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Grasping for the Wind Interview ()
#301 Copy

John Ottinger

You have stated elsewhere that your story is about a world recovering, a world that has fallen from the height of its power. Why did you choose to set your story in such a setting, what about it makes it an appealing place to write about?

Brandon Sanderson

Several things. There's a real challenge in this book because I did not want to go the path of The Wheel of Time in which there had been an Age of Legends that had fallen and that the characters were recapturing. Partially because Robert Jordan did it so well, and partially because a lot of fantasy seems to approach that concept. But I did want the idea of a past golden age, and balancing those two concepts was somewhat difficult. I eventually decided I wanted a golden age like existed in our world, such as the golden of Greece and Rome, where we look back at some of the cultural developments etc. and say, "Wow, those were really cool." And yet technologically, if you look at the world back then, it was much less advanced than it is now, though it was a time of very interesting scientific and philosophical growth in some areas. What we have in Roshar is that the Knights Radiant did exist, and were in a way a high point of honor among mankind, but then for various reasons they fell. The mystery of why they did and what happened is part of what makes the book work.

Why is this world appealing to write in? Well, I like writing my worlds like I write my characters, where at the beginning of the book you're not starting at the beginning or the end of the characters' lives; you're starting in the middle. Because when we meet people, their lives don't just start that day. Interesting things have happened before, and interesting things are to come. I want the world to be the same way. Interesting things have happened in the past, and interesting things are to come again. I want there to be a depth and a realism to the history. It's fascinating for me to write at this point because on the one hand, there are things to recapture in the past, but at the same time there are things that the people in the past never understood and could never do. The former heights of scientific reasoning didn't go at all as far as they could have gone. So there are new places to explore and there are things to recapture. In a lot of ways, this plays into my philosophy for storytelling. The greatest stories that I've loved are those that walk the balance between what we call the familiar and the strange. When a reader sits down and there are things that resonate with stories they've read before that they've loved, there's an experience of joy to that. At the same time, you want there to be things that are new to the story, that you're experiencing for the first time. In this world, that's what I'm looking for. There is that resonance from the past, but there's also a long way to go, a lot of interesting things to discover.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#302 Copy

Questioner

Your favorite character, and your least favorite character?

Brandon Sanderson

See, this is a hard one to answer. Robert Jordan would pull a complete cop-out when people would ask him this. He ways say, "My favorite is whoever I'm writing at the moment." This is because, as the author, you have to get into a wide variety of characters' heads and write them. But, since you didn't say in my works, I can just tell you my favorite character of all time is probably Jean Valjean. I'm a big fan of morality as it is portrayed in those books. What I love about Les Miserables in particular is this idea that different people can be moral in different ways. It's kind of the anti-Game-of-Thrones, which is about how you can sympathize with people who are basically immoral. That's kind of part of the series. And this is about how people who are basically moral can still not get along. Which is a cool idea, and I love that. My least favorite character? Who is the protagonist of The Dead? From James Joyce? I don't know. That'd probably be my least favorite. Yeah, I copped out, too.

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

On a more serious note, I'll get to some of the major events in the chapter in a moment. First, let's talk over some smaller annotations. I like the fact that Lukel doesn't like Kaloo–it seems like a perfect characterization for both of them. I will note, however, that Lukel has much better lines in this chapter than Kaloo does. His crack about Ahan getting sick by sheer laws of probability makes me chuckle every time I read them. Kaloo, on the other hand, spends all of his time trying to be honorable and true. Raoden is a good hero, but he can be dreadfully boring sometimes. Maybe that's why he threw himself into the Kaloo persona so eagerly.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#304 Copy

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

So, zinc increases the speed of your thought. So, if he did that, he would spend eternity in a moment. And that would be, actually, a bad thing. That would basically make him look brain-dead to everyone else. So, he did occasionally speed up his thought, but that only gets you so far. It doesn't actually... like, speed of thought... you're still the same person. It feels like everything else is slowing down around you, but you don't move any faster. So, anyway. Zinc is not capable of doing that, at least, not in the way that you're hoping for it to be.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#306 Copy

Questioner

In Words of Radiance, there's a fragment that says that the Bondsmiths have a power that none of the other Orders have.

Brandon Sanderson

That will be answered in a future book... *discussion on RAFOs* Basically, each of the Orders actually had their own quirks and individual things. Some of them were more dramatic than others. But if you watch through, you'll be seeing that they kind of have some different effects that aren't related necessarily to the Surges.

Questioner

So, then follow-up question, the reason that the Bondsmiths don't get Shards is because they have that extra power?

Brandon Sanderson

The reason is because the Stormfather is particularly-- how he is. And he's more cantankerous than he was, even in the past...

Each of the Orders, I wanted to have a lot of individuality. I didn't want them to all just be different copy-clones. You'll also find that they also have very different philosophies on even things like honor and what is good and things like that.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Dragon13

Have we seen any characters who is a part of multiple [secret] organizations, for example the Ghostbloods and the Sons of Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes you have. *photo pause* I've a big cop out there, because you of know of one who is in the Ghostbloods and the Lightweavers. You give me opportunities, and I will answer truthfully.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Questioner

We know Ati chose how Ruin was interpreted, in that he was a card-cackling maniac. Could someone so differently interpret a Shard as to change its name to be something different? Could someone pick up the Shard of Ruin and think I'm the Shard of Change? Or could someone pick up the Shard of Honor and think--

Brandon Sanderson

*hesitantly* Yes. To an extent. The interpretation, what you call a thing-- I think it would be arguable either way in-world, regardless of what they call themselves. There are those who would say the core intent is still there and you can't shift it that far, and others would argue you can shift it far enough to change the definition to a synonym. You see evidence of someone claiming this in the books. I'm not gonna confirm or deny for you whether that is actually a thing or not.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Thadamin

Are spren able to manifest Surges like the humans they are bonded to? Syl is able to stick things together are other types able to do other things or is the sticking things together something else?

Brandon Sanderson

The Spren are living Surges, in a way. There are some "higher" spren which have more ability than others to touch certain Surges. Honor, for example, is not a force of nature--but a force of thought. What is attributed to it relates more to the abstract.

And that didn't really answer you, did it? Well, hopefully it's enough.

Phantine

Is them being living Surges the same as how seons are living Aons?

Brandon Sanderson

Similar.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Sandastron

If someone burned atium in the modern era, after Sazed changed things around, would it do the same thing that it did in the previous era?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it would.

Sandastron

It would? Interesting.

Brandon Sanderson

If you could find some.

Sandastron

If you could find some…

Brandon Sanderson

If it didn’t then Marsh would be dead.

Sandastron

Good point.

Brandon Sanderson

If it changed its powers.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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CephandriusTW

Stormfather once said that "Three of sixteen ruled but now the Broken One reigns" and that "Odium reigns", is not crazy to think that Odium is the Broken One. My question is, could be possible to fuse Odium's shard (without Rayse) with the remanents of Honor (his Cognitive Shadow) in order to create a new whole Shard? Could Dalinar do something like that? He would be uniting them (two Shards, one of them supposed to be the Broken One and the other that we actually now is a bit broken).

Brandon Sanderson

[That] is possible

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

If Patrick Rothfuss dropped dead tomorrow, would you finish the Kingkiller Chronicles?

Brandon Sanderson

So... if there were no other options. The thing is, I'm not sure how good a match I would be for Kingkiller. I might be able to do it. Thing is, Pat and I have... some similarities; our use of magic is very similar, and our use of viewpoint. We're very similar in those two things. Pat is very different from me in narrative structure. And more importantly (because I could do his narrative structure), he is a prose stylist, that has a lyricism to his writing that is very different from what I try to do. I have spent my life practicing something that in the industry we call Orwellian prose, which is... George Orwell would talk about how he wanted his prose to be a window pane. That through which you saw the story, but didn't distract you in any way. And I try to move my writing, most of the time, away from anything that draws attention to itself. Except for the occasional flourish at, like, the beginning of the chapter, or something like that.

Pat, every one of his lines is gorgeous. It's part of what makes the Kingkiller work so well. And that is not a skill I have practiced. I would think that somebody like Guy Gavriel Kay, or Nora Jemisin, who are fantastic prose stylists, might be a better match, because that's something you can't just fake. You can maybe work with a bad plot, but voice, it's so different.

I was a very similar voice to Robert Jordan. I had studied his things. While he's more flowery than I am, I knew his style enough that it was a good match. So, someone like Brent Weeks, who writes like me, then that's something that I could do. But someone like Pat... Pat would be a really tough one for me to pull off.

One of the weird things is, people joke about me taking over George Martin. Which you shouldn't joke about, we totally want George to make it through... My prose is much closer to George Martin's, but my thematic content is way different. People talk about this like, "Let's just give it to Sanderson." I'm like, "Really? Do you want all these Game of Thrones people to stop swearing and get married, because that's what I..." *inaudible* You don't want me taking over George. You'd rather me taking over Pat.

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Speaking of Raoden's honor and truth, I'd like to note something about assassination and killing in this book. As I've stated in earlier annotations, I wanted this book's conflict to be non-violence focused. I think that the characters in this book, therefore, represent a more mature philosophy regarding social problems–a philosophy that could only exist among a people who have spent so much of their lives not having to deal with death and war. A people who have a valid reason for seeing things more like people in a contemporary culture.

As my friend Alan likes to say, however, "Violence may not always be the best answer–but it's usually AN answer." Conflict and social commentary should be based on the characters and their beliefs, rather than forced expressions of the author's message. That doesn't mean that I don't let my personal views shade my writing–I think that level of self-removal would be impossible. However, I do think that the themes expressed in a book need to be reflective of the characters.

I like that I was able to write a novel where the characters came to the conclusion that they'd rather find a way to stop their opponents without resorting to hiring assassins. This, I think, is a noble way of viewing the world. However, the realist in me says that most people–and most situations–won't be so open to this kind of decision. It says something that after working so long on Elantris, I promptly went and made my next heroine (the one from Mistborn) an assassin herself. In her world, life is far more brutal–and these sorts of philosophical problems aren't as difficult to deal with. There, there is too much riding on the protagonists for them to worry about their methods. I think they're still good people. They just have a slightly different philosophy.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

If you could write a story from another author's character and point of view, who would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

It would be Wheel of Time. And I say that a little bit cheekily, and a little bit not. We are not gonna write any more Wheel of Time books. This is because I don't feel Robert Jordan would want it to happen. But if I had my wish, I would summon him back from the dead, and he'd say "What the heck," but I'd say, "Can I really just write this one more?" And if he said yes then I'd love to write it. I would love to tell some more stores, but I'm not going to; knowing what I know and having read the interviews I read with him, he would not approve of it, so I'm not gonna do it. If I were able to make *inaudible* happen, that's the one I would pick.

If you want something more realistic, I don't know, because all my favorite writers, I'm like, "I want to read what they are working on, I don't want to do it myself." The whole idea of loving it is that they're do it. I have turned down writing for the Marvel universe. They came to me and said, "Hey! Pick a character, write a book on him. We don't care who. Please?" These are the sort of weird things that start happening to you when you're in my position, and you have to say no. 'Cause I'm just like, "I've read comic books. I like comic books. You guys are doing great stuff. I'm doing my own great stuff. You don't need me." Robert Jordan needed me. So, I don't know that I would do anything else unless there were a friend or a series that needed me.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#317 Copy

Questioner

How far ahead in the timeline is Sixth of Dusk?

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty far.

Questioner

Can I have a general--

Brandon Sanderson

Most people that I'm writing about now are dead.

Questioner

Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

It is that era, yes.

Questioner

Sweet! That's what I thought.

Brandon Sanderson

It might be a little bit before that trilogy, but it's that era.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Boogalyhu34

Is the mist creature, that was seen through out the second Mistborn book, Preservation/the mists version of the Stormfather, which seems to be related to Honor/Highstorms.

Brandon Sanderson

You are on the right track.

Boogalyhu34

The aforementioned mist being was called a "shadow of self" in one of the original 3 MB books. Does this have anything to do with a book of the same name? The Stormfather also called himself a "shadow" of what Honor was, does this support my above theory?

Brandon Sanderson

The Stormfather would use the same language.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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windolf7

Is Ashyn the Tranquilline Halls?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

faragorn

Actually, my theory is that Braize is both the TQ and Damnation.

Gamers will all be familiar with the concept of rezzing after you die, often at a specific place.

The legend is that humans were forced out of the TQ and followed to Roshar. If Odium attacked and conquered Braize, and Honor created the heralds before he and Cultivation moved humans to Roshar, then the heralds might very well be rezzing on enemy-held Braize each day as described in the WoK prologue. Against the combined armies of the entire planet they get ganked as described in the prologue, only to rez the next day (kind of like the rez timers in World of Warcraft :-)).

WoR confirms that Braize was called Damnation, but I think it is now damnation, and was once the TQ.

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent theories, strange gaming parallels notwithstanding.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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FirstSelector

Was Cultivation close enough to when Odium got  Honor, to know how to fight back?

Brandon Sanderson

Heheheheh. I would say yes.

FirstSelector

And Cultivation, is she--

Brandon Sanderson

She is still there.

FirstSelector

Alive and kicking. Okay, you've said that before--

Brandon Sanderson

She is alive and kicking.

FirstSelector

And she can probably know how to not turn her back to the--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I mean... She has learned from the experiences of others.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#323 Copy

Questioner

What would happen if a Parshendi were to attract a spren and bring it into the Highstorm? Like, an Honorspren of some sort?

Brandon Sanderson

Sapient spren have a choice of whether they get bonded or not, unless you entrap them some way. But simply attracting them...simply going into the Highstorm with one wouldn't work, what you said is 'attracted a spren', so, to answer that actually... The thing is, honorspren, all the spren of Honor and Cultivation, not honorspren capital, Honorspren or whatever... The spren that create the orders of the Knights Radiant have not, in the past, been attracted to Parshendi because of certain events in the past.

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

You'll have to Read and Find Out.

YouTube Livestream 2 ()
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Eric Culver

How do you feel about fans naming their kids after your characters? My wife knows two people with kids named Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

I find it a mark of great respect and honor that people are naming kids after my characters. It also means that, maybe, some of my names aren't terrible. My very first book, Elantris, when I published it. Elantris was the book where I kind of went out there with my linguistics. And several of the reviewers noticed. They were like, "These names are just so hard to say and so weird. Sanderson needs to calm down on the naming!" So, when people name their kids after characters then I'm like, "Oh, good. At least they're not so weird that people won't name their kids after them."

It's really cool. I remember when I met my first Rand, my first Perrin, which both happened before I was working on The Wheel of Time. It's always been really cool to me. I like it. I like meeting Arwens. I wish that fantasy names were a little more frequent in our society. I think that they're very cool.

So, it's awesome. I will try to live up to the respect you have shown me by naming children after my characters.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Wolfbeckett

Are things that are written by scholars on Roshar suspect? In Mistborn, Ruin could change anything that was written down, so can Odium do the same? Are written words on Roshar: untrustworthy, trustworthy because that ability was somehow limited to Ruin, or trustworthy because Odium COULD do it but just won't because it's not his style/he doesn't consider it?

Brandon Sanderson

Odium didn't have a hand in creating Roshar, and his essence doesn't permeate it in the same way as Ruin permeated Scadrial. This gave Ruin a great deal more power over things like this--except when he ran into metals, of course.

Another difference is that Odium has a fully-living, fully-aware, and very powerful Shard opposing him. (Contrasted to one that was half-dead and going mad.)

So yes, you can trust much of what was written. Odium can be subtle when he needs to be, but his primary avenue of attack has been along a different line than the one Ruin used.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

Here's where we start to get some of our first real hints of the dominating plotline that will overshadow these two books: The Lord Ruler is dead. What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?

As I mentioned in the previous Sazed annotation, I really like his scenes for the conflict represented in them. He is a rebel, but he feels so bad for it. It's always nice when you can make a character feel some very real turmoil for doing the RIGHT thing.

We will go a lot more into Sazed's character, and how he is regarded by the other Terrismen, in future chapters.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Undead

I'd been toying for a long time with doing a book with "technological" undead in a fantasy world. A place where a body could be recycled, restored to a semblance of life, then set to work. I'm always looking for ways to explore new ground in fantasy, and I've seen people sticking to the same old tropes with undead. (Mindless, rotting zombies or dynamic, goth-dressed vampires.)

I wanted to play with a middle ground. If you've got a magic that can make a stick figure come to life, what could it do with a dead body? How could a society make use of these walking corpses, treating them as a realistic resource?

The Lifeless grew out of this desire. I developed something like them for use earlier in a completely different novel, but I abandoned that plan years ago. They returned to the scrap pile of my mind, from which I draw forth and recombine ideas to create novels.

Firefight Houston signing ()
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Questioner

Of these books that you wrote in the past that you have not published, will any of them be available online?

Brandon Sanderson

Will any of the unpublished books be available? ...Most of them, no, they won't be available. They aren't very good. The first few, in fact, are really bad. Number six was Elantris, which after a lot of revision I eventually sold. Number seven was Dragonsteel, which was my honor's thesis at BYU and is Hoid's backstory. That is only available through inter-library loan because the book is bad, and I won't let anyone else have it, but BYU has a copy. They loan it to people. The one after that was called White Sand, which we're redoing as a graphic novel right now. If people really want to read the prose version of that, I send it to them if they write me an email and ask. Because it's not aggressively bad, it's just kind of weak, does that make sense? The big weakness of it is that it's too long for its story, and I found that, looking back through it, that I can trim it and turn it into a graphic novel that would be really solid. It's just that it's got too many pages for the story, and you have to trim a lot for a graphic novel anyway. So I think that one will work. A couple of the other ones got cut up and turned into other books, and number 13 was The Way of Kings, which I rewrote from scratch when I released it. It's a very different book now, but it was kinda the first draft of that.

Footnote: Brandon has since changed the method for obtaining the prose draft of White Sand. It is now automatically sent out to anyone who signs up for the newsletter on his website.
Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
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Questioner

Will we ever see protagonists ever come back? ...Once they're, like, dead and stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

So, there's a couple rules for people coming back in the cosmere. If you could be revived by CPR, you could be saved. If you can't be revived by CPR, only a direct infusion of Investiture immediately to the soul will turn you into a Cognitive Shadow. Those are your two kind of outs. I'll leave it at that for you, and you can see where it goes from there.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#333 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Blushweaver

Blushweaver was the first of the gods who I named, and her title then set the standard for the others in the Court of Gods. Lightsong was second, and I toyed with several versions of his name before settling. Blushweaver's name, however, came quickly and easily—and I never wanted to change it once I landed on it.

When developing the Court of Gods, I wanted to design something that felt a little like a Greek pantheon—or, rather, a constructed one. Everyone is given their portfolio by the priests after they Return. Blushweaver was given the portfolio of honesty and interpersonal relations, and over the fifteen years of her rule, she's become one of the most dynamic figures in the court. Few remember it anymore, but she was successful at having her name changed during her first year. She used to be Blushweaver the Honest, and she became Blushweaver the Beautiful through a campaign and some clever politicking.

Many think of her as the goddess of love and romance, though that technically isn't true. It's just the name and persona she's crafted for herself, as she saw that as a position of greater power. She actually toyed with going the opposite direction, becoming the chaste goddess of justice and honor. However, in the end, she decided to go the direction that felt more natural to her.

After these fifteen years, it's hard to distinguish when she is being herself and when she's playing a part. The two have become melded and interchangeable.

When designing this story, I knew I wanted to have a beautiful goddess to give Lightsong some verbal sparring. However, I realized early on that I didn't want to go the route of having a disposable, sultry bimbo goddess of love. I needed someone more complicated and capable than that, someone who was a foil to Lightsong not just in verbal sparring, but someone who could prod him to be more proactive. And from that came Blushweaver.

In the original draft of the book, this chapter had a slightly different tone. Lightsong didn't look forward to sparring with Blushweaver; he cringed and wished she wouldn't bother him. That artifact remained until the later drafts, though it didn't belong. I wrote the later chapters with them getting along quite well, so I wanted to revise this first chapter to imply that he looked forward to their conversations.

LTUE 2020 ()
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Dan Wells

The Apocalypse Guard

Part One: The Plural of Apocalypse

Chapter One

Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book:

1) Start with something exciting, to get the reader's attention.

2) Don't start with a blog post. Like this one.

3) Crap. Let me start over.

Smoke in the air, a red sky, huddling alone in the ruins of a dying world. (See, that's better already.) My name is Emma, by the way. Yes, that Emma, from Emma's Instructions. But unless you're one of the six people who follows me on Snapgram, that probably doesn't mean anything to you. So, let me introduce myself. I'm eighteen years old. I'm from <Idaho>, sort of. And I just realized that I got totally off track again. What happened to the red sky and the dying world? Well, let me tell you.

Remember how I'm only sort of from <Idaho>? I've lived there since I was two, but I was born in a place called <Ard>, which is basically like a different version of <Idaho>, but in an alternate reality? And if you're reading this, you need to know about alternate realities. There's Earth. And then there's an infinite number of different worlds that are kind of like Earth, but also different. Sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. Like there's one called <Hona> that's mostly the same as the world you know, except instead of continents it's all islands. Even <Idaho> is an island in a giant North American archipelago. Crazy, huh? So there's <Hona>, and there's Terra, and there's <Erodan> and <Pangaea>, and a bunch of others. And there used to be an <Ard>, but it's gone now. Because I called it a dying world before, but that was sixteen years ago. Today, it is all the way dead. Burned to a crisp. And I almost burned with it, except that the Apocalypse Guard swooped in and saved me.

Holy crap, the Apocalypse Guard! Why didn't I start with them?

Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book Correctly:

1) Start with something exciting to get the reader's attention.

2) Like, for example, if your story includes a group of amazing heroes who travel the multiverse saving entire worlds from destruction, maybe lead with that.

3) I mean, come on.

The Apocalypse Guard are based on Earth, but they hop around from world to world stopping Apocalypses. Apocalypsi? Apocaleeps? That word doesn't even have a plural, because why would you ever need to talk about more than one Apocalypse? Most people just get one, and then boom, you're done. That's what an Apocalypse is. But the Apocalypse Guard can actually stop Apocalypses, and they've already stopped a bunch of them and now we're in <Erodan> to stop a giant asteroid and it's AMAZING.

Important Note: did you see how I casually dropped that "we" in there? Now "we're" in <Erodan>? That's because I'M TOTALLY A MEMBER OF THE APOCALYPSE GUARD AND I CAME HERE TO STOP AN ASTEROID! (I know it's kind of lame to type in caps lock like that, but seriously, if you were in the Apocalypse Guard traveling to a different dimension to stop a giant asteroid, you'd totally put it in your Snapgram, too, and I would not say anything about your excited over-use of caps lock because I am a good friend.

Which is also why I am going to stop talking about myself and start telling you the story about how we saved <Erodan>.

Starting right now.

I was standing in the Apocalypse Guard command center, looking up at the screens that showed the giant asteroid hurtling down toward the planet when Commander Visco signalled that it was time for me to do my part.

"Emma," she said, and waved her coffee mug toward me. "I'm empty again."

Okay, so my part is very small.

"Yes, sir!" I seized the Commander's mug and hurried over to the small kitchen beside the command center. I mean, I was only eighteen, and fresh out of high school; it's not like I was gonna be out there flying around in a power rig, draining kinetic energy from an extinction-level space rock. I was a cadet! And this was still very early in my training, so coffee was all they let me do.

One pot of coffee was already brewing on the counter, but we had about forty people in the command center, each with their own station and responsibility. So I got a second pot going, just in case. To tell you the truth, I was a coffee-making genius. Which is weird, because I don't drink coffee. I'm not just from <Idaho>; I'm from <Iona, Idaho>. Population 1,803, approximately 1,802 of whom are in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including me. So I don't drink coffee, but you know what I can do? I can follow instructions. It's practically a superpower. Though, I guess if you followed me on Snapgram, you already knew that.

Emma's Instructions for Perfect Coffee:

1) Follow the freaking recipe.

2) Serve it way hotter than you think it should be.

3) Never talk about how bad it smells.

I know a lot of people love the smell of coffee, but they're wrong. You call it an acquired taste; I call it Stockholm Syndrome.

"You don't have to read the recipe every single time you brew a pot," said Sophie, jogging up with a few empty mugs of her own. She was a cadet, like me, and was mostly just a coffee girl, like me. "Trust me," she said, "I've been drinking coffee for years and I..."

She caught a whiff of the pot I had just filled, and her eyes closed in aromatic pleasure. "Wow, that smells amazing!"

"Thank you," I said and smiled. What did I tell you? Coffee. Making. Genius. When you read the manual and follow the rules and measure things exactly, it will always turn out better than if you just do something by instinct. Always.

I gave Sophie a fist-bump of cadet solidarity, filled Commander Visco's mug, and rushed back into the command center. I said before that we were on <Erodan>, but that's "we" in the communal sense. We, the Apocalypse Guard, had a presence in <Erodan>. When most think of the Apocalypse Guard, they think of the Power Riggers, and their fantastical abilities. And yes, a bunch of those people were on <Erodan> and up in orbit around it, fighting the asteroid. The rest of us, the operators, scientists, engineers, medics, Commanders, janitors, accountants, and cadets were back on Earth using something called a dimensional tunneler to communicate with the Riggers.

We were doing it from an orbital space station, though, which is still pretty friggin' rad, huh? I love this job.

I gave Commander Visco her steaming mug of coffee and took the opportunity to look over her shoulder at the room's main screen, currently showing a view of the asteroid. One of our technicians had named the asteroid "Droppy." Which was why we didn't usually let our technicians name things.

Steelheart release party ()
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Questioner

So, how do you pronounce [Jasnah's] name?

Brandon Sanderson

They use the J as a Y. But you don't have to say it that way, you can say it how you want. Because they actually use a guttural, sort of Middle-Eastern <koh>, which is in Kholin. You can say the names however you want, but that is the pronunciation style that I'm using. It's very Semitic, the language family.

Questioner

And you also said that they don't look human. They're humanoid...

Brandon Sanderson

No, they look human, but they have the epicanthic fold. So,  they have what we would consider Asian eyes. So when they see Szeth, who has very Caucasian eyes, in fact a little rounder than ours, he looks childish to them. If you saw Kaladin, for instance, you would say, "Wow, that guy looks like he's half Japanese half Middle Eastern. Vaguely darker skin, curly black hair. The actual model I used for Kaladin is a Hawaiian who's half Japanese.

Questioner

So, that's Kaladin, I assume, on the front of Words of Radiance. Does that look like him, or not?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but he redid the picture. Yes, there will be a different Kaladin on the front. He actually redid the cover, Whelan did. So, it looks better, but it still doesn't look 100% like... Getting across the ethnic sense is a little harder.  He hasn't quite gotten Kaladin down, in my head. No one has, even the sketches that I got to do early on, the concept sketches didn't capture him. They got Dalinar, and the Shallan are perfect, they're dead-on. But the concept art for Kaladin just didn't work.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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uchoo786

Last question, are thunderclasts just voidspren animating dead greatshells that have bee turned to stone by crem, kind of like Kalad's army? And could light eyes who have been turned to stone by soul casters be reanimated, either by Vasher or by voidspren?

Brandon Sanderson

Thunderclasts are animating stone itself. Reanimating someone turned to stone would be more easy than simply animating the stone, but animating stone is tough, so that's not saying much.

Bonn Signing ()
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Questioner

If you could co-author with any author dead or alive, who would it be?.

Brandon Sanderson

Wow. Well I already got to do that on my favorite author, right? So if I were going to pick another one-- Oh, I'd write a book with Oscar Wilde. That would be real interesting. That would be a lot of fun.

Bonn Signing ()
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Excelsius

What's the biological reaction of a limb cut by a Shardblade, because they don't start to rot after being cut?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah they don't start to rot, so the bloodflow is still happening. The limb is still attached, it's not going to rot off, but the soul is dead. This is a thing that can happen in the cosmere that can't happen here. Because you have Spiritual, [Cognitive], and Physical DNA. Your soul's been severed in that part, and it just flops around. You can't feel it, you can't control it. It's something that, again, couldn't happen here.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Argent

The ketek in the first book ["Above silence, the illuminating storms - dying storms - illuminate the silence above"], it seems like this refers to Honor's death.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Argent

What does "Above silence," refer to?

Brandon Sanderson

Above a silent land. 

Argent

Hmm. Roshar, somehow? Okay, you're not gonna tell that.

And the second ketek, in Words of Radiance, similarly refers to the highstorm and the Everstorm... Is there more to it?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's by Navani about the two [storms].

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Five

"Reen" is Ruin

Did you really think I'd bring Reen back?

Well, maybe you did. It's all right if you did; we in the fiction world have kind of acclimatized people to strange resurrections of long-dead characters. I'd guess it's due to one of two things. Either 1) The author is so attached to the fallen character that he/she wants to have them return or 2) The author wants to do something completely unexpected, so he/she returns to life a character the reader isn't expecting.

Unfortunately, both answers are based on emotions outside of what is commonly good for the actual plotting of the story. Do this enough, and readers are required to stretch their ability to suspend disbelief. This sort of practice is part of what earns genre fiction something of a bad reputation among the literary elite. (How can there be tension for a character if the reader knows that death doesn't mean anything?)

The trick with saying this is, of course, that I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I've got two books in the works where I'm planning deaths and resurrections—though, of course, I'm building in these elements as plot points of the setting and worldbuilding.

Beyond that, there are lots of instances where this sort of thing is appropriate in fiction, and where it works. After all, one of the reasons to write fantasy is so that you can deal with themes like this that wouldn't work in mainstream fiction. I just worry that we, as a genre, are too lazy with ideas like this. If we push this too far, we'll end up where the comic book world is—in a place where death is completely meaningless.

YouTube Livestream 11 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I will finish Stormlight Four this week, is the goal. At the very latest, over the weekend. The last draft, sending it on to production.

And then from there, I think my next job is to spend one week doing a revision on Songs of the Dead, is what we put in the schedule next. This is the new name of Death By Pizza. Heavy metal music influenced necromancer urban fantasy that I'm coauthoring with Peter Orullian who is a heavy metal singer. I'm gonna do a draft on that.

And then it is writing the [Stormlight] novella for about the next month. So we'll start posting updates on that as I do that. And I think I know what the title's going to be. So we might announce that in the upcoming days. You'll be very excited by the title, I suspect.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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DoritoJH

We know that there are spren that are partially of Honor, partially of Cultivation, and Odium. Can there be spren made of any combination of Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Well, you would have to call them... Under that definition if you call a seon a spren, then yes. If you don't call a seon a spren, if you define a spren as, "On Roshar, related to the natural world of Roshar," then no. Theoretically yes, but it wouldn't really work. But it depends on how you define spren. If a Shard were to come and reside on Roshar like the other ones have, then you could theoretically see other new spren appearing out of them.

DoritoJH

Could there be a spren of all 16 Shards combined all at once?

Brandon Sanderson

*hands out RAFO card*

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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KiManiak

So, for Shardplate, when Kaladin killed the Shardbearer, which we know is Helaran, in Way of Kings, Amaram remarked that Amaram knew the Shardbearer was dead both because the Shardblade didn't disapper and also because the Shardplate began to fall off of him. And so my question is, is there some type of "lesser" bond between Shardplate and its wearer, like is it in sync with the wearer's lifeforce or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

YouTube Livestream 10 ()
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Andrew

Had the Stormfather sent visions to Jasnah instead of Dalinar, how would that have changed her?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. I think that Jasnah and the Stormfather would not be a terribly great match. But I think her coming to understand a very powerful spren like the Stormfather and seeing all of this, I think it would have really helped Jasnah build her philosophy of life. Because, what's going on in the cosmere, is that the gods are lowercase-g gods, right? And this is a really fascinating thing that I like when fantasy deals with. I'm certainly not the only one. But at what point do you worship a being who is pretty flawed, but super powerful and able to help you in your life? And what kind of worship is that, right?

There's a level between atheism and theism in fantasy works, where it's like, "We can see that someone legitimately has supernatural powers, and following that person makes some logical sense. But does that make them God?" Certainly not as the church teaches, where there is a perfect being who is concerned with the lives of people and doesn't make mistakes.

So I think Jasnah would have arrived at some of the conclusions that she made, probably, faster if she had had these visions to see the past. She would have known some things that she was suspicious of and hoped would be the case. She probably could have gotten to Urithiru much faster. It would have made a big difference in a lot of different ways. But it was not a good match, let's say. She was not the person the Stormfather was looking for for these sorts of things, to continue the legacy of Honor and things like this.

Minicon 2015 ()
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Ruro272 (paraphrased)

Is there a separate "Shadesmar" for each planet or is it one big place that are all connected with different regions for each planet?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's one big place with different sections.

Ruro272 (paraphrased)

So since its one big place, could spren travel to a different section that correlates with a different planet, such as the cognitive segment for Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They could go there, but they wouldn't usually...

Ruro272 (paraphrased)

Is that because Honor's influence is only on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*Brandon gave sort of a noncommittal half nod, but looked doubtful himself. Maybe best to interpret this last answer as a RAFO rather than reading into it too much.*

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Epilogue

This is the dénouement to the denouement, I guess. We get to end with my favorite character, tying up some of the small loose ends that were related to her storyline. There is some good material here–she points out that Raoden is doing well as king, how Ahan is fairing, and gives a nice prognosis for the future of Arelon.

However, the important part of the epilogue comes at the end. I love the last line of the book, despite the fact that Joshua disagrees with it. (He wanted something else there–I can't quite remember now what his quibble was.)

Anyway, I always intended to end this book talking about Hrathen. He was their savior, after a manner–and he certainly was a dominant force in the book. I wanted to give him one final send-off–to honor him for what he did, both for Arelon, and for the story in general.