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Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#51 Copy

Questioner

You're a lot faster at getting your books out, getting these really awesome books out, then many other writers. And I think you know who I'm thinking about. What’s the secret?

Brandon Sanderson

The secret is my work ethic. It's beaten into me by my parents I think. I write every day. It's like that classic pioneer work ethic. I just, I write my stories every day, I do this compulsively. I think the other thing is, we talk about someone like Pat Rothfuss. He is a perfectionist, to a level beyond me. I am okay getting my prose pretty good and then handing it to the editor, and letting them work on it, you know what I mean. He has to be perfect before he hands it on, if that makes sense. And I think that as a result, his biggest strength over me as a writer is his prose is more lyrical because he works so hard on it. So it shows. It's like he takes that extra one percent, but that extra one percent takes him like two extra years to get. Some other writers, as you get older, they just, the grind of it gets to them and they slow down. I just love what I do and I write every day.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#52 Copy

fortunefavorsthecold

What is the final page count? The first two books were monsters (in the best way). I think part of what sets you apart from some other authors is that you're very transparent with your writing progress. The progress bars on your site, your updates on twitter, et cetera. Anyway, long story short, I am really freaking excited to read what's in store for everyone, and I may just re-read WoK and WoR to get back in the mood.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Words of Radiance was spring 2014, incredibly.

Oathbringer would have been out last year, instead of this year, but the story went long. First draft was 520k words, compared to 300k words for TWoK and 400k words for [WoR]. However, in revisions, I buckled down and did some serious pruning for the good of the book--so Oathbringer is somewhere around 450k words now, going into final proofreads. November 14th drop date in the US.

More and more, I'm certain I can't do these every two years, as I had originally hoped. They are to intricate, and I need to take a break from the world to let things simmer and brew between books. But we'll see.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#53 Copy

Bradinator1

My question for Brandon would be:What kind of mental "retooling" does it take for him to work on an already established world/storyline like Wheel of Time since this is someone else's work?

Also, were there there a lot of notes or material left by Mr. Jordan to work from?

Brandon Sanderson

I thought about this quite a lot during the months when I was reading the Wheel of Time again straight through, trying to figure out how I would approach writing the final book. Obviously, this project wasn't going to be like anything I'd done before. I couldn't just approach it as I did one of my solo novels. And yet, it felt like trying to match Robert Jordan's style exactly would have made me lapse into parody.

A lot of the mental 'retooling' I did focused on getting inside the characters' heads. I decided that if I could make the characters sound right, the book would FEEL right, even if some of the writing itself was different. I also decided that I would adapt my style to fit the project. I became more descriptive, for one, and wrote viewpoint with the more intimate, in-head narrative style that Mr. Jordan used. Neither of these were attempts to match how he wrote exactly, but more me trying to match my style to The Wheel of Time, if that makes any sense.

In answer to the second question, he left LOTS of notes behind. He wrote complete scenes in places, dictated other scenes, left piles of notes and materials. The prologue was almost all completed by him (that will be split half in this book, half in the next.) The ending scenes were written by him as well. In the middle, there are a lot of scene outlines as well.

That's not to say there wasn't A LOT of work to do. The actual number of completed scenes was low, and in some places, there was no direction at all what to do. But his fingerprints are all over this novel. My goal was not to write a Brandon Sanderson book, but a Wheel of Time book. I want this novel (well, these three novels, now) to be his, not mine.

Stuttgart signing ()
#54 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

How do you choose worldhoppers to depict in your books?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There's couple of ways I choose worldhoppers. The background story plays a big part, but some worldhoppers just want to be immigrants. Some people you meet, you'll notice they're from a different planet but aren't involved in any schemes. They just wanted to get to another planet.

There's groups like the Ghostbloods, but there's also just trade between places like Roshar and Nalthis. I have to be careful to not make everyone an easter egg from other worlds. That would strain plausibility very easily.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#55 Copy

Questioner

Was there any one character that-- I know you said all of your characters are your favorite, but was there ever one you were really excited to kill?

Brandon Sanderson

Any character that I was really excited to kill. Masema, from The Wheel of Time. Spoiler. I was so happy to kill that dude. He was hanging on forever, annoying me.

Questioner

Anyone from the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Anyone from the cosmere? I'm never eager to kill anyone specifically. I don't even really regard it as killing characters off. I build the outline, I let the character grow into who they are and let them kind of guide-- take the chances that I feel that character would take, and then deal with consequences of it. Does that make sense? So in a lot of ways, it's interesting to me-- Like I already generally know what's going to happen in my books before I write them. I'm an outliner. And so I'm very comfortable, if not happy, with the idea that certain characters aren't going to make it. Meaning, I'm usually sad that they aren't, but I know that they aren't from the beginning so I'm very well prepared for it. Unlike you guys.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
#56 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Back with another update. It's been a few months, and I have worked through the third draft of Oathbringer. Original draft didn't have a few of the interludes, so I added those in this revision, as well as incorporating feedback from my team and the team at Tor Books. Earlier today, I wrote the epigraphs and the Wit monologue, then polished off the ketek.

The current length is 514,000 words--so around 100k longer than Words of Radiance. Whew! That's big enough that we're not sure if we can bind it in paperback. (We can manage it in hardcover without too much trouble, though we might have to do some old term paper tricks such as expanding the margins.) The book won't be split in the hardcover US release, or in the ebook, but there's a possibility the US paperback might be split into two volumes released at the same time. (As has been common in the UK for all the books in the series.)

We'll see what happens. Next revision, 4.0, is to incorporate Beta Reader comments and to make some tweaks I've been thinking about. This should be the fastest of the drafts, as I don't need to make any big structural changes or write many new scenes.

5.0 (the final draft) will be a polish and trim. Publication date is still scheduled for this November. The US cover came in just recently, so expect a reveal on that soon. Michael did a fantastic job.

As a warning: I'm not going to be able to monitor this thread very well, as I'm off to Europe. (I'll be in Poland, Germany, and Bulgaria--details on the events section of my website.) So be warned in advance that I probably can't post many replies to your questions here.

I'm still making my way through my recent AMA on /r/fantasy, though, so you can pop over to that and read what I've had to say recently.

As always, thanks for your patience. Beta read responses to the book are strong, so I think you'll be pleased with the result come this fall.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#57 Copy

Questioner

When you do the big twist at the end of a book, do you always have that twist in your mind when you begin writing the book, or do you do the twist after?

Brandon Sanderson

I generally have it ahead of time. I am an outliner. I like-- Writers tend to fall into two camps with a lot of variety in between--they're not polar opposites--between what we call "gardeners" and what we call "architects." I'm more of an architect. I like to build a structure and then hang my story on it. That said, you need to be flexible and willing to take something better if it comes along. For instance, Secret Project, which I can't tell you anything about, had a different ending than the ending I just put into it, because the ending just didn't land, right? I'm like, "Alright, I need to go back to square one and I need a better twist for this story," and I dug into it and came up with one. That causes a lot more revision to have to be done, but at the end of the day, I think you need to be able to do it. Sometimes when you're writing you just come up with something better, you're like, "I need to try this instead 'cause it's stronger".

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

Do you backstock on neat characters?

Brandon Sanderson

I do have some characters I haven't found places for yet.

Questioner

Is it just kind of like a mix/match? Do you find a world for them or...

Brandon Sanderson

So characters are the hardest one for me to define. Because I need to discover who they are by writing through their viewpoint for a while. And it's an exploration. Other things, I can plot, I can outline, I can plan ahead. Characters, I can't. I need to explore them. So, really, what I have are seeds, conflicts. They could grow into a character. And I'll sometimes try them out, and they won't work, and I'll send that seed back.

YouTube Weekly Updates 2021 ()
#59 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In the comments, I saw that one of you was asking about my prewriting process [for Wax and Wayne Four]. In short, for this one, what I did is: there were three big steps. The beginning was, I wrote down Character, Setting, Plot together in a document, and I then did a subheading for each of the main characters. For this book, it'll be Wax, Wayne, Steris, and Marasi. And I said, "All right; what are their character arcs? How do they change? What do they want in this book? What's going on with them?" And that was the first pillar I wanted to hit; I wanted to make sure that everybody was working and that I knew where they were all going and where they would end. Because this is the last book of that sequence, and I want the ending to be spectacular.

Next part was setting. In this, mostly it was developing the magic system, making sure that the things that I'm doing with it, the new ideas that are coming in and developments, are in line with the general goals for the Cosmere and for Scadrial, and that everything that I wanted to do worked within the bounds of the magic, and bouncing that off of my team and making sure that I was explaining things well, why things worked like they did.

And then the last part was to construct the actual plot. This is: what is happening, what are people wanting to do? How am I weaving in character arcs to this large construct that is the plot of the book?

Shadows of Self San Diego signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

...How and when do you manage to sleep? *laughter* You read and write and have a family.

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'm not allowed to talk about the clones *laughter* writing my books.

I set a strict schedule, and what I do is, I get up at noon, because I'm a writer! And I'll write from noon until 5:00. 5:00 until 8:30 or 9:00 is family time, and that's just-- that's sacrosanct. I don't do anything else during that time except hang out with family, I play video games with the kids, if you've got a seven or eight year old, Terraria, great for kids, you can get it on tablets and sit next to them. It's like an easier Minecraft. We play games, I go out with my wife, we do stuff like that. And then, at about 9:00, the kids are in bed, we're usually back, and then I go back to work. And I work from about 9:00 until as long as I need to work to get my work done that night. And when I'm home, that schedule works very well. It can get me up to twelve hours of writing time in a day if I'm really crunching on something. Since I don't have a commute, it actually-- I get that extra time in my day. And when I don't have a time crunch, then I can be done by, like, 2:00 AM and play some video games or something. I have a very-- My mental health is good. You don't have to worry about me not sleeping, and things like that. On tour? All bets are off. These things usually get done about midnight or 1:00 AM, and I often have a flight the next morning at 8:00. So, on tours, I just don't sleep. And I usually don't eat, either...

Boskone 54 ()
#61 Copy

Questioner

How do you do it? (after saying he likes the characters and societies that Brandon writes)

Brandon Sanderson

Lots of practice. Lots of reading in the genre and loving the genre. A little bit of talent, a lot of loving the genre, and a lot of practice for a long time.

Questioner

I haven’t read Mistborn, but I’ve read this one [Stormlight]. How do you come up with the culture, the society?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on the book. Stormlight is my best series. If you haven’t tried Emperor’s Soul, it’s the other thing that I think is on Stormlight’s level, but it’s a short. What I’m looking to do with something like Stormlight is to say that the fantasy genre should be the most magical genre, right? Classically, science fiction has done a better job with the worldbuilding, and fantasy has tended to do a better job with things like characters and story. Not that there’s not science fiction that has great, you know, but usually science fiction’s been about the ideas and the interesting settings, but in fantasy we play it safe with the settings and try to do interesting characters. Which I’ve always thought, “Why do we do that? Why do we play it safe with our settings? Why don’t we have really bizarre, fantastical settings?”. So for years, even before I became a published author, I was searching for ones that would have one foot in science fiction. I want to do something magical as an origin, like the highstorm, you know, the physics of the highstorm don’t actually work, but we take it for assumed and then we try to extrapolate a realistic extrapolation of the world from that. That’s just what I’m doing, I’m trying to set up some sort fantastical setting or environment and then let science fiction take over and try and build how it would grow. On the cultures, usually I’m taking things I’ve learned about our culture and I am just trying to [...] a fantastical version. Sometimes when you do that you can say something interesting about human society, removed from the baggage of human society. There was a brief time in the pre-Victorian era where, for women, showing your ankle was more taboo than showing your chest. In fact, they would have pictures painted of them, noblewomen, in a state of what you’d call topless. Not a problem; a little risque, like what wearing a low-cut shirt is now, but no big deal. That’s bizarre to us, because, our society that’s not how it is. But if I put that in, in a fantasy book as a safehand, I can say, look, human beings do bizarre things as far as gender roles, socialization of gender, and what we find attractive. This should be very bizarre to you, but the reactions are normal. That disconnect is what helps build a fantastical society and lets me say a few things about our society, I hope in interesting ways.

Google+ Hangout ()
#62 Copy

Curt Hoyt

Specifically, which mistakes you made as a beginning novelist that stand out the most as ones you've corrected as you've learned the craft better.

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question, I would say that my biggest mistake as a new writer was not being willing to revise. I'm a classic, what we call a one-drafter this is a type of author who likes to just imagine it, get it ready, plan a lot and then get in on the page and be done with it and that was a mistake, I've become a big believer in learning to take a book that's a good book and make it an excellent book and doing a lot of strong revisions and early on I wasn't willing to do that and I think it held me back quite a bit.

Curt Hoyt

Do you think that maybe not having a writing group to back you up contributed to your lack of revisions?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe... I actually did have a writing group, and what I would do is I would get the feedback from my writing group and my opinion was, "Oh, I did all these mistakes. I made all these mistakes." Instead of fixing them, early on I would say, "Well, I won't make those mistakes again for my next book," cause I was always so excited an eager to write the next book and I didn't slow down enough and really focus in on making books great.

And that was a mistake that was very particular to me, I don't think... as a writer there are so many different ways to do this and so many different types of writers. Part of learning to be a writer is about learning what things hold you back and what mistakes you make and they can be very different. Depending on who you are and what type of problem you have.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#63 Copy

Questioner

When you do your outline, all the revelations and twists, do you always stick to your outline?

Brandon Sanderson

I do not. Now the difference between me and someone who's more of a discovery writer is I will rebuild my outline when I start going off of it. So what I'll usually do is I'll try-- if I think I'm gonna break the outline, I'll try a chapter that direction, see if I like it. If I do I'll then rebuild the outline and then go forward on it.

Questioner

Do you ever refer back to your previous book?

Brandon Sanderson

Definitely. Usually what I'll do is I make an outline for the first book, I'll write the first book, and then I will outline the series. That's very common for me.

ICon 2019 ()
#64 Copy

Questioner

My question is connected to an acquaintance of both of us. Namely, a lovely, lovely Australian named Shad, who is an expert in weapons and medieval warfare. It is very easy to criticize books and everything about *interjection* because we have the real things in the world, but in all of your books, you have created magic systems that are so... real. How is the initial thought when you create a new world, what is the initial process of creating a new magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, so first I'll point you toward my essays called "Sanderson's Laws", which are basically stepping through the rules I follow to make a magic system. There's three of those. I would recommend going and reading those.

The process is really me trying to create something that is both different and unique and something that approaches the theme of the story the right way. Like, I want a magic system that accents my story, not one that contradicts my story. And these things all come together into it: I'm looking for interesting flaws, interesting costs, interesting powers, and interesting connections to the rest of my world.

Waygate Foundation Write-a-thon ()
#65 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, you want an intersex. That's something very tough for me to write because I've only interviewed a few intersex people and transgender. I think they would make a wonderful character but I think that's kind of a minefield doing on screen, since it's not something I've done my research for right now.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

When you started writing, especially Mistborn, did you know you were writing a series, or were you just kinda writing--

Brandon Sanderson

Did I know I was writing a series, or was I just kinda writing? I usually know I'm writing a series. I like to outline. The beginning, middle, and end; then what came before, and what came after before I start any project. That is different for some few; for instance, the Alcatraz books were more freeform. I didn't know how long they were going to be until I wrote the first one, but almost everything else I know the length of what I'm shooting for. It's just kind of a quirk in the way that I write.

YouTube Livestream 11 ()
#67 Copy

Questioner

Maybe talking about your process about picking chapter titles for the Stormlight books?

Emily Sanderson

It's been really fun. I wouldn't say I really pick them, because the betas come up with a fantastic list of possibilities, and Peter has a lot of say about what really fits. But with... did I start in Words of Radiance? In Words of Radiance, I think, it was just Brandon and Peter were both just too busy. And so I got on the beta document and looked at everyone's suggestions, and kind of skimmed back. Because I'd read the book before; but I skimmed back through the chapters and chose a chapter title that would fit.

And it's been really fun to be involved in that way. Both to see the test audience reactions and... I get impatient, and as soon as Brandon will let me, I read the whole book. So when I choose chapter titles, I reread it again more slowly, and you always get different things out of it when you read it slowly.

Subterranean Press Interview ()
#68 Copy

Gwenda Bond

The mysterious Sandra plays a big part in this final story—did you know from the beginning what her role would turn out to be or was this ending a surprise to you? (Without spoiling anything, of course!)

Brandon Sanderson

With my shorter works like this, I tend to let the story evolve over time more than I do with longer stories. This means more discovery, as I'm not sitting down with a framework—the goal, often, is to practice other skills in my writing. (Things that my novel writing doesn't teach me.) In this case, I had ideas for Sandra, and some of those ended up going all the way through—but some I discarded over time. I'm not one who is "surprised" by my writing, however. I don't generally like that phrasing. Sometimes as you're working on a piece, you discover a thread or theme that intrigues you—so you dig into it further, then develop it. Sometimes this means the final piece of art doesn't match the outline. It's not really a surprise so much as a common side effect of the writing process.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#69 Copy

Clippership14

Do you have a "drawer-full" of ideas waiting to be put to paper?

Brandon Sanderson

More like a brain-full, but yes. It's particularly bad now as I had to shelve a number of projects I was working on in order to do the WoT. I don't regret it at all, but those stories keep pounding on the inside of my skull, yelling and begging for me to let them out.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#70 Copy

Questioner

How do you approach creating scenes? Do you create how you want the scene to play out, and then make the magic system? Or do you make the magic system work first?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually, I do magic system first. The way scenes, I construct, is usually I have big goals in my story. For instance, in Mistborn, Vin is going to learn to train all the powers of a Mistborn. By the end, I want her to be fairly competent. So then I have that goal, and I write down, "What are scenes that can move me toward that goal?" In that outline, it would be: she trains with Ham in one scene, she trains with Marsh in another scene, she trains with Breeze in another scene. What else can I make those scenes do to move character and stuff, to try to pack more into those scenes. But I'll construct those scenes as goals towards the ending.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
#71 Copy

Questioner

How do you keep motivation for writing in general, because i always have a lot of trouble with that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, well that depends on what part of my career you are talking about. Early on I envisioned this cubicle chasing me and if it caught me i'd have to get a normal, boring desk job. That was actually a big motivation to me, because it was like I only had a certain amount of time to do this thing that I loved and if I didnt actually sit down and do it I was gonna have to be a real boy. After i got published and it got a bit hard I started using the carrot philosophy; i would let myself open up a new pack of magic cards if I hit a certain word limit every day.

Questioner

Oh, thats really cool!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, and that worked really well during the hard years when I was trying to get through the Wheel of Time. They were great books but they were so hard to write cause they were way harder than writing my own fiction. Now I don't really need that anymore, now its kinda become this thing where I have all these fans who are waiting for things and I have to make good on the promises I've made to them. Now its more like a "i need to do this", so yeah.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#73 Copy

Joshua_Patrao

The Eternal Question: Mac or PC?

Brandon Sanderson

PC. Not out of any avid devotion, but because it's what I've grown up on. My wife is a Mac person, though.

Joshua_Patrao

Your word processor of choice?

Brandon Sanderson

Word. Same reason as above.

Joshua_Patrao

Do you have music on real loud when you write (I've heard Steve King writes like that) or is it soft in the background?

Brandon Sanderson

Soft in the background.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#75 Copy

carmen22

 How did you ever keep the unique power systems all straight and use them so well for your readers to understand?

The powers, to me, were just so fascinating, well developed, and unique on so many levels! I think with a lesser artist than yourself the powers might have been too much to take in, but I found them quite easy to follow and understand. Just amazing! You seriously are one of my favorite authors. I'll be in line for all of your books!

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks! It took a lot of practice. Keeping them straight for myself isn't so difficult—it's like keeping characters straight. The more I've written, the easier it's become.

What is more difficult is keeping it all straight for the readers. This can be tough. One of the challenges with fantasy is what we call the Learning Curve. It can be very daunting to pick up a book and find not only new characters, but an entirely new world, new physics, and a lot of new words and names.

I generally try to introduce this all at a gentle curve. In some books, like Warbreaker, starting with the magic system worked. But in Mistborn, I felt that it was complex enough—and the setting complex enough—that I needed to ease into the magic, and so I did it bit by bit, with Vin.

In all things, practice makes perfect. I have a whole pile of unpublished novels where I didn't do nearly as good a job of this. Even still, I think I have much to learn. In the end of Mistborn One and Warbreaker both I think I leave a little too much confusion about the capabilities of the magic.

YouTube Livestream 18 ()
#76 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

It is hard for me to keep in mind more than one big change for a book [while revising]. I can do it, but it's hard; it's a challenge. And fortunately, the way I write books is, generally I only have one big change per plot cycle or per viewpoint. Like, I can say, "For this viewpoint character, my big focus change for this is changing this part of who they are. This character needs to be more proactive." That's one of the ones that I had for the new Stormlight book, is there was a character that just wasn't proactive enough. And I'm like, "I need to change the way that they're viewing their life, and add a few scenes in appropriate places that up the character's proactivity."

That was separate from a different character, where I had approached some of the mental health things the wrong way, and early beta readers were able to point me the right direction on how to do it better. And that character, I didn't change structurally their plot; I changed their response to it, and then a few places where that response did require some major changes. But I could have them on mind: this revision, I'm doing this for this character.

And I had, like, three of those in my 4.0 draft. And for all the other characters, I could say, "In this, we are just focusing on tightening-normal-prose sort of cleaning." And that way, when I went to the 5.0, if there were things for those other characters, I could feel that I had already done the prose tightening for them, and I could get into some more of the problems they needed, and I was able to keep the big changes in my head for the other characters. And then, in the last draft, I was able to do the prose tightening on their viewpoints. And that worked really well for this specific book.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#77 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

All right, folks! Time for the fifth update. This should be the last one that I post before some redditor inevitably beats me to the "It's Done!" post by watching my twitter feed very closely.

I do hope to post another update or two during the next year, discussing how the editing and publication process is proceeding.

Part Four is done as of half an hour ago. The part is around 80k words long, and brings the book total so far to 420k words. Final book is still projected at 450k, though I do plan to try to trim it back in revision. (Tor's book binding company can't do a book longer than Words of Radiance, so if I go longer, we have to shrink the font or change binders. I won't cut important parts of the book just to meet this length requirement, but I also generally need to trim significantly in revisions to tighten language.)

Part Four turned out very well, and I'm very pleased with the book so far. I consider it as strong, or stronger than, book two. I also don't see any major structural or characterization problems that will slow editing. (So far, my editor's comments on Parts One and Two have been minor, save for the slow-down in Part Two that I was aware of--and probably don't mind existing, since Parts Three and Four are much faster, and the characterization in Part Two is strong.)

If you're following the Visual Outline from the second update, there structure of the book has undergone some revisions as I've worked through it. It now looks something more like this

Unlisted is that I nudged one flashback into Part Five. Shown is that Secondary Main character #2 had their viewpoint stretched through all five parts, but has a slightly smaller number of viewpoints in all of them. I juggled tertiary characters, making Parts Two and Four the expansive ones (with many viewpoints) and Parts One and Three the narrow ones (with a focus only on the main characters.) Yes, this is complicated, and you don't need to pay any attention to it. I posted this for those who like to dig into these things.

I'm going to power forward into Part Five starting tonight, then do a second draft of Parts Four and Five together. (I'm not sure why I'm treating those like proper nous.) After I turn that in, I will still need to write the prologue, some of the interludes, and the epigraphs. (Those little bits of text at the starts of chapters.)

And then, revisions. My favorite part. Yay.

As with previous threads, I'll try to post answers to questions where I can--but I have to balance that with the actual writing, so some questions will go unanswered or get a quick RAFO. I apologize in advance for that. Despite jokes to the contrary, I really am just one person, and I can't do ALL THE THINGS, as much as I would like to.

Also, thank you to the community for your kind words. I know that people joke about my writing speed, but this book has taken over a year of dedicated writing--and that's not counting the year before of outlining and writing out some of Kaladin's chapters. It's been two full years of work, and then some, to finish this book. With another six months of revision ahead. Together with other projects, that will make three and a half years between books two and three. So I do beg your patience with this series. The books take a lot out of me, and while I'm very proud of the result--and consider this series to be my opus--the novels aren't going to be terribly fast in their release schedule.

Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
#78 Copy

Questioner

The fight scenes in the Mistborn novels are incredibly visual. How do you write that, do you have to diagram it out?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, how do I write the visual fight scenes from something like Mistborn? Actually, you do a lot of research by watching Jackie Chan films, *laughter* but really what you're doing is actually, at least the way I approach it, you can do whatever works for you, but the way I do it is I actually approach what I want the emotional and mental beats to be in the scene and I build the scene around that. What is someone going to realize? What is someone going to feel? What is someone going to connect? How are they going to bring these things together? And then I use those to construct the scene so that even if someone is not following it, or is not as interested in the action, they'll get the emotional parts, and have these focuses for themselves. And I just construct the action around that. And often in the first draft, it's actually pretty rough. One of the biggest things I have to do in second drafts and third drafts is fix blocking for these battle sequences, which is where everyone's moving, because I'm working on the emotional beats first. And I feel like that's the way to go for me. I can construct a really awesome looking fight scene but the problem is you can't do a Jackie Chan thing in a book, like he punched him, he punched him really fast, this other person punched her twice as fast but then she kicked him twice. It's just boring right, and even the blow by blows, when they get exciting, kind of feel boring sometimes. But if you've got those emotional and mental things connecting, and pulling the reader through the story, then it's going to work better.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

May I ask you what your revision process is?

Brandon Sanderson

My revision process is very goal-oriented. I decide what I want to change about the book, I write it all in a big notes file, and I organize them by how important it is and how far-reaching the changes are. And then I start revising with <the file> open beside me, always watching to make tweaks to fit the goals I have established.

Questioner

Oh, okay. And do you find yourself able to remember everything you've written when you go back and--

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's why-- you got your document here and you've got your revision file here and watching [the revisions file] while revising I'm trying to clear things off this list, and then things near the bottom will move up. And I'll sometimes need to do two or three drafts to clear everything off the list, but being goal-based in it helps me a lot.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner

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.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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matgopack

About your characters - they're always a lot of fun to read about, and varied. Do you have a method while coming up with them and their personalities/motivations that you use?

Brandon Sanderson

Character is the most difficult for me to pinpoint my process on because I do a lot of experimenting, trying different things, and searching for the right voice. The most important thing for me tends to be finding a way this person sees the world that I want to explore more in depth.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

How do the characters come to be? I think one of the most interesting, my favorite character is probably Kaladin. How does Kaladin...

Brandon Sanderson

So, Kaladin had an interesting story behind him. I had originally wrote Way of Kings in 2002, and one of the things that didn't work with that draft was that Kaladin's character didn't work. He was called Merin back then. And it's just, personality didn't work. I'd written him too much like a classic apprentice kid on the battlefield who distinguishes himself, it was just too standard of a kind of fantasy storyline. And so I'm like, "Who is this person?" I needed more depth for him, so I added the whole "His father's a surgeon, he's trained as a surgeon" thing. That was one of the first big pillar I added to add more depth to Kaladin, was "All right, he's a surgeon, but he's been forced to go to war." The kind of field medic who also learns he's really good at killing people. That was, like, the first big thing that I got for Kaladin.

The other thing was the big tragedy that happened in his past, followed by the big tragedy involving the Shardblade led me down that path. And the last thing I added was the depression. This was, like, seven years of evolving this character before he actually came together. Characters are hard for me to put a finger on, because I usually write them by instinct. I'll write a chapter from their viewpoint, see how they see the world, step back. And I'll usually throw that chapter away and try it several times until I get the right... soul, cast in the role, if that makes sense. I can talk a lot more about other things, but character is trial and error until someone feels right.

The more distinctive you can make a character's viewpoint, the stronger, I feel, it will come across. When I feel like it's really working for me is when I can write a few paragraphs and say, "No other character that I've ever written could have written those paragraphs, just in how they describe the world."

Stormlight Three Update #8 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This might be our final Oathbringer update--as today, I finished the fifth and final draft of the book, and am ready to send it off to Tor. From here, the book is in /u/peterahlstrom's hands as he handles the copyedits, the gamma read, and the proofreads. It's possible I'll make a few small tweaks to the text, but the book is mainly his burden now.

I'm extremely pleased with the final draft, which I managed to cut to 450k words. That meant trimming about 64k off of it--roughly 12.5%. These are mostly line edits, with only a few small scenes being cut out. I improved pacing, and even added a few small sections to smooth out certain plot lines.

Fans tend to hate the idea of cutting--but trust me, this version reads far better. I did make sure to keep anything substantive I cut so you can see it later as deleted scenes.

We're still planning a November 14th release in the US. (I think UK releases on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays, so it would be a few days later over there.) Simultaneous audio and--if we can swing it--simultaneous Spanish.

For now, I'm at Supanova in Sydney and Perth--which unfortunately means I won't be monitoring these comments (or my direct messages.) Be forewarned, you might not get a reply to questions posted here. (I will try to do a proper AMA about the book once it's out.)

My next project will be The Apocalypse Guard, a book with loose connections to the Reckoners. I'm chomping at the bit to do some actual writing again, as I've been working on revisions of Oathbringer nonstop for almost exactly six months now. I think the last time I wrote anything non-Stormlight was Snapshot, fourteen months ago. Whew!

By the files in my folders, the first chapter I wrote for Stormlight Thee was started on June 24, 2014. The last scene I added was written today, in my hotel in Sydney. The bulk of the writing happened June 2015-December 2016, with revisions lasting until just now.

It clocks in at 122 chapters, with 14 interludes, plus a prologue, epilogue, and ketek.

Looking forward to you all being able to read it, come November. Thanks, as always, for your support--and your patience.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I'll be very interested to see what people think of the adaptation.

Questioner

What do you think of the adaptation?

Brandon Sanderson

I like it, it's so-- The big change of making Ais a women is great. That's the big change we made. It trims out a bunch of the fat. What we lose is some of the world building and behind the scenes mechanics of how the magic works, that trade off it's like-- It's faster paced and some of the characterization is much better. Worldbuilding and magic mechanics, we lose a bunch of because that's something you do in prose. There's pros and cons, but i think it looks great and I'm very pleased with it.

Questioner

Is it something that you'd consider doing with any other of your work?

Brandon Sanderson

See, here's the thing, I've never wanted to do it for a published novel because I figure people have already read that. I want to be giving them at least something new.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Lass Adventurous Arith

How did you decide to turn Taravangian into Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

How did I decide to do that? There are a couple reasons I decided to do that. This was one of the things didn't have to go this way. It is actually a good one I can talk about because I had multiple options here. Even until I was turning in this outline to my team and saying "Alright, it's time to sink or swim, do we like this or not?", I was going back and forth on it. Really until I had written the scenes and given them to my alpha readers and said, "alright, are you guys ready for me to pull the trigger on this?" because there are costs. The major cost is that Odium is a better ancient unknowable evil. Odium was filling the role in the books of Sauron. Ancient thing, very dangerous, very strange, very powerful and whatnot.

The thing is, my books aren't really about that. I will write books dealing with some of that sort of stuff, but that's not the sort of thing that is as exciting. It's not really as much a theme of my stories, the ancient unknowable evil. The whole purpose of Mistborn—one of them, it's not the purpose—is that even the Lord Ruler you've got to know. Even Ruin became a character that you understood. It is a cost, I will admit. It wasn't as strong for me as it might have been somewhere else. I do know that some people would prefer that, and I can understand why. Sauron makes a pretty great bad guy. Ancient, powerful, unknowable, evil forces—but I feel like I get that in the shard itself. One of the things that I plan to play up more as the Cosmere goes forward is that these powers have some sort of primal sense to them. That's always in my mind been the bigger danger than than Rayse is that.

That is, the negatives were not that big of negatives. And what are the positives? In Oathbringer, Dalinar did not fall to Odium. That is a huge blow to Odium, Rayse-Odium. The fact that at the end of book three he was defeated in a major way, and in book 4 he gets defeated again, this time by Kaladin. We have proven that two of our primary viewpoint protagonists of the Stormlight Archive are able to resist and defeat him. My opinion was that by that point in the Stormlight Archive, Odium would no longer, Odium-Rayse would no longer be a threat. You run into this in lots of long running epic fantasy series. I've talked a lot about how when I was designing Stormlight Archive, the things I had read in other long running fantasy series were a big part of why I designed it the way I did. For instance, in the Wheel of Time it was very difficult—even in the ones I was writing—to maintain a sense of threat for the Forsaken when they had just been defeated right and left every book. They do get their licks in now and then, but it's real hard to keep considering Ba'alzamon from the first one to be a threat when boy, Rand just defeats him and defeats him again and defeats him again and then defeats him again. This is a problem for a lot of media. How threatening is Magneto really when he never wins?

At this point in the series, what I wanted to do was hit you with a left hook from somebody that I considered more frightening, more dangerous, more capable, and who had been growing as an antagonist for a while. And while some of his ploys had not turned out, he is still very threatening. My hope was that this reveal to a portion of the audience—I knew that some would prefer Odium, but to I hoped a larger portion—would be like, "Oh, this just got real."

I've mentioned before that my favorite antagonist is Magneto, I've brought him up before. I like characters who have clashes, antagonists who have clashes of ideology, not just clashes of forces. A reason I'm not excited to write about somebody like Sauron is that, while there are clashes of ideology behind the scenes, on screen for the movies and books it's basically: Sauron wants to rule the world and we don't want him to. That works really well in Lord of the Rings because you have, as I've talked about, part of the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings is both having Sauron, Saruman, and Gollum to represent three different kinds of evil and three different antagonists that work in tandem really well together. It's part of the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings. But I like having a villain like Taravangian. Taravangian, who has a world view that is a certain world view and that is terrifying because of how that world view is. Elevating him to Odium so that you mixed that with the kind of ancient spren of hatred that is still a very big, dominant part of what he's now become—I just thought made for a more compelling and interesting villain for the fact that we have many more books left in the Stormlight Archive and in the Cosmere, and I had done what I wanted to with Rayse-Odium.

There's my answer. It is totally viable to have, viable is the wrong term, totally understandable that some would have preferred me to go a different direction, but my instinct says—and I haven't done any polls or things on this—that the majority of fans are going to like this direction better, and I certainly think the story will turn out better. That's what led me to make that decision, but these were all things I was heavily considering. Adam was there watching those emails go around with me and the team when I was asking if I should pull the trigger on this or not. There are a couple of things that I've made decisions on that have been some of the most difficult or most far-reaching in that regard, but that I think I made the right decision on.

The other one was bringing Kelsier back. Kelsier, so I seeded all the stuff in the original books to bring Kelsier back, but then I backed off on it, and for a while I'm like eh, I don't think I'm going to bring Kelsier back. During that whole thing, oh this is a fun spoiler thing that I don't think I've talked about before: during that time in the outlining—some of you may again have much preferred this—TenSoon was actually going to be Thaidakar, wearing Kelsier's bones. There was a time where I was going to play with a kandra believing they were Kelsier, in this case TenSoon. I was going to go this direction where it's like, I'm the survivor, I'm picking up the survivor's heritage and I'm doing all of this sort of stuff—I did warn you all about spoilers—and there was a time in there where I decided no, I'm going to leave Kelsier dead—that I'm going to go this direction. Why did I back off on that one? A couple reasons, number one I feel like I really did a solid job with Lessie in the second of the Wax and Wayne books, which was a similar conflict. I felt like I got that out of my system. I did it well, I think that story has some really heart-wrenching things, but as I wrote that story I felt that it was a one-book story.

One of the things I've come to be aware of as I've written, this stretches back to the days of Elantris where my original ending had too many twists. It's been changed, like I had some weird twist where Hrathen had secretly come to Elantris at some point and had a heritage that made him Aleth—not Alethi—made him Aonic and things like that and it was dumb and it didn't work. It was twisting for twists sake. And part of me worries, and part of me actually doesn't just worry, I think that if I had done that whole thing with TenSoon it would have been less cool than what I just actually wanted to have happen, which was to give a full finished character arc to Kelsier. At that point I went back to what my original plan had been and I picked up those threads, and that's when I wrote Secret History, after I had finally made that decision. And it comes with costs too. Everything comes with costs. Having main character die in such a spectacular way and then not being quite dead yet has certain costs in your narrative. The more you do that less that death is meaningful in the stories, the more it feels like a gotcha and things like that. Yet at the same time on the other side, I don't think the Lord of the Rings is weaker for having brought back Gandalf. I think the Lord of the Rings is stronger, and why is that? Gandalf comes back changed as a different person and makes the story more interesting for having returned. My original plan with Kelsier was just more interesting in the long run. Forcing Kelsier to do these things and fi—he did not complete his character arc, and that's part of why it was so heart-wrenching to lose him, which I understand. Bringing him back in that regard lets me finish his story, and I just think that's going to be more satisfying. I gain more than I lose.

Plus there's the fact that someone comes back from the dead in the first chapter of the very first Cosmere book. Second chances at life is a major theme of the Cosmere. Both Warbreaker and Elantris that's kind of—Warbreaker it's the primary theme: second chance at life. You're doing a different thing with your life than you thought you would do, and let's take a second stab at it. I think that being able to play with that with Kelsier is a stronger narrative thing to do. This was also influenced by my, as I've talked about before, sort of shrinking the timescale a little bit of the Cosmere so that more of the characters from the different books can interact. It just makes better storytelling. I would say that those are the two things that in outline I could have gone different directions when I actually got to the story. When it was time to write Secret History I had to make the call. He had been dead, he had been alive, he had been dead, he had been alive, at least in my head, and I made that call. The same thing actually happened with Taravangian. It had been am I going to pull the trigger, was he going to become Odium or not? I actually vacillated on that and eventually have made the decision I made. 

Adam

Are you ever going to reveal what the alternate was going to be, kind of like what you just did?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe eventually I will, but for now I will not. It's easier to reveal in Mistborn because it's basically all in the past. It isn't to say that I won't do something else like that, with a kandra. I might, but Lessie's story covered that real well. Who knows what I'll do, but I've backed off on, for those who have read Way of Kings Prime, Taln's original story was the story of am I an angel or am I not? Am I a herald or am I not? Am I this divine being or am I a normal person? And that actually plays real well in Way of Kings Prime. It is just not a thing I could make work in the actual published version of Way of Kings. It's one of the things that's cool about Way of Kings Prime, is being able to see some of these ideas that I can't express in the actual series. Part of the reason I can't is also, number one I wanted to bring the voidbringers in and all of these things, and you just can't... The more fantastical your book is, the less the reader will be able to suspend disbelief about your character who claims that they're not some mythological legend from lore actually not being that mythological—they walk onstage and are like, "I think that I'm this mythological legend from lore but my powers are gone." Ninety-nine readers out of a hundred are going to be like, "yep, I believe you", even though all the rest of the people in the books are going to be like, "No of course you're not." The reader—because it's just cooler that way. It's very hard to fulfill on good promises by not having that turn out that way. Beyond that, the story I wanted to tell involved Taln and so big surprise, Taln is a herald!

Waygate Foundation Write-a-thon ()
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Brandon Sanderson

For the same reason that I didn't want to do a transgendered on air streaming when I haven't done the research. I don't want to write a gay character without having the resources to send the book to my gay friends to read them and say "Hey am I accidentally being offensive" and things like that. It's just something that I want to be very extra careful on so I'm not going to do it on screen. There is just too many potential pit falls. I know that we want to try  to write the 'other', and that's important, but I worry that with all of this brainstorming this could go silly, so I just want to be careful.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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Questioner

How are you able to create so many worlds without them getting repetitive?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I worry about that a lot. Repeating yourself is like an author's greatest fear. I don't know that there is anything specific I do to keep... other than being aware that that is a danger. I really like creating worlds and I really try to use a little bit of a different inspiration each time, and sometimes my outlines look a little too similar, so I just kinda don't write that book, if that makes sense. Really, what you're seeing is "I'll build four or five different planets or worlds or ideas and only write one of them" these days. Yeah, it is a real concern - it's not something that I even know if I have fixed yet.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

I've lost track of the number of magical systems that you have created and I was just wondering if you could say a little bit about your process of creating magical systems.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

What I'm looking for is something interesting. It is kind of hard to explian, because to create a magic system, I've read a lot of fantasy, and personally I feel that one of my duties is to push the genre in different directions. There was a period where our worldbuilding was not as extensive as it should be. Stuck as we were for a while, it felt like the genre hit a bit of a rut, and I wanted to push it in different directions. The screwy magic systems I create are part of that. I feel excited about them, it's sometihng I feel ?? Google Sanderson's First Law.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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WritesGeekyStuff

Do you take a consciously different approach when writing YA versus writing an 'adult' fantasy? How do you vary your prose, or themes?

Brandon Sanderson

The biggest difference tends to be that in YA, I focus in on a single character and do their story in an intense and intimate way, where in the epic fantasies I'm trying to approach it as the story of the world as it moves forward.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

You've talked a little bit about scripture readings contributing to your writing earlier today. How do you keep that separate from the worlds you're creating?

Brandon Sanderson

I've really never had a problem with that. It's easier than keeping myself separate from other fantasy writers' things and that I've had to learn to put a line in place where I'm like "Ooh, this is a cool idea. Remember that this was someone else's cool idea." Because I consider the scriptures history, I don't mind if they influence me. Like, history does a lot. In Roshar you'll find the Mongolian invasion being a big basis for where the characters for the Alethi come from and in the same way, King Benjamin's speech is a bit of an inspiration for Nohadon's Way of Kings. I don't mind getting inspired by history.

EuroCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

Something I found really interesting and refreshing--it's sad it is that way, but it is--about your books are female characters, and I recently read that for a while you were kind of mortified because, talking about feedback, someone told you that you were writing really plain female characters. Now, seeing Vin or Megan, I barely can believe that, and I think as fans sometimes maybe get a bit too caught up in how amazing your worldbuilding is, and your magic systems, and we sort of disregard something that really works as well, and that's characters. I really like that your characters have, even if they are kind of secondary, they have purpose, they have motive, they have a backstory, they are not just there as background, really. So, could you describe how is character building for you and how has it changed since then?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this is an interesting thing to think about, as a fan of science fiction and fantasy, because the thing that draws us all to sci-fi/fantasy, the reason we're here, is because of the setting. And yet, the setting is in some ways the least important part, because, if you have a bad setting, but great characters, you usually can still have a good book, but if you have terrible characters and and interesting setting, usually that book is still going to be boring.

This was a problem early in my writing, as you have brought up, particularly my female characters. I can still remember sharing one of my first books with someone, and being very excited for their feedback, and hearing how much they loved the magic system, and then getting to the criticism and saying, "It's unfortunate that the female lead is so wooden," and this was something that I needed to work on. No writer starts out good at everything. I was fortunate in finding early on some of these things that I needed to work on.

For me, one of the big breakthroughs came when I started to look at each character as the protagonist of their own story. In some of these early books, characters were fit into a definition by my brain. This is the love interest, this is the sidekick, this is the mentor. But that's not how we are in our lives. Every one of us is a romantic interest at times, a mentor at times, a sidekick at times, but throughout the course of all of it, the only perspective we have of it is our own, and we are always the protagonist in that story. So when I started asking myself for each character, no matter how insignificant to the plot, who are they, what are they passionate about, what would they be doing today if the world weren't ending, and how are they the hero of their story.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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diffyqgirl

Is the writing process for writing a novella different from writing a novel?

Brandon Sanderson

It is, but they are similar arts. I think of novellas like short novels, rather than long short stories--so I tend to plot and pace them in similar ways to novels. That said, I tend to narrow my focus to one day, and don't muck around as much with flashbacks. I try to keep the narrative tight on one sequence of events.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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carmen22

When it comes to crazy plot twists, fascinating characters, magic systems, humor, religion, etc., what do you feel, for you, is the hardest part to get on paper or come up with?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that the most difficult parts have to do with getting a character's internal conflicts (if they have them) right. Sometimes, this can take a lot of exploration. Sazed in Mistborn 3 took a LOT of work before I was satisfied.

Second hardest is getting the humor right, particularly witty style humor like in the Lightsong sections of Warbreaker. There are frequently times when I spend hours on a single line in sections like that.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Hey, all! Back again to talk about the progress of your book. I promised you updates through the year, and I'll do my best to pop in here now and then and let you know how things are going.

Oathbringer, if you somehow missed the update last month, is done. But it's not DONE done. I turned in the rough draft, but immediately jumped into the third draft. (Because I did the second draft at the same time as the first--basically, after finishing each section of the book, I jumped back and revised it before sending to my editor. The goal being to get him a second draft to begin editing so he could work at the same time I did.)

I've finished Part One and Part Two of the third draft as of today. This included adding in two interludes, which I hadn't finished in the rough draft. Later today, Part Two should be going to the beta readers.

(To answer the inevitable question, the beta readers are chosen by Peter--my assistant and editorial director--from among those who have been very active on the fan websites, or who know us personally.)

I'll jump into the Part Three revision soon, then will do Parts Four and Five together. That will get us through the 3.0 draft.

4.0 and 5.0 drafts will be done together, hopefully in March/April. 4.0 will input beta reader comments and writing group comments, and 5.0 will be the polish where I try to trim words and perfect the language.

We're still in the early stages of the art, as Isaac was busy last fall with the Mistborn Leatherbound and doing maps for Tad William's new series. So we'll need to work hard getting artwork done. Plan is to have a new set of colored endpages for the hardcover of the US edition, as we've done in the past, though I can't announce what those are yet.

Book is looking great so far. Part One needed a heavy revision at the intro, but nothing more than that. Part Two (the slowest of the parts) remains a bit of a questionable area. The only way to speed it up is to cut some fun, but ultimately flabby, chapters. I think they are chapters people will love, as they have some unusual viewpoint characters, but the have a bit of an interlude feel to them. If Tor puts its foot down on length limits for the book, I'll have to cut these out.

Part Three has some larger revisions I've been planning with Peter these last few weeks, so the 3.0 draft on that might take a little longer than the other two did.

Anyway, it's exciting to see the book coming along! November release date is looking very good, and I doubt we'll miss it. Also, my Spanish publisher contacted us with the hopes of trying to do a translation and get their edition out at the same time as the US/UK editions, which would be a first for any of my books in translation. So a big thumbs up for them.

Thank you again for your patience. Hope to see some of you in Boston next month, where I'm guest of honor at a convention. Otherwise, I should be mostly nose-to-the-grindstone, as my travel schedule is very light until I head off to Germany (and maybe Poland and Bulgaria) in March.

ICon 2019 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I didn't know the whole cosmere when I wrote Elantris. In fact, a lot of the things I put into Elantris, like the shardpool, I put in feeling like I would connect them later on, but I had no idea how they were going to connect. By Mistborn, I did have all the cosmere. I have an advantage in that, because I took so long to publish, I was able to do a lot of practice books, and it let me really settle in on what I wanted to do, and I was able to build the cosmere... For instance, Dragonsteel (which I wrote after Elantris) is Hoid's backstory and his origin story and things like that. (And also has Bridge Four in it. Back then, they were on a different planet.) I was able to really experiment in Aether of Night with what shardpools meant, and the gods and the Shards of Adonalsium. You can read that one, that one's on the internet just for free. I think the easiest way to do it is to go to my forums and ask them for a copy. I told them they could give it away. It's not very good. It's not terrible, but it does have a lot of shardpool stuff in it, so if you're interested in that.

So by the time I wrote Mistborn, I knew what I was doing with all of this. And I think kind of retrofit to make sure Elantris still fit it all. Hoid still had an appearance, the Shardpools worked the way I wanted to, the magic systems were based off the cosmere magic, the realmatics were all consistent, and things like that.

People ask me a lot, "Where did you get the cosmere?" It was a gradual evolution during the unpublished novels, and then was done by the time I wrote Mistborn.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
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Questioner

How do you schedule your time?

Brandon Sanderson

These days its based on deadlines, so for instance Rithmatist is a side project, I don't have a contract for that. I just write them, give them to the publisher, and say "its time to publish this". Steelheart i sign a three book deal that has dates in it: when i have to turn them in, if that makes sense. So when I have extra time I do something like this, when i don't, you know, when the contract comes through I've given my obligation to the publisher that i'll do certain things, so i write those. That's how it is these days. It used to be more along the lines of whatever i felt like at the time. You know, its now my job when then it wasn't my job, and as my job there are certain things I need to do.

ICon 2019 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

My editor in America made me cut out half of the kolo's – what did you translate "kolo" as?

Questioner

"Kolo." 'Cause you know, it's foreign language, so I just preserve it as it is.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. He made me cut half of those. He was so annoyed by my kolo's. You don't to understand, languages use these little verbal tics, that are very common – I don't know if Hebrew has one, but, like, they're very common, like - Korean has one - <Kuritzu?> - which people put at the end of a lot of sentences, and they just mean "Isn't that so?" or "Am I right?" or... it basically gives you a moment to think while you're talking, and a lot of languages have them. So, this is one of the examples of: fiction happened to be less realistic than real life, because in a lot of real-life texts you would have one of those every other sentence. And I use them like, you know, once a page, and my editor is like, "This is way too much."