Consider Stormlight is ten books but it's two sets of five, so first five will come to an ending and then the next five will take place in the world about ten years later.
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Consider Stormlight is ten books but it's two sets of five, so first five will come to an ending and then the next five will take place in the world about ten years later.
How many books will the series have?
Two 5 book arcs.
Chapter SixBridge Four
I've spoken before on my creative process. I build books out of good ideas, often developed in isolation until I find the right place for them. (Allomancy and Feruchemy were originally developed separately, for separate books.) When a book doesn't work, the ideas get broken apart and bounce around in my head some more until I find another place to try them out.
Bridge Four—and the plateau runs—were originally part of Dragonsteel. Dalinar was too, so that's not all that surprising, I guess. However, Bridge Four is unique here in that when I decided to move them from Dragonsteel to The Way of Kings, I had already completed both books and felt pretty good about them. They are both important sequences in the Adonalsium Saga, and lifting Bridge Four from Dragonsteel meant taking away its most dynamic, powerful plot structure.
That decision was not easy to make. The problem is, both books were fundamentally flawed. Oh, they were both good, they just weren't great—and I felt I needed to be doing great in this point of my career. (Hopefully during every point of it.) The Way of Kings had an awesome setting and some great characters, but no focal plot sequence that really punched someone in the gut. Dragonsteel had wonderful ideas, but they never really came together.
In the end, I took the best part of the book that otherwise didn't work and put it into the book that needed a little extra oomph. The moment of decision came when Ben McSweeney, who was doing concept art on the book, sent me a concept he'd done that looked shockingly like the Shattered Plains. (Which, remember, were not even on that planet at that point.) I realized that they would fit the worldbuilding of The Way of Kings better than they ever did Dragonsteel, and that I could put greatshell monsters in them.
So, I ripped apart a book I love to make a (hopefully) better book. Rock came along to Roshar for the ride (he was an original member of Bridge Four in Dragonsteel). I added Teft, who had been left languishing for a decade or so after Mythwalker became Warbreaker and he didn't make the jump. Bridge Four seemed like a great home for him.
[Assistant Peter's note: Teft is mostly the same character as Hine from Mythwalker, but also has a character aspect from Voko in that book.]
The next segment from my Tor proposal talks about a book some of you may have heard of: THE WAY OF KINGS. Originally, this was going to be the second book I published, but I’ve decided to put it off in favor of MISTBORN. The reasons are explained below.
This decision was met with a great deal of disappointment by some of the manuscript’s fans, but I really think it’s best for my career right now to delay KINGS. It’s a magnificent story, but it needs some more time before it’s ready for the general public.
THE WAY OF KINGS (Book one of the Oathshards Series.)
KINGS was the book I was working on when Moshe first called me to buy ELANTRIS. While we were in contract negotiations, he asked to read a bit of my current work. I sent him KINGS, and he decided he wanted to purchase it as well. I don’t think, however, that he knew what he was getting into.
The OATHSHARDS is a massive war epic centering around ten angelic beings who have been driven insane—each in a slightly different way—by millennia spent protecting, fighting for, and dying for mankind. The first book, THE WAY OF KINGS, follows six separate viewpoint characters (one of them an immortal) during a time when the three peninsulas are thrown into a massive war. It is an intensive character piece coming in at over 300,000 words, and can be quite brutal with its characters.
It still does the things I do well—it has several original magic systems (though magic isn’t a focus in the first book.) It has a very interesting setting (which is one of its strong points) and has an array of interesting characters from all walks of life. (One a young peasant soldier, one a middle-aged sister to the king, one a battle-hardened nobleman general, one an honor-bound assassin serving an evil master, one a young lady-in-waiting, and the final one being an immortal protector of mankind who is slowly breaking beneath the pressure of his station.) The central theme of the book is that of leadership, and each of the six viewpoint characters are defined in one way or another by how they lead others.
KINGS has a lot going for it. It’s the kind of story that people remember—it has a grand scope, meaningful characters, and an expansive plot that would have to cover at least five books. However, I don’t know that it’s the best thing for my career right now. The book needs a lot of work before it could be published—at its current length, it would have to be cut into two pieces or slashed by a third in order to work. I also have to do some serious revisions to the plot. I like how all of the characters work, but I worry that the book is too slow (even for me) at the beginning as I establish six viewpoints and six separate plots. I need to find a way to combine some of the plotting so that several viewpoints can work on the same problems.
I think this series could really make an impact on the genre. However, it would take far more work than MISTBORN to get to a publishable level. Perhaps it would be best for me to publish a few books like MISTBORN or ELANTRIS before I do something this ambitious.
Is there any chance we will have a deeper backstory for Bridge 4 members? Maybe an anthology or something with short stories that detail backstory for Rock, Lopen, etc? That would be amazing!
I do intend to dig into some of them a little. (Rock, for example, is currently plotted to have a viewpoint sequence in a later book.)
Next, I've been hearing about The Way of Kings series you are starting. Are you planning to have that as a single book or going to try and make it a trilogy like Mistborn or a large ten or more book series?
It's going to be a big series. No promises on length right now, but I feel that it is going to be long. I have 10 books plotted right now, though some of those might get combined—essentially, there are 10 plot arcs I want to cover. But expect it to be big. The first book is done, and came in at 380,000 words before editing.
Will The Way of Kings series be based on one of the worlds and magic systems you have already created or are you inventing a totally new one for this series?
It will be new. There are going to be a lot of different types of magic in the world (I see there's a question below asking about that, so I'll answer more there.) But there will be two main magic systems for the first book. The first will deal with the manipulation of fundamental forces. (Gravity, Strong/weak atomic forces, Electromagnetic force, that sort of thing.) The second will be a transformation based magic system, whereby people can transform objects into one of the world's ten elements.
As I read about the Parshendi, can't help but think of indigenous peoples. How do you deal with that and respecting the whole experience of colonization?
I think one of the things I have to do is embrace it. Like, if I just ignore it, it's worse, and so that's why I've tried to dig into and kind of acknowledge the issues. I mean, it is a minefield, right? I'm wandering into a minefield by writing a story that is basically based off of--
Yes. But at the same time, ignoring it wouldn't work. And the thing about it is, most cultures in our world, this is a question they had to deal with. Whose land is it? I mean, we're still fighting this war--we, I say, we aren't--but war is still being fought in the Middle East over whose land is it, and it's both of theirs, right, depending on how far you go back. And things like that, and so I think ignoring it is the wrong thing to do. But I also think there's a danger in trying to present an answer that is too easy, and so that's the line I have to walk. Embrace it, talk about it, not present an answer that is too easy, present multiple sides on it. It's kind of like the same way like the people in Roshar are both incredibly racist and incredibly sexist, right? Writing people who are racist and sexist without the narrative itself bolstering those sorts of those things is really hard. But, you know, we sign up to do hard things, and if I fall on my face, the best thing I can do is just acknowledge that I've fallen on my face, as I have done in the past.
...The Tenth Name of the Almighty, Elithanithile, He Who Transforms. Is this related to the fact that Akinah is divided into ten parts, and the things you find there?
Uh, yes... Are these things all related to the concept of change and why things are divided into ten parts in The Stormlight Archive, and the answer was "Yes, these are all very much interconnected."
Of the 7 remaining Stormlight Archive books (or 3 in the sub-series), which one are you most looking forward to writing?
Does titles of the five books from the first arc create a ketek?
No. I actually considered it but it’s just too confusing so I actually tossed that out before I even started the first book. But I did consider it. It just was too confusing.
Won't it be difficult to keep the storyline interesting for 10 books straight?
We'll have to see! I think the storyline for the series is quite captivating, but I've never done something this long before.
I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)
The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.
I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.
Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.
Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.
These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .
Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.
This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.
I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.
Are we ever gonna get to hear the music that is sung within Stormlight?
I hope so.
Will it be chanting?
A lot of chanting. A lot of rhythms. A lot of chants.
I've searched this subreddit for someone mentioning Jane Elliot before, but nobody has, so I decided to share this.
I was explaining The Stormlight Archive to a friend yesterday when he told me that BS must have been influenced by Jane Elliot, so I researched her and found the wikipedia article about her.
This woman was a school teacher who decided to teach her class about racism the day after Martin Luther King's death by segregating the class between light eyed and dark eyed children. It's a very interesting exercise and I love how the darkeyed vs. lighteyed issue was actually experienced for real on this earth, not just in the SA books. You can read more about the experiment on the wikipedia page or in this article.
The coolest part of this is that the 3rd time Jane Elliot did that experiment, she filmed it and it was made into a documentary in 1970 with the title : The Eye of the Storm
I think it's a pretty cool coincidence (probably influence rather than coincidence) and I thought I'd share!
The study sounds familiar to me, so I'm sure I've read it before--but I can't remember if it was like this (in reference to the SA, which I'd already started working on) or if I read about it before, and it lodged in my brain as something to try some day.
Will we ever get a Renarin viewpoint?
Yeah! Like an interlude or...
Renarin is one of the ten characters.
As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.
One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.
With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.
I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.
There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.
Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.
I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.
So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.
As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.
That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.
That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.
The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.
Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?
The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.
So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.
You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.
You do the [Stormlight Archive chapter header] arches too right?
I did do the arches as well, yeah.
Is there like a pattern <though>? 'Cause I'm trying to find a consistent one. Like certain characters or...
You know, the pattern to those is... Peter reads the chapter and then he decides which faces to put on the chapter heading.
So it isn't just like whose point of view it's from it could be...
It can be-- It can be more thematic. I'm not sure of all of the things that Peter takes into consideration. That would be a good question to ask him sometime.
I'll be reading to you from one of the interludes, which are interesting things to write.
So if you haven't read Stormlight-- Epic fantasy has this sort of problem, right? I love epic fantasy. I grew up reading epic fantasy. It's my first love of genres. And I have an advantage over some of the people writing epic fantasy in that, like you know, [George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan], in that I've read [George Martin and Robert Jordan], and they don't have that advantage... Robert Jordan couldn't read Robert Jordan and necessarily had to write the stories, and I feel like at-- when I sat down to approach Stormlight Archive, which I kind of want to be my big epic, right? Hopefully I don't do anything bigger than this... *laughter* 520,000 words long. The writers in the crowd-- Yeah, 520 is pretty long. It's a quarter longer than Words of Radiance was. I am trimming it in my fifth revision. That's where I normally trim. So maybe we'll get it down to like 470 or 450 or something. But at 540... *inaudible* wants to go up. So I looked at these epic fantasy books that had come out before it-- series-- and I said, "What can I learn from them? How can I prevent myself from following in some of the same problems?" And I noticed that a lot of these big epic fantasies have this issue, kind of mid-series, where the side characters kind of take over the story, and the story deviates from its focus on to a side character focus for a while. It seems to happen very commonly. And as a writer my instincts said what's happening is the writer is wanting to show the expansiveness of the world, which is one of the big things we try to do in epic fantasy, right? They're trying to show the breadth of it, and they do this by adding characters from lots of different walks of life and different parts of the world. Which is a good instinct, right? It's gonna give you that sense of size and scale to the epic fantasy. But what happens is you kind of promise them these side stories will have their resolutions, and as you're pushing kind of towards the ending of your series you realize, "I need to tie in all these side characters." And so you end up with these books that are really focused on side characters, wrapping up their stories, and it feels like it creates a speed bump in the series. And so I said, "Well what can I do with like the format of my books that will mitigate this? Is there something I can do?" So I was kind of-- I'm a big fan of...
My thought was, I would write the books and I would find natural breakpoints inside of each book where it wouldn't feel like as much of a speed bump to kind of go off to somewhere else. Like, one of the problems with like some of these side stories would be like you're really into one of the main characters' stories and then it's like, "And then here's viewpoint from random person that you don't care about," right? Which you do care about! Some of the side characters in Wheel of Time were some of my favorite. But it's just that momentum you've got on the main characters, and then it feels like it's a break, we don't see them forever. So I try to find natural break points, that I would then insert completely random things from around the world, but I would only give myself, like, two of those per break and then I have to be done. And you know-- this forcing myself in this format with the interludes I felt like allowed-- would allow the reader to be able to know what's coming, so that, you know, if you can anticipate-- if you're like, "Alright, we have our break now. We can go to the side characters. Really enjoy them. Get to see the breadth of the world," And then we can come back to the main story and know that it's coming back very quickly. And also know that these side characters aren't going to take over the story. That there's only going to be this space for them. And you also kind of know-- for those -- I do know some people who read an entire Stormlight Archive book and then go back and read the interludes, as if they-- They're basically a short story collection in the world of Roshar. Now, skipping them is dangerous because I usually use the interludes for one important character. And each interlude has one really relevant character for each book. So in the first one, Szeth has interludes, right? And he's a very relevant character. And in this one-- well you'll see who it is in this one.
But I also like doing readings from the interludes because reading the interludes don't spoil the book nearly as much for those who haven't read the first ones, or things like that.
I'm curious to know if there are any books-- any stories or scripture in the Book of Mormon that have particularly inspired your writing, that you like.
Yeah, King Benjamin's speech is the thing that I can point to most specifically as influencing me on my views of leadership, specifically in The Stormlight Archive.
Will Stormlight Archive ever possibly get an anime?
Will Stormlight Archive ever possibly be an anime. Anything is possible. *laughter* But it is unlikely unless somebody comes to me and really wants to make one. It's not a market I know well enough to pursue. I'll watch good anime when my brother gives it to me, but it's not like I know that market and how to make it happen.
Alright we're going to read now. This is a short passage, but it is a flashback from Kaladin. Probably not what you expected. This book will mostly have Dalinar flashbacks, but Kaladin I plan to do multiple books where I sneak flashbacks in. They're short. Like I said they're only a few pages, but they fill in wholes in Kaladin's backstory. He doesn't get all of them in this book, but through the series you'll get glimpses of Kaladin's past. And this is one of them.
How awesome an anime do you think Stormlight would make?
OH MY GOD SO AWESOME.
I am biased, as an animator, of course. But I think the world of Roshar is too fantastic and unique to be anything other than fully animated. If you do it with actors, they're gonna do it in the big green rooms, and that so rarely works out well.
I'd be content with a CG animated series (Shardplate kinda begs it), but it'd be a lot trickier to do well. That being said, I've seen some really great CG, so it could be done.
I'm so happy you agree. I've been a pretty huge fan of Knights of Sidonia on Netflix. That's a perfect style for Plate in my opinion.
KoS is pretty great (awesome manga, too), but the cines for Guilty Gear Xrd are just sick.
Game cinematics offer the best examples of quality, but it's not easy to get a studio in the range of Plastic Wax or Blur to dedicate the resources required for a full feature or a 22x12/24 series. Well, mostly it's just crazy expensive. But costs are always adjusting, the field is expanding, and we've got a lot of books left to publish before anyone's adapting it for animation or film.
I think some of the 2.5d CG animation they do could work well for Stormlight- you know, where it's mostly illustrated but some action scenes use cell-shaded 3d models as a reference for the perspective and animation so it's really spot-on? That would be really cool.
Oh, it's entirely feasible. Just a matter of the right budget with the right people at the right time. 'Course, that's a tricky triumvirate. :)
Definitely. I'm hoping White Sand does well as a start to prove that drawing Brandon's work is a good idea.
I think it might. And if nothing else, it's one more branch on the tree. Reaching out to new audiences is almost always a good strategy. :)
Do you already know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end?
Do I know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end. Yes I do! *crowd cheers* I'm an outliner, so I have lots of plans. I have not yet written the last scene. I wrote the last scene of Book 5 just so I had it in hand, 'cause there's two five book arcs. But I've known for many years and what's going to happen is hidden in the books already. So! *crowd woos* When it happens you'll be able to go "OH!!" When it happens in twenty years-- *laughter*
I've been trying to brainstorm what Stormlight characters would have jumped into the other books so far. You told me they had at one point.
Yes, they have but you've got to remember that The Stormlight Archive you are seeing right now, what's happening in it is like late cosmere era, does that make sense? So there are lots of people from the world that have been to other worlds but the people you know--this is happening just before Alloy of Law era-- So does that make sense? That's the first time you'd be able to see anyone here and by that era the bleed over is a lot less because we have the whole Odium trapped and things like that. There's a lot less-- There are a lot fewer people traveling in and out of Roshar than there once were.
Have you given any thought to auctioning the Stormlight Archive as a mini-series?
Have I thought about optioning Stormlight as a mini-series? Yes I have but I think it's premature to do anything with Stormlight right now, I think we should let a few more books come out.
Who writes these perspectives?
Those are written from a group called the Sleepless. You'll find them referenced in Edgedancer. They are Aimians.
In The Stormlight Archive, you have your interludes. As you said they are short stories. Are some of those characters going to be making reappearances?
Will some of the characters from the interludes in The Stormlight Archive make recurring appearances. Yes some of them will, I am seeding characters who are main characters for later in the series by what I'm doing in that book, in those interludes. Not all of them will be. I have ten characters that are forming the spine for this series-- and some of them-- Lift is one of the ones who is going to be in the back five books which will take place-- After Book 5 of Stormlight we will have a break, in-world, for about fifteen years. Not out of the world, not in our world, but we will have a break and when we come back fifteen years or so will have passed and we will start on the back five characters.
When you're thinking about parallel stories and writing them, how do you keep them disparate so that you don't have characters from one story overlapping with another story...
This is a balancing act I perform when writing big, long books, because a lot of times for narrative reasons, it is better to write them "this set of characters, then the next set, then this set, then that", and go back and forth, but a lot of times, for continuity of theme and character building, it is better to write them straight through, right, that one character's throughline, so you make sure it has an emotional arc to it. And the longer the book gets, the more delicate that balancing act gets, right?
So on a Stormlight book, I usually split the book in my head into three parts, like I write a trilogy of books, and then bind them together as one, with a short story collection making up the interludes and things. And I usually would go, alright, part one, Kaladin from beginning to end of part one. Part one, Shallan from beginning to end of part one. Now I will weave these chapters together and I will read through for theme and make sure that the pacing is working, because the pacing and tone can really get messed up when you're doing that.
Fun story about that: A Memory of Light, I did this with some of the things, and I was weaving them together for the prologue, and two of the things I was weaving together, was characters getting engaged, it was the ladies making a bridal wreath to give to Rand, and the other was the fall of Caemlyn and the people who were trying to live as things were happening there. Not to go into too many spoilers, but it was a really dynamic action sequence, with a lot of terrible things happening, and when I wove those two together, the tone whiplash was terrible. And it was like, one of the worst parts of the book was "here's a happy thing where we're gonna get engaged, now this person dies, then we go back to this happy thing". *crowd laughs* So I had to yank the engagement sequence from the book, because there was no tonal place in that novel where it could go that it wouldn't do that.
And so you run into that trouble, but I think that with the longer books, what you're noticing, keeping the characters' throughline consistent is the more important factor. It's a lot easier, I think, to fix pacing and tone by where you move the chapters and what you cut out and what you add in in revision.
You have said previously that The Stormlight Archive will include Lightweaving. Is that still the plan?
Have we seen a Roshar native in The Way of Kings who can use Lightweaving?
Yes, we have seen someone who has potential.
Do you already know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end?
Do you have all the details in mind, or do you just kind of have a general idea and you figure it out as you go?
So, I'm a planner. I tend to like having a pretty detailed plan. For something like The Stormlight Archive, that generally kind of boils down to: the next book has a five page plan, the book after that has a three page plan, the book after that a two page plan, one page, one page, and the last book we go back to a five page plan. So there is lots of wiggle room in one of these outlines, but at the same time, I've got touchstones and things I know I'm writing toward.
Where did the idea to split The Way of Kings and to make it take place in multiple places come from?
The Way of Kings taking place with the different timelines? So Way of Kings I wrote, the very first version of it--in its contemporary form, I wrote the first book about Dalinar when I was a teenager--but the very first book called The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002 and I tried to cram way too much into that book. The big failing of that book was I tried to do everyone's story at once. And so when I re-wrote it in 2009, or whenever it was, I decided I would take the characters and spread them out across the 10 book series and I would focus on a certain set of them early on and then transition into other ones. But in order to maintain some of the complexity I like in my books, particularly big epic fantasies, I added in the flashback sequence, one per character per book as a means to adding some depth and complexity but using it to build up a character you already knew, rather than doing someone completely different. And so this kind of allowed me to tell the story the way I wanted to, by doing-- That did mean I still had to have two separate timelines because I needed to do Shallan and I needed to do Kaladin, 'cause I knew they were going to be important, interacting together for the next few books. Which did put me in two different places but that was much better than the six different places the original had. And it's just because I like complexity, I like a book that everything comes together at once.
Is the fact that The Way of Kings and rest of the books in the series are going to focus each one on a different character connected in any way to the fact that both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight focused each one on a pair of characters?
No, not really. Most of my plans for The Stormlight Archive go back years and years to before I was working on The Wheel of Time. I would say that the The Gathering Storm/Towers of Midnight character split happened because of the book split, less than any real planning on my part. I had the character arcs and decided which ones would fit well together if I was only going to be releasing one batch of them at a time.
So the answer is no, but with the caveat that with the way my mind works, it may have been working in the same way in both cases.
What's your inspiration?
It really depends on the book. If you want to know the inspiration for the Mistborn books, you can google Sanderson's First Law. It's an essay I wrote about how I came up with the magic system. That'll help you see where some of the ideas came from and how I take them and use them.
What about The Stormlight Archive?
Stormlight, the original inspiration was the storm of Jupiter. The big storm that rotates around Jupiter, and I wanted to do something that had a perpetual storm like that.
The back five Stormlight Archive books are still planned to be the same five characters, but when he gets to those books he reserves the right to change them.
So Stormlight and Breath are both just different manifestations of Investiture.
So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?
Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade... more miss-made than evil but yes.
But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.
Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.
Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after Way of Kings?
No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.
The ending of Mistborn was hidden in the first chapter epigraphs. Is there something similar to that in The Way of Kings?
There is, but they are hidden in different places. The last chapter of The Stormlight Archive is somewhere in these two books.