It takes good characters: Author sharing writing tips this weekend

She writes national best-selling novels, and she doesn't mind sharing her secrets. Halifax author Donna Morrissey is giving a workshop in Charlottetown this weekend.

Best-selling novelist Donna Morrissey is giving tips on how to get readers to believe in your characters

Halifax author Donna Morrissey will lead a workshop in Charlottetown March 4 and 5. (PEI Writers' Guild)

With six national best-selling novels to her credit, Halifax author Donna Morrissey knows how to make a character come off the page and into our hearts.

She's been invited by the PEI Writers' Guild to head a workshop called Archetypes, Characters and You, taking place Saturday and Sunday in Charlottetown.

Morrissey says she doesn't have a problem helping out prospective competition.

"I've got a lot to share, and I learned everything I know the hard way, alone in my room," she told Mainstreet's Angela Walker. "So I've got a growing bunch of tips and tricks that I do, and I don't mind sharing because we were never, ever going to write the same books."

Morrissey feels even a two-day workshop can save a writer a lot of time and anguish.

The Fortunate Brother is the third book in Donna Morrissey's trilogy about the Now family of Newfoundland.

"I wish I would have had some instruction, I was always reinventing the wheel," she sad. "There was so much that I didn't know, and that I found through trial and error. Like how to tone a passage, how to move a scene forward, how to know when a scene has ended. And how to edit, and re-edit, and how good writing grows out of bad writing."

With her character-driven novels, Morrissey has found that writers need to let their heroes and villains develop naturally, instead of forcing a personality on them.

"You have to learn how to immerse yourself in a character, and be guided by that character," she said. "Readers know when they're reading a book if a character is not authentic, if it's not working. They might not know when they're casting a book aside, but they know when they're not being sold."

Kit's Law is another of Morrissey's best-sellers.

She teaches a lot of these workshops, and finds it's not only writers that want to pick up her insider information.

"A lot of people just want to get closer to it," she said. "They do the workshops with no intention of writing a book, but sometimes just to get closer to a novel, how a novel is written, how to read a novel through different eyes."

The writing workshop takes place at the Haviland Club from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day. To register, you can email

From the Mainstreet interview by Angela Walker