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Brandon's Blog 2013 ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

On my tour, I frequently read from the first chapter of a new novel in the Mistborn world, a sequel to The Alloy of Law. (In fact, you can watch my entire presentation right here. This reading comes at the 45:45 mark.) Tor, understandably, wanted to know when they could publish this book.

Well, it's far from finished, but I do need to be thinking about what comes next. I know that many of you hope that it would be the third Stormlight book, as there has been such a long delay between the first and second. I do promise I'll be more speedy with Stormlight novels in the future—this long delay should, hopefully, be the exception and not the rule. However, my process being what it is, I probably can't move straight into Stormlight Three.

I've spoken about this concept a lot, so I might be repeating myself for some of you. One of the things that excites me about being a writer is the constant energy that comes from switching projects. I'm not one of those writers who can pick a series and write on it exclusively for years and years. Though I will frequently have one main project, I do other things between those larger books. Usually, these other books are small, quick, and the means by which I refresh myself and keep myself from getting burned out on the large project.

While writing the original Mistborn series, I wrote books in the Alcatraz series. While working on The Wheel of Time, I wrote a number of novellas—and The Alloy of Law itself. Now that I'm turning my attention to the Stormlight books as my main project, I'm going to need some things to squeeze between books in order to refresh myself.

For now, that's going to be Alloy-era Mistborn novels. The second and third books in that series will include the same protagonists from the first, and will—if I'm doing it correctly—be exciting, fun, and deep, but not require you to keep track of a lot of characters or plots between novels. This way, I can balance the large, in-depth sequence of the Stormlight Archive with something lighter and more standalone in nature.

As many of you know, the Mistborn series was pitched to my editor way back when as a trilogy of trilogies, with an epic fantasy trilogy, followed by an urban fantasy trilogy with the same magic in the same world, followed finally by a science fiction trilogy in which the magic had become the means by which space travel was possible. The Alloy books aren't part of this original plan, but in them you will find foreshadowing toward the second trilogy.

In the teen book realm, I'll be bouncing between doing the The Rithmatist sequel and the sequels to Steelheart. I realize I have a lot on my plate, and I appreciate you putting up with me as I explore the stories I want to tell. My goal for the next five-year span is to finish up a number of these series, rather than starting anything new.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Aradel doesn’t sound like he is from Scadrial, seems out of place with his dark - well, tanned, - skin.

Brandon Sanderson

Aradel is actually based off Goradel, he is a descendant of his. So he is local. The skin, there are streaks of dark skin in Scadrial, they don’t associate them 100% with ethnicities because of the small [gene] pool they were building from, and they are stronger in the Terris bloodlines. So if they see someone with darker skin they will likely think they are from Terris, but there’s so much intermixing so that you can’t really say. Wax would have a darker complexion, maybe like a tanned caucasian.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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PricklyBear

What's up at the south end of the world (during the 'closer to the sun' phase)? Life there? Cultures? Allomancers? Assuming that there is some life down there, can we assume that we'll have some interesting 'culture clashes' in future books?

Brandon Sanderson

They will be known by the modern trilogy, so it's safe to assume that a discovery will happen soon. Either during the Alloy of Law era or soon after.

Fantasy Faction Q&A ()
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Windrunner

When is Emperor's Soul set chronologically in relation to Elantris? Because if its around the same time Teod and Arelon might not have to stand alone against the Fjordell Empire.

My other question is also a timeline one. (There are a lot of those tonight haha) I heard you had to move The Way of Kings a little bit due to some plot constraints. So does Warbreaker still fall around the same time as The Alloy of Law or has that shifted as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for the kind words! Emperor's Soul is after Elantris, but not too long after. It is before Mistborn.

Second question is that I've moved things so that The Way of Kings is around the same time as The Alloy of Law, forced by some behind-the-scenes events. Warbreaker now happens before The Alloy of Law.

Daily Dragon interview ()
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Daily Dragon

The light-hearted banter in your recent standalone Mistborn book, The Alloy of Law, is an unexpected yet delightful change from the more serious tone of the original trilogy. Why did you decide to make such an abrupt shift? Will we get to read more about Waxillium and Wayne?

Brandon Sanderson

This was quite conscious on my part. One of the reasons I ended up writing The Alloy of Law as I did is because I personally wanted something to balance The Stormlight Archive, which is going to be more serious and have a tone more like the original Mistborn trilogy. I'm planning a five-book sequence to start off The Stormlight Archive, so I wanted something to go between those books that was faster paced, a little more lighthearted, and more focused.

I love The Stormlight Archive—it's what I think will be the defining work of my career, but that said, sometimes you want a bag of potato chips instead of a steak. Sometimes you want to write that, and sometimes you want to read that. I knew not all readers would want to go along with me at the start on such a big, long series; they may want to wait until it's finished. So I wanted to be releasing smaller, more focused and more simply fun books in between, both for my own interest and for my readers. And I will keep doing this; there will be more Wax and Wayne books in the future, spaced among my bigger epics.

Fantasy Faction Q&A ()
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MetalCake166

Will we see another book with Waxillium Ladrian? His story doesn't appear to end with The Alloy of Law. And will his story be directly related to the next Mistborn trilogy? This has been eating away at me since finishing that book.

Brandon Sanderson

Wax's story was indeed directly related to the second trilogy, but I was intrigued enough with his time period that I find myself wanting to do more with him. I probably will.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

I just had a question about the broadsheets, do you write all the content for those?

Brandon Sanderson

I wrote all the first one. And the second and third one's I'm like "I don't want this all to be in my voice I want it to feel like a newspaper" so I wrote a couple. Isaac wrote a bunch, Ben wrote some of them--

Isaac Stewart

Ben didn't write any.

Brandon Sanderson

So it was you who wrote the rest of them?

Questioner

Did you do the layouts?

Isaac Stewart

Yeah I do the layouts and then I give them to Ben to do some of the illustrations.

Brandon Sanderson

The really fun thing is Isaac wrote the Nikki Savage one in this one [The Bands of Mourning].

Isaac Stewart

It was really fun, I'm glad Brandon let me.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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zas678

How long before [The Way of Kings] is Alloy of Law? I heard somewhere that it's a hundred years, but I don't think that's right.

Brandon Sanderson

I intended them to be happening roughly close to one another, with [The Way of Kings] slightly before.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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quadquapters

I was surprised when I learned just how much more Mistborn you're planning on writing, and was even more surprised when I heard that the Wax and Wayne quadrilogy was only a spin-off and not part of your major plans for the series. But now I've found out you've decided to include those books as a major part of the larger series and instead do 4 different stories within it. Will this mean the next part (which I understood was going to take place in the more or less present) will be further into the future so as to space out each story? And what was the reasoning behind including Wax and Wayne in the main series?

Brandon Sanderson

I changed my opinions on Wax and Wayne after writing the first book, then outlining books 2-4 (which are a kind of "Trilogy" with these characters, when the first book was an experiment.)

I realized that the next era (which is still 1980's level technology) would work way better with some foundations in the W&W era. I'm very pleased what this did to Era Three, as it now is (1980s), because of the foundations in Era Two.

And yes, the next series will each go further into the future.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

How many of the Mistborn do you plan on writing still?

Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn, when I pitched it to my editor, I pitched it as a spectrum running from an epic fantasy series eventually arriving at a space opera, with Allomancers on spaceships. So we have several hundred more years of history. So right now I'm doing a few more Wax and Wayne books, the Alloy of Law era. Then we will jump forward, I've got a modern trilogy that's going to be like 1980's level technology. And then maybe near-future and then full-blown science fiction space opera.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.

One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.

With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.

I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.

There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.

Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.

I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.

So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.

As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.

That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.

That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.

The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.

Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?

The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.

So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.

You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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Questioner

I just wanted to say ... I like how the main characters are named Wax and Wayne.

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks. In all honesty, I was hesitant about the pun. I liked it, on one hand, but also worried that it was too goofy. By the time I tried changing the character names, however, they were too strongly cemented in my head, so changing them proved too difficult and I just left them as-is.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Main Projects

Mistborn

The Lost Metal, Wax and Wayne Four, will be my next non-YA novel project. I still intend to write it so that it can come out in 2018. You should see a progress bar for it pop up sometime in the fall of 2017.

This will be the last Wax and Wayne book. Because of fan outcry, we're just going to call the Wax and Wayne books "Era Two" of Mistborn from here out, and I'm sorry for the "Era 1.5 fiasco" of last year. That would have worked if I'd started calling it that from the get-go, but it's too late now.

Once Era Two is done, we'll let Mistborn lie fallow for a few years while I move on to Elantris/Warbreaker sequels. (See below.)

Status: Book Seven (W&W 4) being outlined.

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

So you initially said that you had started the first third [of Shadows of Self] and then you took a break for two years.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm

Questioner

I kind of get the feeling that in the first third The Set was supposed to be the Big Bad villain of the second book and then you massaged it into the kandra.  Is that the case or--

Brandon Sanderson

No the kandra was always planned as the second book villain. When I sat down to do the outline of the three, that is when I decided-- So yeah it was the kandra. The big change is that Marasi wasn't working at all, that's probably one of the reasons I stopped it. I had to rebuild her from the get go in that one, and she works much better in the revision. I was pushing her in the first draft more toward lawyer/attorney stuff and it just wasn't working, it's not where she wanted to go.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Questioner

Any more Mistborn stories in the works?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. For those who aren't aware, when I pitched the Mistborn series to my editor originally, way back when, I pitched it as a trilogy of trilogies—a past-present-future—where I would do an epic fantasy trilogy and then I would jump forward hundreds of years and explore what happens with the magic in a modern-day technology level setting, and then I would jump forward hundreds more years and allow the magic to then become the primary means by which FTL—faster-than-light space travel—is able to happen. And so, the three metallurgic magic systems actually have FTL built into them. And so there will be a space-opera series set in the future, because I was able to plan all this stuff out finally knowing what I would be publishing. One thing that I ran into doing that was, when I delved into The Way of Kings and The Stormlight Archive, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to get to that second Mistborn trilogy any time soon, so I didn't want to have two big epics going on at the same time—I wanted, you know, one epic, and then other things—and so what I did is I said, well I'm going to try writing a short story in the Mistborn world, and this will be something exciting for people that, you know-- I kind of sort of do some of these things to keep Mistborn going.

And, I tried writing a short story and it flopped horribly. It was a terrible story. Wayne was in it, but otherwise it was awful. It just didn't work...

Okay. Anyway, so back to your story. I tried to write this short story, and it was awful. And I said, well, it's just not working, but there's some ideas here that I want to expand on. Maybe I'll write something bigger. And I started working on it, and I got about three chapters in, and said, okay, this is a novel.

Fortunately, I'd built into—this was a time where I'd built in myself a couple of months between Wheel of Time books to just do whatever I wanted. You can go back to my blogs at the time, and I said, people, I need a couple months to do something else to refresh myself. And so, I went in my outline to a full short novel that became Alloy of Law, and this is an interim book meant to be kind of more fast-paced, only focused on a couple characters, to deal with, you know-- I describe it as, sometimes you want to go have a big steak dinner, but sometimes you really just want to have a hamburger, and Alloy of Law is a hamburger. *laughter* It's faster. It's fun. It's meant to be a cool character interaction story, and with a mystery, as opposed to something that big.

And so I plan to do some more of those; I actually got about halfway through a sequel during moments of free time that unfortunately I can't continue because the Wheel of Time project went-- I would do it when I'd like send a revision to Harriet, and it would be, she'd be like, "I'll get back to you in three days," and I'm like, alright, I'll work on this. And then when the revision comes back, I don't keep going on this; I have to work on The Wheel of Time. It's not something I can put off. And right now with Stormlight 2—I have to do Stormlight 2; deadlines are so tight—but I will eventually get back to Shadows of Self, the second Wax and Wayne book, and you will get some more of those, to have some things going on in the Mistborn world until I get to the second epic trilogy, which will happen eventually.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Marasi is an Allomancer

One of my big goals in these post-epic Mistborn books is to give a chance for more limited-power people (Mistings and their Feruchemical cousins, Ferrings) a chance to shine. In the previous trilogy, the focus really was on the Mistborn. Vin and Kelsier fit the epic fantasy mindset I wanted, powerful in an epic sort of way, broadly capable with abilities in a lot of areas.

For these books, I wanted to show people who had one or two powers, instead of sixteen, and show how specialization can achieve some incredible results. Because of that, I intentionally held back in the first trilogy in letting Vin do a few things. (Note how much better Zane was with minute steelpushes and ironpulls than she was.) Vin was incredibly skilled, but because she had so many powers to work with, she didn't home in as much on any one of them. Things like Wax's steel bubble are tricks I wanted to save for people like Wax. (He's what we’d call in the Mistborn world a steel savant, so capable with his metal—and having burned it so long, for so many years—that he's got an instinctive ability with it that lets him be very precise.)

And so we come to Marasi, who has the power opposite—but paired with—Wayne's ability. Both she and Wayne have powers I wanted to delve into. Indeed, I kind of promised that the last metals would get highlighted in these newer books. Matching that, I've given Miles the same power the Lord Ruler used to heal himself from so many incredible wounds. I wanted to explore more of what this skill was capable of when not overshadowed by so many other powers and abilities.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Are the Wax and Wayne stories going to always be in stand-alone, or are they ever going to tie in to the main Mistborn and stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

They will tie in, in fact I intended the first one to foreshadow stuff for the next trilogy, so you will find things tying in with what's going on, but I kind of wanted them to also just be more independent, so we'll see. It'll be a little of both.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
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bmanny

At what point in your writing did the ending of [Shadows of Self] become a thing in your mind? Was is there from the beginning? Did it unfold naturally? Or was it something you saw before even writing [The Alloy of Law]?

Brandon Sanderson

I wrote Alloy of Law as kind of a free write. Once I finished it, and liked it a lot, I sat down and said, "Okay, if this is going to be Mistborn, it needs to have a tighter series outline." So I outlined three sequels, so I knew where Wax and the characters were going. Then I wrote the prologue of Alloy of Law. (It originally didn't include that scene with him and Lessie meeting Bloody Tan.) That scene was the first I wrote knowing the entire three book sequence, including the ending of SofS.

From there, I did a revision of Alloy of Law to match what was to come. The biggest change was adding in the trauma to Wax, which wasn't a piece of the initial story. (It was also something the book needed. Wax didn't have an arc in the original draft; he was kind of just "stoic sheriff." Building into him this longing to escape responsibility, and an underlying worry that his failures would break him, made it possible to create for him a four book arc.)

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

So I listen to your podcast, Writing Excuses, and you've been, this year, breaking down stories into different parts. Was Bands of Mourning an attempt, for you, to write a pulp novel?

Brandon Sanderson

The question is on Writing Excuses we've been breaking story down into different parts. Was Bands of Mourning an attempt to write a pulp novel? Actually all of the Wax and Wayne books are a hearkening back to classic serials and pulp novels. So yes, it was me looking at that-- I kind of pitched those books to myself as "Mistborn: the television show. The action serial" if that makes sense. Where the other ones were the Mistborn epic fantasies, these are the action serials. And I did try to kind of vary the genre, the first one is kind of more straight-up detective novel, the second one is psychological thriller, and then the third one is kind of a classic serial adventure story. So yeah, that was very intentional, it's me trying to take different tones and mash them up with different stories and see what comes out.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
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Questioner

Are we going to see anything in the Elantris universe anytime soon?

Brandon Sanderson

You should see-- I mean "anytime soon" is a very sub-- difficult to answer. Like the next thing I'm doing are the Mistborn books, I actually wrote two of those instead of one because two for the price of one, right? Did you guys know this? I sent them to my publisher because the book was due and I sent the book off and I attached a sequel to it *laughter* in the email and said nothing about it except "Here's your book" and then went to bed 'cause I was sending this at like 4AM because I stay up really late. And so I got up the next morning to mass panic from my publisher and agent and they're like "You put two books in here!?!" and I'm like "Yeah I wrote two on accident" *laughter* And so I did that, and yeah. And then they threw a party because an extra Sanderson book, unsurprisingly, is a pretty big deal at the publisher and then they decided to publish them very quickly. So what I'm doing is I'm writing Calamity, third of The Reckoners, and final of The Reckoners, right now. So our next sequence of books will be two Mistborn, then Calamity, and then the third Stormlight book.

Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
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Questioner

On about Wayne from The Alloy of Law, so reading the first book everyone's smiling because he's a rascal. But he's not really a rascal in the first book. You slowly turned him into a rascal in book 2, filling in what he's done in his past. Book three just a downright rascal... I wanted to know your progression of that character mirrors your progression of that world because the Alloy of Law isn't particularly gritty, but in book three you've got a bit more grittiness.

Brandon Sanderson

See, I would argue that two is the grittiest of the three, personally. It's hard for me to talk about this one just because I wrote Alloy of Law as an experiment to see if I liked it, and then I sat down and built a trilogy about those characters, so you could almost imagine that Alloy of Law is a standalone, and the next three are a trilogy about those characters. I don't know that I made any specific decisions in any way, I just said "what is the story I want to tell about these characters with these three books", and then I took them and I dug into them and I felt like I hadn't dug into them deeply enough in Alloy of Law, to really who they were. It was done, again, kind of more as a free writing experiment than an intentional novel, even though I did have an outline and things for it.

The books two, three, and four--which form a trilogy--have a distinct outline. Any changes are changes kind of focused on that idea. That I took something that was kind of like a seed for a trilogy and then built a trilogy around it. I didn't make any specific determination that I would be more gritty; I think the second book is grittier because of the difference between hunting a group of bank robbers vs. a serial killer. That's gonna have some natural move towards that, but it's not any specific event. That said, reader response is kind of how you decide on these things. I just kind of write the books as I feel they need to be and what you get out of them is certainly valid.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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Xyrd

Can I ask what defines a "trilogy's worth of arcs"? I always thought that roughly corresponded to wordcount, but your wordcount-per-trilogy has halved from ~650k (Elantris, Mistborn 1, Warbreaker) to ~325k (Mistborn 1.5, Stormlight-without-interludes, Reckoners) so I must have that wrong... but I'm not sure why that's wrong.

Brandon Sanderson

I plot these like a trilogy each. The entire [Reckoners] trilogy, for example, is shorter than the way of kings. I plot a book of Stormlight using similar (though not exactly the same) methods as I use in building a series of other books.

Xyrd

What does "like a trilogy" mean? Or is there somewhere you'd recommend I go to learn more? From my uneducated perspective, "like a trilogy" means "long, lots of stuff happens, three books".

Brandon Sanderson

Well, what makes a book for me is usually an arc for a character mixed with a plot arc. Often multiple plot arcs and character arcs. It is less "stuff happens" and more "stuff happens for a reason, building to pivotal moments or discoveries." My YouTube writing lectures might help explain better. Look for the ones on plotting.

Xyrd

I think I understand...maybe...

  • "Arc" is point-to-point, be it for a character or a plot. Length-in-wordcount isn't relevant, difference between points is.
  • The difference in wordcount isn't a matter of "arcs" being shorter, it's a matter of there being fewer not-tightly-arc-related words, similar to how stand-up comics tighten up routines.

Do I have that right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup. You've got it. Though often, the difference in a longer book is the number of arcs. For example, in Mistborn, Vin has multiple arcs. (Learning to be part of a crew, training to use the magic, practicing to join high society, falling in love, and learning to trust again.) Those are mixed with a large number of plot arcs. A shorter book might have a character with a more straightforward, single or double arc.

fangorn

My first encounter with the term "story arc" was from J Michael Straczynski talking about Babylon 5 in explaining how it was plotted.

The term to me invokes a visual of tracing an arc across the sky from left to right, symbolizing the journey of an overarching plot or narrative to its conclusion.

Brandon was using trilogy with respect to the Mistborn series until Shadows of Self got away from him and became two books bumping the total to four :-).

Brandon Sanderson

That's almost right. I wrote Alloy of Law as a stand alone test of the new era. I liked it, so I plotted a trilogy to go alongside it. I ended up writing Bands of Mourning before Shadows of Self for various reasons, but it isn't that Shadows of Self got turned into two books. Those were always two very different books in the outline.

The point where things expanded was after I tried out Alloy of Law, liked it, and decided to do more books with the characters.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Time-wise, where do the events of Bands of Mourning happen with respect to Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...So, Bands of Mourning, all the Wax & Wayne books take place after Stormlight 5, but I'm not sure if it happens after or before Stormlight 6, It'll have to wait, because there's a time jump between Stormlight 5 and 6 that I haven't exactly defined in the timeline yet.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

What led you to want to write a fourth Wax & Wayne book?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, when I wrote Alloy of Law as an experiment, then I said, "Oh, I really like this series, this turned out really well. I will now plot a trilogy with these characters." So, Alloy is the outlier, where I view Shadows, Bands, and Lost Metal as a trilogy. And this is, like, the prelude to the trilogy. And I do think that because... this was an experiment, I really think it was a good experiment. I'm better when I have more of a framework, so I think these two [Shadows and Bands] turned out stronger than this one [Alloy], because when I have a framework, but... at the same time, you need to always be trying, experimenting, new things as a writer.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Question

So, because we have Worldhoppers like Hoid, Khriss, and Nazh, and I think that I've heard that era 4 will be more science fiction.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, era 4 is science fiction.

Question

So, will we ever have a chance to see characters from one world in the cosmere go to another world in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

So, there's a couple of things that I need to explain to you guys in this one. First is that Mistborn, I pitched to my editor, way at the beginning, as a series where a fantasy world slowly became a science fiction world. So we would pass through a modern era, where things are like our world, and then we pass on to a science fiction era, because I'd never seen that done before. I'd never seen someone take epic fantasy and then build from the events in the epic fantasy, like religions and philosophies, and then tell another story set in a more modern and contemporary world. And then in the science fiction one, the magic will become the means by which space travel is possible. So we're in the middle of that. Wax and Wayne is an interim, I'm calling it era 2. There's an era 3 which is 1980s, cold war, spy thriller Mistborn. Then there is an era four, which is science fiction, unless I slip in a cyberpunk, near-future science fiction, which I might do. So there might be five, we'll see. I've warned people of that. The last Mistborn series, whichever era it ends up being, is the last thing of the cosmere chronologically. So, it's a long ways off. All the other series have to finish before I can do that.

The other thing that people have to understand is that all of these worlds are connected in something we call the cosmere. It is mostly, right now, just easter eggs. It's important to me that people don't go, "I can't read Mistborn until I've read Elantris," or whatever. No, each series is about that series. There's easter eggs connecting them but you don't need to know it. It's just fun to find out; you can find it all out after the fact.

Are we going to see people traveling between the planets? Yes, you will see space travel between the planets. You have seen it already. One of the stories in the anthology comes from that era, but it's on a planet that doesn't yet have space travel. Sixth of the Dusk takes place chronologically near-end of the cosmere sequence. So yes, you have seen it, and you will see more of it. In Sixth of the Dusk, there are ones they call the Ones Above who have visited and these are people from a planet that you have seen, I won't tell you who, who are visiting.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Are you doing a Warbreaker sequel?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. But I've determined that I can't do it until I at least have the Wax and Wayne sequence done. So it will probably not happen till after Stormlight 5. So you got a little wait on that. Because I'm going to do Wax and Wayne and then the next Stormlight. There's a chance I'll do it in between 4 and 5 but we'll see once we get there.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So Wax and Wayne aren't finished?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

One more book, Wax and Wayne.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I thought they were just going to be a trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I wrote the first book as exploration. So I view the books two through four as a trilogy, with the first book kind of being like, "Do I want to do something more with this?" So there will be four.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Goron

You've mentioned before that all your books so far are in chronological order (Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive). Alloy of Law takes place about 200 years after The Hero of Ages. (Right?) Does this put it chronologically before or after Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law takes place around 300 years after The Hero of Ages and several hundred years before the events in The Way of Kings. That does put it around the same time as Warbreaker.

Shadows of Self San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

So, there's not a lot a lot of Western books coming out these days. Is there anything in particular that made you decide to set Alloy of Law and the other books in that time period; and any challenges moving into that time period?

Brandon Sanderson

...It's hard to say, you know, to reach back into my "cultural archive," so to speak, in my head. I did watch a lot of spaghetti westerns during that era. I think they're cool. But I really think it was more wanting to deal with something in the early 1900s. Because, I love that era. That era, in our world, was, like, this era of scientific discoveries-- there was this revolution that happened, right around that time, with the coming of electric lights and the coming of motorcars where, for the first time, science is a thing for everybody. Like, before, science was a thing that somebody rich got to do, and then it became something-- like, I remember reading an essay that was written in, like, 1910, about a scientist who had gone and studied ditch-digging, and gone in there with the ditch-diggers. And he taught them, he figured out the science of what makes ditch-digging easier on their bodies and on their health and faster, and basically he 'scienced' ditch-digging for the ditch-diggers. And they loved that. It made their jobs much easier. It was a time where science was like that, it was the first time that science was like that... That time period really fascinates me, because you've got this whole-- my career is based around taking cool things and superstition, and to have, like, one foot over there and one foot in science, and kind of bringing those two things together. And that fascinates me, and that was a time period where we were transitioning from superstition toward science. That's really cool to me. So, I wanted to do something in that time period, and the Western aspect was just a fun part of it. The whole pitch of "Clint Eastwood has to move to big-city New York and take over his house politics" was really interesting to me.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

How about the general number of years Warbreaker is from [The Hero of Ages] and [The Alloy of Law/The Way of Kings]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO - the reason that timeline questions are being RAFOed right now is because the final times are still not 100% solid, and Brandon said that he doesn't want to give us a time and then have it change around again (like what happened to [The Alloy of Law] being moved to the same time as [The Way of Kings] instead of being a bit earlier), so he won't answer any timeline questions until after he has the final timeline correct in his own system.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Orang3dragon612

Looking at the Future Mistborn Trilogy, what role will the "gods" play in that? The "gods" played a massive role in the original series, being a main character. However, seeing how the Mistborns worlds god is no longer a destructive force, what will be the new threat to their world? Themselves, the seventeenth shard, or more likely, Odium himself? 

Brandon Sanderson

The current Wax/Wayne books will be smaller-scale Man vs Man type stories. The second trilogy will deal with something larger, but giving away too much now would be to reveal my hand.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

Wax investigates

If you've read the book, then you probably won't be surprised to find that a partial inspiration for it was the Sherlock Holmes stories. Of course, you'd have to search pretty far to find any kind of detective story that isn't somehow influenced by good Mister Holmes. This story, however, is more consciously inspired along those lines. I purposely developed a mysterious (almost even magical) series of robberies along the lines of what you see in the Holmes stories. The technological era is similar as well.

Of course, the characters are much different—even down to the character roles and dynamics. I wanted Wax to be a thinker, but more of a lawman than an eccentric. Wayne has enough eccentricity for three characters. I wanted the way that Wax approached solving a problem like this to be more methodical, more like a lawman who has grown accustomed to doing things on his own—but who has procedures he follows.

Beyond that, I wanted Wax to be solid. Many people are going to prefer Wayne for obvious reasons, but I prefer this story to be about Wax. (I'll talk more about Wayne's origins later.) Wax's solidity helps anchor the story, I feel. Perhaps I find him more interesting than others will, but the different parts of him that are warring inside create for a stronger dynamic than some of the other characters, who are more static.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With Alloy of Law, with Wayne, how do you come up with that character? *laughter* And those things that he says? 

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, yeah, Wayne's one of those characters. So, there are certain standards to which I hold almost all of my characters in my books. Wayne isn't one of them. He gets away with more.

So, where'd Wayne come from? The original concept for Wayne was, when I was working on the Mistborn books-- For those who don't know, I originally pitched Mistborn to my editor, Moshe, as a trilogy of trilogies: Past, Present, Future. Epic fantasy trilogy, urban fantasy trilogy, science fiction trilogy, set in the same world, with advancing technology in which the magic becomes the foundation for space travel. And the original idea that the epic fantasy trilogy becomes the foundation of myth and religion in the modern day trilogy. So, I told him all this, and he said, "Wow. You're ambitious." This was after he had read Elantris and was trying to figure out what else to buy from me.

And so, as I was working on The Stormlight Archive, I realized I wanted something from the Mistborn world to balance Stormlight, because Stormlight books are big and involved and take, like, years of writing to get done, and I didn't want to be alternating thick, long, books in two series, I kinda wanted to have a shorter, more fast-paced series to balance out the bigger, longer series. And so, the first thing I started doing, the first idea for Wayne, was a person whose personality changed based on hats he put on. And he was actually originally a hat maker. And I wrote, like, three pages of this, and he was just too kooky. He was great, but I was pouring too much into him. I needed: number one, to kinda pull back on the concept in that original; and number two, I needed multiple characters around him. By the way, he was riding around on a talking horse at that point, because he was a kandra.

Yeah, it was a really weird scene. It was wacky. And that's when I said, "All right, I'm gonna sit down and write an actual novel, not just exploratory scenes." And that's where I built Wax and Wayne, and kind of, the play off of each other, and things like that. So, they kind of grew out of each other, and out of that first scene that I wrote. 

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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carmen22

And last but definitely not least, you seem to have left the New World of Mistborn open for a book maybe featuring Spook in the future, any thoughts?

Brandon Sanderson

I did leave it open. But that's partially because I feel that part of any good book is the indication that the characters continue to live, the world continues to turn. I want readers to be free to imagine futures for the characters and more stories in the world.

For Mistborn, I'm not planning—right now—to do any Spook books. I do have plans to do another trilogy set in the world, though it would take place hundreds of years later, once technology has caught up to what it should be. Essentially, think guns, cars, skyscrapers—and Allomancers.

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 Twitter 2015 ()
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Jordan Bradford

Shadows of Self - What an awesome story, and what a gut-punch of an ending! Was that planned when you wrote Alloy of Law?

Brandon Sanderson (Part 1/Part 2/Part 3)

Once I finished Alloy, I wrote the scene with Bloody Tan and Wax, intending it for Book 2. That was when I built this plot.

We eventually moved the scene to the start of book one, and I revised with the new perspective on Lessie.

So it was there by the time Alloy came out, but was not part of the first draft. Advice from [Dan Wells] caused it.

Dan Wells

You have my sincere apologies

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

I've been trying to brainstorm what Stormlight characters would have jumped into the other books so far. You told me they had at one point.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they have but you've got to remember that The Stormlight Archive you are seeing right now, what's happening in it is like late cosmere era, does that make sense? So there are lots of people from the world that have been to other worlds but the people you know--this is happening just before Alloy of Law era-- So does that make sense? That's the first time you'd be able to see anyone here and by that era the bleed over is a lot less because we have the whole Odium trapped and things like that. There's a lot less-- There are a lot fewer people traveling in and out of Roshar than there once were.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Main Book Projects

Mistborn

And speaking of Mistborn, how is Scadrial doing? My current plan is still to have the Mistborn books stretch throughout my career, establishing stories in different eras of time with different sets of characters.

The original pitch was for three trilogies. The Wax and Wayne books expanded this to four series. (You can imagine Wax and Wayne as series 1.5, if you want.) This means there will still be a contemporary trilogy, and a science fiction trilogy, in the future.

I have one more book to do in the Wax and Wayne series, and I'm planning to write it sometime between Stormlight books three and four. Until then, Wax and Wayne three—The Bands of Mourning—comes out in January!

Status: Era 1.5 book three done; book four coming soonish