North West Scoobies Take a Pride in Their Appearance

George Kirk
Steve Hartley
I love to read Steve Hartley’s Danny Baker and Oliver Fibbs books, they’re full of characters that leap off the page and make you giggle. So I was really looking forward to Steve’s character workshop ‘Keeping Up Appearances’.

But to be honest, the day didn’t start well. First my bus driver refused to give me a ticket all the way to Deansgate because it was closed. Then I discovered all the people on the bus were wearing far more impressive hats than me, a state of affairs I am really not used to. Still, not to be deterred, when the bus stopped on the outskirts of Manchester city centre, I gathered up all my enthusiasm and power walked my way passed the rather colourful crowds.

Suddenly I was met by an on coming Christopher Biggins sat atop a rather snazzy looking convertible in a lovely yellow jacket!

Really, how am I supposed to get anywhere with all theses balloons in the way?
(Photo courtesy of MEN Media)
Quickly I ducked into City Library and began adding up the clues. The crowded streets, the big hats, Christopher Biggins. Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, we’re somewhere over the rainbow! That’s right, we’d crashed down right in the centre of Manchester Pride and our library conference room had one of the best views in the city. As many of our party were understandably delayed we had plenty of time to watch and wave out of the window. We even saw the Queen… kind of. paying close attention to people’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice and language you can soon identify the four major character types, analytical, amiable, expressive and drivers.

Eventually it was time to the serious business of character development. Very serious. No we mustn’t giggle as Steve tries to vocalise over Madness ‘One Step Beyond’ at full volume from the street outside.

In his pre-writer life Steve often delivered training courses to professionals people to help them improve their people reading skills. They were based on the theories of the father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung. He showed that by paying close attention to people’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice and language you can soon identify the four major character types, analytical, amiable, expressive and drivers. Sound a bit heavy for a Saturday afternoon? Not when Steve demonstrated each one with an array of impressions of our countries venerable politicians and celebrities.

Just obsereve Steve’s mild eyes, his relaxed, open posture.
Yes, there’s an amiable and no mistake. 
We had a lot of fun analysing ourselves and each other. We even decided whose character was most suited to the position of prime minister. But fun as it was, how can all this psycho babble help us with our writing? Well Steve has taken what he has learned from his previous career and made it relevant to writers. Once we know and understand these character types in the real world then it becomes easier to recreate them in our stories. By staying close to their behavioural models our characters become more believable and consistent.

Even more helpful still, once we know what type our character is, we know exactly how they will behave under pressure. And let’s face it, love our characters though we do, we love to make them suffer for our art even more!

I’m quite new to this
but I think this lovely character may be an analytical.
What do you think? 
(Photo courtesy of M
EN Media)
I’m quite new to this but I think this lovely character may be an analytical. What do you think?  So, as the last of the colourful characters followed each other down the grey tarmac road it was time to click my heels together and mutter, ‘There’s no place like home’. It worked! Up popped a very amiable character to offer me a lift and save me from the wicked bus driver of the Pendle Witch Way. So I’m glad to say, I went home head held high in my new hat, and it was a very happy ending.

George Kirk, expressive amiable.

With Thanks to MEN Syndication and photographer Andrew Stuart, for the great pictures of Manchester Pride on Parade, Saturday 24th August 2013.
Copyright to Andrew Stuart - email, 07841537040

George Kirk
George wrote as soon as she could hold a pencil but never anything factual.  She teaches at a primary school in East Lancashire and finds the relationships and diversity within the White British, Bengali and Pakistani community it serves, truly inspirational. George has been published in A Pocketful of Moondust and in 2011, her picture book text 'Once Upon a Princess...' went on to win a national award. She is now developing two series - a respectable snot fantasy for 7-9 year olds and a culturally diverse fantasy for 9-11.


  1. I LOVED that workshop! I so wanted to to be an amiable but it turned out I was an expressive, a shy one.

  2. It was a really fun workshop, I see characters in a new light. signed Amiable Analytical


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