’s heard the old adage “write what you know”, but what if you don’t want to do that?  This is a writing week for people who’ve wondered what it’s like to be someone else, to live in another place, or to have been born into a different time.  Imagination is precious for a fiction writer, and this course aims to guide students in how to use this most innate of human skills to trigger creative inspiration.  It will also cover how to make those imaginings convincing for readers through talking about using research and weaving in what you do “know” to make your conjured fictions more real.  It’s a course for people who love to write and dream, for people who want to make their writing better and to carve out a space in their life to write more.  This doesn’t mean you need a lot of experience – just enthusiasm, passion and the willingness to take risks.  It’s for people who’ve ever wondered whether it’s insanity to take so much pleasure in the art of making things up, or simply the most sane way we could hope to understand our world.

Course tutors Tod Wodicka and Clare Wigfall have been celebrated for the skill with which their work transgresses their own experience.  This is a unique opportunity to work alongside two international Berlin-based authors who can promise a lively rapport stemming from a friendship and working relationship that has spanned almost two decades.  As one of the most exciting and creative cities in Europe, Berlin is the perfect base to inspire and encourage creativity.

Course brief:

This four-and-a-half day intensive summer course is designed to provide a perfect balance of guided practical workshops, one-on-one tutorials, personal writing time, and opportunities to glean from the experience of the tutors during more relaxed evening sessions.  It includes four tutor-led morning masterclasses in which, through in-session exercises and by looking at examples from writing masters, students will be given inspirational triggers to get them writing and will also have the opportunity to focus on themes that will develop their practice including character development, description, story plotting, and editing.  Material will be generated during the workshops that can then be developed individually.  Every student will also receive two private tutorials, one with each tutor, for which they can submit work in advance for focused discussion.  The evening events will include a reading from guest author Julian Gough (JUDE: LEVEL 1, JUNO & JULIET), an informal evening for the tutors to share their experience of the literary industry (including how to find an agent and submit work for publication), and a final celebratory meal with a chance for students to share their work with the group.

Course tutors:

CLARE WIGFALL has lived in London, Berkeley, Prague, Edinburgh, and presently Berlin.  Her debut short story collection THE LOUDEST SOUND AND NOTHING (Faber & Faber) was published in 2007 to critical acclaim, described by the Guardian as ‘energisingly, awe-inspiringly, intimidatingly good’.  The following year she won the BBC National Short Story Award and was later nominated by William Trevor for an E.M. Forster Award.  She has published in Prospect, the Dublin Review, New Writing 10, and A Public Space, and has written for BBC Radio and NPR Berlin.  She holds an MA from the University of East Anglia’s prestigious creative writing programme where she was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize.  Clare has taught writing workshops all over Europe, including for the Arvon Foundation, the Cork International Short Story Festival, and the BBC at the Fringe; she is approachable, generous with her experience, and her teaching has an energy that never fails to inspire her students.

TOD WODICKA was born and raised in upstate New York.  He has lived in just as many places as Clare Wigfall, but mostly by accident.  He currently lives in Berlin.  His first novel, the acclaimed, ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS SHALL BE WELL (Jonathan Cape/Vintage, UK) was published in 2007 and has been translated into several languages.  The New Statesman pronounced it ‘Vibrant, original, at times hilarious…reminiscent of Philip Roth or Jonathan Franzen (or The Royal Tenenbaums)’.  It was shortlisted for the Believer Book Award in 2009.  His second novel, THE HOUSEHOLD SPIRIT is due in 2014/15.  His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, Granta, the New Statesman, the National, Tank Magazine and AnOther Magazine, among others.  He has been an English teacher and recently helped mentor aspiring novelists in the Tibor Jones Writer’s Studio.


Stories can entrance, engage, even possess us.  Every one of us has a story to tell; factual or fictional, cool documentary or heartfelt family journey, practical travelogue or sparkling flight of the imagination.  But to become an accomplished storyteller one needs time, a conducive environment, and sensitive guides to direct and refine individual talent.

In June best-selling author Rory MacLean and professional editor and writer Kimberly Bradley will lead an exclusive, five day creative writing workshop in Berlin.  Selected participants – to a maximum of fifteen individuals – will be guided and supported on their creative journey.  Both amateur and professional writers are invited to apply.  No experience is necessary.  The only requirement is the passion to tell a story.

The course will include morning talks on the craft of narration and introductory workshops on gathering material, note-taking, voice and structure. Rory will underline the importance of writing from the heart, using honesty and personal experience to fill one’s creative work with feeling and excitement.  Together he and Kimberly will unpick the transformation of our ordinary encounters, epic journeys, family histories and imaginative quests into prose.

Afternoons will be dedicated to one-to-one discussions, helping to draw out individual skills, and – if desired – to complete a specific story which individuals may want to tell during the week.  Work will be critiqued and discussed in depth, skills and techniques enhanced, with each text given special, personal attention.  Evenings will be either free or with organized events on offer, including a reading from guest author Greg Baxter (A PREPARATION FOR DEATH, THE APARTMENT) with an opportunity to ask him your questions and a final celebratory dinner.

Course Tutors:

RORY MACLEAN — one of Britain’s most expressive and adventurous travel writers — has known three Berlins: West Berlin, where he made movies with David Bowie; East Berlin, where he researched his first best-selling book STALIN’S NOSE; and the unified capital where he has just completed his tenth book BERLIN, a history of the city told through the biographies of its 21 most creative residents.  According to the late John Fowles, Rory’s books are among those that ‘marvellously explain why literature still lives’.  Every week he blogs on Berlin for Goethe Institut and is writer-in-residence at London’s Archive of Modern Conflict, weaving narratives into its collection of four million photographs.

KIMBERLY BRADLEY has been a journalist and editor since the 1990s. Born in California and raised in the American midwest, she has straddled the pond for nearly two decades and currently lives and works in Berlin and Vienna. Bradley’s articles have appeared in publications including AD, Art Agenda,, ArtReview, Bloomberg Businessweek, Conde Nast Traveller, Frame, Frieze d/e, GEO Saison, The International Herald Tribune, Mark, Metropolis, The New York Times, Spiegel Online, Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, The Sunday Times, German Vogue, Wallpaper City Guides, WSJ. Magazine, Zitty and many others. In 2001 she was an Arthur F. Burns fellow, and spent two months at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin in Munich. She is also Monocle’s Berlin correspondent and contributes frequently to the web radio station Monocle24.

Introduction to Creative Writing

Is there a story inside you that’s waiting to be told? Jane Flett, a BBC Radio short story author and one of Salt’s Best British poets, will be running a nine-week course for writers who would like to explore their ideas in fiction. Whether you’re writing prose for the first time or just need the motivation of a deadline to finish that story, the workshop will provide a supportive environment to share your writing and discover how to improve it. As well as receiving detailed feedback on your own work, you’ll also gain experience critiquing and editing your fellow writers. The course will include classes on narrative technique, characterisation, dialogue and voice, and writing exercises to get your inspiration flowing.

To book your place email

Jane Flett is a short story writer whose work has been commissioned for BBC Radio, read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, awarded the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award, and published in numerous literary journals. She features in the Best British Poetry 2012 and has toured Europe extensively performing her work. She has also taught this course in Prague and Copenhagen with Reader founder Victoria Gosling.


portrait of a dear one poster


Portrait of a Dear One promises to be a very special two-day workshop which will embrace creative writing, art, and simple book-making.  The first day, led by Faber and Faber author Clare Wigfall, invites you to spend time reflecting upon somebody who is dear to you.  This might be a lover, a parent, a grandparent, a child, or even a best friend.  With Clare’s gentle guidance, you will create a body of written work in which you explore your relationship with that person and consider precisely what makes them special to you.

Before day one’s close, Artist Educator Harriet Poole will introduce various techniques with which you can begin illustrating your words, such as mixed media, mono printing and hand-made stamps.  Day two will give you the opportunity to continue with your experiments before drawing these together with your work from the previous day to create a simple but beautiful artist’s book. Materials such as repurposed vintage book covers and a selection of old and textured papers will be provided.  This workshop guarantees to be inspiring, thoughtful, and enriching, and at its close you will go home with an exquisite handmade book which you could give to your loved one or simply treasure for yourself.

This workshop is open to people with all levels of experience in writing and art, for example you may be experienced in one field but totally new to the other, or maybe it is all new to you: all you need is a desire to exercise your natural creativity.  Both tutors will be present for the full duration of the course to assist you at any point.  The workshops will be conducted in English but all nationalities are warmly welcome.  Childcare is available through juggleHUB (at additional cost) to make this workshop accessible to parents.

CLARE WIGFALL – A graduate of the prestigious UEA Masters Programme, Clare has been teaching creative writing for over a decade and has taught workshops all over Europe, including for the Arvon Foundation and the BBC.  In addition, she has long held a passion for art, having studied at the Camberwell College of Art as well as running a successful life class in Prague, and has been crafting handmade books since she was a youngster.  This workshop offers an unbeatable opportunity to work closely with an author described as “an assured literary conjuror” (The Guardian) and the author of tales “sorrowful, disturbing and darkly beautiful” (London Review of Books).  Her debut story collection The Loudest Sound and Nothing was published by Faber and Faber to critical acclaim in 2007 and the following year its opening story was given the BBC National Short Award.  She is currently working on a new collection of stories and is under commission following that to write a novel set in early 20th century British Malaya based on incidents in the lives of her grandmother and great-grandmother.

HARRIET POOLE – Harriet has a BA in Fine Art and MA in Theatre (Visual Language of Performance, Wimbledon College of Art, London).  She has made many performative events exploring storytelling, including in London at The Nunnery, Camden People’s Theatre, Duckie @ The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and durational performances in Alte Saline, Hallein, Austria.  She especially loves beautifully illustrated books, intimate stories that explore the commonality of human experience, vintage and homemade craft, and creating artworks across live art, photography, video, illustration and craft.  Harriet is a qualified teacher of 17 years across adult education, colleges, schools, kindergartens  and the wider community.  Harriet is a diverse Arts Educator, and was Director of Visual Arts and Design at The BRIT School, London for 12 years.
In April 2014 she began b r e a t h e with art, Adult printmaking workshops and is well known for her innovative person-centred Family Arts Lab, little art, in Prenzlauer Berg.  She has taught at Berlin Bilingual School, Cosmopolitan School, and Kindergartens across Berlin.