Levity & Humor: Infusing the Right Level of Funny in Your Chapter Book, MG or YA Novel

Online | Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels
No matter which way you decide to tell your story, you can infuse levity and humor onto the page to hook, connect, and resonate with your reader.  Join middle grade author Chris Tebbetts for weekly live sessions to learn more about bringing humorous and heartfelt moments to your novel, at the level of funny that is right for you!

October 26, 2023 - November 9, 2023




A 3-Week Online Course + Individual Consultation

Stories for chapter books, middle grade, and teen novels can be told in so many ways: laugh-out-loud contemporaries, action-packed graphic memoirs, emotionally-charged novels-in-verse, and more.  No matter which way you decide to tell your story, you can infuse levity and humor onto the page to hook, connect, and resonate with your reader.  Join middle grade author Chris Tebbetts for weekly live sessions to learn more about bringing humorous and heartfelt moments to your novel, at the level of funny that is right for you!

A special pre-recorded interview with Kekla Magoon will add to the learning during week one of the course, along with special guests visiting the live sessions during week two and week three!

  • Live Lectures on Thursdays 7-8:30pm Eastern (with closed captioning; October 26, November 2, and November 9).  Please note the optional sharing opportunity on November 9.
  • Recordings available to attendees within 24 hours of each live session, with access to recordings until December 31, 2023.
  • A live 1:1 consultation post-course to discuss feedback on up to 1,000 words (details provided at the last live session)
  • 25 participants max

Why This Workshop?

Humor and levity work on so many levels in novels and chapter books.

It shapes characters and relationships. It brings settings to life. It amplifies emotional energy to make a reader laugh and/or cry.

But we know that humor can be difficult to get onto the page.  Just like many other writing skills, developing humor and levity takes play, practice, and an understanding of what tone and level of “funny” is right for the story you’re telling.

In this course, we’ll:

  • Find the level of funny that is right for you and your story.
  • Gauge your book’s humor and levity, whatever this means in your case— including for a serious story.
  • Build character consistencies and relationships as they relate to humor.
  • Uncover the beats of writing humorous dialogue.
  • Break down the mechanics and rhythm of humor on the page.

You’ll also get a 1:1 consultation with Chris Tebbetts post course on up to 1,000 words from your project.

Feedback Expected

  • Opportunities to share with informal discussion in the virtual classroom.
  • You and Chris will meet for a 1:1 consultation, post-course. Chris will review up to 1,000 words from your work in progress. (This is included in the price of the course, though not required if your needs don’t align with a 1:1 consultation.)

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You write chapter books, middle grade, or teen fiction or memoir, or you are looking to start writing for this audience.
  • You have an idea, a work-in-progress, or a completed first draft. You can participate in this workshop with or without a work in progress.
  • You know that your story needs some humor, but you aren’t sure how to get there. This program will help you see that finding your level of funny will allow you to naturally weave humor into your story.
  • You like the structure of an online course with engaging presentations. Some learning will need to take place on your own, offline.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

At registration: You will have the OPTION to submit the first 1,000 words of your manuscript. A few samples will be pulled for open discussion during the course. This is not a critique, but a conversation with the group about the submission. This is not a requirement. If you do not want your sample to be considered for this discussion, do not submit the sample of your work. (Please note: the included critique and submission will come at the end of the course.)

Approximately one week prior to your course: You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow authors and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).


Week One

LIVE Zoom Session: Thursday, October 26 (7pm – 8:30pm Eastern)

  • Welcome from the Highlights Foundation
  • Presentation One: Language, Contrast, and Character
  • Virtual Classroom Overview (and accessing pre-recorded materials.)

In the virtual classroom:

  • Pre-recorded video with Kekla Magoon
  • Ask questions and share reflections
Week Two

LIVE Zoom Session: Thursday, November 2 (7pm – 8:30pm Eastern)

  • Special Guest Crystal Allen
  • Presentation Two: Make This Funnier: Tools for the Toolbox

In the virtual classroom:

  • Ask questions and share reflections
  • How the optional peer-to-peer session will work (no facilitators)
Week Three

LIVE Zoom Session: Thursday, November 9 (7pm – 8:30pm, and optionally, 8:30-9pm* Eastern)

  • Special Guest Chris Grabenstein: Discussion on Superiority, Relief, and Incongruity
  • Presentation Three: Story Work (Outlining, Plot, and So Much More!)
  • Submission details for final consultation
  • Optional (but encouraged) peer to peer sharing of your work for discussion
1:1 Consultation
(Scheduled 4 – 6 weeks following your submission.)

  • You and Chris will meet post course to discuss 1,000 words of your work in progress.

Commitment Required for the Best Experience

This course is best if you attend or watch all lectures. We recommend setting aside time to try the homework so that you can participate in the partner discussion. (Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend the live sessions and you would still like to register, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available until December 31, 2023.)

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

How It Impacts Kids

Humor and levity engages readers on an emotional level. Develop ways to infuse levity into your chapter book or novel so children can connect with your story.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Chris Tebbetts is an extraordinary teacher—his direct critique went straight to the heart of my novel and the techniques he provided, through the live and recorded sessions gave me revision tools which are relevant to my manuscript and to my overall writing goals.”

“Chris Tebbetts is the best instructor I have ever had! He provided an abundance of helpful information in a variety of formats, and interacts in a very helpful manner.”

“The Comedy Workshop was great and I liked that we got a critique with that one.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests


October 26, 2023 - November 9, 2023




When you register for this course, you’ll receive information via email to confirm.

For mini courses (one or two nights only), you’ll receive webinar links immediately to use on the evening of the course.

For longer courses, you’ll receive an invitation to your virtual classroom as the workshop approaches.

Learn more about the technology that we use for our online workshops.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.