Boys and Girls, Beasts and Ghouls: The Art of Character Creation

Date(s): October 23, 2017 5:00 PM – October 28, 2017 11:00 AM
Cost: 10 lodging spots at $1375, 6 local attendee spots for $975. Lodging includes airport shuttle, and breakfast and lunches. Local spots include lunches only.
Faculty: N. Griffin and Hannah Barnaby
How to Apply:Click Here to Apply

Boys and Girls, Beasts and Ghouls: The Art of Character Creation
A Week in Residency with authors Hannah Barnaby and N. Griffin

Do you love creating plots for your novels and picture books . . . but then find that your characters fall flat? Have you done countless character building exercises but are still unsatisfied?

Join Hannah Barnaby (author of novels Wonder Show and Some of the Parts, as well as the forthcoming picture books Bad GuyGarcia & Colette Go Exploring; and There’s Something About Sam) and N. Griffin (author of the YA novel The Whole Stupid Way We Are, as well as the middle grade Smashie McPerter mystery series and another forthcoming YAto learn how to create memorable and lively characters—be they human or beast—in your realistic or fantastic stories. 

We’ll guide you through critique, lectures, and a variety of fun, interactive exercises to help create terrific, well-rounded people and creatures. We’ll also explore the ideas of setting and character development through written sketches, interviews, rumination, and sharing our writing. Individual writing time will focus on revision, based on our work together individually and as a group. Let us help you make your character the next Ramona Quimby or Buckbeak!

Texts will include books by: J.K. Rowling, Edward Eager, Rick Riordan, Jane Gardam, Brock Cole, Sandra Cisneros, Jacqueline Woodson, Beverly Cleary, Grace Lin, Sara Pennypacker, David Almond, and Neil Gaiman.


Who Should Apply to A Week in Residency with N. Griffin and Hannah Barnaby: 

  • Those with up to 50 pages of a young adult or middle-grade novel that is ready for critique with an eye toward revision.
  • Those with two picture book manuscripts ready for critique with an eye toward revision.
  • Those ready and willing to receive thoughtful and critical feedback during their one-on-one sessions.
  • Those wishing to delve deep into character creation.
  • Those wishing to deepen their understanding of craft techniques.
  • Those looking for inspiration, motivation, and tools to finish writing or polishing a complete draft of a novel or picture book.Those looking to try a new genre–novelists to experience brainstorming picture book ideas or picture book writers delving into novel plot and structure.


During this WEEK-LONG INTENSIVE you will have the opportunity to: 

  •  Discuss and receive written feedback on up to 50 pages of your novel or two picture book manuscripts in an hour long one-on-one session with one of the faculty members.
  • Write new pages during write-ins and in writing-prompt sessions.
  • Meet in informal critique groups with your fellow attendees.
  • Have ample time to revise and create.
  • Attend craft talks with our esteemed faculty: Hannah Barnaby and N. Griffin.
  • Delve deep into character creation.
  • Write in your shared room at The Book House, on-the wooded 7.5-acre grounds, in The Writing Barn library, or on the party porch.
  • Enjoy an evening reading or two, as workshop participants and faculty read from their work.
  • Meet and mingle with workshop participants from throughout the country.
  • Enjoy delicious vegetarian breakfasts and lunches.
  • Enjoy dinners (not included) at Austin area eateries and food trucks.
  • Meet Austin authors who may drop by The Writing Barn to say a special hello to YOU!



Hannah Barnaby

I love books. Almost every job I’ve ever had was, in some way, related to books. I have catalogued them, repaired them, barcoded them, shelved them, sold them, edited them, reviewed them. And now I get to write them! Of course, View More: have many other things on my “to do” list, but there’s nothing I like better than sneaking away for a few minutes and jotting down an idea for a new story. Beginnings are my favorite part of writing because everything is possible–I haven’t had to make any tough choices yet, and my characters aren’t sad or troubled or in danger. All of that comes later. It has to, or there’s no plot!

I also love to cook, knit, read, and watch television (but only shows with truly great writing). Here are some of my current favorites:

1. Billions
2. Homeland
3. Ray Donovan
4. Big Little Lies

Notice a pattern? They’re all dark, serious dramas with high stakes and lots of plot twists. Exactly like the books I aspire to write.

Nicole Griffin Bio Photo

N. Griffin is the author of The Whole Stupid Way We Are (Atheneum, 2013), for which she was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Flying Start Authors of 2013, as well as Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 (Candlewick, 2015). The next book in the Smashie McPerter series, Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of the Missing Goop (Candlewick, 2016), is available now.

She received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives outside of Boston. She has a lot of dogs.