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The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#151 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight

So, Moshe and I BOTH worried about the fact that we've got two shadow mysterious figures showing up at the beginning of this book. Part of the problem is the rewrite, which mashed things together at the beginning of the novel, increasing the speed–but then melding things together as well. Originally, the mist spirit showed up before the Watcher. Now they both are introduced in the same chapter, which happens to be the second chapter.

That makes me worry about overlap and confusion, but we decided there was nothing to be done about it. As the story progresses, hopefully they'll be differentiated enough in the reader's head to keep them straight. (It doesn't help that I have creatures in this world known as mistwraiths, which are different from either the Watcher or the mist spirit. Sigh.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#152 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Lightsong Awakes from More Bad Dreams

This is the scene in the book where I originally started to turn Lightsong's dreams a tad darker. As you can see from the final version, I've now been doing that from the beginning. All to keep tension up.

Anyway, these dreams he saw—a prison, Scoot, Blushweaver—were there in the original draft. As I've said, I'm a planner, and so I had my ending well in mind by this point in the original version of the book. That ending changed in many ways during revision, but it's kind of surprising how much stayed the same. Sometimes, things just work and you do get them right on the first try.

Elantris Annotations ()
#153 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Moshe and I agreed on just about every edit or change made to Elantris. There is one small thing, however, that we kind of went the rounds about. The word Kolo.

Galladon's "Kolos" are, in my mind, an integral part of his personality. I characterize him a great deal through his dialogue–he doesn't really get viewpoints of his own, so everything I do for him at least until the ending I either have to do through Raoden's thoughts or through Galladon's own words. When I was coming up with Galladon's character, I realized I would need a set of linguistic features that would reinforce his culture's relaxed nature. So, I went with smooth-sounds, and gave their dialect a very "chatty" feel. The Dula habit of calling everyone "friend" came from this–as did their habit of softening everything they say with a question tag. Linguistically, questions are less antagonistic than statements, and I figured a culture like the Dula one would be all about not antagonizing people.

A number of languages in our own world make frequent use of similar tags. Korean, the foreign language I'm most familiar with, has a language construction like this. Closer to home, people often make fun of the Canadian propensity for adding a similar tag to their own statements. I hear that Spanish often uses these tags. In many of these languages, a large percentage of statements made will actually end in a softening interrogative tag.

Anyway, enough linguistics. I'm probably using the standard "literary" posture of falling back on facts and explanations to make myself sound more authoritative. Either way, I liked having Galladon say "Kolo" a lot. In the original draft, the tags were added onto the ends of sentences, much like we might ask "eh?" or "understand?" in English. "It's hot today, kolo?"

Moshe, however, found the excessive use of Kolo confusing–especially in connection with Sule. He thought that people might get the two words confused, since they're used similarly in the sentences. Simply put, he found the kolos distracting, and started to cut them right and left. I, in turn, fought to keep in as many as I could. It actually grew rather amusing–in each successive draft, he'd try to cut more and more, and I'd try to keep a hold of as many as possible. (I was half tempted to throw a "kolo" into the draft of Mistborn, just to amuse him.)

Regardless, we ended up moving kolo to its own sentence to try and make it more understandable. "It's hot today. Kolo?" We also ended up cutting between a third and a half of the uses of the word, and losing each one was a great pain for me. (Well, not really. But I'm paid to be melodramatic.) So, if you feel like it, you can add them back in your mind as your read Galladon's lines.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#154 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Physical Signs of Impending Doom

The earthquake here, by the way, was added in one of the later drafts. My editor and I decided that we needed something else to show that the world was approaching collapse—not just sociologically and not just because of the mists. The earthquakes and the rumblings from the ashmounts are an indication of this. Watch for more of them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#155 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Four

Marsh Kills a Smoker

This chapter was a late addition to the book. My agent, during his second read through the novel, noticed that Marsh basically disappeared through the middle of the novel—much as he had in book two. In addition, the reader got very little sense of what was happening in the Central Dominance while all of the characters were out taking care of other cities. In my books, the cities themselves tend to be characters, and Joshua was disappointed to not have at least a few token mentions of Luthadel in the middle of book three.

I agreed with him, and that's where this Marsh chapter—along with the next one—came from. An attempt to have him doing something, rather than just sitting around being controlled by Ruin, while at the same time showing some of what is going on in places where there aren't any main characters to narrate for us.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#156 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Investigates the Lord Ruler's Palace

Yes, the mist spirit and the Well are related. They feel the same to Vin. There's something going on there. Also, the footprints in the dust are from someone you know. More on this later.

If you can't tell from those two cryptic comments, this scene with Vin sneaking around Kredik Shaw is one of the new scenes that I added late in the process. I felt that I needed to do some more foreshadowing for things yet to come; the original draft left the surprises at the end just a little TOO surprising. We will be back in Kredik Shaw before the book concludes, and I wanted to visit the place at least once before then to remind you of its existence, and to make a few narrative connections.

Elantris Annotations ()
#157 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

There's a tie for best line of the chapter, in my opinion. The first one goes to Sarene, and it's in her thoughts. " 'The problem with being clever,' Sarene thought with a sigh, 'is that everyone assumes you're always planning something.' " This was an original line from the first draft, and it's always struck me as a rather true statement. The other line goes to Roial, and it was actually added in one of the last drafts. "Mean young men are trivial, and kindly old men boring."

Elantris Annotations ()
#159 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Six - Part Two

As I've said before, I worried about the Sarene-Raoden plot falling too much into "romantic comedy" stereotypes, so I took measures to try and make them act more honestly. In this chapter, Raoden tries to push Sarene away–but, of course, she doesn't believe him. Honestly, I think people in a lot of such plots TRY to find ways to misunderstand each other. That's the only explanation I can give for why such ridiculous things occur.

In cutting the Mad Prince, this section in the Sarene/Raoden chapters was one of the things I was sad to change. As I mentioned in a previous annotation, in the Mad Prince version of the book, Sarene thought that Raoden had returned with an army to try and take the city. I started this chapter out with a scene of Raoden thinking about the problems Sarene's realization caused. I’ll just stick it in here:

One side effect of her mistaken supposition was that she hesitated in regards to their own relationship. He could see the conflict within he–the two of them had grown very close over the last five days, acting on the feelings they had both been forced to hold back during the weeks of Sarene's food distribution. Yet, now, Sarene thought that her husband might actually be alive and, a truly devout daughter of political necessity, she felt that getting any closer to Raoden would betray her vows. With surprise, Raoden realized that he was competing with himself–and losing.

I really hate to lose that last line. It always struck me as ironically clever. However, there was another loss that was even tougher to lose. It comes in where Raoden and Sarene are at the city gates:

Raoden fell still. He wanted her to stay–he longed for her to stay. But, at the same time, he knew he had to do whatever it took to get her out of Adonis. The city was death. As much as it pained him to think of her leaving, it pained him more to think of her staying.

"He will be there," Raoden said enticingly, his voice suddenly growing quiet. "Raoden. The man you love."

Sarene's hand grew slack, and she waved uncertain eyes towards the Elantris city gate. "No," she finally said. "That's not what I want any more."

I think the reason I hated to lose this scene is obvious. Right here, Sarene gets to choose "Spirit" over the images she has in her head of the perfect Prince Raoden. It's an opportunity for her to show that she really does love him, despite what he is, despite what the other options might be. It's love offered against logic and against wished-for dreams. In other words, it's realistic love. Of all the scenes I had to cut, these few paragraphs make me the saddest to lose, I think.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#160 Copy


Merrin was a terrible name... It makes me think of member of Robin Hood, men in tights. I am super glad Brandon decided to change his name: Kaladin works much better, IMHO.

Peter Ahlstrom

It was Merin, but it did rhyme with Perrin and Verin. He was actually still using Merin when he was halfway through the first draft of the published WoK. I was totally used to it and thought it was a fine name, but Kaladin is better.


Thanks for the added precision. Merin still make me think of Robin's Hood Merry Men... It somehow does not reconcile quite well with the mental imagery I currently have of Kaladin. I guess it feels rather different when you've known him as Merin for a long time, but knowing him as Kaladin to then find out he initially was a Merin is somehow weird.

This being said, it is super interesting to find out so many names were changed from the early version of WoK to the published book. It wasn't just Kaladin.

Peter Ahlstrom

Yeah, Sadeas used to be a guy called Meridas. One of Meridas's things was wanting to marry Jasnah (and Jasnah did not return the interest). But Sadeas didn't have that interest. So Meridas became Amaram's first name instead.


Oh sweet. I didn't know about this one. I also heard Dalinar originally had no sons, then he had three and now he has two: none the original names were retained (except Renarin, I think). Quite a lot of changes. It is very fascinating how characters can move from one identity to another and through this morphing, earn another name.

Peter Ahlstrom

Dalinar's second wife in Prime was one of the craziest things.


Oh I would have loved to read that. Has she become the inspiration for another character?

Peter Ahlstrom

No. At least not yet, and the way the series is going I doubt someone like her will fit.


Ah then may I ask what she was like?

Peter Ahlstrom

I would leave that up to Brandon to reveal.


Any plans to do another Altered Perceptions sometime?

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon is in no hurry to be involved in something like that anytime soon, but we wouldn't rule it out. More of Way of Kings Prime will be revealed eventually, but at this time some elements of it are still spoilers for future books in the Stormlight Archive.

Skyward Anchorage signing ()
#162 Copy


You mentioned Star Wars, and you mentioned Elantris. I know you went back and did some rework on Elantris. How often do you-- How do you resist the urge to go back and rework your earlier books?

Brandon Sanderson

It's kind of a balancing act because-- There's a famous quote that people attribute to Da Vinci (though I don't know if it was really him) that says, "Art is never finished; it's only abandoned." Which is quite true. Every book could have taken another year, another two years, another five years, and become a different book as you're working on it. And I think there is a balance to be found between fixing continuity errors and improving the experience, versus changing the book into something else. With Elantris, when we did the tenth anniversary [edition], we tried to hold ourselves strictly to continuity errors. Things that were being fixed were language cleanups; kind of like the digital remaster of a DVD, where it's the same thing, but times where I misused commas or I used this word a little too much, we cleaned it up to make the experience better. Or, in one case, someone looks out and sees Elantris from a point in the city where they were facing the wrong way. Stuff like that.

The only time I have done more than that was experimenting with the end of Words of Radiance. And because-- My big concern with that is, I made some tweaks for the paperback, and then it raised lots of questions of "Which one is the canonical answer?" Which was too confusing for fans. I don't care if fans get confused on "What's the canonical answer of which direction this character was facing in this scene?" It doesn't really matter. But which is the canonical answer of what big decision a character makes does raise enough concern that I probably won't do it.

But I don't know. Grandpa Tolkien went back and changed The Hobbit to match Lord of the Rings. And when I read The Hobbit, that improved the experience for me, because I was reading it years and years later. I can see how it'd be confusing if people loved The Hobbit beforehand. But it ended up making a better story overall. So, I don't know. It's more about just finding the balance that we think is the right balance as we release these tenth anniversary editions of my books where we're cleaning up the language and things like that. I don't anticipate doing large-scale changes, unless they're for continuity reasons, moving forward.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#163 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Parlin Is Dead

Parlin was always meant to die here. That's one of the main reasons I left Vivenna with someone from Idris to be in her team, in fact. (The other reason is that I found it unrealistic that she wouldn't have somebody with her.)

Maybe this is why Parlin never worked as a character, to be honest. I wonder if he was always in my mind as the character who was going to get killed by Tonk Fah, which kept me from giving him enough depth. I'm not sure; I do know that in the book as it stands, he's probably the biggest component I wish I had time to change. I'm not certain what I could put in his place that wouldn't distract too much from the plot—and wouldn't take away from the humor of Denth and the mercenaries—but would still be sympathetic enough that when he dies here, it would be more powerful. But I would have liked to have found something.

Tonk Fah tortured him to death. He wasn't supposed to, but he got carried away. It was an accident, as Denth claims. (Denth shouldn't have left Tonks alone with the prisoner to continue the torturing.) Denth came back and found Parlin dead, and was annoyed and frustrated. He left Tonks behind, storming out in anger, and eventually found Jewels and Clod, who were talking to slum contacts and trying to find Vivenna. They came back to regroup.

Meanwhile, Tonks heard Vivenna enter, and knew it wasn't Denth. He put his Breath into his clothing, then ducked back under the stairs, his lantern extinguished, wondering who had come. He wasn't terribly surprised to find Vivenna. That was when Denth and Jewels got back and the rest of the situation went down.

I added the corpses of Vivenna's father's agents in the last draft, by the way, since I figured I wanted it to be more obvious what had happened to them.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#164 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Four

Vin sits and thinks in the mists

Most of the logbook entries that you're seeing Vin reference in this book were used as epigraphs in the first book. As I mentioned in that book's annotations, one of my goals in this series was to finish the rough drafts of all three books before the first novel went into production. I had a lot of plans for the series when I started the first book, but I knew that there would be a lot of things I wouldn't be able to nail down until I had Book Three worked out. (You'd be surprised at the connections and ideas you come up with as you work through things on the page.)

I realized that I'd want to be able to foreshadow and worldbuild in a way that pointed toward the third book, as I thought that would give the series a powerful cohesion. For instance, when I was working on the first book (and planning the series) I knew I wanted to use the mist spirits and the koloss in this second book. However, when I was planning the series, my worldbuilding had included the use of SEVERAL different "Mist Spirits" rather than just one. In addition, as I was working on the first book, I realized that the koloss just weren't working, and so I cut them from that book to leave them for this novel, where I would have more time with them. (Allowing me to better define for myself what they were like.)

By the time I finished this book, I realized that–for the mythology I wanted–there could only be a single mist spirit. Also, I knew pretty darn well what koloss were. It was very helpful to have finished this novel before Book One came out, as I was able to go back and revise the logbook entries which referenced "spirits" in the mists so that they spoke of just a single spirit instead. I also had characters speak of koloss in book one the same way they do in book two.

Not big changes, but I think they improve the feel of the series.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#165 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I'm a little late to this, because of travel/booksigning woes, but I did want to jump in and offer a few things here. As Lyn said above, the AMA isn't often going to be able to dig into details about what was in the original draft--that's the sort of thing we like to keep a little closer to the chest. I'm okay with revealing things like that in the abstract, but having a wholesale "let's reveal plot points in early drafts of books without context" reveal seems like it might be dangerous.

So here, off the top of my head, are some of the things that I changed in the book related to Beta Reader comments. These topics are "open" for discussion--meaning you can ask Betas for more specifics on them, if you feel like it. These were all things I changed specifically because of Beta interaction.

Adolin's viewpoints were added to Part One. As was a quick run-down on Renarin's powers, and what he was learning to do with them.

The romantic angle between Shallan/Adolin/Kaladin was tweaked as I more and more referenced the idea that two different personalities of Shallan's were in love with two different people. IE--moving it further away from a love triangle, and instead showing more clearly that that Shallan was splitting further into multiple people, with different life goals.

This wasn't coming across in the early drafts, though I sometimes coulen't quite tell which responses were knee jerk "Twilight ruined love triangles! Don't do them!" comments and which were "I'm not convinced these four people--counting Shallan as two--are actually working in relationships." (I'll note that I, personally, am very pleased with how this part turned out in the books--but the betas certainly helped me get there. I'd guess that this is one of the more contentious matters of fan discussion about the book. The point of bringing it up here isn't to discredit anyone's feelings about the actual arc, just point out how the betas helped me find the balance I wanted.)

I got a LOT of help from people for writing Shallan's getting drunk scenes.

Slightly beefed up Yelig-nar's part in the plot, as what he did wasn't coming into play enough--and originally (I can't remember if this was a beta thing or an alpha thing) he wasn't as involved in the Amaram/Kaladin fight.

I revised part four heavily, moving the scene where Kaladin runs into our "so very beautiful" friend from Elantris (and the subsequent dip into the Spiritual Realm) from happening in the market to happening in the Lighthouse. Originally, the Lighthouse was run by Cryptics. (Which was a lot of fun.) However, I needed stronger establishment of Kaladin's motivations earlier in Part Four, which was going kind of off-the-rails a little.

Lots more conversation between characters who weren't talking enough in Part Four. (Most specifically Azure.)

There are hundreds more, but those are a few that might be of interest--and I need to be up in three hours to get on a train to go do more signings. Jet lag sure is fun!

Elantris Annotations ()
#166 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, now, I know you're going to laugh at me here. However, I suppose you deserve to know the whole story of this book. After all, I told you about the whole "Adonis" thing.

Well, the thing is, the first version of the book included about two pages of poetry from Wyrn the King. I think every prose writer goes through a stage where we think, for some reason, that we have a talent for poetry. It's doubly bad in fantasy, where we've all read Tolkien, and felt like adding poems, songs, and the like to our stories.

The thing is, most of us aren't very good at it. Wyrn the King was a narrative alliterative poem patterned after Beowulf, and it was TERRIBLE. I might be masochistic enough to post it in the "deleted scenes" section of the website. I'm honestly not sure yet. (Actually, I wrote the poem as a college assignment. I wiggled out of doing something research-oriented by somehow convincing my teacher that I deserved to do a creative project instead. When I finished, I felt a little bit obliged to stick it in my current book, as I'd told my teacher I would. Sorry, Dr. Thursby, but. . .uh. . .it didn't make the final cut.)

Anyway, there was a point behind sticking the poem in the text, even if I completely overshadowed it by including so many lines of poetry. This section is really all we get in the book itself about Fjorden's past. As I've explained in the annotations, Fjorden switched to Shu-Dereth to do its conquering, relying on religion rather than armies. When they did so, they went back and rewrote many of their great classics. (Orwell would be proud of them.)

This is actually based on some events in our world. Some scholars think that Beowulf underwent similar revision, the monks who copied and translated it adding Christian symbolism to the text. After all, no great artist could possibly have been a true pagan. Everyone knows that Aristotle was a Christian–and he died before Christ was even born!

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#167 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

There were a couple of interesting edits that I made to this chapter. First off, Elend's proposal to the Assembly. It was a major point of revision in the book.

One of the biggest problems the novel had in the first draft was that readers weren't getting the right idea for the theme and plot of the novel. In early drafts, Vin's worries about the Deepness and the Lord Ruler's final words came before Straff's army arrived. So, readers were surprised when the middle of the novel spent so much time on politics and war. They wanted to learn more about the Well of Ascension. (Which IS important, but not as present–particularly at the beginning–as the rest of the plot.)

So, the revisions. I wanted to make the army a much more PRESENT in the narrative. Originally, Elend's proposal to the Assembly was about something unrelated. (Disaster relief for farmers.) I wanted to show him caring for his people. However, in revision, I realized I needed to focus more. So, now that proposal deals with the army, and is a thread that continues through the next few chapters.

Elantris Annotations ()
#168 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

One of the shortest, but most powerful, chapters in the book.

I added the "head arteth" conflict (the idea of everyone rejecting the appointment) later in the revision process so that I could have one more thing to push Hrathen over the edge. My only worry about this scene is one of pacing–if I've done the novel right, then this will seem like a climax that has slowly been building for some time. If I'm off, then this chapter will seem out-of-nowhere, and lack power to the reader.

This is really where Hrathen's chapters have been pushing. The questioning and self-doubt, the problems with Dilaf and conversion. . . . He's pretty much been defeated at every turn. It was time for him to either crack, give up, or do something spectacular. In a way, he kind of does all three.

Elantris Annotations ()
#169 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

Now we're getting into the most heavily-edited chapters of the book. From here, if you're curious about the Mad Prince version of the book, look in the "Deleted scenes" section. For the rest of the annotations, just realize that what the Mad Prince once did, Telrii now does. There is, of course, a lot of cut material–however, all of the essential elements of the plot still occur.

Basically, the Mad Prince gave aggravation and problems to Hrathen in these late chapters. He'd had so much success with his Elantris-poison plots that I knew I had to give him a few more wrinkles during these chapters. In the original draft, he instigated the arrival of the Mad Prince, then realized that he couldn't control what he'd unleashed.

These were all difficult edits. I still think the Mad Prince worked better in the role than Telrii does–however, the book as a whole works better without the Mad Prince in it. Sometimes you have to cut something good in order to achieve a better over-all effect.