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General Reddit 2020 ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Chapters 4-5

Here's an annotation for these chapters! One of the most revised sequences of this book were these Shallan chapters--continuing through the entire novel. As I have said elsewhere, I originally designed Shallan's mental state to be a more fantastical look at something like Dissociative Identity Disorder. (Like the fantastical look at Schizophrenia I did with Stephen Leeds.)

I was fascinated by how something like mental health challenges relating to identity would intersect with magic that let you quite literally become someone else. The original version of this was for a character I wrote in Dragonsteel--which I'll eventually release to the public like I've done with TWOK Prime.

In this series, however, I've found myself leaning away from the fantastical elements more and more, and trying to lean into the real science and best mental health practices. This is because I've realized that having Shallan's ailment be completely fantastical was both irresponsible (in representation terms) and less realistic. Where I settled earlier in the series was in representing not someone with a fantastical disease, but someone with a very real disease--that is exacerbated by fantastical elements.

Because of this, I listened very hard to my beta readers on Shallan, particularly those with specific experience in this area. In the original draft of these scenes, for example, Shallan wasn't shifting between the various alters of herself nearly as often--and with some feedback, I tweaked that, and found it not only worked better in a realism way, but it also read far, far better. It's simply more interesting to see Shallan's different aspects doing different things, thinking different ways.

Some of the most satisfying moments in revisions come when you try something different, and find that it's what you wanted to do all along--but didn't quite know how to accomplish until a comment nudges you.

Bloody_Raven

Just had a random idea regarding the Dragonsteel character, could it be Bavadin? (the avatar forming seems in line with this)

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! :)

simon_thekillerewok

That's interesting that you had this DID direction planned for Shallan since the beginning (pre-Way of Kings I presume). I had just assumed it was something that you developed in between WoR and Oathbringer. I know you've commented on subjects related to this before - but in light of what you're saying about leaning away from the fantastical, I'm curious to know if you think that if Shallan had become, say, an Edgedancer instead (or just never continued in her truths), that she would have developed DID and those aspects regardless? Or would she just have had her trauma manifest in other ways (such as other dissociative disorders like depersonalization/derealization/amnesia)?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that she would have gone the same way she has, but the manifestations of her disassociation would have been different. But this is something I could perhaps waver on.

LewsTherinTelescope

I've seen quotes from you before that you didn't intend her to actually have DID, is that just about it originally being more fantastical, and now you're trying to make it actually be realistic more?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's what is happening here. I originally shied away from it, as I didn't want to open that can of worms--but then, I realized I was opening it anyway, and the only way to be honest was to admit what I was doing and get some people who have DID themselves to advise me.

I think, in hindsight, I was trying to take too much of an easy path--and the path that didn't require me to do the work like I needed to

pweepweemuggins

Aha! So that's what you did. I immediately noted in the first chapters that Shallan's illness seemed to have gotten worse. I thought that it was you alludIng to a downward spiral of the characters in conjunction with the world of Roshar - which made sense because, if you place a mentally ill person in a world with no access to mental healthcare and then make their situation worse, what would happen? Their mental illness would get worse.

I'm surprised that it was just a change in the way you write her.

If you had the option to go back and revise all of her chapters that way, would you?

Because as it is, the real-ness and definition of her other egos reads like a downward spiral.

Brandon Sanderson

What you're noticing is not just me changing the way I'm writing her. More, I realized that her downward spiral was going to require me to actively deal with her mental illness in a responsible way, if that makes sense.

I wouldn't change much about the past books. It was more that I realized that the place she was going in this one required a more delicate touch than I could manage without some expert help.

General Twitter 2018 ()
#2 Copy

John Aspler

Just finished Oathbringer (ahhhhhhsogood) and decided to do a Warbreaker reread. Was super happy to discover that the e-book edition had your annotations. Any chance others will get an update based on existing annotations (e.g., Elantris, Mistborn)?

Peter Ahlstrom

That’s not planned for the other books.

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
#3 Copy

David

Do you plan to annotate Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

I've written annotations for WARBREAKER already. There is supposed to be a special edition WARBREAKER e-book from Tor.com coming that will include all the annotations right there with the text, but I'm not sure when it will appear. The annotations will still go up chapter-by-chapter on my website, but if you get the special edition e-book you can have them all at once. We'll see when that happens

Footnote: The annotations for Warbreaker, and many of Brandon's other works, are available on his website.
The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Introduction

Welcome to the annotations, being written at long last.

Normally, I do annotations for a book while going over the copyedit. That all started to change in 2009 when my time got very short due to finishing the Wheel of Time novels. I also started handing the duty of "Go over the copyedit and see if they are changing anything I don't like" to Peter.

That left no chance for the TWOK annotations. I told myself I'd need to re-read the book before starting the sequel (Wheel of Time work was going to keep me from getting to it for a few years) so I'd do the annotations then.

Well, here I am, in late summer 2012. The Wheel of Time is done and I feel an urgent need to get the sequel to TWOK written. I'm sitting down to read it in depth as I tweak my outline, so I thought I'd try writing out some annotations for you all. We'll see if I manage to get through the entire thing.

As always, if you're reading the novel for the first time, I will try not to spoil anything coming up in the book. If I do have comments that spoil later surprises, I'll hide them using the spoiler function. If you're reading an annotation for a given chapter, I will assume you've read that chapter and everything leading up to it.

I'm not going to edit these annotations (no time) or do any revisions whatsoever. (Peter might do a proofread, but that's it.) So I'm going to make some mistakes, and the writing is going to be rough at places. Take this for what it is: me sitting down and having a conversation about the book, giving a behind-the-scenes look. Extra facts I throw out in the annotations can be considered canon, but understand that I'm writing quickly and might make mistakes.

Brandon Sanderson

August–November 2012

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

So I just finished rereading Mistborn, and I really liked reading the annotations with it.

Brandon Sanderson

Huh.

Questioner

Are you planning on doing those anymore with like The Way of Kings and stuff *interrupted*?

Brandon Sanderson

*sighs* So here's the problem. I used to do those when I did the copyedit, which was really boring. Peter does the copyedits now. So I don't have to do them anymore.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Are you considering doing and more digital versions with the annotations kind of baked in, similar to Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd have to write more annotations for it to really be relevant and the time do that has just vanished on me. So maybe we'll get the original Mistborn trilogy done that way. But I'm less certain I will ever get any more annotations written.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#7 Copy

Kythis

The Annotations is actually what got me started.  And I was wondering do we have any Stormlight ones in the pipeline?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I have finished Part I of The Way of Kings.  That's not a ton, but I eventually intend to do the entire book.  The problem I've run into is that I reference Way of Kings Prime a whole ton while writing them, because it's what is in my head. 

Kythis

And it's a lot a mixed content.  

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, and so it might be better when I can release Way of Kings Prime to accompany them, but I will be doing that.  

Chris King interview ()
#8 Copy

Chris King

When do you plan on releasing the Way of Kings annotations?

Brandon Sanderson

I've only written about a quarter of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will take me a few years just because it's taken me three and a half years to get the second book out. So I feel a burden to get the books going before I do side things like this. My life got a whole lot more busy with The Wheel of Time than it used to be. Which has cut out some of my side-projects like this but I would like to do them eventually.

General Reddit 2020 ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Chapter 7

Annotation time! So, one of the things I worry about (maybe too much) in an extended series like this is something I'll call Skelletor Syndrome. This is the problem that the protagonists need victories through the course of the series--the text will naturally build to important moments, and while there will be failures, there will also be victories.

The more times an antagonist gets defeated, however, the less of a threat they become in the reader's mind. It's hard to justify to the reader that a villain is still a credible threat after they've been foiled time and time again. (Kylo Ren ran into this problem, for example, in the new Star Wars series.)

Going into the Stormlight Archive, this is why I staggered the threats moving from non-supernatural antagonists (like Sadeas) toward increasingly dangerous threats. This isn't to say that someone like Ialai couldn't be a credible threat without powers. However, I still felt it best to move on from her as a representation of the antagonists in the earlier part of the series, pointing us toward larger (and more cosmere-aware) threats as the conflict of the books expands. I could easily have had an entire book with a major thread about toppling her little empire on the Shattered Plains, but that would have been too backward looking.

So in this book, we're pointing away from the Sadeas/Amaram team toward Odium, some individual fused, and several of the cosmere-aware players (Thaidakar and Restares.) Don't worry if those names aren't clear to you on first read--they've been around for a while, but I haven't delved too much into who they are. This book will do so.

learhpa

> I could easily have had an entire book with a major thread about toppling her little empire on the Shattered Plains, but that would have been too backward looking.

I dunno. I think that could be fun. I'm somewhat imagining a John-Wick-alike character whose job is to take Ialai down and it turning into a surreal action/adventure/spy story.

Brandon Sanderson

I absolutely think this could have worked in a different narrative. But in this book, with so much of the focus moving to the greater war and the invasion, I feel that spending a lot of pages on recovering the Shattered Plains (and dealing with a group in the Sons of Honor that have been repeatedly defeated already) would just feel anticlimactic.

A different style of narrative could have pivoted to political intrigue instead of war epic after the first book or so, and then this sort of plot would have been exciting and dynamic. It's all about scope and the subgenre of your narrative.