Yesterday after church, I was chatting with my friends Rose and Eni. Rose received a copy of my novel; Eni was an enthusiastic early reader. I am grateful to call Eni a friend. She is one of the kindest people I have ever met, with a heart of gold, and a deep, calm spirituality that grounds me.
She’s also one of my biggest fans…and it’s a nice ego boost to get both a hug and a few kind words from her!
She was telling Rose about my novel, and on the spur of the moment I asked Eni, “Who was your favorite character?” – in my new novel, “I Believe You.”
I fully expected her to say Eddie. Eni, with a mother’s heart, would naturally want to care for and protect little Eddie. But much to my delight, she said immediately, “The grandfather! I loved him.”
She meant Tibor, of course. Dear, outlandish, bear-hugging, bow-tie wearing, doesn’t-give-a-shit what anyone thinks 90-year-old Tibor. I was absolutely delighted. He’s one of my favorite characters; not just in “I Believe You”, but one of my favorite all-time characters. Sometimes he surprises even me, that one.
Whenever I ask that question – “Who is your favorite character?” – I listen carefully to the response. Many people cite Eddie, and most like David very much. Only a few point to Tibor, and Eni is the only person who mentioned Victor, a minor character. I was surprised by that but especially because she pictured him very differently than I picture him.
Another friend loved the character of Josh. I was as surprised by that as I was by Eni’s appreciation of Victor. Like Victor, I consider Josh, David’s second son, to be a minor character. He was probably the most difficult person in the book for me to ‘get right’ since I do not know many 16-year-old boys! Fortunately, my friend Regina teaches high school and has three sons of her own, so she quickly set me straight on a few things, like the fact that teenage boys eat copious amounts of food and wouldn’t say or do a few things that I had Josh doing in earlier drafts.
Whenever I talk to friends who are willing to share this kind of feedback, I notice a few interesting tidbits about their favorite characters. First, they project much of what they would do or feel onto the characters. It’s almost always because they find something in that character that resonates strongly with them. It’s either a characteristic they wish they had or a feeling that the character reminds them strongly of someone they know.
Your favorite characters, I think, say more about you than about the storyteller’s art. They tell me more about your hopes, dreams, and heart than you probably realize!
As for me, I’m not sharing who my favorite character in the story is! That would be too much, I think. I will say that characters become so realistic to me that they actually start doing and saying things that I wouldn’t necessarily have them do or say. I’m currently working on a new novel, and one character swears – a lot. He swears like a longshoreman and I’m absolutely astonished by this since I hate swearing! But it’s him, it’s Paul, and that’s who he is, and so he must be who he is…
Characters to an author become astonishingly real. In character-driven fiction, such as I Believe You and my latest work in progress, Salt and Light, the characters do indeed take on a life of their own.
The Latest Reviews of I Believe You…
The ending left me wanting to read more about these characters.
If Jeanne writes more fiction, I’ll be buying every book.