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Sofia signing ()
#101 Copy

Questioner

You've mentioned before Adamant as maybe a universe where you can invite people to work with you.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah I've definitely considered that. Adamant is a science fiction novella I wrote, which I would love to do some continuing adventures of this starship and have some guest writers. It's difficult because, as a writer it's very hard to let go of anything, that's what I found. I did one story with a friend of mine, Ethan, who I did it with him because he's in the military and I've never been in the military, and I wanted to write a story that was kind of military science fiction-ish. And so we wrote a story together, and it's a great story, it's called HARRE, and you read it in English but-- It turned out really well but it was so hard to let go. Really hard to let go and let someone else do it, that's a flaw in me I think because the story turned out great, but I'm worried about doing that more in the future. Just if-- I'm worried whether or not I'll be able to let go of the story and let someone else put their stamp on it.

Questioner

So how about the other way around though. Would you be interested in working in somebody else's, like for example Dragonlance. You did something like this in The Wheel of Time, working with a pretty fine set of constraints--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it was a little different in The Wheel of Time because I was given complete creative control. So I could do whatever I wanted as long as I could convince Robert Jordan's widow that it was the right thing for the story. If I convinced her then it worked. But I very much could create whatever-- craft whatever story I wanted. In a lot of shared universes the constraints are much more binding. I wouldn't be opposed to it. I've certainly done-- I worked with some friends who make video games and worked on some stories with them, so I've done it before. I wouldn't be opposed to it. It would have to be the right thing.

Questioner

Or a Magic: The Gathering story?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah a Magic: The Gathering story, I could totally see myself writing one of those one day.

Brandon Sanderson

Is there a particular Magic: The Gathering, I dunno, what are they called-- universe?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, they've got a Gothic core universe called Innistrad, with a-- It's just I love classic Gothic horror, and it would allow me to play with some of those tropes. You know, the zombies banging on the door and the werewolves howling in the night, and things like that, that I probably would never do in one of my stories.

Skyward release party ()
#102 Copy

Questioner

Are Mat and Perrin bound to the Wheel?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say yes, but I'm not the ultimate authority on that, so it's possible what Robert Jordan would say would be different. I would say yes because we have Odin myths and things like that that are obviously Mat myths.

Skyward release party ()
#103 Copy

Questioner

I read something that said you wish there'd been more between Mat and Padan Fain, in the end.

Brandon Sanderson

I wish I had done more. I feel like that's one of the things that I, a little bit, dropped the ball on. It was a little too brief. That's one of those things that, if I had a little more time and got more reader response in beta reads, I might have picked up on.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#104 Copy

Questioner

Did you, in Wheel of Time, at any point, want to just change something?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, when I got The Wheel of Time, when I was offered it... one of the things they were looking for-- that Harriet (Harriet was Robert Jordan's widow. She was his editor first, then she married him. And we always joked that's how she made sure her editorial advice got taken. So, she discovered him, basically fell in love with him, and they got married. It's actually a really cool story. She was Tor's editorial director. She was the person who edited-- found and edited Ender's Game. Glen Cook's Black Company. She is amazing as an editor. And she discovered Robert Jordan, as well.) So, she was the one looking. When she called me, she found me when read Mistborn. I didn't know I was being considered, it's not like I sent in an application or something. She came to me, and she said, basically, after she decided she wanted me for sure, she said, "I need somebody to be the writer on this. That means complete creative control." Now, she was going to edit it, and her word was gonna be final. Which is not normally the case with an editor. But in this case, what Harriet said, she told me, "Whatever you feel needs to be done, do it, and sell me on it. And if I'm sold on it in the writing, then we keep it. And if I'm not, then we'll talk about how to revise it and fix it."

Because the notes and the outline were very free-form. Robert Jordan was not an outliner. He just had chunks and little bits of scenes here and there, and interviews with his assistants where he said "I'm thinking of doing this, or this thing that's completely the opposite, and I might just do a third thing that I can't decide on yet." Like, there was a ton of that. Going in, one of my mandates to myself was, when we did have something from Robert Jordan, we wanted to be sure to keep it. When we had something firm from him. And in that case, we kept basically all of it, except where it contradicted itself. Because his notes sometimes, he would change, he would be working on Book, like, Nine. And he writes a note for what he wants the ending to be. And then by Book Eleven, he's like, "I want this to be the ending." And those two, we don't know which one he would have settled on, so sometimes I'm just like, "I'm gonna strike this out and do a different thing." Like, he wanted to use the Choedan Kal in the ending. Both of them. But one, he destroyed. So, that note was from a previous... he'd written that before he decided to destroy it. Stuff like that.

In the end, there was only one thing I wanted to change that I didn't, and that was the spanking scene. With Cadsuane and Semirhage. Which, you know, I'm not big on the whole spanking thing, but he said write it, and I'm like, "All right, Robert Jordan, I'll write it."

Questioner

What was your favorite bit that you added?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably Aviendha going through the glass pillars, or Perrin forging his hammer. Those were both things that I felt the story needed. Perrin, there was very little on. He didn't leave any notes for Perrin, basically, at all. And so, Perrin, throughout the whole thing, I basically had to do. But Perrin was my favorite character, so I was very excited about that. He left a ton on Egwene. She was the one he'd almost finished her whole plot through the whole thing, and he was about halfway on Rand and Mat.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#105 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever have crazy ideas that are too crazy?

Brandon Sanderson

This happens all the time.

Greatness is often born of brashness. Of a reckless, bull-headed intent to do something everyone tells you is stupid. Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones you can't articulate in brief, because distillation ruins the very performance. Reduce a symphony to three notes, and it will seem pedestrian. Some ideas take to summary with ease. For others, explaining them is like trying to help someone climb Mount Everest after they say, "I'd like to take the quick route, please."

As a writer, you grow accustomed to saying, "It will work when I write it." You get use to saying, "I can do this, even if everyone tells me I can't." Becoming a writer in the first place is often done in defiance of rational good sense.

And sometimes, you're wrong. You try to prove that the idea works, you OWN it…and it's just not working. You're convinced it's your skill, and not the idea. If you could just figure it out…

This happened several times on The Wheel of Time. River of Souls, the famous deleted sequence from Demandred's viewpoint, is one of these. Perrin's excursion into the Ways in book 14 (also cut) is another. Early on, I pitched Perrin deciding to follow the Way of the Leaf to the team–but I wasn't actually serious on that one. More, I was in a brainstorming session with Team Jordan, and throwing out things that could possibly fulfill Perrin's arc in an unexpected way.

The 10th anniversary of Elantris has some deleted scenes, and the annotations talk about how in that book, I originally decided to have Hrathen turn out to be of a different nationality (secretly) as a twist at the end. The man who was doing all these terrible things was from Arelon all along!

That was stupid. It undermined much of his arc. It was a twist to just have another twist–in a book that already had plenty. Early reactions from Alpha readers helped me see this.

Lately, I've been trying to do some things with backstory and "cosmology" for the Stephen Leeds (aka Legion) stories, and Peter's not sold. We'll see if this turns into a "it will work when I write it" or a "That's a twist you don't need, Brandon."

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
#107 Copy

MagisterSieran

How would you compare writing this novella to the Wheel of Time books you wrote? Both have treasure troves of existing lore and characters and both are fantasy media that you're a fan of.

Brandon Sanderson

It was a similar experience in some ways--I had a lot of creative freedom in both cases, for example, and I had a lot of lore to draw upon.

For the WoT, though, I was very, very steeped in the lore--and made sure I did another deep dive before writing the stories. Here, I have familiarity with a lot of MTG lore, but there's a lot I don't know. I haven't read most of the fiction, particularly the older fiction, for example.

So for WoT I felt confident taking main storylines and resolving them, while for this, I tried to create my own sort of sectioned-off part of the plane to play in. Then I created my own lore for that area that I could control more specifically--traditions and lore that were related to the well-known places on Innistrad, but not exactly the same. That way, I could play with them, and undermine them, and do what I wished with them.