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MisCon 2018 ()
#51 Copy


Speaking of the cosmere, because it's this multiverse that's the setting for all these different epic fantasy series, do you ever feel restricted by the cosmere in a sense of sort of wanting to do with a plot or the magic or wanting something really epic to happen but be like, "Wait that's not legal in the system I've created?" 

Brandon Sanderson

It doesn't happen very often because, most of the times in my outlining process, I notice these things and I move something out of the cosmere. If it's just not going to work with the cosmere magic, it just doesn't have to be cosmere. And I'm really glad I gave myself that freedom because I think that you can get too locked in, right? If I'm like, "Everything has to be cosmere!" then either I'm going to break it, which is going to decrease the value of the continuity, or I'm just not going to be able to write some books that I'm excited about. And I don't like either of those options.

And so being able to say, "You know what? This magic that I'm working on for FTL does not match any of the ways that the cosmere FTL could work. I'm going to move this out of the cosmere." That's what happened to Skyward. Skyward was in the cosmere for a little while, but then I moved it out. I'm like, "No this matches other stuff better. I'm going to go with this FTL, that is not a cosmere FTL." That frees me like--

Skyward is a science fiction space opera, starship pilots and things like that. And if I would have done this in the cosmere, I would have just had to avoid talking about things that would be spoilers for other cosmere books, which would have been terrible, right? So either you have the Skyward books that have their hands bound so that I can't give spoilers, or Skyward gives all the spoilers, and then cool things happening in the future of the cosmere are just like, "whatever". I take option number three, which is I'm just not going to do this as a cosmere book because obviously it doesn't fit.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#52 Copy


For the Saint in Skyward, I just love the funny prophet character. What was your inspiration for that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the Saint in Skyward. Not giving any spoilers. When I was working on this character, I was really looking for something-- I look for linguistic cues. Because if you can have linguistic cues to who's talking and what the character's like, and something that'll characterize them through their language, that makes it so much better in storytelling, because you don't have to put that in narrative, you can put it in the flow of a conversation. And you'll notice, at least I've noticed, that a lot of the great screenwriters look for these sorts of things, so they can tag who is speaking, even if it's offscreen, by the way that they are talking, and I just love to do this. And a lot of these things come out of me taking a scene and working with it and casting different people in the roles and trying their voices until I hit on one that I say, "That's interesting, let's dig into this further", and that's what happened there.

Legion Release Party ()
#53 Copy


What technology that you have heard of recently in real life has inspired fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

There's gotta be something in Skyward, right? Maybe?

Obviously, the Legion stories are, all three of them, inspired by real-world technology that I read something interesting about, and then go and write a story about. The first one, taking pictures of the past with a camera, not a real-world technology, but I was reading about photography and things like that. The second one, storing data inside of human cells, that's a real thing that lots of people are trying to do that, it's very interesting. And I didn't want to do a story about that, because I thought other people would do stories about that, so I did a story where someone storied data in a body and then lost it. And the third one is directly inspired by my kids love of their VR.

Skyward Anchorage signing ()
#56 Copy


How do you go about jumping from something like Stormlight into a science fiction instead, of something like Skyward?

Brandon Sanderson

This is an interesting question for me because, as a writer, I don't look at genre trappings perhaps the same way that you might. I look at story structure and genre trappings as two very different things. Two very important things, but two very different things. And story structure is different.

For instance, the Bridge Four sequence from Way of Kings and the movie Hoosiers and the book Ender's Game are all what we call underdog sports stories. And those are three different stories in three different genre trappings. Modern-day, science fiction, and fantasy; and yet all three of them use the same plot archetype as the core of their story. And you'll find, for instance, that a buddy cop movie and a regency romance will sometimes use the exact same plot archetypes, despite being different subgenres. And so, as a writer, one of the things we do is we start to learn to divide plot archetype, character archetype, genre trappings, and all of these things to build the story that we want to with the feel we want to.

So that's kind of like, when people ask me, "Star Wars. Science fiction, or fantasy?" Well, it's a fantasy plot archetype. (Really, it's a western plot archetype, but they both use the same idea.) The plot archetype is fantasy, it's the hero's journey epic; and the genre trappings are science fiction. So I would place it in science fiction, but with fantasy underpinnings.

So when I'm moving from Way of Kings to Skyward, it's not so much about how the shift between fantasy versus science fiction is. Really, the things I'm looking for that are the big shift are: a narrow focus on one character, versus a wide focus on a large cast. That's the biggest difference for me. Also, the kind of setting-as-character in Stormlight Archive, where you're going to get to know this deep setting, versus setting-as-mystery, which is the setting archetype I'm using for Skyward. We don't know what the enemy is. We're trying to figure out what's going on. We don't know our past.

So those sorts of things, I look as very differently as a writer than I think maybe a reader might look at them.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#58 Copy


For those who haven't seen this before, Brandon recently updated his website to show that he's started working on a new "Mystery Project".

Anyways, Brandon mentioned in his interview with Crendor that, over the summer, he finally managed to craft a really solid outline for Dark One, and I'm almost certain this is his mystery project.

Dark One is a Cosmere YA story that has stymied Brandon for years on end, so it'd be no surprise that he'd want to write it as soon as possible now that he's "finally cracked it" and has a storyline he's confident with. I can just see him cackling at the idea of springing this on us out of the blue after all these years. We're on to you, Brandon!

Brandon Sanderson

It was almost Dark One...but I have other plans for that right now.

This is a different book that has been brewing for many years that I finally decided to work on. I probably won't talk about this until State of the Sanderson, though, because it will take some explaining.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#59 Copy


What was your biggest challenge when writing Skyward? And possibly as a follow on - are there any new challenges or surprises that come to you as a writer even after all these years of doing it ?

Brandon Sanderson

The biggest challenge to Skyward was getting the actual fighter-pilot stuff right, followed closely by the fact that I didn't really have a safety net for this book. Having already pulled a book from the publisher, and having a very small time to get this one written, I felt I really needed to nail it on first try--and I did, fortunately.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#60 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My Year

January–June: Oathbringer Revisions

I spent most of this year doing revisions for Oathbringer. I did several exhaustive drafts during the January–June months, and did the final handoff to Peter (for copyediting and proofreading) right at the end of June.

June–Mid September: The Apocalypse Guard

Then, for the first time in what felt like forever (it was really only about sixteen months), I got a chance to work on something that wasn't Oathbringer or Edgedancer. I launched right into The Apocalypse Guard, the follow-up to The Reckoners…and it didn't work. I spent July, August, and part of September writing that. (I finished the last chapter sometime in early September, and turned in the second draft a few weeks later.)

September–October: Legion 3

I was already feeling a little discouraged by that book not quite coming together, though at that point I assumed I'd be able to fix it in revisions. (Well, I still think I can do that–I just think it will take more time.) Mid-September, I launched into Legion Three: Lies of the Beholder. That took around a month to finish, bringing us to mid-October. By then, I knew something was seriously wrong with The Apocalypse Guard, as my revision attempts were fruitless. So, I called Random House and pulled the book–then launched into Skyward.

October–November: Skyward

I have been writing on that book ever since, and you can read the blog post yesterday about that.

November–December: Oathbringer Tour

The tour was wonderful–somehow both exhausting and energizing at the same time. Here are some of the fan costumes that showed up this year. Thank you all for coming out to see me!

December so far: Skyward

Unfortunately, and I know you guys know to watch for them, there are no hidden or secret novellas or books for this year. I have been running around feeling behind all year, first on Oathbringer, and then trying to find a replacement for The Apocalypse Guard.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#61 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects


It's time to take a little breather. I've begun working on the outline for book four, which is kind of a mess right now because of things I've been moving around between books as I write. My goal this year for Stormlight will be to have rock-solid outlines for books four and five done by December 2018.

My current projection is that I'll spend half of my time writing Stormlight, and half of it doing other things. (I spoke last year about just how big an undertaking a Stormlight book is–and why I can't write them back to back.) I realize that many of you would prefer to have only Stormlight, but that would drive me insane–and drive the series into the ground.

I think this is a realistic schedule. So, I'm giving myself 2018 to work on Skyward (hopefully a trilogy) and other projects. Then on January 1st, 2019, I go back to Stormlight refreshed and excited to be back in Roshar, and I write on book four until it's done. (With a 2020 or 2021 release, depending on how the writing goes.) I do hope to find time for a novella, like Edgedancer, that we can put out between books. This one is tentatively called Wandersail.

For those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive is a ten-book series composed of two five-book arcs.

Status: Writing outline for book four.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#62 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects


Wax and Wayne 4 is on the slate next after I finish Skyward. (Though if it's going well, I may do the entire trilogy for Skyward first.) I need four or five months at least to do Wax and Wayne, so rain or shine, my plan is to get into this on September 1st at the latest. Hopefully a little earlier.

This will wrap up the second era of Mistborn books. (And yes, I've settled—at long last—on just calling it that. All the other terms I tried were just too confusing.) Once the Wax and Wayne books are done, I'll look to do something else for a little while before coming back for Era Three. (1980s spy thriller Mistborn.)

Status: To be written in 2018.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#63 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We'll have the Skyward beta coming up soon.


Oh cool. Yeah, I'll bug Kara and Peter. See if they need some help with that.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm, yep. We need teenagers for that one. We're going to have a separate teenager one, because it's a YA, and an adult one. And the adult one is to find all the nitpicky stuff, and the teenager one is just "respond to each chapter, what did you think of it?"

Skyward Denver signing ()
#64 Copy


You were talking before about how, when a book's not working out, you moved on to something else, and then it started to come together in your mind. Was that something that you-- you were moving on to something else and all these other ideas started popping up? Or were you revisiting your other book every now and then?

Brandon Sanderson

Every now and then I'm revisiting it, and I spend a few days on the outline saying, "How is this going? Are things working?" With [Skyward], it was starting to click, so I went specifically back to this one as things were clicking. I keep a folder of these half-finished outlines that aren't working for some reason or the time isn't right yet. And every time it's time to start a new book, those are all in the consideration.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#65 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

...[Skyward] is teen, 'cause it's in my Reckoners line, and it's a story I've been playing with for some four years now, and I built an outline, and it's kind of like a cross between How to Train your Dragon and Top Gun, with starfighters. A girl finds an old broken-down starship with a really screwy AI that she thinks she can get up and running. In the meantime, she gets into starfighter school and is learning to be a pilot, and there's all kinds of mysteries and things about the nature of really what's happening with the planet why they're being attacked, and things like that. It's a whole lot of fun.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#66 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Projected Schedule

My projected publication schedule looking forward swaps The Apocalypse Guard out for Skyward and moves the Legion collection into the place of Wax and Wayne 4, reflecting what I actually wrote this year. (Note, these are always very speculative. And Peter is probably already worried about Stormlight 4.)

September 2018: Stephen Leeds/Legion Collection

November 2018: Skyward

Fall 2019: Wax and Wayne 4

Sometime 2019: Skyward 2

Sometime 2020: Stormlight 4

Sometime 2020: Skyward 3

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#68 Copy


Hey, is Brandon willing to tell us which universe Skyward is in yet? He said a while aback that it was in a universe (not cosmere) that he'd written before.

Brandon Sanderson

So, here's the thing--it's a pretty big spoiler. Meaning if you know the novella this is tied to (and it's one of the ones mentioned in this thread) you'll know a moderately large plot point in the book.

It's not the type of spoiler that will ruin a story--I do think some readers would enjoy watching how I lace them together. But do be warned that if you haven't read my science fiction novellas, and you hate spoilers, you might want to wait until Skyward is out to read them.

That said, if you know the terminology of the novellas in question, you'll find your answer in chapter seventeen.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#69 Copy


How much of an impact did interviewing professional fighter pilots have on the story? Did anything learned from them actually change parts of the book in significant ways? Did you learn anything weird or unusual that you found fascinating?

Brandon Sanderson

The pilots were a HUGE help. The biggest issue I had, which was really hard to get through my skull, was the different ways that G-forces interacted with the human body.

I knew the basics, and had flight suits operating correctly and was watching for people pulling too many Gs. But the fighter pilots kept explaining things like "eyes out" and how it wasn't just number of Gs, it was the direction they were pulling. It wasn't until I called one of them and had a lengthy conversation that it started to click with me.

From there, some of the direct feelings of pulling Gs--feeling like your skin is sliding off your body, or that you've aged a hundred years--I got from them.

As always with a sf/f book, one of my goals is to walk the line between realism and fiction. I tried to make the battles feel real enough to not kick an actual pilot out of the story, but at the same time, I specifically gave the fighters technology that we don't have, in order to spice up how the combat would work.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#70 Copy


So, you always talk about how you're an outliner. So, what do your outlines look like, and how long are they ranging from your YA books to something like Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the one for the new book, Skyward, is about five pages long, and it's mostly-- first it's "Here's the worldbuilding paragraph," there's a bunch of headings and paragraphs. Characters, about a paragraph or two about each one. And then five parts, I tend to do a lot of five act things. So, prologue, part one, part two, part three, climax. Just a bunch of bullet points.


And how long would one be for, like, Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer one's, like, 30 pages.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#71 Copy


What do you feel is the main difference between writing sci fi and fantasy is? Did you learn things in writing Skyward that you feel will help you write Mistborn Era 4?

Brandon Sanderson

For me, it's a fine line, because I'm not writing Hard SF--but instead, a kind of hard fantasy. So my books tend to ride the line between SF/Fantasy anyway. And Skyward is straight up space opera, I'd say--most of the technology that we use in the books is fantastical anyway.

In SF, I feel I can lean on shared vocabulary a little more. This has been particularly handy in the novellas I've done, where we can use Earth as a reference point. Modern (and beyond modern) communication, and expectations of character education, also play a big part in changing how I approach the stories.

In some ways, it comes down to different storytelling traditions, and what they each afford you. Again, though, it would be different if I were writing hard SF.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
#72 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My Year

January-March: Skyward and Legion Revisions

I kicked off the year quickly doing a second draft of Skyward. Pulling The Apocalypse Guard from the publisher, then promising them Skyward to publish in the fall of 2018, meant that I had to scramble. It wouldn't do to pull a book I judged to be of inferior quality, only to replace it with a book that I didn't have time to revise up to my standards. So you'll see a number of months dedicated to Skyward. (Which, if you somehow missed it, did come out—and is still sitting quite happily on the New York Times bestseller list many weeks later, so thank you all very much!)

Another thing I'd been putting off for months was the necessary revisions of the third Legion story. Tor was quite patient with me on this one, considering the Legion collection was scheduled for publication in the fall as well. But during these three months, I did multiple revisions of both books, eventually getting Legion into a polished state. (There was one more draft of Skyward still to do.) Legion Three, Lies of the Beholder, can be found in the Legion collection that was published earlier this year.

Finally, somewhere in here, I squeezed in an outline and world guide for Death Without Pizza. (Yes, that's a name change—no it's not the final name, but just a placeholder.) More on that later.

April: Children of the Nameless

Sometime around March of last year, Wizards of the Coast sent me an exploratory email. It being the 25th anniversary of their card game, they were wondering if I'd be interested in doing a story with them. As most of you know, I'm quite the fan of Magic: The Gathering. It's my primary hobby, and I have way too many cards. (Which still aren't enough, of course.) I was enthusiastic, and you can read more about the process I used to approach the story in this blog post.

I knew that by doing so, and by writing the story as long as it ended up, it would make getting to some of my other projects later in the year more difficult. (Namely, the fourth Wax and Wayne book, which I'll talk about shortly.) But this was kind of something I had to do, so I ask your forgiveness in taking this detour to Innistrad. I'm exceptionally pleased with the story and the response it has gotten, so if you haven't read it, I present it to you here! Reading it requires no prior knowledge of the card came or the lore surrounding it.

May: Skyward Final Draft

How long it takes to write a story depends on a lot of factors, but in general, three months gets me around 100k words. Shorter stories, with fewer viewpoints, tend to be faster—while longer stories with more intricate plotlines (like Stormlight) tend to take longer. But that's just for the rough draft. Generally, doing all the other drafts takes an equivalent amount of time to the first draft. (So, if the first draft takes three months, the second through fourth drafts will together take another three months.) You can see this at play in Skyward, which took about three months to write in the end of 2017, then took three additional months of revision to polish up.

I did sneak in a little time to do an outline for a piece called The Original in here as well, which took about a week. I'll update you on that in the secondary projects section.

June–August: Starsight First Draft

And, speaking of three month first drafts, here we get me buckling down and doing the sequel to Skyward. It's finished in its first draft form, and dominated my summer. In here, I also did detailed outlines for the third and fourth books of the series. (And this is where I determined for certain that the series would need to be four books instead of three.)

September–October: Odds and Ends

In these months I had some travel to record episodes of Writing Excuses, I did a quick second draft of Starsight to send to my publisher, and I did some revisions to Children of the Nameless. I also did more work on The Original, Death Without Pizza, and Alcatraz Six (AKA Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians, or Alcatraz vs. His Own Dumb Self). Finally, I slipped in some brainstorming with Dan Wells on how to fix The Apocalypse Guard.

Basically, I knew that November would be mostly lost to touring, and I was scrambling to get some work done on small projects to clear my plate for 2019, which will be dedicated to working on Stormlight Four.

November: Skyward Tour

I spent most of November on tour for Skyward, and quickly finishing up final revisions on Children of the Nameless. I got to see a lot of you while touring for the book, and had a blast—but these tours get more and more difficult as the lines get longer and longer. The tour for Stormlight Four in 2020 might require me to do some things I've been dreading, such as limit the lines to a certain number of tickets. It makes me sad to contemplate, but I'll keep you all in the loop about what we decide to do.

December: Death Without Pizza

I needed a break from all the other things I've been doing, so in classic Brandon style, I worked on something fresh and new to give myself a breather. This was where I was going to do Wax and Wayne Four, but doing Children of the Nameless meant that instead of three months extra space at the end of the year, I only had one month. (As CotN had taken one month to write, and one month to revise.) I had the choice of pushing back the start of Stormlight Four, or doing something else for this month and trying to sneak in W&W 4 sometime next year. I chose the latter. It's important to me that I let myself do side projects to refresh myself—but I also think it's important to keep to my Stormlight schedule. It would be too easy to keep putting off the big books until they stretch to years in the making. I told myself I was going to divide my time in half between Stormlight and other projects.

The truth is, I'm getting really anxious about getting back to Stormlight. That's a very good sign, as once I finish a Stormlight book, I'm usually feeling quite burned out on the setting, and need a number of months to recover.

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#73 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

On tour, I did a reading from what up until now was listed as "Mystery Project" on my website. If you missed the newsletter explanation, I've pulled the book I was going to release next year (The Apocalypse Guard) because it needs more work. Instead, I've turned my attention to something else—and after a furious bout of writing, I'm confident in where it's going. So it's time to announce Skyward.

Like Steelheart and its sequels, this is a kind of borderline YA/Adult project. In the US, it will be published by Delacorte Press (publisher of Steelheart) in the Young Adult section of bookstores, while in the UK it will be published by Gollancz (publisher of almost all my books) in my main line, shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section of bookstores.

I've mentioned Skyward before in summaries of stories I'm working on, but haven't said much about it. I started noodling with the ideas in 2012, I believe. (The year that the Write About Dragons recordings of my lectures happened, where I mentioned it briefly—but not by name.) The first outline thoughts are dated summer 2013. It's a book I've been wanting to write for a long time, and it finally came together this year.

It has its roots in some of the very first books I ever read as a young man getting into fantasy. Like many young readers, I was captured by books about dragons, specifically books about boys who find dragons and learn to fly them. These have been staples of the fantasy genre for some fifty years. For me, it was The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey and Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. For others, the "boy and his dragon" story that captured them was Eragon, or How to Train Your Dragon.

I've always loved this story archetype, but I've never written anything using it. This is in part because…well, it's a familiar story. Too familiar. I wasn't certain I could add anything new to it. So I left it alone, letting ideas simmer, until in 2012 something struck me. Could I mash this together with a flight school story like Top Gun or Ender's Game, and do something that wasn't "a boy and his dragon," but was instead "a girl and her starfighter"?

Skyward was born, much like Mistborn, with me taking two ideas and mashing them together to see where they went. And they went someplace incredible—I grew increasingly excited about the project, as I saw in it a chance to both play in a space I loved, and do some very interesting things with story and theme. It wasn't until this year that I got the personalities of the characters right, but I really got excited when I found a place for this in the lore of stories I'd been creating.

The official pitch is this: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

As I've played with Skyward over the years, I tried to pull it into the Cosmere, then found it didn't work there. However, it is in the continuity of something I've written before. Something that isn't the Cosmere, and isn't the Reckoners. And no, I won't say anything more for now.

The goal right now is to have Skyward done in time for a publication date of November 6, 2018. We'll see if I can meet that deadline! I'm optimistic. As always, you can follow along on the progress bar on my website. Look for a cover reveal and chance to pre-order soon!

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#74 Copy


At first [Skyward] was supposed to be in the cosmere. Were there any reasons you pulled it out of it besides not wanting to deal with spacefaring era of Cosmere yet?

Where was the planet supposed to be in the cosmere? Would it have had a Shard or would it have been a minor Shardworld?

Brandon Sanderson

When Spensa started life in my brain, she was late cosmere pilot character, from around Era Four. When I started to work on this as my next YA project, I decided I wanted to use a certain technological aspect from a story I'd previously worked on--something I touched on in a novella, but which was still very interesting to me all these years later. But it was something that did not work with cosmere technology, so it was a natural fit to port Spensa over to this new story.

It wouldn't have been planetary-based if it had been in the cosmere. Mostly, it was Spensa as a character. Once the story started transforming into a girl and her spaceship, the cosmere ties got severed quickly.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#75 Copy


I really loved both Ender's Game and Anne McCaffrey when I was in early high school, and I felt like this book was in conversation with both of them.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that that is a really, really accurate way of looking at it. Little Last Starfighter mixed in as well, a little Top Gun.


I just want to know how much were you thinking about Ender's Game in particular?

Brandon Sanderson

Ender's Game, I was not thinking about a ton. More How to Train Your Dragon. Because it really parallels How to Train Your Dragon. I was trying to make sure it didn't hit those beats too closely. I wasn't thinking about Ender's Game specifically, but the underdog sports story part of Ender's Game worms its way into a lot of my different writing. I was thinking more about Ender's Game when  I was writing Bridge Four sequences.


I felt like Skyward was a really interesting philosophical refutation to Ender's Game. Because Skyward is fundamentally a book where nobody is actually wrong, Ender's Game everybody is wrong.

Brandon Sanderson

That's a pretty interesting thing, yeah.


I really appreciate that. Also, the part at the end where Spensa did the navigation thing was so like Between, I almost threw my book at the wall in excitement.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted for years to do a "Monsters live in the Between" story, which is what this is going toward. 'Cause I always thought-- Like, there's this one episode of Star Trek where someone sees monsters as they are being beamed. And it's one of my favorite Next Generation episodes, there are monsters when you are teleporting. That one stuck with me forever, so you can blame that as part of the inspiration.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#76 Copy


At one point in time you were planning for Skyward to be in the cosmere, which is no longer the case. If you were to pick a Shard, or Shards, that would fit Skyward what would they be? (Not necessarily the Shard that would have been featured in-cosmere, but a hypothetical Shard that fits the book/world in its current state.)

Brandon Sanderson

Skyward was more "The travels of Spensa, space pilot" than a true story back when it was in the cosmere. But as the story is right now, I'd say Autonomy would find it very interesting.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#77 Copy


I read Skyward, like, two weeks ago, I finished it in two nights. It was honestly one of my favorite books I've ever read, and I can't wait to see where it goes. 

Brandon Sanderson

Thank you! Book two is done. 


I'm excited to see what-- I need to read, uh, about the "Defense of Elysium"?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, Defending Elysium, it's free on my website. It'll tie-in in ways that you'll find interesting. One of my very first short stories.


I'm super, super excited to see it. I loved the whole idea of when they're peering into the stars, it's like they're looking back with hatred. It's awesome.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#80 Copy


[Skyward] looks like it will be a very fun book. How much of the book will actually be released before publishing? and how long is the book

Brandon Sanderson

Book is 110k words long. And...right now I can't remember how much I talked them into releasing. Somewhere between a third and half, I believe.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#83 Copy


I'd love to hear what some of your inspirations were for Skyward. I know you've listed How To Train Your Dragon and The Last Starfighter, but I'm curious if there are any books or movies that inspired you for the sci-fi worldbuilding and starfighter combat? As someone who loves pretty much anything starfighter, from Wing Commander to Stackpole's Rogue Squadron books, I'd love to hear how you approached it or if you have any reccos I'm not aware of!

Brandon Sanderson

I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching interviews and videos about what it's actually like to fly or take G-forces. Tom Scott did a nice one on centrifuges.

As for starfighter books, there really aren't a ton are there? Most everything in books focuses on the Lost Fleet/Honor Harrington/Vorkosigan style large ship combat. Stackpole is great, but you've already read him. A Fire Upon the Deep is great, but again, not a lot of starfighter battles. I'll have to think about it more--I don't have any that were specific inspirations for this series.

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I'm liking Skyward so far. I can't wait to read about using light-lances, they're rusting cool!

I gotta ask, though: what does "scud" mean? It seems it is an equivalent of "damn" but is there any etymology behind it? Cause, "scud" is also name of Soviet tactical ballistic missiles. Any relation?

Brandon Sanderson

Scud came from the Soviet missile, as a nod to some of my inspirations for the setting of the caverns.

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Did you know from the start Skyward would be a good fit for an existing world or was it something you realized after starting to develop the story?

Brandon Sanderson

It was once I started developing the story. I often am working on the elements of stories separately before I combine them into one whole--and so it wasn't until I sat down to do the outline, officially taking several pieces of various story ideas and combining them--that I knew for certain that this was a good fit.

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The light lines/lances are a very fun concept. Is there anything in particular that inspired the idea of grappling combat in space?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably watching too many cartoons or B movies where someone turns a corner in a vehicle by throwing out an anchor or something. (Didn't the batmobile do this once in the old Adam West batman?)

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SKYWARD QUESTION! I've just read the prologue, did you do anything special to get in to the mind of a 7 yr old girl? Any inspirations for Spensa?

Brandon Sanderson

This one took a few tries--you can probably find earlier readings of it where the age was different, and the speech style was different. As with most things, it's a matter of trying something out, then looking for feedback.

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The one thing that impressed me the most [about Skyward] are the awesomely vivid and thrilling dogfight scenes. How did you come up with these dogfighting techniques? Any particular inspiration that you can share with us? Thank you!

Brandon Sanderson

So, one of the things I try to do in combat situations is define a few rules that are different from the way our world works, nudging the combat to be more fantastical. This (hopefully) allows even those who are familiar with the situation to better suspend disbelief--since the rules of combat are different, then battles can theoretically play out in (plausible) ways that I decide and present, rather than running into real-world situations.

For Skyward, I started with studying real-world dogfights, then added a couple big changes. One was some anti-gravity, the other was nudging the battles more toward the way they might work in a vacuum by removing some of the air resistance. The final piece was the light-lances, further pushing the combat into a direction where pilot maneuverability was enhanced. (And the battlefield could be different each time, allowing more variety.)

That all together gave me the way I went about these battles. But I will say this--watching what some fighter pilots can do with their jets was enormously impressive. I had no idea, honestly, the things they are capable of doing.

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Is Skyward the title or the series title and is Claim the Stars is the book title?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Skyward is the series title and the book title. Like I should have done with Mistborn because we had Final Empire in the first book, and people got so confused because, "Is this the last book? It says The Final." This time I didn't give a subtitle to the first book. It was just too confusing when I did it the first time.

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I am looking forward to picking up this new story and I had no idea it was coming out so soon! What made you decide to put aside all of your other stories to write Skyward?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually need a big break between Stormlight books to recharge, and I look for something different in style and genre. A space opera fight that really well, and gave me a much-needed breather.