Today, I volunteered at LitFest here in Chicago. I was basically a bouncer, making sure people had tickets to the event in my room. Perhaps not surprisingly, readers didn’t get too upset when I told them that no ticket meant they would have to wait and see if we had empty seats. Not surprising because readers aren’t known for rioting behavior. There really wasn’t even much grumbling, though. People just queued and talked about how excited they were to see the author.

When the panel discussions and author conversations opened up to the floor, many questions of the same flavor popped up: the behind-the-scenes peek. How do you get your ideas? Do your ideas come to you fully formed? How do you write?

One question that did jump out at me was “do your characters ever disappoint you?” The reader was asking about a particular character. Edith Pearlman said no for that character because she knew the ending before starting the story, but also no in general. I don’t remember if she gave a more detailed explanation (I did have to go in and out of the room at points).

I can’t say that I’ve ever been disappointed by my characters (my representation of them, yes, my characters, no). I may not like the choice they make, but I understand their reason in making it…or the reason I make them do it (depending on how you look at it). What about you?


3 thoughts on “Festing

  1. That’s quite an interesting thought! I’d never considered that before at all!!
    I would agree with you–I’ve never been dissapointed by my characters. They are undergoing the journey they have, the one that will get them exactly to where and who they need to be. I think if I were dissapointed by my characters I wouldn’t be able to write about them, or if I did it would be quite a dull story.
    To be honest, the notion is kind of hard for me to grasp. If they made all the right decisions from the onset there would be no story, right?

  2. bethfinke

    Sorry I missed you at the fest, and so glad to read that the volunteer job they gave you didn’t have you sitting behind a registration desk or something –you got to listen to some of the sessions, too.
    I went to a panel to hear Jesmine Ward and Bonnie Jo Campbell, I had read “Salvage the Bones” this past year so was interested in hearing what Jesmine Ward had to say, and though I’ve never (yet!) read anything by Bonnie Jo Campbell I enjoyed hearing from her, too. I needed help getting out of the room at the end and when the older woman who guided us out introduced herself, she said she was Bonnie’s aunt –fun! What I like most about attending sessions is how they motivate me to get back to my own writing – I see the fruits of their labors.

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