I now return you to our chat with Benjamin Tate/ Joshua Palmatier, with his new book, Leaves of Flame.
3. What’s your first-draft process? outline, edit as you go, speed-writing?
That is my first-draft process: sit down and write, see where things go. I let everything grow as I work. This has the advantage that I can be as creative as I want to on that first draft. Anything that may change as the story progresses, altering events earlier in the book . . . all of those things can be fixed in revisions. So if I add a layer to the worldbuilding (say introduce a religion or something) in chapter 10 and it affects what happened in chapter 2, well, I work that change into chapter 2 AFTER I’ve finished that first draft and go back to revise. So, no outline, no editing as I go. And no speed-writing either. I just plog along until the first draft is done, and then worry about making everything work well together. I’ve found that my first drafts are often much cleaner when I do this (cleaner than you’d expect), and that the story unfolds as it’s supposed to. No, this process works well for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone, as I’ve found out talking to writers at cons and such. You have to find what works for you as a writer.
4. How do you start revisions?
Revisions are a little different than the first draft. I usually start by writing down a few things that I know need fixing. Basically, I make a “to do” list in a notebook–things like “add a scene here that does this” or “make certain to insert references to this religion where appropriate”. Stuff like that. I also have notes written on chapters from the beta readers who’ve taken this journey with me. Once these are all compiled, I start with page one in the finished manuscript and revise it from start to finish, crossing off things in my notebook as I do them. I always do revisions AFTER the first draft is complete, not changing anything along the way, and I always go through the revisions from page 1 to the end, in order. I may skip back occasionally and add something I forgot in an earlier portion during revisions, but I never skip to later in the book and add stuff. I just make a note to add whatever it is in my notebook and fill it in when I get to that point. It’s the method that works best for me, I’ve discovered.
5. If you could choose a few descriptors that would go in a blurb on the front cover of your book, what would they be?
Ooo, I get to write my own cover blurb? *grin* Ok, let’s see: “Tate takes the tropes of a standard fantasy and twists them for his own nefarious purposes, creating something completely new and yet still recognizable. The magic of the Wells is both healing and deadly, and the plight of his characters as they explore the newly discovered continent heart-rending and heroic.” Hmm . . . this is probably why we ask OTHER people to write our blurbs for us. But some good descriptors would be gritty, realistic, dark, wrenching yet touching. I’ve been complimented by others on the worldbuilding as well, which is great because I spent a lot of time trying to make the world as real as possible.
6. What cool thing would you put in the DVD extra version that didn’t get into the published work? research or created detail you had to cut or couldn’t use?
There was a section in WELL OF SORROWS that I ended up cutting completely. It was a travel scene, essentially, but it also helped expand the readers understanding of how much the world had changed during the time jump between sections. However, while I still think what happened in that section was cool, I didn’t feel like it “fit” with the rest of the novel, in tone and atmosphere and such. And the reader learns how much the world changed when the main character, Colin, reaches the port where the wagon train started out from. I’ve considered putting that section up online as a “deleted scene” but decided against that in the long run. There was a reason why that was cut, after all. I don’t want my “mediocre” stuff being read, only the really good stuff. *grin*
7. Where should readers go to find out more about your work?
If readers would like to learn more about Joshua Palmatier and the “Throne of Amenkor” series, they can check out www.joshuapalmatier.com. I also have news of short stories I’ve published up there, and anthologies I’ve co-edited with Patricia Bray. If they’d like to learn more about Benjamin Tate and the new “Well” series, they should check out www.benjamintate.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter (bentateauthor), and have a blog at jpsorrow.livejournal.com.