Topics in What a Character! Humour Writing Workshop

Workshop Topics

Main characters and their relationships

How well do your characters really know each other?  How much do they want to know each other?  Nana and the main characters in P.S. Don’t Tell Your Mother knew each other to varying degrees.  The story shows just how well Nana knows herself.

Setting and theme

How does this affect the main characters, and how do they react to their surroundings?   The theme, though humorous, is about prejudice, which was a recurring problem in the Pacific Northwest in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The example is Nana Noonan, and how she uses the setting of Telkwa to stand her ground against prejudice.

Back story

Why, you could write a book about how important it is to develop your characters and know what they are like, not just how they look … or act.  By the end of the story, readers know a lot about Nana and her character.  That’s because she has a very developed back story.


Examples of real situations that Nana and Maggie found themselves in, and how they react in a positive or negative way.  The way they react can be serious or humorous.

Age-related points of view (POV) and levels of experience

Nana and Maggie are fifty years apart in age. It all depends on which POV they react, and the reasons are not always what they seem.

Opposites react and attract

Deep feelings come up when characters don’t take the time to get to know one another. Just look at Nana and The Jehovah.

Completing the character’s story

Writers tell readers what is going to happen at the beginning of a sentence, paragraph or chapter. How to tidy up by the end of the story, and make sure that readers aren’t left wondering what happened to a character.

Maintaining the character’s voice, strong and true

Nana has a strong voice throughout the story.  Example of how the reader takes ownership of Nana, and think they know her well. Or wish they did.

Detailed descriptions of people, places, and things

Each story is about a time in history. How to keep track of descriptions and refer back to people, places and things as you tell your story. Example of a scene at the end of the book, where Nana compares an owl introduced early on in the story to a couple more incidents toward the end of the story.