Advanced Search

Search in date range:

Search results:

Found 516 entries in 0.179 seconds.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#151 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Siri Is Led Up to a Room with an Altar

Well, welcome to my favorite chapter in the book. (Of course, I do tend to say that about the climactic chapters of each book.) For me, this is the kind of chapter that drives one to write a book. The chance to get to it, and to have things start coming together, is the biggest thrill I get in writing.

The "sacrifice Siri on the altar" image was one of the original ones I'd planned for this book, but by the time I got to this place in the novel, it just felt lame to go through with that. It's such a clichéd image. That's kind of the point—Bluefingers is trying for something visceral and exaggerated—but I felt that the imagery of it could undermine the entire scene.

I think I did one draft with her tied down to it, but I revised that out pretty quickly. It was far too Snidely Whiplash for me. I like this version much better, where we find out what Bluefingers is going to do, but Siri stands up to him and bullies him into letting her die with dignity. I also went back and seeded the stories about Hallandren and killing people on altars as a superstitious rumor that some Idrians believe. (There were stories about the Mormons, back in the day, claiming that they sacrificed women on the altars of their temples then threw the corpses out the window into the Great Salt Lake. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but in eras without as much media, people can believe some pretty crazy things.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#152 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher and Denth Spar; Vasher Gets Stabbed

I love scenes in books (when I read them) that imply a great weight of history that we don't get to see between characters. It gives me a sense that the story is real. That these characters lived before the story, and that they'll continue to live afterward (or, well, the ones who survive).

When I built this book, I knew that the Vasher/Denth relationship needed a lot of groundwork to give it that sense. I wanted them both to be complicated characters who have a twisted past. It all comes to head here, in this chapter, and we get the ending of a story over three centuries old. Will I ever tell those stories? Probably not. Like the story of Alendi and Rashek in Mistborn, I think the story between Vasher and Denth is stronger as it stands—as something to lend weight to this book. We will go more into the Vasher/Arsteel relationship (particularly as we deal with Yesteel) in the next book, if I write it.

By this point, you should be wondering just who Vasher is. He's been alive since the Manywar, and Denth implies that Vasher himself caused the conflict. There's obviously a lot more going on with him than you expect.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#153 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong's Climactic Scene, with His Vision of the Boat

Lightsong's vision and eventual death in this chapter are another of the big focus scenes. In fact, I'd say that this little scene here is my absolute favorite in the book. It's hard to explain why, but I get a chill whenever I read it. It's the chill of something you planned that turned out even better than you expected. (As opposed to the planning for the Siri/altar image, which turned out poorly and so had to be cut.)

I worked hard to bring this scene in my head to fruition. No other section of the book has been tweaked more in drafting—everything from changing it so Lightsong grabs the God King's hand as opposed to his foot, to reworking the imagery of the ocean. (That imagery, by the way, came from my honeymoon while standing on the cruise ship at night and staring into the churning white froth above deep black water.)

Many people on my forums called this event ahead of time—Lightsong healing the God King. I'm fine with that. It did seem like a very obvious setup. One character with powers he cannot use until healed, another with the power to heal someone one time. Sometimes it's okay to give people what they expect—particularly when the result is this scene. I hope they didn't expect it to be as powerful as it is (assuming readers like the scene as much as I do). I want this one to be very moving.

It's the final fulfillment of Lightsong's character. Note that even in the end, his sarcasm and irony come through. He told Siri not to depend on him because he would let her down. Well, Lightsong, you're a better man than you wanted us to believe. There's a reason why so many are willing to rely upon you.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#154 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher and Denth's Climax

I wanted to offer Denth the chance for redemption here, though there was no way he was going to let himself take it. His response is honest. He doesn't feel he deserves it. He has done terrible things; to wipe away the memory of them would be cheating. Better to just get it over with.

There's a very good chance that after killing Vasher, Denth would have walked over, picked up Nightblood, and let the sword drain his life away. He wouldn't have been able to live with the guilt.

But that doesn't happen. When I first designed this magic system, I added to it the idea that taking a lot of Breath shocks you and sends you into a small seizure of pleasure. This is lifted from the magic system in Mythwalker, the story from which I drew Siri and Vivenna. I added the component to Awakening not only because it fit, but because I liked giving one more little nod to Mythwalker.

However, the moment I began writing it, I knew that this twist of giving someone Breath, then killing them, would be an awesome way to pull a reversal with the magic. So I built into the story the entire arc of Vasher beating Arsteel mysteriously, and Denth wanting to duel him to prove that he couldn't win a duel.

Denth was right. Vasher cheated.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#156 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri Is Rescued

And here we have a big scene that a lot of readers have been waiting for. I apologize for making Siri need to be rescued like this, but I felt it was appropriate to the story. It's because of her teaching the God King and helping him become the man he is that he's able to do this.

Remember that the Seventh Heightening (I think that's the one) grants a person Instinctive Awakening, meaning that once you reach that Heightening, you don't need any practice to learn to Awaken. Your Commands are obeyed instinctively. This doesn't mean that everything you try will work, but that you can make most basic Commands (grab things, that sort) work without having to try. In fact, figuring out most of the more complicated, previously unknown Commands requires a person to be of the Seventh Heightening.

This power grew out of me wanting the upper Heightenings to do some very dramatic things. I do worry that this scene is a little deus ex machina. That keeps me from liking it quite as much as the Lightsong climax or the Denth/Vasher climax. But I feel that a story needs a great variety of climactic moments—some internal character moments, some external skill moments, some great twists, some expected payoffs, some big reveals, and some dramatic rescues. This chapter and the next take a shot at trying to cover a lot of those different types.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#157 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."

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#158 Copy

Questioner

When you started writing Cosmere novels, how much of it had you outlined? How far ahead had you thought?

Brandon Sanderson

When I started writing Cosmere novels? When I started started, I was a teenager. Totally hadn't thought very far ahead. When I was an adult and I was writing them, I wrote one when I was like 20, and I had an inkling, and I played around with things. The first one that I wrote with a real, conscious eye toward the cosmere was Elantris. So the ones that have been published, yes. But when I first started, I had a little bit of an inkling.

Questioner

Have you ever backed yourself into a corner with it?

Brandon Sanderson

Not yet! I have backed myself into corners by saying things to fans that I've already changed in my notes and hadn't realized I had, and stuff like that - I do that all the time. But usually when I do that, I just tell them. "Ah, I'm sorry, I just changed this, guys." I'm still convinced that Stayer and Stepper - that [Robert Jordan] didn't know those were two different horses. I'm utterly convinced that he made the mistake, and then just covered it. Because that's the sort of things we writers do.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#159 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Tries to get to Luthadel in Time

These scenes involving Vin running toward Luthadel formed one of the pivotal sequences for me during the plotting of the story. Unlike most focal scenes like this I write, however, I'm not completely satisfied with these. Not because I don't like the sequence; I think the writing in the scenes turned out very well. However, I do wonder if the tension behind them works.

You see, with the finished product in hand, the plot sequence I worked out feels just a tad contrived to me. It's hard to avoid this in novels; if you plot out as much ahead of time as I do, then often you end up with contrived sequences because they ARE contrived. You designed them to work a certain way. In these areas, however, the "smoke and mirrors" I often mention comes into play. How good is the author at hiding his hand on the work? How easy is it for the reader to feel what the characters feel, rather than being drawn into playing the game of the metastory.

If the smoke and mirrors work, then you'll feel anxiety here. Is Vin going to arrive on time? Will she get there and find her friends dead? Will she even be able to do anything if she arrives on time?

However, if the smoke and mirrors fail, the reader will feel manipulated by the fact that I sent Vin away, only to have her turn around and come back a few chapters later. The reader will think "Of course she's going to make it. That's what this sequence is all about."

Often, I'm pleased with how the plotting keeps my readers feeling that anxiety. But in this sequence, I think the author's hand shows a little more than usual. Could just be my critical eye inspecting my own work, but I see it. Hopefully, you can read and appreciate the sequence for the emotions the characters feel, rather than the slight awkwardness of the plotting.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#160 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Three

Sazed Defends the Gate

The Sazed fights scenes interest me because of how much of a contrast they are to the Vin fights. Sazed's scenes are so brutal–strength against strength, blunt fighter against blunt fighter. Vin fights with grace. Sazed is just trying to stay alive.

I worked a lot on the plotting here of making Sazed's gate hold so long. When I planned the siege of Luthadel, I knew that I would need a very deep, character driven set of scenes with Sazed. It was the only way I felt I could add something new to this plotting sequence. The heroes defending their city during a siege has been done before. (One notable example being in The Lord of the Rings.) I was worried that I would be bored of writing these scenes, and so I decided to head that off by focusing in on Sazed here, who I thought would approach a battle like this in a new way.

I don't know what readers thought, but I found myself drawn very much into writing the scenes, which is a good sign. They up going longer than I'd anticipated, which is another good sign. Something about the contrast of the quiet religious scholar in the middle of such a terrible war was fascinating to me.

So fascinating, actually, that I forgot to write Ham into any of the scenes in these chapters. I didn't remember him until about chapter fifty-five. It was then that I remembered that the best warrior in the group had disappeared for the entire fight. So, I wrote him in, and added him to this chapter where Sazed gets to Breeze.

You'd be surprised at how often writers do things like this, forgetting a character. It's a tough call sometimes to keep track of everyone who is involved in various parts of a complex plot. Don't even get me started on the challenge of keeping track of everyone while writing in the Wheel of Time world.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#161 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Straff and Cett Viewpoints

We also have brief Straff and Cett scenes in this chapter, mostly so that you don't forget about them. Things are working with them, bringing them closer to where they'll need to be for the next few chapters to work, but they're not really doing anything at the moment.

So we hop from them quickly, giving each of them a few poignant things to observe about the battle–and to let us take a breather from the action–before diving back in.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#162 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Prologue

Book two didn't have a prologue—if you read the annotations, you can find out about the one I was planning to use but then decided to drop for various reasons.

However, I always knew that this one would have a prologue. Why is this a prologue and not chapter one? I'm not sure I can explain it—I just had a sense of what it needed to be.

It's a glimpse rather than a full chapter. It's from a viewpoint that, while important to the book, doesn't carry a lot of weight in page count—we won't see Marsh again for a number of chapters. Plus, it stands out as being the closest thing to an evil character viewpoint in the book. All of these things scream prologue to me, as they give a hint of what is to come, but don't immediately indicate how the story is going to start.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#163 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Let me set up this piece for you. Let me see if I can--I'm gonna look at the file and see when I first started writing this piece-- The master computer, that if you ran away with you would get all of my secrets. *crowd laughs* Nope, it says created when I created this new computer, so that doesn't help me.

But this is old. This is like 8 years old. Maybe 9 years old? And this is a story that I started writing-- You can date it by-- because you guys have been waiting for it. You can date it by when I told people I had written this thing in interviews. So it may be 2010, I dunno. You'll be able to find out I think by looking through the interview archive.

I wrote this thing that is very cosmere-aware. It's very kind of inside-- sort of a little bit self indulgent. And I wrote it, I'm like, "I'm gonna post this on my website." And then I thought, "No, this gives away too much. I can't post this on my website, and so I'm not going to finish it. We're going to wait." But now most of the stuff that it gave away then has come out in things like Secret History and stuff like that, so now I can actually read it. So I called this "The Traveler."

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#164 Copy

Questioner

So the surprise with Lessie at the end of the last book [Shadows of Self], at what point did you know-- Like did you know that in... writing Alloy of Law?

Brandon Sanderson

I knew that at the end of Alloy of Law. So what I do is I write a book, and then I go and build a series out of it. So I wrote Alloy of Law. I then built a series out of it, then I went and wrote the prologue to Alloy of Law. And then I released Alloy of Law. I did a revision too to make sure it was all in there. And so, actual writing of Alloy of Law? No. By the time I'd done the revisions on Alloy of Law? Yes. And then I built the three book outline that would be the trilogy you are now in the middle of.

And Mistborn had some similiar things where I wrote the first book, then outlined second two, and revised the first one, then wrote the second two. It works really well for me doing that with a trilogy, because you get some spontaneity for the first book, and you know how the characters are and you can build a larger framework for them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#165 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Fatren's Viewpoint

I knew early on that I'd need to start with a viewpoint from someone we haven't seen before. I thought that someone fresh would allow us to get a distinct sense of what has happened to the world in the months since the end of book two. The viewpoints of the main characters would be clouded by events—I wanted someone who could show us what was really happening.

That meant using a skaa peasant in one of the outlying cities. I wanted to show a different slice of life and indicate how hard things were. In addition, I felt I wanted to hit right away on the fact that this book would be about the world ending.

Hence we have Fatren. I toyed with making him a main character, but I eventually discarded that idea. I think this is the only chapter from his viewpoint. I hate to use a throwaway viewpoint so early in the book, but the alternative—making him a main character just to avoid having a throwaway viewpoint—was a bad idea. We already have too much to focus on with Elend, Vin, Spook, TenSoon, Sazed, and Marsh all being major viewpoint characters in the novel.

Adding TenSoon, Marsh, and Spook gave us enough that was new in the way of viewpoints. We didn't need Fatren—except for this first scene. Here, we get to see Elend from an outside perspective, and I think this does an excellent job of providing contrast—both against the hopelessness of the world and against the Elend that readers have in their head.

He's changed, obviously. The beard and rugged looks are meant to indicate a year spent fighting koloss and leading humankind as it struggles against extinction. Using Fatren's viewpoint gave me a powerful way to update the world and explain what's changed. I'm pleased with how he turned out.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#167 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

TenSoon

I wrote the TenSoon chapters separately from the rest of the main storyline. (In fact, I wrote in three sections, since I did Spook as a chunk as well.) So when I wrote this, I didn't know exactly which chapter in the book it would be.

I decided to place it early. Not only did I feel I needed something short to split up the two big Elend chapters, but I wanted to introduce TenSoon as soon as possible. His chapters were the favorite of many of the alpha readers, as they offer a completely new experience and mark our first viewpoint in this series from a creature of a different species. (As I think about it, this is probably the first viewpoint in any of my books from a nonhuman.)

This chapter is short, mostly giving background and setting the stage for TenSoon's viewpoint chapters. I found it curious that I got such a good response from readers about his chapters, since TenSoon is forced to be mostly reactive. He's imprisoned, undergoing trial. He can't really do much other than speak. Yet readers found the chapters compelling and interesting.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#168 Copy

Questioner

Alcatraz! Sounded as though there was gonna another book. Probably not by Alcatraz himself?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, by Bastille. I've written half of it. After I wrote about half of it, I realized I wanted a little help with the voice from a friend of mine who's very good at voice. So I've been letting her look at it and offer some tweaks and suggestions. Just 'cause I want it to feel like Bastille, but it felt too much like Alcatraz when I wrote it. Like I said, it's about halfway done, 25,000 words are done and good. We just need to tweak the voice. It's probably gonna be called "Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians." It will give the real ending, not the ending Alcatraz thinks it should have.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#169 Copy

Questioner

How did you come up with Shardpools and travel between the worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, what happened is (close as I can remember; it's been a long time now), close as I can remember, I wrote Elantris in, like, 1998 or 1999, and I, at that point, didn't really have the cosmere in place. I knew I wanted to do some sort of grand epic, I knew I wanted to do some sort of thing, but I just wrote that book-- Elantris is mostly a discovery-written book, rather than an outlined book. And I wrote this book, and that's when I started a lot of these ideas. I stepped away from it, and I started writing a book called Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. And then I kinda got into the dark age where I was trying to be George R.R. Martin for a while. And then when I came out of that, I wrote The Way of Kings [Prime]. And during those days, I was really looking for these tying agents. When I put the first Shardpool in, I had-- I'm just like "Here's a well of power. I don't know what this does." I was discovery-writing the book. By the time I sold Mistborn and Elantris, I sold those two in a deal in 2003, that's when I'm like, "All right, now I'm gonna do this for real." I've had all this trial run-- I'd written thirteen novels at this point, and I'd sold #6 and #14, Mistborn not being written yet... So, I sat down with Elantris, and I built out the cosmere, and I built out these things, like "Why do I have this pool of power? What am I gonna do with the pool of power in the next book? I want this to be a theme." And I started building out the cosmere from there. So, part of it was organic, part of it was by design.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#170 Copy

Questioner

How has the process of portraying women changed from Elantris to the more recent books?

Brandon Sanderson

Portraying women? A couple of things. I would say the primary one is just getting better at characterization all around. And the other one has been kind of this-- *sighs* struggle to figure out how to make every female character's conflict be about her role-- Not just her relationships, that one's not as big a deal because-- I mean if you look at the male characters, they all have relationship issues too, right? But it's more like fighting against-- Like if every woman is fighting against society's expectations of her that becomes a cliche very quickly and there are plenty of people, of both genders who are fighting against society's expectations but people of both genders are like "This is my society, I'm part of this" it's not fighting against it it's "finding my place". It's very difficult though when you are writing characters in states of conflict. So, I don't know.

Questioner

I read Shadows of Self and Elantris back-to-back, and that was really interesting to see the differences between the first published and most recent published.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, yeah. Those books will have some very big differences.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#171 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

Marsh Is Still Around

Short little Marsh chapter here. This is partially just to remind you that he's still around, since he has a part to play in this book.

I learned a little from book two, where I had wanted to use Marsh more but wasn't able to squeeze him in. There were a lot of complaints about this from alpha readers and fans talking about how Marsh was one of their favorite characters, and how they didn't like it that he disappeared throughout most of the book.

The problem I run into is that I can't show too much of what he's doing, as that would reveal Ruin's plans prematurely. I do go into some of what Marsh is up to in subsequent chapters, but I felt that at this point it was too early. So, fairly late in the revision process, I added this chapter in as a reminder of his mindset and what he's up to.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#172 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

Avoiding Hints about the Epigraph Author

The epigraph to this chapter, where the epigraph author discusses that he/she is going to refer to each group as "we" is very important, though most readers skip over it. What she/he is saying here is that you aren't going to be able to guess who he/she is simply by looking at which parts of this book she/he discusses. And that's all I'm going to say, because typing he/she all the time is getting very annoying/frustrating.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#173 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Nothing is worse than trying so hard to do the right thing, then discovering that it was the worst thing you could have done.

I wrote this final chapter to be a slight upswing in the plot so that we wouldn't end on such a sour note. No, I didn't kill Elend. I sure wanted you to think that I would, but I never planned to. I had always intended them to discover where the first Mistborn had come from when they reached the Well of Ascension, and this bead of metal is very important to the cosmology of Scadrial and, indeed, the entire overarching story of my books as a whole .

Elend was intended to become Mistborn from the very early stages of this book's development. So, I figured I ought to do something to him that would make him NEED to be Mistborn. Why did I want to make Elend Mistborn? I know it bothered some readers. I felt I'd explored his character as well I could in this book, and I needed something to upset the balance–tenuous as it is–that he'd arrived at here. He's not going to replace Vin–you'll see in the next book that Elend as a Mistborn doesn't change as much as you might think. But it does put him in new situations, and those situations allow him to progress as a character in the way I felt he needed to.

Anyway, this will make for a very interesting book three. Also, the mist spirit–now, maybe, you can see a little of what it was trying to do. It was struggling to find a way to get Vin to NOT go to the Well of Ascension. Giving hints to Sazed, scaring her, threatening Elend, pointing in the opposite direction. However, it is rather hampered in what it can do, as we'll find in the next book.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#174 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nine

TenSoon and Chronology

I probably should have found a way to stagger these kandra chapters a little bit better. We get a lot of them up front in the book, and then they dribble away through the late middle. The problem is that I didn't have very many pages to devote to TenSoon's story. I decided that rather than having one or two long chapters, I'd split it up and have five or six short chapters.

However, I generally follow a straight chronology in my books—meaning that page 22 is almost always later in time than page 21, no matter which characters happen to be on the different pages.

That means when I split TenSoon's trial into three chapters, I had to keep them all very close together, since they were covering a single day. I didn't want to—say—stick in a TenSoon chapter, jump a week forward to Vin's section, then jump back to TenSoon's trial.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#175 Copy

CrazyRioter

Have you ever considered writing more female friendships?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you know, that's something that I noticed, right? That's another one of these things we do a bad job of in fiction. Particularly female friendships. Like, you see the bromances happening a lot, particularly in fantasy, but we tend to see-- particularly written by men-- a lot of the "one woman among a large cast of men", and this sort of thing. And certainly that's not to say that there aren't women who have a lot of friends who are male. But it is certainly something I think we get wrong a lot in fantasy. And it's one of those kind of things you don't notice. But I have noticed it about my fiction, that I'm really good at guy friendships, and I have kind of ignored female friendships. I actually took a stab at doing a better job of this in Skyward. So you can tell me if I've done a better job of it or not with this book.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#176 Copy

Questioner

Why did you write Zane for the Mistborn series?

Brandon Sanderson

Zane was a character that I found fascinating. When I designed him, I felt that the setting and characters needed more nuance, and he provided it. I feel that Zane could've gone either way, and he made a bad decision at the end, but could've absolutely gone the other direction and I was really interested in the idea of someone who thought they were insane but actually weren't. So a bunch of things collected, making Zane.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#177 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirteen

Marsh Decides to Kill Himself…Again

This is, unfortunately, another throwaway chapter for Marsh, more intended to remind you that he's around than to actually accomplish anything. I still think this is better than just abandoning his viewpoint for most of the book, then coming back to it near the end. However, I like what I do in the next couple of sections—where we get to see him working toward something—better than these chapters of him just sitting.

This one is particularly annoying because it's simply showing him waffling back and forth. In the previous chapter, he decided that he couldn't ever get up the strength to kill himself. In this one, he decides again to kill himself.

There is some good stuff in here—we get to see why he makes the decisions he does, and we get a tiny bit of backstory on the Marsh/Kelsier/Mare relationship. We get to see Marsh in conflict, which is good.

However, reading back through the book, I'm feeling that I like the Marsh chapters in part one the least. Ah well. Somebody had to have the worst sections.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#178 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part One Wrap-Up

Setting the Scene

Like always, part one is a little slow. I'm working on my style, trying to get the pacing better in the first third of my novels. However, one feature of my style is the setup, followed by fast-paced endings. I don't want to lose that; I just want to make sure every part of a given book is fun to read.

There are a lot of good things happening here, but also a lot of establishment. How Allomancy and Feruchemy work, what has happened to the characters in the year between books—the setup for the conflicts of this novel. Things start to pick up in the next section, and we add our final viewpoint: Spook.

Overall, I'm pleased with part one and the way it sets the scene of the book. The world is ending. People everywhere are in trouble. Elend, Vin, and the team have no idea how to fight it—they're just doing their best at guessing.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#179 Copy

Anushia Kandasivam

Vin stands out to us at the Pixel Project because she went through a lot of abuse in her young life, physical and psychological, at the hands of family and people that she should have been able to trust. She is a survivor, and with the help of her new friends she eventually finds self-worth, she realizes she can overcome her past trauma, she grows as a person. The question is, why did you decide to write a character with this kind of background, and what kind of research did you do to write the character who is an abuse survivor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So, two part question. First up: How and why did I decide. There are two main parts to this. One is, I knew I was writing in the world of Mistborn, a very less than perfect society. Let's just put it at that. The pitch for myself was, what if Sauron had won? What if you had to grow up in Mordor? I felt that if I had a character who was untouched by that, that the story would lack sincerity. If the only main character was someone who had somehow avoided that, there would be a certain-- like I said, lack of sincerity. There would be a certain, sort of-- I feel that, when you're writing stories, one of the things you should be looking to is to let characters who are part of a problem, solve the problem, rather than people outside the problem coming in to fix the problem. It's generally stronger storytelling, and generally more respectful of people who have had these life experiences themselves. So, I knew I needed someone who had been through a lot of trauma, because of the things we needed to change in this society.

The other part about it was planning-- I am an outliner, with my plots and my worlds and my characters, I discovery write. And oftentimes, what I'll do when I start a book is I'll start with multiple attempts at writing a person into that world. It's almost like I have a bunch of actors come in and try out for the part. I wrote three very different first chapters for that book, and the one that worked was the Vin you ended up with. What drew me to her as a character was the mix of strength and vulnerability at the same time, that she has. It's hard to explain why I came up with that, because really, as a writer, you're just kind of searching for someone whose voice works and whose soul matches that of the story. And it gets very mystical, for me, when you talk about characters, which I don't like, I like to be able to break things down, and talk about how it works and why I made the choice I did. But I made the choice of Vin because Vin was right. Part of that was, she was solving a problem that she had been directly-- that had directly affected her life.

How did I go about doing it right? This is where the best research that I get is reading the stories of people who are willing to share them with the rest of us. Reading firsthand accounts from people who are willing, because that takes a lot of bravery. It takes a lot of-- it's not something I could ever ask anyone to do, but it is something that people offer. On their blogs, and on forums, and spending your time listening to what people say, and trying to get the characters to express the way that these people would express it if they could write that character in their story, is one of my main goals. In fact, I think that's my prime mandate as a writer, is, try to write the characters like the people who have their life experience or beliefs would write them if they had my skill as a writer. And, so I spent a lot of time on blogs, I spent a lot of time on forums, and I wasn't ever posting on these, I was just listening. And then I made sure I had some good readers. Shallan has gone the same way. I can directly credit some very helpful beta readers who have had life experience similar to Shallan's, which have made sure, at least I hope I do this right, and always do better, that I'm walking a line between not sensationalizing, and not glorifying, but using this person's life experience to help them become the person that they want to become.

Anushia Kandasivam

And is that why we don't learn about the characters abuse on screen-- it's never on screen, it's always in their thoughts-- did you purposely write it like this because you didn't want...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. This was very, very conscious. I feel like one of the biggest traps that writers in fantasy fall into, is using abuse of women, specifically, but all people who are in positions of lacking power, as a means of proving how bad your villains are, or how heroic your heroes are. I think that there are certain authors who are really good at doing this without making it a sense that this is how the world is. So it's not me pointing fingers and saying you shouldn't do that, but I felt that if I was to put it on screen, I don't think I could handle it without sensationalizing it. And by making it there, but never explicit, I think everyone knows it was there, I think everyone knows that Vin suffered abuse, but I could write a story that can deal with overcoming these things without having to sensationalize the thing itself.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#180 Copy

Questioner

Why pancakes?

Brandon Sanderson

My kids love pancakes, I thought Lift would really like pancakes. And pancakes are pretty universal, like, most cultures come up with a pancake-type thing. Now they aren't always the sweet pancakes, fluffy ones that we imagine. But, like, almost every culture, pancakes are a thing. Some weird batter with stuff in it you pour onto a hot skillet.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#181 Copy

David Zampa

Do you ever get so creatively exhausted from producing so much that your mind feels like an old wrung-out sock? And if so, what do you do to get yourself back on form?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. I have an advantage over a lot of writers in that I was really bad at this when I started. That may not sound like an advantage; but what it meant was I wrote for a long time, trying to get to a level that I was equal to some of my peers, who were much more talented, I feel, than I was when I began. And because of this, because of these long years learning to be a writer-- And certainly, I can't say I didn't have some talent. Some of what has happened is raw luck of the draw that I was able to learn how to write. What happened is, I got very accustomed to changing projects frequently and trying new things. And that process became very interesting and exciting to me and became the process by which I recharge. The way I recharge is by doing something new. And it has prevented, so far in my twenty-some years of writing, me from really ever experiencing severe burnout. Once in a while, I get really tired of the story I'm working on. Generally during the fourth or fifth draft of that story (or if it's Memory of Light, the twelfth draft). Sometimes, you get very, very tired. I do. But, because I have this sort of fallback method of "do something very different," that spark usually just lights me right back up, and I get really excited about doing something new.

And so this is why you see me writing a lot of different things. It's why you see me releasing Oathbringer, a large epic fantasy. Followed by my next book being the Legion book in about two weeks, which is a detective modern-day with slight science fiction elements. And then a YA space opera [Skyward]. This is why I hop between these different things. And really-- I haven't gotten burned out yet. I'm always excited for the next things.

Cassie Roberts

How do you not get overwhelmed by all the books that you want to write?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a very good question in that also. Because, as I get older-- When I was young, my brain, I could tell myself, "Well, I'll be able to write all of these someday. I just have to put them in order, and write the ones I'm most excited about right now." The older I get, the more I realize I'm not gonna be able to write every idea that comes to me. And I have this core line of the Cosmere books that I'm going to write. But a lot of times now, it is a little overwhelming to realize, "I have this really great idea for a story. But it's not quite as great as the other ideas in the list. And it just is probably never gonna get written." And there's kind of a story triage that goes on in that regard. And it can be a little overwhelming sometimes to realize, "I just can't do this story." And that's something I'm coming to terms with, the older I get.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#182 Copy

Questioner

As a writer that has written a lot, do you still struggle with certain aspects of writing, like punctuation slip-ups or--

Brandon Sanderson

Do I still struggle, as a writer who has written a lot, with certain things. I would say my biggest weakness as a writer is repeating words or phrases, which is a very common thing for writers to have who are not really-- There are people like Pat Rothfuss who don't have this problem because they slave over every sentence. For years. *laughter* I love you Pat, you know I love you. But for most writers that's one, and that's one that is mine. And one way I try to fight this is I try to highlight the ones I use a lot, I have my assistant watch for them and do a search and replace in Microsoft Word for the word with brackets around it, so it leaves the same word, it just brackets it, so I can really decide, do I want to use that word or did I just use it because that's the word I always use? So there's that. The other big thing as a writer is I still don't like revision. I still get-- Revision-- I want to be writing a new story not revising an old one. But fortunately this is a battle that revision won like twenty years ago. More like fifteen. But I've gotten used to how I have to do it and when a book is done, and the number of drafts it requires to really make a great book. So I do it even though, you know.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#183 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen

The Mists Strike Down Demoux

I knew we needed a meaningful casualty from the mistsickness, somebody who we knew and cared about. I don't know if readers care about Demoux, but he's the only one among the crew who could be susceptible to the mists. My intention is that striking him down here impacts the reader directly, making the danger of the mists more concrete.

I maintain a paranoid worry that somewhere in this book, or the previous one, Demoux went out into the mists and should have fallen sick then. I can't think of an instance, and I do believe I could reasonably make this the first time he's exposed to them. But still I worry that I've missed something. I'm sure my loyal—and very meticulous—fans will let me know if I did.

(Note that Demoux would have had to go out in the mists after the time when they started killing people. This happened while Vin approached the Well of Ascension—by way of trivia, the mists changed the very moment the full power of the Well returned to be drawn again. Anyway, any times Demoux went into the mists before then would not have inoculated him.)

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#184 Copy

Questioner

What level of completion do you write your novels and then submit to editors?

Brandon Sanderson

What level of completion do I write my novels and then submit to the editors. So here is a quick look at my drafting process. Draft 1, hopefully no one ever sees. That-- I'm a momentum writer, a lot of writers are like this, where I can't stop in the middle and revise unless something is really broken. So if there's something I want to change I just keep going and try it out for the next chapter. "Oh I needed another character in here" I will just add them in and everyone will act like they've always been there. And I'll try it out for a chapter and if it works I'll keep going that way, and if it doesn't I'll cut them out and try something else in the next chapter. So first drafts can be really weird, right? Like "Am I supposed to know this person that everyone else knows? Have I forgotten who this was?" and things like that, characters just vanish, or I'll leave out the foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is really easy to put in later on, you're just like-- Stuff like this.

Second draft is to fix all that stuff. I can sometimes send that on, but what I really like to send is third draft which is the first polish. Where I actually try for the first time to make it pretty, or at least non-cringeworthy. So that's what I send to an editor. That's what also I'll send to alpha readers, which are my writing group, my agent, my friends and family, and things like that. Once that gets back I do a bunch of revisions until it's good, and then we'll get beta readers, who are usually community beta readers… If you want to be one of those I'm not the person to convince, Peter is the person to convince. He is the executi-- editorial assistant, not executive--I've three assistants, they all have different titles--He's my editorial assistant. He's the one who picks the betas, and they do a bunch of reads and then I do a bunch of drafts based on what they say. And then it goes to like proofreads and things like that.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#185 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Another thing he talked about was some common themes that appear in fantasy. One of them is that Rennassaince air of the Rise of the Common man. You see that in Mistborn for example. The great writing question of the Cosmere, the underlying theme is, What do men do when given the Power of the Gods? How do they act? What do they do?

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#186 Copy

Questioner

I'm gay, and I thought it was really cool that you had a gay bridgeman. Do you have any other LGBT stuff, your characters--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Mistborn series has Ranette, who's LGBTQ--

Questioner

Is she?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It's, you know, you'll... So that's in the Wax and Wayne books, I don't know if you've read those. 

Questioner

Yes, yes, I remember her, okay. 

Brandon Sanderson

So yes, we've got her, we've got him, there are others that will show up here and there. Drehy is kind of special in that he's a very good friend of mine that I put into Bridge Four, so he's one of the ones that I kind of say "is it okay if I do it like this? Is it okay if I do it like this?" I kinda let him voice his character and things like that sometimes.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#187 Copy

Questioner

With all the characters that you design-- And what you just about putting a character in and spinning a story around them. Are there any that you keep on a backlog to try and mix to see if--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, good question. Are there any characters that I keep on the back burner that I'm like "Eventually I'll find a place for this character they haven't worked yet". Totally. What I have is this notes file, it's literally called "cool stuff that I need to use sometime" *laughter* and it's like when I see something in news or I see some-- I meet a person and I'm like "I'm going to use that someday" and it can be years before I end up sticking them in. One of the-- Let's see if I can remember, there was a cool example of this actually, from one of my book. Oh I'm trying to remember what it was that I eventually managed to stick this into a book it was years later. But it happens all the time, I'll try to think of it. When you come through the line ask me and I'll try to remember it.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#188 Copy

Questioner

At what point did you go, "Elantris was good, Mistborn was good, now let's do 40 more books"?

Brandon Sanderson

So, a brief, brief history (writer's side, not the in-world side) of the Cosmere is this. So, Elantris was written without the cosmere in mind. This was-- Elantris was the first, kind of, book in my--

So, the way my history works, I was told early on that your first five books are generally terrible. And this was actually really relieving to me, because I'm like "Oh, I don't have to be good until book six." So I wrote five books as, just, lots of experimenting. Lots of different types of stories. And I didn't really even try, I sent one or two of them out, but I didn't really aggressively try to publish them. They were White Sand--not White Sand that you can get from my newsletter signup, an earlier version--which is my first book. And then Star's End, which was a little science fiction book, and then a sequel to White Sand, and something called Knight Life, which was a comedy. Yes. But bits of that got repurposed into Alcatraz. And then The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was a weird cyberpunk, far-future thing. And I got done with all of those, and I'm like, "All right. I kind of know what I want to do. I thought it was epic fantasy. I now know it's epic fantasy." And then I wrote Elantris. My next books were Elantris, a rewrite of White Sand, and Dragonsteel. And this was kind of me exploring "What do I want to do? How do I want to-- What is my-- What do I want to add to this genre?"

But the idea of the interconnected universe grew out of doing these things, writing these books. I started planning The Way of Kings then, I started planning the book that became Warbreaker then. It was called Mythwalker at the time. And I wrote a book called The Final Empire and a another one called Mistborn, which are neither of the ones that you guys actually have read. What eventually happened, is when I sold Elantris, this whole thing of the cosmere had really come together, this is what I wanted to do, I was really excited by it.

And so, the first book that I wrote knowing about the cosmere was Mistborn. And Elantris got retrofitted into this as I was writing the Mistborn trilogy. And it was while I was working on the Mistborn trilogy that I made the nine book arc that is kind of the core, though-line of the Cosmere, the past/present/future Mistborn. I called my editor in... 2005 with a really big, exciting, sort of huge outline for 40 books (it was 32 back then), I'm like, "It's gonna be this, it's gonna be this, it connects here, and all this stuff--" That's when it all kind of happened, and I built that all out. It was the process of working on the Mistborn original trilogy and building out the nine book arc for those that really solidified a lot of these ideas. By then, I had written Dragonsteel, so I knew--- Dragonsteel was book number seven, so I knew about Adonalsium and all of this stuff, but it was really kind of in Mistborn where I decided how I was gonna incorporate all of that. And even then, even in Mistborn, there are still things that I was still putting together.

So, yeah. There's a brief history of it. By the time I had those three books done, 'cause I wrote them in a row, I was pretty solid on how all of this was gonna come together.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#189 Copy

Anushia Kandasivam

So, Brandon, you just introduced a really amazing female character [Spensa] to us. Your female characters throughout all your books are resourceful and independent. Some of them are leaders, some of them go through very interesting journeys of growth and self-discovery. Some of your female characters, like Vin and Sarene, they have mentors and teachers who are men, but their decisions about who to be and what to do are always their own. They always have agency. Was it a conscious choice to write these female characters and their journeys like this, and can you tell us if the process was easy or difficult?

Brandon Sanderson

So, there are a number of different responses to this. One is, I came into fantasy by way of some excellent female novelists that I highly recommend. Barbara Hambly was my first experience with fantasy, and then Anne McCaffery, Melanie Rawn, and Jane Yolen were kind of my introduction to fantasy. It's how I got pulled into it-- To the point that when I was first given a David Eddings book, I was hesitant, because I was like, "Is this a genre guys can write?" was my honest reaction to that. So, when I started writing my own books, I knew I wanted to do a good job with this, but I was really bad at it at the start. It was very embarrassing to me as a writer. And this happens to all new writers. There are things that you want do that, in your head, you imagine yourself doing very well, and then when you start out, you just do poorly. And the later in life that you start writing your stories, the more you're generally able to recognize how poorly you're doing things that you want to do well. And my very first book, that I didn't publish, particularly the female lead was very generic, and written very much to fill the role of the love interest rather than to be a character. And I recognized it, even as I was writing it, but I didn't know how to do it differently. And it took practice. It took a lot of work. It really shouldn't, on one hand, right? Write the characters as people. rather than as roles. That's what you have to learn is: everybody is the hero of their own story in their head. They're the protagonist, whoever they are. And writing the characters so that they view themselves that way, and so they have autonomy, and they aren't being shoved around by the plot or by the protagonist, or things like this, but it's just very hard to do. I had a lot of early readers who were very helpful. I often credit my friend Annie as being one of the big reasons why Sarene eventually ended up working in Elantris. And she gave me some early reads, and things like this.

But, you know, it is hard to abandon our own preconceptions that we don't even know are there without practice, effort, and somebody pointing them out to you. And it was just a matter of practice and trying to get better. And I still think that there are lots of times I get it wrong. And you mentioned Mistborn. And I was really determined that I was going to do a good female protagonist. I try to stay away from the kind of cliched term "strong female character." Because we don't talk about "strong male characters." We talk about characters who are distinctive, interesting, flawed, and real people. And I was determined to do this with Vin. And I feel like I did a pretty good job. But, of course, I had a completely different blind side in that I defaulted to making the rest of the crew that Vin interacts with all guys. This is because my story archetype for Mistborn was the heist novel, the heist story, and my favorite heist movies are Ocean's Eleven and Sneakers and The Sting, and these are great stories. I absolutely love them. But they all are almost exclusively male casts. And that's not to say that, you know, someone can't write an all-male cast if they want to. But it wasn't like I had sat down and said, "I'm intentionally going to write an all-male cast." I just defaulted to making the rest of the cast male because that was the archetype that was in my head, that I hadn't examined. And so, when I got done with those books, I looked back, and I'm like, "Wouldn't this have been a better and more interesting story if there had been more women in the cast?" And I absolutely think it would have been. But becoming a writer, becoming an artist, is a long process of learning what you do well, what you do poorly, what you've done well once and want to learn how to replicate, what you've done poorly and want to learn to get better at. It's a very long process, I think, becoming the writer that we want to be.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#190 Copy

Questioner

One of the things I really appreciate about your series in general is the depth of your magic systems, whether it's Investiture or-- Whatever the rules are, they're very detailed, very internally consistent. There's never anything where I can point out "Oh that contradicts something that somebody said two books ago". To what degree do you come up with--I guess--the universe before you write the novel or the--

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! So he's talking about my magic systems and how internally consistent they are. And the question is, do I do the worldbuilding first and then write the novel around it or do I do it the other way around. And the answer is: Yes! Which is one of those unsatisfying authorly answers. It depends on the story. For instance with the Wax and Wayne books, I already had the world built and so in that I'm building a story around a setting that already existed. With The Reckoners what happened is, I had the idea for people who gain superpowers all going evil and that concept spun me into building a story about it. And so that's more of an idea that spins a story rather than a setting.

Sometimes I've had a character that I really want to tell a story about, like Raoden or something like this, and then I build magic to match. It happens all different ways, and really what it is is a give and a take. Once you start with a character, you start building a story around them, and then you stop and work on the magic for a while and then you go back to the character and then you go back to the magic and then you go to the setting, then you go to the plot. As you build an outline you weave all these things together, you're not just spending time on one until it's done, and then the next 'til it's done, and then go. But it's happened all different ways for me.

Sasquan 2015 ()
#191 Copy

Questioner

How do you go about designing new magic systems? Because that's one of the most amazing things you do.

Brandon Sanderson

I've written several essays about this, so if you go to brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice, you'll find my essays on magic systems. Basically, I'm trying to look for something that I can explore in a way I haven't seen people do before. It doesn't have to be a new power, it just has to be a new take on a power that I can explore, that I can have fun with, that I can find some sort of scientific rigor. I like to have this sort of have one foot in science and one foot in superstition. That's what is fun for me in worldbuilding, this idea that-- I often say a lot of the old scientists, like Isaac Newton, believed in alchemy. Like "If only we could figure out..." and they started applying the scientific method to alchemy. Which is so cool! It's like "If we keep trying, we'll eventually figure out how this works." But it doesn't work.

I like this idea of applying the scientific rigor to something superstitious, and finding that it does work, and then what do you do with that. So that's what I'm really looking for, particularly in my epic fantasies. It's also got to be the gee-whiz, the wow, "This is really exciting. This is really interesting."

Sasquan 2015 ()
#192 Copy

Questioner

I hear... that you teach... If you could, in 2 minutes or less, teach us. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

One of the requirements for teaching the class that I do at Brigham Young was that they let me record the lectures and put them online. So the entire 2 years so far of my course How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is online. I also have Writing Excuses, my podcast which is writing focused. If you haven't ever listened to it, it's Hugo award winning, and I would recommend starting January this year. We started kind of a master class of writing a story. And we'll record that live tomorrow morning, 11 am, so you'll be able to hear us doing that.

The number one thing I can tell to the aspiring writer is-- This is something I've started talking about a lot recently--remember that you are the product of your writing, not the book, or the story. Now it's a weird thing to wrap your mind around. But it was very important for me, starting out as a writer, that when I wrote a book, I was turning myself into someone that could write better books. So that book was not the product; the book, in some ways, was the side effect, of changing myself into someone who was better at writing books. Each time you do that, you will get better, and the side effect, the side product that you produce will be better. The idea is to keep in mind, "What's going to make me a better writer. What practice is going to help me." Always look at your writing as something you're practicing to make yourself get better, no matter what it is.

I mean, I wrote 13 novels before I sold one, perhaps that's why I have that perspective. But I think that a lot of the very successful writers are people who practice a lot, and treat all of their writing as practice.

Sasquan 2015 ()
#193 Copy

Questioner

So for big, big books like Stormlight, what is the ratio of time spent on the first draft versus on revisions, and has that changed over the course of your career?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh wow. They take more time in revision. They take more time at every step of the way than the shorter books. So a book like Calamity I can write pretty solidly, I can write 2 to 3 thousand words a day on that rough draft, and I spend two weeks on an outline and whatever that turns into it's only a couple months of writing. A Stormlight book, the plotting is so intricate it often takes me a year before I'm comfortable with the outline I'm working on-- so I will writing other stuff while working on this outline-- 'till I catch what the soul of that book is going to be, but then all of the interludes, and all of the things, and boy, every book we've had big portions we need to knock out and re-write. It just takes a long time. I would say 50% of the time I spend on-- You take the time I spend writing the first draft, cut it in half and that is the time I spend revising on your average book. But it really depends. Like Stormlight I started the outline last year, or a year ago in June, and started my first exploratory scenes--I posted a few of those online--then went back to the outline, and outlined for a year and then I felt good writing it. So I started that in June. I will write this all the way until March and then we will probably be revising it until six weeks before the book comes out, because that is the absolute deadline that Tor needs before they can print and distribute it *camera pans to Peter making a wryly amused expression* So that's about how long it will take to do this book. It's a lot of work. You know I like doing this because I like having multiple things going, right? Like I don't think I can write a Stormlight book every year, in fact I couldn't, that process I just outlined is a two and a half year process. So, it's just not something I could do. But during that two and a half years I can do some shorter books, some novellas, and just experimenting with different types of writing.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#194 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#195 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Vin Reminisces about Her Early Days with the Crew

There's a lot to talk about here. First off, this is one of several nostalgia chapters I threw into this book. When I worked on the second book, I missed getting to write about some of the themes from the first book. Gone were the balls and a lot of the banter, and Kelsier's death removed one of the series' most dynamic characters.

When I got to this book, I wanted to see if I could blend what worked well in the first book with what worked well in the second book—and then, of course, add some things unique to this book. Among the most charming parts of the first book were the balls and the noble society.

So here we get to have Vin contemplate those days as a slight foreshadowing to gear us up for a few scenes that hark back to those days. As this is the final volume of the trilogy, I think it's very appropriate to recapture some of the tendrils from the first book and weave them in.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#196 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's Tactics Improve

Cloth-wrapped coins are something I probably should have thought of in the very first book. The problem is that I worked very hard to establish the "we use coins as weapons and to jump around" idea that I wasn't thinking about ways to improve the method. The coins are cheap, abundant, and effective, not to mention aerodynamic. However, they're also noisy. Adding a thin layer of cloth makes a ton of sense when using them to jump around.

Also, Vin finally ditched the mistcloak. Her reasoning is correct, unfortunately. I loved the image and the symbol of the mistcloak, but it was no longer useful, so it was time for her to go about without one. I'm sure there's symbolism in there somewhere—finally becoming her own woman, shrugging off the mantle Kelsier gave her, something meaningful like that. The truth is, I didn't think about that. I just acknowledged that the cloak no longer made sense. It was too noisy to be worth wearing.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#198 Copy

Questioner

So with the depth of the novels, and the number of novels, that you create, do you have an assistant, or some sort of system--

Brandon Sanderson

Do I have an assistant--

Questioner

Well I mean--

Brandon Sanderson

A system to remember everything... Yes I do. What I use is a wiki. I use a personal wiki, just like Wikipedia that is called-- I use an open-source software called wikidpad... and I have someone whose job it is to read my books after I write them, go make all of those notes into the wiki with page references so when I write the next one I can look them all up in the book and things like this. They have a very fun, yet tedious, job.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#199 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Yomen is one of my favorite characters in this book. In fact, I've liked all three main human villains—the Lord Ruler, Zane, and Yomen—from this series. All were intended to present an antagonist who, in some ways, wasn't as expected. You'll see much more of Yomen in the future, of course, but know that Slowswift isn't lying. Yomen is a good man—and a dedicated one. Perhaps too dedicated.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#200 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Tells Slowswift Why He Should Care

Vin's little speech on change here is another of the interconnected weavings I mentioned earlier. This paragraph is supposed to hark back to book one, when Vin is walking with Sazed in the Renoux gardens near the middle end of the book. She says that everything is going to change, and Sazed offers wise council on the need for change in one's life. She's learned through her own experience that Sazed was right, and here she is able to use that knowledge to persuade Slowswift to be her ally.