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?