Being a keen book reader, I've always been curious about Writers' Week. Unfortunately, work and other commitments have usually prevented me from attending. This year my schedule was clear and I was able to go to six sessions. This post provides a brief overview, with some notes and observations of the sessions I attended last week. <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/writers_week/Adelaide_Writers_Week_2016> 1. Overview Writers' Week 2016 spanned six days, with fourteen hour-long sessions per day. It was held in the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden, between Government House and Victoria Drive. All sessions were free and open to the public. Most of the sessions covered one or two books, with the authors on stage answering questions from an interviewer/facilitator. Authors gave a brief reading from their book. Some sessions were more general in nature, covering various aspects and styles of writing. Towards the end of each session, audience members were invited to ask questions. After the session, authors were available to sign books brought by attendees or purchased on site. Attendance was high for most of the sessions. Despite its name, the vast majority of attendees were not writers at all. Personally, I think "Adelaide Book Week" better reflects the nature of the event. Overall, I found all the sessions interesting and worthwhile. Lots of topics were covered, and all the panelists did a good job. I picked up suggestions for at least three books to read, and I reevaluated my opinion of a book I read last year. 2. Sessions Attended Here are some observations and notes from the six sessions I attended. I didn't take any formal notes, so I'm relying on my memory when attributing the notes to the sessions. "New Worlds" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/New_Worlds> The panel featured two overseas authors whose latest books were about 20th Century migrants. * Stories are often based on actual events, with one or more elements embellished/tweaked and taken from there. * Extensive research can lead to comprehensive backstories, most of which never makes it to the finished novel (in one author's case, he ritualistically destroyed those original drafts). * For marketing purposes, publishers want to start promoting a book long before it is finished; experienced writers learn how to manage info flow to hide lack of progress or prevent being locked into specifics too early. "Fairy Tale" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/Fairy_Tale> The panel featured two overseas authors whose latest books incorporate some elements of fairy tales. * Authors don't always start out with a specific theme in mind, and nor do they always set out to preach. * Novels can incorporate genre elements to connect characters and to help with storytelling. * Can't rely on inspiration alone; in fact, most stories grow organically. "The Making of a Writer" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/The_Making_of_a_Writer> The panel covered the general topic of how one becomes a writer. * The panelists re-emphasised the point that writers are readers first, and should continue reading as widely as possible to get new perspectives and refine their own writing. * Writers can be very superstitious, which is reflected in their work. * Even successful authors fill in time by working "day jobs", such as editing or teaching creative writing. "Undermajordomo Minor" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/Undermajordomo_Minor> A Canadian author was interviewed about his third and latest book. * A book can have multiple editors, in different regions or for different publishers. * Editors of the featured book asked for ending to be rewritten, and the author agreed. * The author finished writing, but didn't have a title; one of the editors ended up suggesting the title. * Writing is often a very isolating endeavour. * One audience question was about a controversial scene in the book, which the author knew could be divisive but he ultimately decided to leave it in. "Telling Tales" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/Telling_Tales> The panel featured two female Aussie authors discussing their recent collections of short stories. * Authors can tire of their own characters; some characters can sustain author's interest for a short story, but not an entire novel. * Some promising stories hit the wall, while others may start appear unpromising, but can grow steadily to novel-length. * Reiterated that stories are not usually meticulously pre-planned in advance. * Some creative writing courses, particularly in the US, churn out writers having the same unoriginal and formulaic styles. "Under Cover" <http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2016/adelaide_writers_week/Under_Cover> A veteran editor provides some behind-the-scenes anecdotes about writers' festivals, authors and publishing. * Publishers can be sloppy, with the interviewee describing how a whole chapter was left out of a novel by a popular author (Peter Carey) and nobody noticed until months after the book was published. * Patience is required, as it can take many years to get a book written and published. * Even experienced editors need to have their books and chapters restructured.