Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Digging Deeper with Catherine Austen: Nice is Not Enough–Developing Likeable and Unlikeable Characters

Date(s) - 01/14/2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

This workshop was rescheduled from November to January. Those who registered in November need not register again. We are holding a spot for you.

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This workshop is part of our DIGGING DEEPER series.SCBWI Canada East Digging Deeper Series image


What makes us root for a character? How flawed can a protagonist be? Is quirky the best we can make of sidekicks? Is there ever a role for a cliché? Must we empathize with evil to write well-rounded villains?

This workshop will focus on character development, why we attach to fictional characters and how we can develop characters that readers feel for—whether love or love to hate. With exercises designed to shift your point of view and move your fictional cast farther from your comfort zone, this workshop is made for novelists. (But picture book authors are welcome, too!) Come with characters from your work in mind, or start fresh from prompts to develop a spectrum of good guys, flawed heroes, memorable sidekicks, sympathetic villains, and bad guys.




Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. She is the author of two middle-grade novels (26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6); two picture books (My Cat Isis, illustrated by Virginie Egger, and When the Squirrels Stole my Sister, illustrated by Sean Cassidy); and two young adult novels (Walking Backward and All Good Children). Her books have won the Hackmatack, the Sunburst, the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s Literature, and the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals including The Fiddlehead, The New Quarterly, and The Dalhousie Review.

Catherine lives in Gatineau, Quebec. For more information, see


Cost for members: $15.

Registration deadline: midnight on January 13.

Attendees will receive two emails upon registration — a Booking Pending email followed by a Booking Confirmed email. The Booking Confirmation email is issued when payment has been successful. The Booking Confirmed email will contain a link to the workshop, so please hold onto this email and use the link provided to join the meeting on the date of the event. If you have not received your confirmation email within 48 hours of registering for the event, please check your SPAM folder first. If you find the Booking Confirmed email in your SPAM, you may wish to consult our FAQ page to avoid this issue in the future. If you have not received your confirmation, please contact Alma Fullerton.

A recording of each Digging Deeper workshop will be available for a month after the event (unless the presenter prefers not to be recorded). Attendees will receive a link and a password by email on the following Monday.

International members only: If our payment system isn’t processing your credit card or PayPal payment, click here to request an alternate method of payment. Please include your name and address in your request. We will respond to you within 48 hours.