An Answer from R.A. Salvatore

Last Wednesday I made a post about editing and revising entitled:  Bane of the Author: Editing and Revising.  In that post, I mentioned that I sent a question to fantasy author, R.A. Salvatore.  He is most famous for his Drow warrior, Drizzt Do’Urden, and has some infamy within the Star Wars community.

The question I asked was if he found that he did less editing and revising as his career progressed.  As if he had locked down a style that flowed smoother from the beginning.  I wasn’t that eloquent in the question due to nerves and I’m-Not-Worthy syndrome.

I have received the following reply from Mr. Salvatore:

“Usually, yes, but that comes in no small part from the fact that the mechanics of what I do are pretty much set within tighter parameters now. Also, since I’m writing many of the same characters, I know them intimately – they can’t act “out of character.”

This is quite telling.  An author who makes a career of a core of characters and in the same setting can find it easier to get into a permanent groove.  A character that you’ve been writing for 16 years (Drizzt debuted in 1988) will be easier to work with and you won’t have to go back and fix them.  They’re set in your mind and accessing their voice is second-nature.

I’d like to publicly thank Mr. Salvatore for taking the time to answer my question.  This makes up for ‘The Last Threshold’ constantly beating me down in the Amazon Listings.  😀  So, what do people think of his response?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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28 Responses to An Answer from R.A. Salvatore

  1. greenembers says:

    Makes sense to me! Did I beat Ionia?! But back to what I was saying, yeah, with a core group of characters it would definitely become familiar. Almost boring after a time I would think. For writers like this, is if they do something completely different to make sure the new characters don’t have some of the same voice… as the old characters. I hope my mad ramblings make sense, lol.

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    • Characters like people can always evolve, so I don’t think it would be that boring if the author works on evolution. Drizzt has been going since 1988, so there has to be something to the idea.

      You did beat Ionia.

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  2. I’d have to agree with Mr. Salvatore’s assessment. Once you lock down the mechanics, the rest should (sometimes, maybe, if they’re behaving) fall into place.

    Also, my son is a pretty big fan of Salvatore’s Drizzt series, and thinks its really cool that you got a response back. Just had to share! 🙂

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  3. C.N. Faust says:

    I am so envious that you had correspondence with my hero!! >.<

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  4. Salvatore is the shizz, just sayin….

    And I agree with him…. the more you get to know the story, and the more the characters take on a life of their own once birthed. the more you go back and fix things that just don’t fit or need elaborating on. Yet when you have characters that have been your companions for so long, then you know who they are and what they do, so the editing isn’t as extensive.

    Drizzt is one sexy mo fo…. I’d LOVE to see a live action of him….

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  5. Bastet says:

    Fantastic! Salvatore in person….gasp…I’m sharing this on my son’s facebook page…We love Drizzt (he’s only a year older than my son 😉 )!

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  6. Ryan Brooks says:

    That’s super awesome, Charles. Very interesting. I personally find extended fantasy series a little tedious. How someone writes about the same characters for so long is beyond me. The Magician is one of my favourite books of all time, and I couldn’t even make it passed ‘A Darkness at Sethanon’ (3rd in the series). I feel like the characters either do indeed become predictable over time, or else the author resorts to portraying the character in a way beyond the scope of the character’s original vision in the interest of keeping themselves and the audience interested. Don’t get me wrong, I love character development, but there comes a point when a character’s portrayal so wildly swings that that it feels more like melodrama than drama, especially in long term fantasy series because they often don’t have closed story arcs (Game of Thrones and Wheel of Time may be exceptions to this rule, though again, haven’t mad it passed the first books :)). Phew, rant over. I did enjoy the early Drizz’t books also. ^^

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    • I think fantasy has more short term than long term series. I’m going as high as 15 with mine, but I have multiple characters to evolve. You can do it through various life-changing events such as betrayal, death of family, marriage, kids, losing magic, possession, etc. There are ways to keep the character evolving for a time. Eventually, you do have to stop unless you have a fanbase that will follow the character wherever he goes.

      That might be another factor. The same character can be overlooked if they are involved in unique, exciting adventures. One of the glorious things about fantasy is that a great setting and adventure can overshadow even a great hero. People might want to see the same character handle different situations instead of a new one being brought in for every plot. Still, a character does not to retire at some point. Except James Bond and every comic book hero in existence. Those guys will never go away.

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  7. keladelaide says:

    Well done. I would be too scared to contact my fave author, who was also my uni mentor. What would I say?

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  8. I think that it was very good of him taking time to answer in first place. You always think that you’ll never get a reply off busy and famous people!
    Said that, I think that it is a good thing working with characters you’re familiar with because after a while they become like family and the places become real in a way!
    On the other hand, after a while you want to try something different, otherwise you’ll be labelled!
    More than that, I hate when I cannot write something different than fantasy…I’d love to be versatile like Stevenson for example!

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    • I think it depends on the author too. Several authors have made careers solely off one character. Ian Fleming with James Bond, for example. I wouldn’t mind being known entirely for my fantasy books, which is why I’m probably going to stay in there for as many stories as I can. Again, that’s just my standard and I know many authors that can branch out into other genres with ease. If you can then I say go for it and enjoy your versatility.

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      • Yeah I agree with you! Something is sure, it’s not easy! Again, I wish I could but I cannot! I love fantasy so I think that I’ll end up sticking to it!
        Maybe I can try different variances of fantasy and I’ll be done with it. But you never know! 😀

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      • You can always do double genres. Romantic fantasy, fantasy horror, etc. I have a few future series that are Vampire Fantasy and Magi-Tech Fantasy. Also I figured out a way to put superheroes in my fantasy world. 😀

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      • Yeah that could be nice! But than again you’re supposed to be able to write the other genre! Say for example if I tried to write horror I could scare only myself!!!!
        And there are many ‘books’ about writing that say isn’t a good idea mix them! I’m nor sure about this but I think there’s nothing wrong with it!

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      • I’ve heard of their books. All I’ll say is that if Stephen King can wander out of horror to write dark fantasy then genre mixing is fair game. 😀

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      • Oh yeah, this is a good point! I think I’m going to think about that! And in case give it a go! Thanks!

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      • You’re welcome. 😀

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