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Manchester signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

I wanted to ask, at the beginning you mentioned that you had twelve books written before your first book was published, can you tell us, or are you allowed to tell us how many have actually been published?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I can actually go down the list for you. It is somewhat interesting, I think, for people. My very first book was a book called White Sand, and it was basically kind of a Dune rip-off. Your first book is always  a rip-off, right, of somebody, as a new writer? And that doesn't count the one in high school, which was a SUPER rip-off, like a major rip-off, it was basically a Tad Williams meets Dragonlance. Full blown with elves and things-- Yeah it was totally--

White Sand is the first one I finished, and I actually then went and wrote a science fiction book called Star's End.  And then I wrote the second half of White Sand, because I just stopped and said "This is long enough to be a novel" and then I wrote the rest of it and called that book two, that's actually the only sequel in there I wrote. And then I wrote a comedy, where a lot of the thesis of that comedy came out in Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians ten years later, so that one's kind of half been published. White Sand and Star's End are not any good, they have not been published. And then I wrote something called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was really weird and sci-fi-y and stuff, and that one hasn't been published because it's really bad too. And then book number six was Elantris which was pretty good. Book number 7 was Dragonsteel, which became my honor's thesis as an undergraduate and half of that book ended up in the contemporary Way of Kings, the Bridge Four sequence was all from Dragonsteel and I ripped that out when I re-did Way of Kings.

After that was a re-write of White Sand, with better writing nowadays, and that one we're turning into a graphic novel, that one's good enough to read-- The biggest problem it has is its a little too bloated.  The story-- It's like 300,000 words with 150,000 words of story. And so we are going to condense it-- into a graphic novel, so you will eventually see that one. The next one was called Aether of Night, that one didn't get published, it's really two decent books that don't work well together, like one half is a Shakespearean farce about a guy who takes his brother's place on the throne, they're twins, it's mistaken identify, yadda yadda; the other half is this dark brutal war book with an invasion going on, and the two halves never really translate well. People read this and they're like, that chapter is hilarious and fun, and OH MY GOODNESS, and yeah, so-- Maybe someday I'll do something with that.

After that I wrote a book named Mythwalker which became Warbreaker. I ripped out the good parts of that and wrote Warbreaker later on. Then I wrote a book called Final Empire, which is not Mistborn: The Final Empire, because then I wrote a book called Mistborn, and neither of those books were working very well. And then I wrote a book called Way of Kings and then I sold Elantris and I said "I want to take these two books that weren't working very well, and I think if I combine them--" because Mistborn had a cool magic system and the Final Empire had this whole thing about the Hero who failed and the Dark Lord took over and mixing these too ideas turned into a great book and that became Mistborn: The Final Empire.

And basically everything from then I've published, Warbreaker came next which was a re-write of Mythwalker. The Way of Kings, the one you hold, is a complete rebuild, I started from scratch, and added the Bridge Four sequence from Dragonsteel and some of these things... The only good one in there, that wasn't published, is White Sand I think, and I think it is going to make a really nice graphic novel because the story is really solid, the characters are really solid. I just wasn't a good enough writer to know how to condense where I needed to.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#2 Copy

irishlyrucked

I see all these titles, and I have no idea what you're talking about. Can you elaborate, please?

Brandon Sanderson

White sand and the Aether of Night are two good, but flawed, books I wrote during my unpublished days that I still consider at least partially cosmere canon. (White Sand more than Aether, at this point.) They're good enough to read, but I don't feel they're good enough to charge money for, so I send them to anyone who who sends an email through my website and asks.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#3 Copy

Macen

I have read White Sand and Aether of Night, and I don't know why they're not published because I loved both of them.

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand is not published because I don't feel that for one, Kenton has the depth of character that I like to have nowadays.  He's more an old school character of mine where he just isn't, personality wise, doesn't have quite enough.  Beyond that I feel that White Sand as a narrative meanders a little too much.  I feel if I cut back about a thousand words and fix him, we would have a good book.  Aether is not published because I feel that I wrote two different books and didn't blend them together very well.  There is the kind of farcical, Shakespearean, switched places, silliness, and it's fun, but it's like a mistaken identity almost sort of stuff and romance and things like that mixed with these dark things are coming out of the shard pool and destroying the world.  And those two stories never meshed together well enough for me to want to publish them.  

Macen

So would you say it would take one more revision?

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand one more revision. I'm not sure what I could do with Aether of Night because those two just don't work together.  White Sand we are trying to do as a graphic novel.  

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

Any plans on doing anything similar with Aether of Night?

Brandon Sanderson

Any plans to do Aether of Night, which is the next best book? And really the only other one that I want people reading, because the rest kind of fall into the threshold of, yes this is not as good as my current work and it's bad. Aether of Night is two good books put together that don't intertwine very well. I'm more likely to take Aether of Night and take pieces of it, like I did with some other books, and make a new book out of it, than I am to  do a graphic novel.

Legion Release Party ()
#6 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

In Stormlight with the way the Radiant's armor works, is it going to be similar to in Aether of Night where it grows? Or do they summon it like the Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Mmmm, someone's read Aether of Night! RAFO! You should find out before too much longer. I've been working very hard to keep that mechanism hidden until we can have some things like this happen on screen. But it's getting increasingly hard.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Projects in Development

Aether of Night

Another of the books I wrote around the time of Elantris, and another one that's not half bad—but still in need of a solid revision.

I'll likely do something with it someday. In the meantime, if you want to read it, you can send us an email to ask for a copy. (Consider it a thank you for getting this far in this huge post.) I'd ask that you'd consider signing up for my mailing list when you do email me, as that's how I get the word out on when I'm doing signings and when I have cool new things to release. But that's not required in order to get the book.

Oathbringer release party ()
#8 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is Re-Shephir related at all to the Midnight Essence in Aether of Night?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. It's me, like-- Related in that Aether of Night isn't canon, and I really liked how that worked in the cosmere, and I ported it to this instead. So that's like--

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So you're not gonna write Aether of Night?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Aether of Night, I might eventually write, but the Mid--

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

It may be different?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#9 Copy

Seonid

Aether of Night, aethers also show up in Liar of Partinel...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that was...

Seonid

Was that cannibalized...

Brandon Sanderson

That was a cannibalization, it's an attempt at repurposing and I didn't like it so it probably won't go forward that way but it was an attempt because it worked so well to mash Allomancy and Feruchemy into the same system and I didn't like how it went but...

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Potential Cosmere Stories List

Here are things that at one point I've had in the works, and probably someday plan to do, in the 'osmere:

  • Dragonsteel/Liar of Partinel. (Hoid's origin story, to be written sometime after Stormlight is done.)
  • Sixth of the Dusk sequel. (I had a pretty cool idea for this last year. Nothing more than that.)
  • Untitled Silverlight novella. (What it says on the tin.)
  • Threnody novel. (An expedition back to confront the Evil that destroyed the old world.)
  • Aether of Night. (Still in the cosmere, and you can see the odd remnant of an Aether popping up here and there. Bound to be drastically different from the unpublished novel, which I allow the 17th Shard to give out to people who request it on their forums. Basically, the only thing from it that is canon is the magic system.)
  • Silence Divine. (Disease magic novella set on Ashyn.)
TWG Posts ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

ELANTRIS and WHITE SAND have what I would call 'flawless' heroes. DRAGONSTEEL and AETHER OF NIGHT have mostly flawless heroes, with their internal issues being only minor parts of the plot. These four have, from what people have told me, are generally their favorite books of mine.

WAY OF KINGS, MISTBORN (version 1), and FINAL EMPIRE all have heroes with serious emotional or psychological issues that they're dealing with. KINGS is the most daunting of these, with each of the major characters having their own personal 'thing' that they are working through in the book. MISTBORN (version 2) is similar to this (though none of you have read it yet.)

These three books have received mixed reactions. While many people claim to like them, I'm not sure that they enjoyed them as much as the previous set.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#12 Copy

Aurimus

As you (probably) know/remember, I'm really interested in the early parts of your creation process. The ideas basically. What was the first idea that created Zahel in WoK prime? What came first, Zahel or Nightblood and what were they like originally? Was it through them that you came up with the idea of worldhoppers or did you just want another worldhopper to appear to show that Hoid wasn't the only one?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea was actually writing Kaladin's swordmaster in TWOK Prime. By then, worldhoppers were already quite well established. (I'd written Elantris in 99, along with Dragonsteel to be a prequel to the entire cycle. That was followed by White Sand and Aether of Night in 2000 or so--and Aether has the first on-screen appearance of a Shard.)

Kings Prime was 2002-2003, and I wanted Kaladin's swordmaster Vasher to have an interesting backstory. That was the origin of the idea for a worldhopper who was very interested in Shardblades. From there, wanting to do a sympathetic magic, and (years later) my editor suggesting a world more "colorful" drove me to try out Warbreaker itself.

Here is his first appearance in TWOK Prime. Note, none of the names are changed in this, so you get Kaladin and Adolin's original names, among others.

After a few moments, one of the monks noticed him watching. The man paused, regarding Merin with the eyes of a warrior. "Shouldn't you be practicing with the other lords, traveler?"

Merin shrugged. "I don't really fit in with them, holy one."

"Your clothing says that you should," the monk said, nodding to Merin's fine seasilk outfit.

Merin grimaced.

The monk raised an eyebrow questioningly. He was an older man, perhaps the same age as Merin's father, and had a strong build beneath his monk's clothing. He was almost completely bald, save for a bit of hair on the sides of his head, and even that was beginning to gray.

"It's nothing, holy one," Merin said. "I'm just a little bit tired of hearing about clothing."

"Maybe this will take your mind off of it," the monk said, tossing him a practice sword. "And don't call me ‘holy one.'"

Merin caught the sword, looking down at it blankly. Then he yelped in surprise, dropping his Shardblade and raising the practice sword awkwardly as the monk stepped forward in a dueling stance. Merin wasn't certain how to respond--all of his training in the army had focused on working within his squad, using his shield to protect his companions and his spear to harry the opponent. He'd rarely been forced to fight solitarily.

The monk came in with a few testing swings, and Merin tried his best to mimic the man's stance. He knew enough not to engage the first few blows--they were meant to throw Merin off-balance and leave him open for a strike. He retreated across the cool sand, shuffling backward and trying not to fall for the monk's feints. Even still, the man's first serious strike took Merin completely by surprise. The blow took Merin on the shoulder--it was delivered lightly, but it stung anyway.

"Your instincts are good," the monk said, returning to his stance. "But your swordsmanship is atrocious."

"That's kind of why I'm here," Merin said, trying another stance. This time he managed to dodge the first blow, though the backhand caught him on the thigh. He grunted in pain.

"Your Blade is unbonded," the monk said. "And you resist moving to the sides, as if you expect there to be someone standing beside you. You were a spearman?"

"Yes," Merin said.

The monk stepped back, lowering his blade and resting the tip in the sand. "You must have done something incredibly brave to earn yourself a Blade, little spearman."

"Either that, or I was just lucky," Merin replied.

The monk smiled, then nodded toward the center of the courtyard. "Your friend is looking for you."

Merin turned to see Aredor waving for him. Merin nodded thankfully to the monk and returned the practice sword, then picked up his Shardblade and jogged across the sands toward Aredor. Standing with Dalenar's son was a group of elderly, important-looking monks.

"Merin," Aredor began, "these are the monastery masters. Each of them is an expert at several dueling forms, and they'll be able to train you in the one that fits you best. Masters Bendahkha and Lhanan are currently accepting new students. You can train with either one of them, though you'll need to pay the standard hundred-ishmark tribute to the monastery out of your monthly stipend."

Merin regarded the two monks Aredor had indicated. Both looked very distinguished, almost uncomfortably so. They regarded Merin with the lofty expressions of men who had spent their entire lives practicing their art, and who had risen to the highest of their talents. They stood like kings in their monasteries--not condescending, but daunting nonetheless.

Merin glanced to the side, a sudden impression taking him. "Holy ones, I am honored by your offer, but I feel a little overwhelmed. Could you tell me, is the monk I just sparred with accepting students at the moment?"

The masters frowned. "You mean Vasher?" one of them asked. "Why do you wish to train with him?"

"I. . .I'm not certain," Merin confessed.

ebilutionist

Is the payment to a devotary while training under an ardent still canonical? And given that Vasher had a reputation for being a bad duelist in Warbreaker, exactly how good is he with a blade? Is it just a case of Nalthian swordmasters being better or did Vasher learn from his experiences?

Brandon Sanderson

It's been a while.

And Vasher isn't as bad as the text implies.

A Memory of Light Raleigh Signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

I’ve been fortunate enough to read White Sand and Aether of Night and I enjoyed them very much. Will they ever be published? I also managed to read Dragonsteel and I enjoyed that too.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

White Sand will definitely eventually be published. Aether of Night, not so sure on, because Aether is two halves of two books that didn't fit together. The two pieces didn't mesh. White Sand is part of the sequence and will be done. Dragonsteel is part of the sequence and will be done, but it will be very different now that the Shattered Plains have been used in Way of Kings.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#14 Copy

Rainier [PENDING REVIEW]

First, just please tell me anything about Nightblood--the book or the Type IV Awakened object. Or Warbreaker--the book or the Type II.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

All right. My current plot for the book Nightblood. It's really minor, but it involves Darro entering the cosmere officially. He is a character from Aether of Night. He's a side character in that that I've always wanted to work into this main continuity, the real continuity, so he's coming.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Movie deal? Let's preempt that one. Yes, we are doing Cosmere as a movie series. *audience cheers* What happened is-- The short version so I don't get in too much trouble. The short version. We started-- They came to me for The Emperor's Soul, like three or four years ago. And I was like, "Emperor's Soul? You realize this takes place all in one room?" *laughter* And it turns out they're a Chinese company and they had been looking for good fantasy properties, and action properties, or fantasy-- whatever, they just wanted properties where they could feature a Chinese actor because they feel there aren't enough Asian people given roles in Hollywood. And so the company's specific goal was to do this. They're one of the production companies for Iron Man 3, so they've done some things. And so they came to me "Emperor's Soul stars a Chinese woman and it's this awesome fantasy story. We might have to leave the room and go to different locations, and stuff like that, or field trips. But we want to try and adapt it." And so I said, "That sounds really cool, go for it." So they bought Emperor's Soul and then a few months later I got a phone call from them. And it was a guy in LA, one of their American correspondents they said "Start working on how we would adapt this. Pick a-- Work with a screenwriter and things like this." And he said "Alright let's get some backstory, it's related to Elantris I'll read that. Oh Elantris is related to Mistborn, I'll read that." *laughter* So he called me having just read all the works of the Cosmere across about a month and having spent about eight hours on the 17th Shard's Coppermind. *crowd cheers* So that's actually how the movie deal happened. He called and said "I need all the unpublished books."

There are two unpublished Cosmere books I'll send out to people. They're not very good but you can write us through my website and we'll send them. Theoretically... So if you want'em-- It takes about a month or two to get back to you on them, but will send them to you. Because I don't think they're worth charging for, but-- One of them is White Sand, which is now a graphic novel, it's the prose version of that. So hopefully you can get the graphic novel and compare it to the prose. and the other one is Aether of Night. Which is really fun but it's like two books that never matched. Like how I have those ideas, right? So you read this book and it's like this mistaken identity, Shakespearean comedy, fantasy thing plus one of the Shards of Adonalsium trying to destroy the world. And it just doesn't mesh. But it's got cool magic. So if you want those you can write to us.

So he got those, he read those, he's like "I need everything." and got all that and I'm like "What do you want?" and he's like "I'm trying to convince my boss to buy the whole Cosmere." And he did, he convinced his boss to buy the whole Cosmere. Except for Mistborn which was optioned to someone else. So when people read the thing and said "Why are they developing Way of Kings first?" Well technically they were developing The Emperor's Soul first. That came back as "This a really hard one to develop because it takes place in one room." And so they're like "We're going to fast-track Way of Kings." Way of Kings is also very hard to develop, but that's what they started on. And when Mistborn became a available this summer they bought that and that's when they did the big announcement. "We now have the whole Cosmere and they put Mistborn immediately into development for screenplay. So I bet the screenplays come in at about the same time, even though they had Way of Kings for about a year longer. Adapting that book-- We want feature film because there are so few places to do a tv show right. There's like two markets, maybe three. Amazon, Netflix, HBO. That's basically-- There's so few options, and there's way more movie studios and things like that. If it doesn't fit into a film we all agree that television is next. But if the screenwriters can get it into a film that we like we'd rather do-- we'd rather do that. Our chances of getting something good go up. There are lots of markets for television but most of them don't have a budget, right? So that's what we're looking at. Everything's looking well. They're great people. Multiples of them have read the entire Cosmere now. And when I get phone calls from them I get asked questions like this. *laughter* They're good people, they're doing a great job. I can't guarantee we'll make any films, right? It's Hollywood. It took twenty years to do a Spiderman film. It took like twenty-five to get an Ender's Game film, and that's practially written-- When you read the story it has "Oh this is a screenplay" all over it. So I can't promise that we'll get it done but we're going to give it the old college try.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#16 Copy

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

What was the thematic decision behind the number 16? Why did you choose that?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I really like how divisible it was. It looked really cool when I was playing with things like an Allomantic table and whatnot. It was mostly an aesthetic choice. Like, it just felt right.

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

So was it originally the Shards or the metals you decided on?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, I started with the metals. And then expanded out to that, yeah. So what you've gotta remember is, like, I write Elantris without knowledge of the cosmere. I knew I was gonna do something, but I didn't know what I was gonna do. And then I wrote Dragonsteel, and in Dragonsteel I had all sorts of theories and plans, but I never canonized any of that. And when I sat down to write Mistborn, I said, "All right. We're building the cosmere for real now." And before then I had just kind of been winging it. So when I did Aether of Night, which I put Shards in, I was like "Okay, there'll be some of these things, and what-not." Mistborn was, like, the first real cosmere book, if that makes any sense.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

[Aether of Night] is two halves of good books, kind of shuffled together. Half of this good book and half of this good book shuffled together. The Shakespearean farce, which is fun and, kind of silly, and this guy who's in not in a position to lead... and the deep worldbuilding war novel with the cosmere magic. And it's like, "We're going to shuffle these together and see how it turns out."

Questioner

I loved it. I thought it was good.

Brandon Sanderson

And my brother's cameo is in this book. Darro is named after my brother, Jordo.

Brandon's Blog 2008 ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

MY HISTORY AS A WRITER

I’ve been thinking that I should give a little bit of an explanation of my history as a writer for those of you who don’t know. I think it might give you some context for some of the posts I’ve made, and things people are saying in the forums about my unpublished novels. Read on if you want a little context.

This all started in earnest when I was 21, about eleven years ago, back in 1997. That was the year when I decided for certain that I wanted to write novels for a living.

My first goal was to learn to write on a professional level. I had heard that a person’s first few books are usually pretty bad, and so I decided to just spend a few years writing and practicing. I wanted time to work on my prose without having to worry about publishing.

You might call this my “apprentice era.” Between 97 and 99 I wrote five novels, none of them very good. But being good wasn’t the point. I experimented a lot, writing a variety of genres. (All sf/f of course—but I did some epic, some humor, some sf.) As you can probably guess by me writing five books in two and a half years, none were very well edited and while I had a lot of fun writing them, they were done very quickly, and had a lot less planning than my later books. Not many people read any of these novels, and I only ever sent one out to publishers (the second one, STARS’ END.)

Around 1999 (I can’t remember the exact date) I started attending the science fiction magazine THE LEADING EDGE at BYU; I also took an important writing class, less because of what I learned about writing (though I did learn a lot) and more because of people I met. Through TLE and the class, I ended up as part of a community of writers, editors, and science fiction/fantasy readers who were serious about what they were doing. During this time, I founded a writing group with Dan Wells and Peter Ahlstrom (Fellfrosh and Ookla over on the TWG forums.) Other members included our friend Nate, who doesn’t hang out here any more, and Ben/Tage, who used to be one of the board’s mods and who is still often one of my alpha readers. Eric (St. Ehlers) was another of our good friends, as was Kristy (Brenna), among numerous others, many of whom don’t hang out here very much any more.

You might call this the “Golden Era” of my unpublished career. I was getting to one of the most creative points in my life, and was very energized and excited about the writing I’d learned to do. After practicing for five novels, I felt that I was finally in a position to do justice to an epic fantasy story. In 1999, I started a book I called THE SPIRIT OF ELANTRIS, which eventually just became ELANTRIS.

As I said, this was the golden era of my unpublished career—though I think the ‘unpublished’ part of that statement is important. I hope that I’ll grow and progress, and think that the books I’m writing now are better than the ones I wrote then—just as I hope that the books I’ll do in ten years will be better than the ones I do now.

However, the three novels from this era—ELANTRIS, DRAGONSTEEL, and WHITE SAND—represent some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever done. Of the three, ELANTRIS turned out the best by far. WHITE SAND was good, though it will feel dated now if you read it, since my writing skill has improved quite a bit since then and it never got the level of editing and revision that ELANTRIS did. DRAGONSTEEL has moments of brilliance surrounded by some really boring sections; it had trouble because of the scope of what I was attempting. I think any of the three could have become publishable if they’d gotten the right editing and revisions.

Anyway, I wrote these books in 1999–2000. By 2001, however, this era was lapsing. I finished at BYU, and since TLE was for students, a younger crowd was taking over and I no longer quite fit in there. I continued my writing groups in various forms, and we started the Timewaster’s Guide as a project and forum for those who had worked together during that era of the magazine.

I was collecting rejection letters for ELANTRIS, WHITE SAND, and DRAGONSTEEL. I felt these books were good—very good. But nobody was giving them much attention. At the conventions, editors kept saying that fantasy novel submissions were too long, and that new writers shouldn’t be trying such beastly first books. I sat down to write MYTHWALKER, by ninth book, and halfway through just couldn’t continue. (It remains the only book I’ve ever given up on.) I was trying another epic fantasy, but I was increasingly disappointed in how poorly the first three had been received. MYTHWALKER felt like an inferior knock-off of my own DRAGONSTEEL, and needed to be rethought. So I stopped working on it. (Though one side story in the book about two cousins named Siri and Vivenna really interested me; they would later get their own book as WARBREAKER.)

The next little time is kind of the “Dark Era” of my unpublished writing career. After giving up on MYTHWALKER, I decided that New York wasn’t looking for my brand of epic fantasy, and that I’d try to see if I could write something else. I wrote three books during this era. MISTBORN PRIME (I added the prime later to differentiate it), THE AETHER OF NIGHT, and FINAL EMPIRE PRIME.

In MISTBORN PRIME, I tried to write a dark anti-hero involved in a story that was NOT epic. I tried to write something much shorter than I’d done before, forcing myself to stay away from grand stories or epic style plotting. The result was a 100k work (which is half the length of my other fantasy novels) which just . . . well, wasn’t very good. The magic (a preliminary form of Allomancy) was awesome, and the setting had great points to it. But the plot was unexciting, the character uninteresting, the story uninvolving.

Depressed by this failure, I didn’t send the book to a single editor. (Though I did show it to Joshua, who is now my agent, as he was curious and following my career at that point. He agreed that this book wasn’t publishable. He never saw ELANTRIS, he’d given up halfway through DRAGONSTEEL—which means he never got past the boring part—and had really liked WHITE SAND, but had wanted to see more from me before picking me up. He felt I still had room to grow, and he was right.

After MISTBORN PRIME, I wrote a book called AETHER OF NIGHT, which was far more successful. I think it’s the best of the four “Brandon tries to write more toward the market” books. At 150k, it was only 50k shorter than what I’d been doing during the ELANTRIS era, and I let myself play with slightly more epic stories and scope. At this point, I was trying for something with a little more humor in it, something with lighthearted, fun characters in a situation that was at times ridiculous and at times adventuresome. (A more David Eddings like approach, if you will.) It’s not a bad book. I probably won’t ever rewrite it, but it’s not a bad book. Joshua liked it just fine, and thought it was a step forward from Mistborn Prime.

At this point, my epic fantasy books got another round of rejections, including ELANTRIS rejected by DAW and DRAGONSTEEL rejected by ACE. I’d just sent ELANTRIS to Tor, but figured I’d never hear back. (They’d had WHITE SAND for several years at that point and never gotten back to me.)

Feeling uncertain about my writing and my career again, particularly since I felt that AETHER hadn’t come together just as I’d wanted, I turned my attention to trying the most basic of fantasy stories. Prophesied hero, orphaned, goes on a travel-log across the world to fight a dark lord. This was THE FINAL EMPIRE PRIME. Of course I was putting my own spin on it. But my heart wasn’t in it—I just couldn’t convince myself that I was adding anything new to the genre, and I was again trying for a ‘half-length’ story. Though there were no dragons, elves, or mythical objects to rescue, I felt that I was just plain writing a bad book. (Note that I was probably too down on this book, as it had some very inventive concepts in it, including a precursor to Feruchemy.)

I got done with FINAL EMPIRE PRIME and was just plain disappointed. This was the worst book I’d ever written. (And it is, I think, the worst—though MISTBORN PRIME is close.) Here I was, having written twelve novels, and I seemed to be getting WORSE with each one. I wasn’t selling, I was out of school working a wage job graveyard shift, and my social life consisted pretty much of my friends taking pity on me and coming to hang out at the hotel once in a while.

I think this was one of the big focus points of my career. That year, 2002, I made three decisions. The first was that I was NOT going to give up on writing. I loved it too much, even when I was writing books that didn’t turn out right. (I think this is important for every author to decide.) The second was that I was NEVER AGAIN going to write toward the market. It was killing my books. If I never got published, so be it. At least I would stop writing terrible stories mangled by my attempts to write what I thought people wanted. The final decision was that I’d go to graduate school in creative writing to get myself into that groove of being around writers again, and to also ‘delay’ for a few more years having to get a real job.

Enter THE WAY OF KINGS era. The last book I wrote before I got published was actually pretty darn good. I tossed out everything I was being told about how to get published, and just wrote from the heart. Over 18 months between 2002 and 2003 I wrote a 300k word book with a 180k outline/backstory/worldbuilding document. (Yes, the setting guide itself was LONGER than the previous three books I’d written.) Beyond that, I plotted the book as the first of TEN in a series.

KINGS was good. It had problems, but they were fixable problems, and I was extremely proud of the novel. I felt I’d found my place in writing again. I honestly think it’s the best of my unpublished books; almost as some of the published ones.

In 2003, I got the call from an editor wanting to buy ELANTRIS.

I suppose the story of my unpublished career ends there, though there’s one more side note. Why did I not published THE WAY OF KINGS? Well, a couple of reasons. First, my agent (Joshua) felt it needed a lot of work. (It did.) Secondly, it was so long that I think it scared Tor to consider it. They have published books longer before, but the market has changed since then, and approaching a book that length as an author’s second book made my editor apprehensive. He’d have done it, but he was already talking about how we’d need to slice it into two novels. (And I really didn’t want to do that.)

But more than that, I felt that it wasn’t time for KINGS yet. I can’t explain why; just gut instinct, I guess. I wanted to follow ELANTRIS up with a fast-paced trilogy. Something that could prove to people that I could finish a series, and that I really could write. I felt that launching from ELANTRIS into KINGS would be asking too much of my readers. I wanted to give them time to grow accustomed to me and my writing, and I wanted to practice writing a series before getting myself into something enormous.

And so—perhaps brashly—I looked at the two greatest disappointments of my career and said “Let’s do these the way they SHOULD have been done in the first place.” I took the best ideas from both, I added in a greater majority of other new good ideas, and I planned out a 600 thousand word epic told in three parts. My goal: A kind of calling card to fantasy readers. A trilogy they could read through and get a feel for who I was and what my writing was like.

Of course, then the WHEEL OF TIME came along and changed everything. I’m even more glad I did what I did, as I didn’t have to stop a series in the middle to work on AMoL. Plus, working on the WHEEL OF TIME has given me an unparalleled insight into the mind of the greatest master of the long-form fantasy series of our time.

Anyway, that’s a bit of history for those who are curious. Thanks for reading.

TWG Posts ()
#19 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

Dark One. What is it?

Brandon Sanderson

YA novel I'm working on. I have a few sample chapters, if you want them. I may have to change the title, though, since a very dissimilar book just came out with a close title.

I'd rather not talk about the book too much, since I won't be able to get to it for a while, and I'd like to keep the ideas off the internet for a bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, anyone here can have the sample chapters if they want. In fact, anyone can have sample chapters of any of my books. I send those out pretty freely. I'm just not sure I want to go posting the ideas for this one about yet.

Also, if anyone wants any of my old books--anything pre-WAY OF KINGS--you need but ask. Most of them won't ever get published in their current form. So, if you're ever board, you can read an old, unpublished Brandon novel.

The complete Brandon Library is:

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy)

8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)

13) The Way of Kings (Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)

16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Unfinished. Â Coming late 2007)

18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)

19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)

TWG Posts ()
#20 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

How long did it take to write Mistborn from reconception to the end of the first draft? Was that all on off time or did you start when school was still going?

Shelving Climb the Sky for now?

Brandon Sanderson

MISTBORN: Began preliminary work in December 2003. Began writing beginning of February. Finished mid-June.

CLIMB THE SKY: I'm probably going to have to shelve it for a year or so. I might slip it in between MISTBORN 2 and MISTBORN 3, but Tage keeps telling me that I just need to write a sequel.

I agree, and so I'm going for MISTBORN 2. I actually wrote ten pages or so prose for the first chapter, though writing will be slower until I get all of my preliminary work done.

TWG Posts ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lately, I've been thinking about the different 'models' that writers seem to use when planning their series.

The Jordan Model: One continuous story that's done when (if) you get to the end.

The Eddings Model: One continuous story divided into a pre-determined number of books.

The Bujold/Card Model: More episodic story centered around the life of a single, interesting character.

The McCaffery Model: Episodic series with a general over-arching storyline, different books focusing on different viewpoint characters in the same world.

Now, so far I've always followed the Eddings or the Jordan model in my planned sequels. However, I've been thinking that I'd really like to launch a McCaffery style series. It would let me do what I like--develop new cultures and magics in every novel--yet at the same time give me the market benefit of a cohesive 'series.'

Thoughts? (I'm thinking of using the AETHER OF NIGHT world as a launching point for this series, in case you were wondering.)

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing: I've got this world idea (already have one book written in the setting) which involves a lot of different magical powers based on the same theme.

I think it would be nice to write a lot of books in the same world, but to have sub-series of them focusing on a given society (i.e., a given magic.)

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, folks. If you've been paying attention to the other thread I started here today, I've been working on a new series schema. I need a title for the overarching series, however.

I've been thinking of calling the series "The Aethers of Lore," with 'Lore' being the world name.

I'm not sure if I like this, though. I like 'Lore' because of the way it sounds, not necessarily because of its dictionary meaning. I've tried other iterations of the same sound, but none of them quite work. Lorr doesn't look right on the page, I think, and Lorre makes me think it should be pronounced 'Lory,' like the actor.

Brandon Sanderson

I wish I could get away with a sub-series name.  I.e.: The Aethers of LoreThe Aether of Wind Trillogy, Book One.CLIMB THE SKY (That's the actual book title.)Perhaps something like

CLIMB THE SKY The Aethers of Lore:Aether of Wind Trillogy, Book One.

Brandon Sanderson

Hum. I think I'll just go with 'Lor.' Sounds right, and I didn't Google any major fantasy series' that use the word. Can anyone think of a conflict?

As for CLIMB THE SKY--well, we'll see. I'm growing more and more attached to it. The story is, however, about flying magic, so I don't think that--in context--it will be as cheesy as one might originally assume without a cover or jacket blurb.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How many of the worlds in the cosmere do you eventually plan to talk about that we don't know about?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...From what's been released, you've gotten almost all the important ones. There's, like, two or three ones I would consider relevant to... for instance, the planet that the Aethers, from Aether of Night, which is an unpublished book-- that's still part of the cosmere, I'm gonna do some stuff there. There are a couple of other worlds, one is mentioned in Oathbringer, just very briefly, in one of the epigraphs. There are others that I'll get to. But, when I designed the cosmere: Scadrial (Mistborn), Sel (Elantris), and Roshar were my pillars of the Cosmere story. With Yolen, the planet where it all started, just kind of being behind-the-scenes relevant. Those are the pillars of our story. Other planets will come into it, but those three-- there's nothing more important than the ones you've seen already.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Tertiary Projects

Aether of Night

No progress. (Though you can still get a copy of the draft I wrote back in college, around the time I wrote Elantris. Also, requisite request that you sign up for my mailing list. I give some free fiction away on the newsletter every time I send it, and the chapters I set aside as Patreon rewards usually do make their way on here eventually, though many months later.)

Status: On hiatus (but still part of the Cosmere sequence, with seeds of the story already in other books).