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Stormlight Three Update #8 ()
#1 Copy

hisagishi

Just wondering what color the book is and what are the glyphs on it for the hardcover version? (book one and two are blue and red and have the glyphs for justice and something else IIRC)

Brandon Sanderson

This is the Bondsmith book, so the color (yellow) and glyph should match that. (Theoretically.)

Figment chat ()
#2 Copy

Michael

Have you decided whether it'll be Dalinar, Szeth, or Eshonai as the focus of Stormlight 3?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, I’m writing Calamity right now, and when I’m done, and I’m, the first thing I will do is go to Stormlight 3, and I’ll start writing on the flashback sequences for all three and decide which one matches the best.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Main Projects

The Stormlight Archive

Book Three is done! Edgedancer is out!

I'll be spending about four months of 2017 doing revisions on Oathbringer, then will have a tour in the fall. (Might manage to get to the UK on that one too.) Things are looking good for Stormlight and Roshar, and not just because we are working on a film. I'm excited for you to read the next installment.

I'm officially adding "Oathbringer (Stormlight 3) third draft" to the progress bar, now that I'm almost done with the second draft. (Most of which was completed during writing the first draft, as I explained above.)

Book Four will probably not be released until 2020—I'll start managing those expectations now, rather than trying to promise 2019 like I thought I might be able to do, once upon a time.

As I always promise, I'll see if I can speed that up. But if you take the year it took to outline Book Three and add eighteen months to actually write it, we're already at 2.5 years—not counting other projects I want to do.

Status: Book Three in revisions, out in 2017.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

From a certain series of books about a prison, by this one author, we learn that authors love to torture their audience. How many nights did you stay up giggling and cackling to yourself with glee over all of the things that happen in Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson

This is why I'm an insomniac, right? You're all gonna be miserable. A little fun thing here, when the book was going along, I thought "Maybe I should cut it after Part 3." I gave it to Karen, who's my continuity editor, and she said "If you cut it here, I will strangle you. The fans will not get a chance to do it, because I will do it."

Firefight Phoenix signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Will Book 3 [of The Stormlight Archive] be Szeth's book?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He used to think so. Now it might be Dalinar's. He is going to do the flashbacks for both (and Eshonai) and then decide.

Questioner [Alternate wording from stormfather's report] (paraphrased)

[The Stormlight Archive] 3 pov character? Some say Szeth others say it's up in the air?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said he's not going to canonize it or anything, he's also looking at Dalinar and Eshonai and going to see who's backstory fits the flow of the book best

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner (Paraphrased)

So have you decided who is going to be the focus character for Stormlight 3?

Brandon Sanderson

I have not. What I've decided is that I need to actually write out, rather than just having the outlines, write out the three backstories that are left of the first five, and then compare them to the story as I'm writing it, and see which one works. Because any one of them could work, but as I'm writing the book... yeah. It's one of those things that I know I need the flexibility on, as I write, to make it work.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

How does it feel being one of the primary fantasy authors with jealousy of your peers, even those who have written longer than you, because of your efficiency and your worldbuilding? 

Brandon Sanderson

It feels really weird. It feels really weird. It feels really great. We just got the sales numbers in for the third book, and they're pretty crazy. 

Argent

You doing OK? 

Brandon Sanderson

I'm doing okay. We tripled the second book. *crowd woos* That was already #1 on the New York Times. Now that was #1 in, like, a January or a Febuary or something like that. We don't know if we'll even beat Lee Child or not tomorrow, but it's looking pretty good. It's pretty crazy. 

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#8 Copy

Himenss

How do you choose flashback character for each Stormlight book? Do you rather build present day narrative around someone's flashback sequence or just choose whose flashbacks better fit with already existing main narrative? As an example, when you moved Dalinar's flashbacks from book 5 to book 3, did you re-outlined book 3 narrative to make it a better match, or you already had both Dalinar's narratives for books 3 and 5 present day and merely decided where flashbacks play the best counterpoint to what Dalinar is doing in the main timeline?

Brandon Sanderson

Moving Dalinar's flashbacks was based on the instinct I had from where book three's narrative was going to go. (After finishing the first two.) Though I have outlines for all of the books, a lot of my outlining process involves starting with a big event, then working backward from it. Sometimes, the steps toward a big event are themselves pretty big events.

People imagine, I think, an outline that is like the traditional "Heading A" "Subheading a" format. But it's not that, it's a big list of things I am pointing toward--and the most interesting steps to get there. So the process of building a novel is more about looking at that timeline, figuring out what steps make their own powerful moments, and constructing a narrative around them that makes sense. I will often be doing this with a dozen or more different sub-plots at once.

So when I "move things" from one book to another, it's often a matter of me building a book (say book two) and realizing that the break point for Kaladin's story makes way more sense if it stretches all the way to include the falling into the chasms sequence. From there, I realize I might not move as far along on Dalinar's plot as i might have thought, and I turn book three to focus more on that plot. Etc.

The flashbacks are the most flexible of these, in some ways, as they are compliments to a story--but don't need to come at any specific chronological point in the series itself. So I look for the places where they will simply fit the best and match the tone of the story the best, either by contrast or compliment

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#10 Copy

Karen Ahlstrom

I knew I'd have to deal with it sometime, and it finally caught up with me today. My Master Cosmere Timeline spreadsheet has far too many relative dates, and not enough absolutes.

Roshar's date system

The biggest reason I have put it off is that the date system Brandon made up is both supremely logical and at the same time totally crazy. A year has five hundred days, but there's also a thousand-day cycle with different highstorms around the new year. In each year there are ten months of fifty days each. The months are broken into ten five-day weeks. The date indicates what year, month, week of the month, and day of the week it is and looks like this: 1173.8.4.3. It is impossible for me to do the math in my head to decide what the date would be 37 days ago, so I don't use the dates in my reckoning, and only calculate them as an afterthought. This dating system is also a hassle because two weeks in our world is almost three weeks there, and a month there is almost two of ours, and when writing Brandon doesn't even pretend to pay attention to those differences.

Day numbers in The Way of Kings

But then we have to talk about my relative date system. The timeline of The Way of Kings is a mess. The story for Shallan starts more than 100 days earlier than Dalinar's storyline. And Kaladin is roughly 50 days different from that. So for that book I had to pick a day when I knew there was crossover between the viewpoints and work forward and back from there. So a date in The Way of Kings might be marked on my spreadsheet as D 23 or K-57.

Day numbers in Words of Radiance and Oathbringer

For Words of Radiance I started over at day 1 for that book. Those numbers count up until the new year which is day 71. Oathbringer starts just after the new year, so I used the day of the year for my book-specific day number. Of course switching systems at the start of each book made it hard for me to calculate just how many days there were between events in WOR and OB. So I put in another column which indicated a relative number of days counting before and after the arbitrary date of the end of WOR.

Flashback dates

The next problem I dealt with were the line items that say something like "five years ago" for their date. With more than a year of onscreen time from the first chapters of The Way of Kings to the end of Oathbringer, it's really necessary to note that it's five years before what event with a solid date. Once I have a date to assign to it, I also have to decide how exact the date is. When I come back three years from now I will need to know whether this date is firm, or if it would be okay to put it three or four months on either side.

Putting it all together

When Peter found an error in the spreadsheet one day, I decided to match a serial number to each date after the year 1160 (which makes for easy calculating), and make that my absolute day number from here until forever (though I'll probably still make a book relative date, since it's a useful way to talk about things with the rest of the team). To find the Roshar dates from the serial numbers I made another spreadsheet with a vlookup table for the dates and serial numbers, then translated all the dates from the three books into that single new system (finding several more errors as I went).

 

Stormlight Three Update #8 ()
#11 Copy

rsjac

Iirc he wrote all the Szeth and Dalinar flashbacks to see which set would fit better in Oathbringer, then settled on Dalinar

Peter Ahlstrom

This didn't actually happen. He was planning to do that, but the Dalinar chapters were just too good, and while he wrote them the way the book fit together became organized in his mind.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Back with another update. It's been a few months, and I have worked through the third draft of Oathbringer. Original draft didn't have a few of the interludes, so I added those in this revision, as well as incorporating feedback from my team and the team at Tor Books. Earlier today, I wrote the epigraphs and the Wit monologue, then polished off the ketek.

The current length is 514,000 words--so around 100k longer than Words of Radiance. Whew! That's big enough that we're not sure if we can bind it in paperback. (We can manage it in hardcover without too much trouble, though we might have to do some old term paper tricks such as expanding the margins.) The book won't be split in the hardcover US release, or in the ebook, but there's a possibility the US paperback might be split into two volumes released at the same time. (As has been common in the UK for all the books in the series.)

We'll see what happens. Next revision, 4.0, is to incorporate Beta Reader comments and to make some tweaks I've been thinking about. This should be the fastest of the drafts, as I don't need to make any big structural changes or write many new scenes.

5.0 (the final draft) will be a polish and trim. Publication date is still scheduled for this November. The US cover came in just recently, so expect a reveal on that soon. Michael did a fantastic job.

As a warning: I'm not going to be able to monitor this thread very well, as I'm off to Europe. (I'll be in Poland, Germany, and Bulgaria--details on the events section of my website.) So be warned in advance that I probably can't post many replies to your questions here.

I'm still making my way through my recent AMA on /r/fantasy, though, so you can pop over to that and read what I've had to say recently.

As always, thanks for your patience. Beta read responses to the book are strong, so I think you'll be pleased with the result come this fall.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

When might we expect a sequel to Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

When might you expect a sequel to Warbreaker. Okay, let me go down the list. I have finished three books, alright? The finished books are: Bands of Mourning, which is the sequel to the one you-- many of you bought today; I have finished Calamity, the last book of The Reckoners; and I've finished, a while ago, the fifth book of the Alcatraz series, for the middle-grade series.  Which I finished a while ago, but we had to wait for the contracts to run out before I could release it, it's a big complicated thing.  So those are in the queue, and they are coming.

Now I am writing, right now, Stormlight 3. Yes working on that.  It's actually-- Anytime I mention Stormlight people are contractually obligated to shout in my crowds. So I'm finishing that and my goal is to have it done by May or June. If it is done by May or June the publisher has said they will publish it Christmastime, so November/December next year. If I miss May or June then it gets pushed back to the Spring sometime. So just watch the progress bars on my website and you'll see-- you'll be able to gauge.  It's slowed down a lot because of revisions and touring but they should pick back up as soon as I get home.

After that I'm going to write a book called The Apocalypse Guard, which is my follow-up to Steelheart. Not the same world but the same style, fast-paced, frantic action sort of things. In the US those are published as teen books, here they're published as adult books, I don't even know what they are but I want to have a follow-up for my teen publisher. Something that's similar. So we're going to do that, then I'm going to do Rithmatist 2, and then I will do finally the fourth Wax and Wayne book which will wrap up Era 2 of Mistborn. Then I will do Stormlight 4.

If the book, such as Warbreaker sequel, is not in that list it means it is coming post-Stormlight 4. So we've got a little ways to wait, but I will get around to doing them, I promise.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#16 Copy

NightWillReign

So you said that you’ve moved Szeth and Kaladin’s fight from book 3 to Words of Radiance. Did you make any changes like this on your outline for Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson

There was a lot of general restructuring of Oathbringer after book two was written, but there's no one "big" sequence that was moved into the book.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I'm happy to post this update only two months after the previous one--which seems like a much more reasonable interval than the many months between two and three. I do feel bad at how long this book is taking, but I'm coming to grips with the fact that Stormlight books are just too involved to do as quickly as I once imagined. I still intend to get to them at a reasonable pace, but this year of work is showing that big epic fantasies require a lot out of even a somewhat quick author like myself.

In the wee hours this morning (3:00 am) I sent Part Three of Oathbringer to my editor. This means I've finished the rough draft (of Part Three) then done a quick revision, putting it at second draft level. (I explain in previous updates that I'm doing more revisions as I go on this one, hopefully to speed the editing process.)

Part Three is tight and fast, a nice counterpoint to Part Two, which was more leisurely and character-focused. The book stands at around 325k words right now. (Words of Radiance was right around 400k at publication.) I have on my website "73%" I believe, though I intend to move that to 75% soon. I started out counting 4k words as 1%, but I'm pretty sure that the final wordcount will be in the 450k range, which is why I have slowed the percentage bar velocity a tad. (Goal is for Part Four to be around 100k words, Part Five to be around 25k, and the interludes to take around 25k. Then I'll trim the book before publication, getting it down to around 450k.)

If you're following the general outline shape from Update Two, I moved the novella from this part to the next part, after deciding I liked the feel of this book having a narrow-wide-narrow-wide focus for the first four parts. We'll see how I feel after finishing the next part.

Next up, I'm going to dive into writing some Szeth flashbacks (which won't reflect on the percentage bar moving up) so I have his past nailed down. Then I'll expand the outline for Part Four, and write it. Goal is still to finish the book by the time I go on tour in late October, but we'll see. This part took me two full months.

Even if I'm a little late, however, having sections of the book already with the editor means we will still be on schedule. Plan is still for a late 2017 release, and it would take a major upset in writing plans to budge us from that.

Thanks, as always, for your patience and your kind words. The book is feeling very strong to me, and I think you'll be pleased with how it turns out.

Brandon

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Who here was in the beta for [Oathbringer]? ...They had a lot of affect on part four in particular

Part four, so I had this weird thing... So I had this thing in Oathbringer where the plot archetype was Kaladin feeling like he needed to get to Dalinar, followed by him failing to do so. Which was a really important thing for Kaladin, but the original time where he discovered he needed to get to Dalinar was when he met the Ire and it was in the city--Celebrant. And in the beta that's where it was.

And so what it felt like is, everybody on the ship is like, "Oh we need to get to the perpendicularity in the Horneater Peaks." And then, I just took them down south instead. So I'm like, "Oh I need to get them there." And all the readers were like, "This feels like a digression, it feels boring. Why are we not going-- why are we going the wrong direction?"

It was just one of these promises thing where I had promised--set the expectation. So moving the Ire to the lighthouse meant that Kaladin was a contrast to the other people. And you were like, "Oh yes, Kaladin" When a character in the fantasy novel has a strange vision of the future, that means something! So we will be okay with following Kaladin down south.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, any questions?

Questioner

Well, I was kind of wondering, you've got this whole culture of, exactly that: people asking you questions about your stories outside of the stories.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

I was wondering, is that something you developed or decided on? Or--

Brandon Sanderson

That I inherited from Robert Jordan. It had started happening a little bit, but it was really a thing that Robert Jordan fostered in his fans, that I got very used to doing. And so, I just kept doing it. I do warn my fans: I change my mind. And so, um, the things I say--they call them the Word of Brandon--Word of Brandon is level below what's in the text in hierarchy, because I will change my mind, and I will get things wrong when I don't have my notes and stuff. And so-- But yeah, but you can find collections of things I've said. And most of them are still true. Once in a while I'm writing a book, I'm like, "No, this just doesn't work out." But you know that--that just happens with everything.

Like I'm writing Oathbringer, right? And I've mentioned things in Dalinar's past before that are from my outline of Dalinar's past. I sit down, I write the flashback sequences, I'm like, "Oh no. Continuity error," right? And so we just have to go with fixing it in this book and then say, "First book's got a continuity error, guys." Because once you actually sit down and write out somebody's life across thirty years, you can't get them sometimes into places where you had noted stuff. So, it's--I wish I could be like 100% accurate on all things. It just doesn't work out. Even the books like Mistborn, that I wrote all three in a row, and then we edited them, and then sent them out--still had continuity errors, so. Ehh.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

Do you have-- Or have you determined an equivalency between how much Breath it takes to make a certain gem's worth of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

I have recently assigned Peter to this task, and he is feeling overwhelmed by it. It was actually during the writing of Oathbringer where I finally said, "Yeah we need to standardize this, so start working on it." So it was like, "Oh great". Which means he has to read through all the books for references and start figuring it all out. And we're going to need like an equivalent of a jewel or something like this, right? *gestures to a sphere that a fan made* And we've been putting it off because it sounds like an awful lot of work. 

So the answer is no, we don't have it yet. It's something I've known for years we're going to need. And on this book, I just started saying, "All right.  I'm going to have them do all the stuff they need to do. And then you're going to tell me how many spheres they need to start with." Right? Like, I write the book, and then we retrofit how many spheres they needed to have how much Stormlight, so that we could be consistent with that.

But we haven't done across magic systems calculations, yet.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#25 Copy

Darkness (paraphrased)

Did the person Sigzil tried to kill actually die, and then afterward become not dead?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

We'll RAFO that, mostly because I intend to dig into Sigzil's past more.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Ok so you're probably going to RAFO who it was?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah… mmhmm… but we do get a Sigzil viewpoint in this next book so…

Darkness (paraphrased)

Good! I like Sigzil.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#28 Copy

TheOneWithWen

Seeing that "Oathbringer" is looking like the definitive title, I got a small question. I know we all think of the sword when we hear "Oathbringer", but given that TWoK and WoR where titles of books within the books, I would like to know if Oathbringer may be a book too.

I find it unlikely, but I would really like it. I loved how I could be reading the same book that the characters (I know, not really, but you get the idea)

Brandon Sanderson

This will all make sense eventually.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#29 Copy

Argent

Are the glyphs on The Way of Kings front sheet the Alethi glyphs for the Radiant orders and the Surges? If so, can you tell us the name (i.e. the pronunciation) of the Windrunners glyph? Or, if you don't have this one, maybe another one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I'll see if we can get all of the pronunciations into the appendix of the third book.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
#32 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hello, Reddit.

As someone else has posted, I have finished the rough draft of Dalinar's flashbacks for Stormlight Three. I consider the experiment of writing his flashbacks for this book, instead of waiting for book five, to be a success. Therefore, I'm proceeding with the Dalinar/Szeth flip.

The reasoning for this is something I can't discuss in detail until the book is released. I'd be happy to revisit this topic once you all have a chance to read the novel. But for now, a few statistics.

I'm working at about 2,000 words a day on average. That's slow for me (a better rate is around 3,000 words) but Stormlight is difficult to write. The complexity of the worldbuilding and the narrative structure require extra attention and detail. At this rate, though, I should be finishing the book sometime between December and February. We'll see--I have a tour for the new Mistborn book, as well as several weeks in the UK, coming up. They'll impact my ability to write.

I'm doing a revision on these Dalinar scenes right now, and I'm very pleased with them. At fifteen chapters and 55k (rough draft) they're significantly longer than the other two sequences--I had a lot more to cover in them. I still anticipate the finished novel being about the length of the other two; Dalinar's flashbacks will simply eat a little into his other narrative. Also, expect the wordcount to shrink as I do revisions.

Next step is digging into Part One. I anticipate this book moving well in the coming months; my outline is solid, my enthusiasm high, and I will finally get to write some scenes I've been planning for over a decade now.

Thank you for putting up with the delayed pace of Stormlight releases. I know you all think I'm freakishly fast, but the truth is that even if I can get this book in on time, it will be two and half years between Stormlight releases. I've accepted that this is just how my process has to work. The difference between me and other writers (ones I wish readers would disparage less) doesn't seem to be one of actual speed. It's just that the thing that relaxes me for the next book happens to be writing side projects that, hopefully, you all enjoy reading.

Edit: As a bonus, here's the first line from the first flashback: "Rockbuds crunched like skulls beneath Dalinar’s boots as he charged across the burning field."

General Reddit 2017 ()
#35 Copy

fortunefavorsthecold

What is the final page count? The first two books were monsters (in the best way). I think part of what sets you apart from some other authors is that you're very transparent with your writing progress. The progress bars on your site, your updates on twitter, et cetera. Anyway, long story short, I am really freaking excited to read what's in store for everyone, and I may just re-read WoK and WoR to get back in the mood.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Words of Radiance was spring 2014, incredibly.

Oathbringer would have been out last year, instead of this year, but the story went long. First draft was 520k words, compared to 300k words for TWoK and 400k words for [WoR]. However, in revisions, I buckled down and did some serious pruning for the good of the book--so Oathbringer is somewhere around 450k words now, going into final proofreads. November 14th drop date in the US.

More and more, I'm certain I can't do these every two years, as I had originally hoped. They are to intricate, and I need to take a break from the world to let things simmer and brew between books. But we'll see.

YouTube Livestream 17 ()
#36 Copy

Questioner

Where does Dawnshard fit, time-frame wise?

Brandon Sanderson

Three months after Oathbringer, which puts it in Rosharan terms seven months-ish before Rhythm of War. (Ten-month years.)

Isaac Stewart

But we should probably mention that you don't have to read this one to read Rhythm of War.

Brandon Sanderson

You do not. I have written Rhythm of War in such a way that, if you haven't read this, you will not really be confused. There will be a few things where you're like, "Oh, that's probably what that's referencing." And if you read this after, it's not going to ruin either story.

I did something very specific with the Rysn interlude in Rhythm of War that allows us to preserve most of what happened in Dawnshard, so far, so that you will not have it spoiled when you get to that interlude. I've done something very different for that interlude, let's just say. And I did that because I hadn't written Dawnshard yet, when I wrote the Rysn interlude. In fact, it's the last thing I wrote for the book, was that interlude. And let's just say that interlude is from a different viewpoint. We'll just say that.

And references to what happened are in the story, but they're mostly kind of vague, because even most of the people in the main storyline don't know the specifics of what happened in the novella. It's kind of like what happened in Edgedancer, where what happened to Lift is not really generally understood and known by everyone else, because she was off on her own.

It is done. First draft is finished. It is The Lopen and Rysn.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#37 Copy

Questioner

Can we expect a book regarding the backstory of Tonk Fah and Denth and all the characters of Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, yes, you can expect the sequel to Warbreaker, which will happen, but it's a ways off, to delve a little bit more into at least Denth's backstory. But I can't promise when I'll write that, or an Elantris sequel, sorry guys. The next book I'll write, after Calamity, will be... the next Stormlight book.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#39 Copy

Questioner

So that bit at the end [of Words of Radiance] with Szeth. Getting that black sword...

Brandon Sanderson

That's setting up for book 3, which is going to be crazy.

Questioner

There's another book with a black sword...

Brandon Sanderson

It's the same sword, yes. In fact I wrote the original version of the Way of Kings involving the character who has that sword. He's in the first draft from 2002, then I wrote Warbreaker about him, then I wrote this.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#42 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

All right, folks! Time for the fifth update. This should be the last one that I post before some redditor inevitably beats me to the "It's Done!" post by watching my twitter feed very closely.

I do hope to post another update or two during the next year, discussing how the editing and publication process is proceeding.

Part Four is done as of half an hour ago. The part is around 80k words long, and brings the book total so far to 420k words. Final book is still projected at 450k, though I do plan to try to trim it back in revision. (Tor's book binding company can't do a book longer than Words of Radiance, so if I go longer, we have to shrink the font or change binders. I won't cut important parts of the book just to meet this length requirement, but I also generally need to trim significantly in revisions to tighten language.)

Part Four turned out very well, and I'm very pleased with the book so far. I consider it as strong, or stronger than, book two. I also don't see any major structural or characterization problems that will slow editing. (So far, my editor's comments on Parts One and Two have been minor, save for the slow-down in Part Two that I was aware of--and probably don't mind existing, since Parts Three and Four are much faster, and the characterization in Part Two is strong.)

If you're following the Visual Outline from the second update, there structure of the book has undergone some revisions as I've worked through it. It now looks something more like this

Unlisted is that I nudged one flashback into Part Five. Shown is that Secondary Main character #2 had their viewpoint stretched through all five parts, but has a slightly smaller number of viewpoints in all of them. I juggled tertiary characters, making Parts Two and Four the expansive ones (with many viewpoints) and Parts One and Three the narrow ones (with a focus only on the main characters.) Yes, this is complicated, and you don't need to pay any attention to it. I posted this for those who like to dig into these things.

I'm going to power forward into Part Five starting tonight, then do a second draft of Parts Four and Five together. (I'm not sure why I'm treating those like proper nous.) After I turn that in, I will still need to write the prologue, some of the interludes, and the epigraphs. (Those little bits of text at the starts of chapters.)

And then, revisions. My favorite part. Yay.

As with previous threads, I'll try to post answers to questions where I can--but I have to balance that with the actual writing, so some questions will go unanswered or get a quick RAFO. I apologize in advance for that. Despite jokes to the contrary, I really am just one person, and I can't do ALL THE THINGS, as much as I would like to.

Also, thank you to the community for your kind words. I know that people joke about my writing speed, but this book has taken over a year of dedicated writing--and that's not counting the year before of outlining and writing out some of Kaladin's chapters. It's been two full years of work, and then some, to finish this book. With another six months of revision ahead. Together with other projects, that will make three and a half years between books two and three. So I do beg your patience with this series. The books take a lot out of me, and while I'm very proud of the result--and consider this series to be my opus--the novels aren't going to be terribly fast in their release schedule.

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#43 Copy

Karen Ahlstrom

I just finished the timeline for Oathbringer, and thought you might like to hear about the process. (Spoiler warning: There may be tidbits of information in this article about the plot of Oathbringer, but I have specifically made up many of the examples I use, so you can't count on any of it as fact.)

I know that some of you think, "Brandon posted that he had finished writing Oathbringer months ago. Why do we have to wait until November before it's on the shelf at the bookstore?" This is a natural question. I asked it myself years ago when I heard similar news about a Harry Potter book. The timeline is one small part of the reason, but it will give you a small glimpse of what is going on at a frantic pace here at Dragonsteel trying to get the book ready to go to press.

You may know that I'm Brandon's continuity editor. I keep records of every character, place, spren, and piece of clothing to name just a few. The next time a person appears, I make sure they have the right eye color and eat the right kind of food. There's so much more to it than that, but it gives you an idea of the level of detail I try to be on top of.

Another thing I track is the timeline of each book. I have a massive spreadsheet called the Master Cosmere Timeline (I can hear some of you salivating right now, and no, I won't let you peek at certain corners of it).

In some of Brandon's books, there are a few main characters who spend most of their time together in the same place. For those books, the timeline is simple. Take The Bands of Mourning for instance. It's about four days long. Nobody goes off on a side quest. The timeline only takes up 32 lines in the spreadsheet because there are that many chapters. On the other hand, the current spreadsheet for the Stormlight books has over 1100 lines.

Here's a sample of the timeline spreadsheet. The white columns are the dates, which I have an entirely separate post about. In column F we have an event that happens in the book. Column E tells how long it has been since the last event. Then I have the quote from the book that I used to justify the timing, the chapter the quote appears in, and whether the event happened on the day of the chapter, or sometime in the past or future.

The timeline for Oathbringer starts on day 4 of the new year, and ends on day 100. (Which, for those of you who keep track of such things, makes the date 1174.2.10.5). My day count could change by a day or two here and there, but I'm pretty happy with how I got the different groups of people to all end up in the same place at the same time.

Why bother? Well, sometimes Brandon writes a flashback and someone is looking at a cute baby. It's important to tell Brandon that this particular kid wasn't born for another four years. A character might think to themselves, "It's been a month and a half since I was there," and though it has been 45 days, a month on Roshar is 50 days long, so it hasn't even been a single month. Brandon often glosses over those conversions in early drafts.

The most important purpose, though, comes when two groups of characters are apart for some length of time. Let's take Kaladin and Dalinar in The Way of Kings. Kaladin was running bridges for battles where Dalinar and Sadeas cooperated. Were there the same number of days in Kaladin's viewpoint between those battles as there were in Dalinar's viewpoint? The answer is no. I was assigned this job after that book was finished, and as much as we squashed and fudged, there is still a day or two unaccounted for. An interesting tidbit from The Way of Kings‘ timeline is that Kaladin's timeline has 50 days in it before Dalinar's starts. Chapter 40, when Kaladin recovers from being strung up in the storm, is the same day as the chasmfiend hunt in Chapter 12.

Going back to Oathbringer, sometimes I'm amazed at the power I have. As I go through the manuscript, I can take a sentence like, "He spent four days recovering," and simply replace the word four with two. Brandon gives me a general idea of how long he wants things to take, and I tell him what it needs to be to fit. It's a big responsibility, and sometimes I worry that I'll mess the whole thing up.

Oathbringer is the first book in the Stormlight series where I worked with a list of the storms from the start. Peter tried on Words of Radiance, but Brandon wrote what the story needed and expected us to fit the storms in around that (A perfectly reasonable process, even if it makes my job trickier). In Oathbringer though, the Everstorm and highstorm are each on a much stricter schedule. We need such exact timing in some scenes that Peter (with help from beta reader Ross Newberry) made me a calculator to track the hour and minute the storms would hit any given city.

Yet another thing we needed to calculate is travel time. How fast can a Windrunner fly? How many days does it take to march an army from here to there? Kaladin might be able to do a forced march for a week, but what about Shallan or Navani? How long could they manage 30 miles a day?

Hopefully now you can see why we've needed months of work to get this far, and will need months more to get it finished in time. At some point, we're just going to have to call it good and turn the book over to the printer, but even though you think you want to get your hands on it now, it will be a much better read after we have the kinks worked out.

State of the Sanderson 2014 ()
#44 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Next Projects

I've now begun Calamity, last of the Reckoners series. My goal will be to rough-draft it over the next three months. I have a tour between now and then (for Firefight) and a trip to Taiwan as well, so who knows if I'll make that deadline. We'll see.

Once that is done, I will dive into Stormlight 3. I'm still waffling on whether this will be Szeth's book, Eshonai's book, or Dalinar's book. The original outline calls for book 3 to have Szeth's flashbacks, but I am feeling that another character might match the events better.

I did some exploratory scenes for it this summer, though these may or may not end up in the actual book. I have been tweaking the outline, and am starting to feel very good about it. Writing the book should consume the entire rest of 2015, with a 2016 release. I do plan the Stormlight books to be an every-other-year thing.

Follow along starting next spring as I write the book and post updates on my website. I'll even try to do some screen capturing with Camtasia as I write, for those who are interested in watching for them.

That wraps up current and finished projects. 2014 was partially about me getting my feet underneath me after finishing The Wheel of Time and going right into Stormlight 2. I've caught my breath now, and feel good moving forward.

And, speaking of moving forward, it’s time for a State of the Sanderson tradition—we're going to play "What about the sequel to this book I love, Brandon!"

Here comes the big list.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
#48 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hey, all! Back again to talk about the progress of your book. I promised you updates through the year, and I'll do my best to pop in here now and then and let you know how things are going.

Oathbringer, if you somehow missed the update last month, is done. But it's not DONE done. I turned in the rough draft, but immediately jumped into the third draft. (Because I did the second draft at the same time as the first--basically, after finishing each section of the book, I jumped back and revised it before sending to my editor. The goal being to get him a second draft to begin editing so he could work at the same time I did.)

I've finished Part One and Part Two of the third draft as of today. This included adding in two interludes, which I hadn't finished in the rough draft. Later today, Part Two should be going to the beta readers.

(To answer the inevitable question, the beta readers are chosen by Peter--my assistant and editorial director--from among those who have been very active on the fan websites, or who know us personally.)

I'll jump into the Part Three revision soon, then will do Parts Four and Five together. That will get us through the 3.0 draft.

4.0 and 5.0 drafts will be done together, hopefully in March/April. 4.0 will input beta reader comments and writing group comments, and 5.0 will be the polish where I try to trim words and perfect the language.

We're still in the early stages of the art, as Isaac was busy last fall with the Mistborn Leatherbound and doing maps for Tad William's new series. So we'll need to work hard getting artwork done. Plan is to have a new set of colored endpages for the hardcover of the US edition, as we've done in the past, though I can't announce what those are yet.

Book is looking great so far. Part One needed a heavy revision at the intro, but nothing more than that. Part Two (the slowest of the parts) remains a bit of a questionable area. The only way to speed it up is to cut some fun, but ultimately flabby, chapters. I think they are chapters people will love, as they have some unusual viewpoint characters, but the have a bit of an interlude feel to them. If Tor puts its foot down on length limits for the book, I'll have to cut these out.

Part Three has some larger revisions I've been planning with Peter these last few weeks, so the 3.0 draft on that might take a little longer than the other two did.

Anyway, it's exciting to see the book coming along! November release date is looking very good, and I doubt we'll miss it. Also, my Spanish publisher contacted us with the hopes of trying to do a translation and get their edition out at the same time as the US/UK editions, which would be a first for any of my books in translation. So a big thumbs up for them.

Thank you again for your patience. Hope to see some of you in Boston next month, where I'm guest of honor at a convention. Otherwise, I should be mostly nose-to-the-grindstone, as my travel schedule is very light until I head off to Germany (and maybe Poland and Bulgaria) in March.