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State of the Sanderson 2014 ()
#2 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.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

My Year

2015 was a bit slower than last year was, as I spent a lot of time editing.

January–May: Calamity

The bulk of my writing time this year was spent on Calamity, which I'd been putting off last year in order to write the two new Mistborn novels. Looking back at my records, I finished the last chapters in early May.

This was interrupted, on occasion, for revisions of various books—and for the Firefight tour, along with a trip to Sharjah in the UAE. Busy times. So busy, in fact, that it's taken me all the rest of the year to give full feedback to the writers who took my class. I managed to grade their papers in May, somehow, but promised them each a personalized look at their final story submissions, which I'm only now finishing up.

June–August: Stormlight Three

I did squeeze in some writing time for Stormlight in here, though not a whole ton of it got done. I had to stop for revisions, touring, and travel through most of September and October.

September–October: Revisions and a Secret Project

Traveling so much made it difficult to do Stormlight 3 writing, which requires a lot of time investment. So between revisions, I managed to finish a project I've been working on for about a decade now. (Yes, a decade.) You'll see this soon. It's a novella.

November–December: Stormlight Three Again

I plan to keep on this one until I finish it, as I'll talk about below. However, if you want to read a little about my writing time in November, you can read this other blog post.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Doomquill

Frustrated with the editing/beta readers for not noticing Brandon leaving out a character.

The character I'm talking about is Rlain. An entire part of the book was spent with every single member of Bridge Four talking about how Rlain wasn't really a part of things, and even more so Rlain himself in his POV chapter. And then nothing! We get a conclusion to the whole buildup of Bridge Four, but Rlain is nowhere mentioned in the last half of the book. Nevermind that we've all spent an entire book (and the three years since WoR) wondering if Rlain will become a squire, and nevermind that we get an answer to whether a Parshman can become Radiant in the first place. We just get nothing! No resolution.

Peter Ahlstrom

Everyone noticed this. I noticed it even before the beta read started. Brandon was well aware, and this was all intentional. I'll bet you can think of some reasons for it.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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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.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Main Book Projects

The Stormlight Archive

Stormlight is going very well. I'm working on Book Three, which I'm calling Oathbringer. (That is likely at this point to be the final title.) This is my main project, and I won't be writing any new prose on other stories until it is done. You can follow the progress bars!

Release dates for this book are still in flux. Even if I finish it early next year, it could be a year or more until you see the book. The amount of editing, continuity, and art that these books require creates a need for a long lead time. I've told people that Fall 2016 is the earliest they'd see it, but my team has been warning me that's not realistic. We'll see, but for now you should assume on a 2017 release.

What does this mean for my once optimistic "one Stormlight book every eighteen months" goal? The more I work on these books, the more uncertain I am about that. The outline for Oathbringer, for example, took about a year for me to nail down. Considering how many moving pieces there are in these books, it's tough to judge how long they will take to write. And while there are books I can force through if some things aren't right, I can't afford to do that on this series.

I'll continue to write Stormlight books at as quick a pace as is reasonable. I consider this my main project for the next decade or two, and am dedicated to it. But each book, as I've said before, is plotted as four books in one. So even if I release them once every three years, you're getting four "books" in three years.

We'll see. I'll try to pick up the pace. In the meantime, I'll try to get some short stories in the world out for you. (More on this later.)

Status: Book Three in Progress

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I'm a little late to this, because of travel/booksigning woes, but I did want to jump in and offer a few things here. As Lyn said above, the AMA isn't often going to be able to dig into details about what was in the original draft--that's the sort of thing we like to keep a little closer to the chest. I'm okay with revealing things like that in the abstract, but having a wholesale "let's reveal plot points in early drafts of books without context" reveal seems like it might be dangerous.

So here, off the top of my head, are some of the things that I changed in the book related to Beta Reader comments. These topics are "open" for discussion--meaning you can ask Betas for more specifics on them, if you feel like it. These were all things I changed specifically because of Beta interaction.

Adolin's viewpoints were added to Part One. As was a quick run-down on Renarin's powers, and what he was learning to do with them.

The romantic angle between Shallan/Adolin/Kaladin was tweaked as I more and more referenced the idea that two different personalities of Shallan's were in love with two different people. IE--moving it further away from a love triangle, and instead showing more clearly that that Shallan was splitting further into multiple people, with different life goals.

This wasn't coming across in the early drafts, though I sometimes coulen't quite tell which responses were knee jerk "Twilight ruined love triangles! Don't do them!" comments and which were "I'm not convinced these four people--counting Shallan as two--are actually working in relationships." (I'll note that I, personally, am very pleased with how this part turned out in the books--but the betas certainly helped me get there. I'd guess that this is one of the more contentious matters of fan discussion about the book. The point of bringing it up here isn't to discredit anyone's feelings about the actual arc, just point out how the betas helped me find the balance I wanted.)

I got a LOT of help from people for writing Shallan's getting drunk scenes.

Slightly beefed up Yelig-nar's part in the plot, as what he did wasn't coming into play enough--and originally (I can't remember if this was a beta thing or an alpha thing) he wasn't as involved in the Amaram/Kaladin fight.

I revised part four heavily, moving the scene where Kaladin runs into our "so very beautiful" friend from Elantris (and the subsequent dip into the Spiritual Realm) from happening in the market to happening in the Lighthouse. Originally, the Lighthouse was run by Cryptics. (Which was a lot of fun.) However, I needed stronger establishment of Kaladin's motivations earlier in Part Four, which was going kind of off-the-rails a little.

Lots more conversation between characters who weren't talking enough in Part Four. (Most specifically Azure.)

There are hundreds more, but those are a few that might be of interest--and I need to be up in three hours to get on a train to go do more signings. Jet lag sure is fun!

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Ray745

So once upon a time Brandon was going to write Szeth as the flashback character for book three, but then Brandon changed his mind, decided to write Dalinar's flashback chapters to see how that would go, and then after writing them made book 3 Dalinar's book instead. Here is a quote from the first Stormlight Book 3 Update post Brandon made in this subreddit

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.

Now that the book has been out for 6 months or so, I'd love to hear Brandon discuss the reasoning behind this. Personally, I have a very tough time imagining how this book would have played out if Szeth had been the flashback character. Clearly we wouldn't have had to Dalinar/Odium confrontation if we didn't have Dalinar's flashbacks, as those were integral to the overall storyline. I'd love to hear what the plot of this book was originally supposed to be when Szeth was going to have the flashbacks. Does anyone know the answers to this, or am I going to have to hope Brandon sees this post and decides to answer more than a RAFO? :)

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm. This is going to be difficult to answer without straying into spoilers for books four and five. It's also hard to say how the books would have played out if I'd swapped these back.

The Dalinar/Odium confrontation would still have happened, as that was something I'd been planning for a while. But how would things have played out? Hard to say, as an outline is only a rough guide--even for someone like me. It's when you get to the nitty gritty of the story that things come together.

Having finished the book, it's hard for me to imagine going another direction--as I made the decisions I did because I felt they were the ones that were right for the story. And a lot has changed over the years as I've worked on the details. (Kaladin's arc from book two, for example, was originally plotted for book three--parallel to Szeth and his flashbacks, which share some similarities.)

Dalinar's flashbacks would work very well for book five for reasons I can't explain yet--but it became clear to me that I needed them for this book, despite the outline looking at the Szeth/Kaladin dynamic. (Which was upended anyway when I moved Kaladin's second character arc to book two.)

So...that's a whole lot of not saying much, I'm afraid. I can answer a lot more once book five is out.

sv15249

Does it mean that we shouldn't expect any explanations or clues about what happened with Dalinar at the end of Oathbringer before book 5?

Ask just to know if we'll know more in book 4 or we'll have to wait a bit longer.To avoid false expectations:)

Brandon Sanderson

There will be explanations and clues, but I would anticipate more Dalinar in book 5 than in book 4.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Relevant-Quoter

Can you tell us who the main interlude character is for this book? Like Szeth for TWoK and Eshonai for WoR.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

havoc_mayhem

We know that the recurring interlude character is typically one who plays an important role in events, but is currently not interacting directly with the other characters. My guess is that it's Jasnah this time, as she slowly makes her way back to civilization, or explores Shadesmar.

Brandon Sanderson

You are correct in that it's someone important, but generally unconnected. It's also, generally, going to be someone who hasn't had a large number of viewpoints so far. It does give a spoiler if I say who it is for this book, though.

Argent

Because it's someone we believe to be dead / somewhere else / something along those lines? Kind of like giving away the protagonist of Secret History is a spoiler in and of itself?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not as big a spoiler as that; it will just set you wondering about something else that IS a spoiler. This will make sense when the book is out. (Feel free to ask my rationale when it's out.)

havoc_mayhem

Is it Tezim, the god-priest of the Tukari? I'd love to see an interlude focused on him. There have been many hints that there is something really unusual happening there.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My Year

This year was almost completely dominated by the writing of Oathbringer, Book Three of the Stormlight Archive. The first files I have for the book were Kaladin scenes, written in June 2014. But the book didn't really start in earnest until July 2015, when I wrote the Dalinar flashback sequence. (See State of the Sanderson 2015.) I had those done by October, but November was when I really dove into the novel.

I spent most of 2016 working on it, with only a few interruptions. It was an extremely productive year spent writing on something I'm very passionate about—but it was also a monochrome year, as I poured so much into Stormlight. There were far fewer side projects, and far fewer deviations, than the year before.

I've come to realize I can't do a Stormlight book every year, or even every two years. You can see that this one took around 18 months of dedicated writing time (though that does include some interruptions for edits and work on other things.) My process is such that, when I finish something like Stormlight, I need to move on for a while to refresh myself.

That said, Oathbringer is done as of last week! Here's a quick breakdown of the year.

January: Oathbringer

A lot of this month was revisions. I decided to do something unusual for me, and revise each chunk of the book as I completed it, which let me get my editor working on his notes early in the year—rather than making him wait until this month, when the whole thing finished. That means I'll soon have a second draft of the book completed, though I only completed the first draft a little bit ago.

Also squeezed into January was a trip to Bad Robot, where I had a cool meeting with J.J. Abrams. (In conjunction with a video game my friends at ChAIR Entertainment are making—the Infinity Blade guys. I just gave a few pointers on the story; I'm not officially involved.)

February: Calamity Tour

I toured for Calamity, the last book of the Reckoners. The whole series is out now, so check it out! There is a nice hardcover boxed set of all three available in most bookstores, and it makes a great gift.

While on tour, I read from Stormlight 3, and some kind person recorded the reading for you all. Also, here's another version from FanX in SLC.

March: Trip to Dubai

I was invited to, and attended, the Emirates Festival in Dubai, then traveled south to Abu Dhabi to visit some friends. This was an extended trip, and I often find it difficult to work on a main project (like Stormlight) while traveling. I have too many interruptions. I can write something self-contained, but have more trouble with something very involved.

On this trip, I wrote a novella called Snapshot: a science Fiction detective story where people solve crimes using exact recreations of certain days in the past. It's a little Philip K. Dick, a little Se7en. This one's coming out in February, and will likely be my only release in 2017 other than Oathbringer (which will be in November). More details here.

April: Oathbringer

I got back into the groove of writing, and did a big chunk of Oathbringer Part Two. If you missed the discussions on Reddit, here are my various updates there spanning about a year's time, talking about the book: One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

May: Edgedancer

I took a short break from Stormlight 3 to write…Stormlight 2.5, an extended story about Lift, with smaller appearances by Szeth and Nale. If you want to get your Stormlight fix before the release in 2017, you can find Edgedancer in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. (There will eventually be a solo ebook release, but that's a number of years away, as required by my contract with Tor.) I also wrote essays and annotations for each world and/or story in the collection.

When I decided I wasn't going to kill myself (and my team) trying to get Oathbringer out in 2016, I committed to writing this novella to tide people over. I think you'll enjoy this one, unless you're one of the people that Lift drives crazy. In which case you'll probably still enjoy it, but also want to punch her in the face for being too awesome.

June-August: Oathbringer

I finally got a good long chunk of time dedicated to Oathbringer.

I do love traveling, but it takes a big bite out of my writing time. So please don't get offended when I can't make it out to visit your city or country on tour. I try to do as much as I can, but I'm starting to worry that has been too much. Last year, for example, I was on the road 120 days for tours or conventions. This year was a little better, clocking in at about 90 days.

September: Alcatraz Release & Writing Excuses Cruise

Book Five of my middle grade series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, came out this month. (A long-awaited book.) You should read it.

The cruise was a fun time, but very unproductive for me. There is too much going on, and too much to organize, for me to get much writing done. I did finish one chapter of a potential novella on the single day of writing time I got. (The story, called "The Eyes," is a space opera inspired by Fermi's Paradox.)

I might do something with the chapter eventually, but for now I'm sending it in to be this month's Random Hat reward for the $10 patrons of Writing Excuses on Patreon.

As a warning to those planning on attending the cruise in 2017: we'll have a ton of awesome guest instructors, and it will be well worth your time and money. I, however, won't be attending. I'll be on the cruise other years in the future, but (like JordanCon, which I love) I can't promise to go every year. Once every two or three years is more likely. It's just a matter of trying to balance touring/teaching with writing.

By the way, JordanCon, FanX, and Dragon Con had some amazing costumes this year—but I'll save those for another post.

October: Europe Tour

Though I had a few good weeks of writing between the end of the cruise and the start of the Europe trip, I quickly lost steam again as I visited France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal on tour. I had an awesome time, signed a ton of books, and met many people in excellent costumes.

November: Arcanum Unbounded Release

Finally, I released Arcanum Unbounded: the Cosmere Collection. The tour for this was short, and I apologize for that, but…well, there's this writing thing I need to do sometimes…

December: Writing Excuses and Oathbringer

I got about half the episodes for next year's writing excuses season recorded at various locations, and then finally managed to type "THE END" for Oathbringer.

There's still a lot of work left on the book, but I'm confident we'll hit our November 2017 release date.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Hello, reddit. I figured I'd pop back in and give you a new update on your book. (I can't believe it's been six months since the last one.)

I'll give a slight spoiler warning to everything below this paragraph. I'm obviously not going to say anything story-wise that would spoil the book. However, I'll be talking a little about the structure of it and what's going on with the draft. I can see some people, very sensitive to spoilers, being concerned about learning anything at all about the book. For you who fit this description, let me just say that I'm approaching the halfway point, but I'm not there yet. The book is going very well, and I'm pleased with it.

Now, on to a deeper discussion of the novel. The first thing I did for Stormlight 3 was work on the flashback sequences for Dalinar and Szeth, as I hadn't yet decided which one would match this book. Through this process, I decided on Dalinar--a decision contrary to my original outline from the start of the series. This didn't concern me; the decision was made based on how the series had developed, and it's always good to expect some things to change during the actual writing. (For example, much of Kaladin's plot from book two was originally slated for book three.) Being too slavish to an outline isn't ever a good thing.

This decision made, I sat down and wrote Dalinar's flashbacks in their entirety. By the end of them, I was completely convinced these were the best paring for this book. That meant, as this was "his" book, I wanted Dalinar viewpoints to show up in all five parts of Oathbringer. You see, Stormlight Books have a kind of strange format. I plot them in this bizarre fashion that likely makes sense only to me. But I'll try to explain.

I split each book into five parts, which group together to form three chunks plotted like individual volumes of a trilogy--with a large, over-arching plot that ties into the five-book arc of the initial sequence, which in turn is half of the complete ten book arc. Each volume, then, has a complete trilogy's worth of arcs and climaxes for the primary characters (Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar) while also having a self-contained flashback sequence, at least one secondary novelette about a character that hasn't had viewpoints so far, and a related short story collection. The "main character" for the book gets, beyond their flashback sequence, a role in each part of the story.

So this means a slightly larger plot for Dalinar, and a slight scaling back for Kaladin and Shallan. (Don't worry; both will be in the book around as much as Kaladin was in Words of Radiance.) Now, the plotting for Oathbringer--as I mentioned--is broken into five chunks, which combine into three chunks. (I call them books here for lack of a better word, as the novel--like each other in the series--is a trilogy bound in one volume. Don't be confused. This doesn't mean I'm splitting the book for publication, only that it is plotted in a way with divisions between the story arcs.)

"Book One" of Oathbringer is all of Part one, plus the interludes. "Book Two" is parts two and three, plus two sets of interludes. "Book Three" is parts four and five, plus interludes. Of these, part two is going to be the biggest oddball, as I'm putting another novelette (separated into six chapters) in here as I feel I need a glimpse at another character. So it's going to have the least focus on primary viewpoints.

I've finished all of the flashbacks, all of the viewpoints for part one, the novelette for part two, and part of the other novelette (the one that will take the place of Szeth from book one or Eshonai from book two.) This, so far, puts me at about 180k words written--with 130k of that being part one in its entirety, and the rest being scenes listed above.

If that sounds confusing, I apologize. These books are somewhat involved to write, and more complex stories demand some outlining that gets a little crazy. However, I did whip up a visualization of the viewpoint structure, which I've posted below.

Stormlight Three Visual Outline

This doesn't give an exact view of scale, as--for instance--part one will likely be the longest of the five. Part Two looks the most full, but it's likely to have only three or four chapters from each of the primary characters (well, one chapter from one of them) so it should actually be shorter than part one. Part Five isn't cut off; I know it will be short, as it was in the other two books.

Next up is to do a revision of part one. (I don't often do revisions in the middle of a book, but with books this long, it's helpful for me to keep the plot under control and maintain continuity through the parts.) From there, I'll write Dalinar for part two, interweave with the appropriate flashbacks and the already-finished novelette, then look at the detailed plotting of the other three viewpoints in the part. I hope to bring this part in at around 70k words, bringing the total book to 200k and getting us to roughly the halfway point.

If this makes your head spin, then don't worry, you can ignore it. It is important to me that these books, though epic in scope, retain a tight view of the primary characters through all volumes. You will see a lot of Dalinar, Kaladin, and Shallan. You will see a moderate amount of Szeth, Eshonai, Jasnah, Adolin, and Navani. There will be a few surprises regarding other characters who have slightly larger places in the plot, but in general, anyone not on one of the above lists isn't allowed more than a viewpoint here or there. (Until the second five books, where our primary characters will shuffle. So you Renarin fans will have to be patient.)

I'm determined to maintain momentum in this story without letting it veer too far away from the primary plot. I feel that a careful outline and a consistent structure are the methods by which I will achieve this.

Thanks for your patience.

YouTube Livestream 17 ()
#18 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.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

I was wondering about the pictures in the cover of this [Oathbringer]. Are they specific characters in the book, or just art?

Brandon Sanderson

They are the Heralds. I went to some artists and said, "Do me your rendition of something that would be on the Sistine Chapel in-world for the Heralds," so that's four of the ten. So that is what we ended up with.

Stormlight Three Update #8 ()
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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.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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StarburstWrapperTie

What kind of spren is Oathbringer, the Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer is not technically a spren. Why I call these things the Honorblades, kind of where the whole Shardblade concept fits in, is that these are literally pieces of Honor's soul that he Splintered off and formed weapons out of for the Heralds. These didn't actually have sentience, in the same way that the spren forming most of the Shardblades are. They're literally a piece of the god who ruled this world turned into weapons. And the spren, who are also pieces of the same divinity, saw what was happening, and this kind of became a model by which Shardblades came about.

So Oathbringer doesn't have a spren. If you wanted to call it something, call it a sliver of Honor that has been manifested in physical form. That does mean the blade would actually be made of Tanavast's god metal, so tanavastium, if you want to call it that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that's just me hearing what I wanted to hear, not what was actually asked. It happens more often than I'd like; I get into this groove of answering questions, and start answering what I'm thinking about rather than what actually gets asked. A lot of times, I'm expecting a question (often because it's one that gets asked a lot, like what are Shardblades made out of) and my brain defaults to the answer I've prepared. I think it might be because I've trained myself to answer questions while doing other things.

Oathbringer's not an Honorblade. It was a Stoneward's blade a long time ago, with the corresponding spren.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#30 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.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
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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 San Francisco signing ()
#33 Copy

Questioner

So there's a certain very long chapter in A Memory of Light. There's also a certain very long chapter in Oathbringer. I'm assuming you used similar techniques; both are very effective. Did you come up with that when writing Memory of Light or were you inspired by someone else for doing that?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, that was something I had wanted to do.

So the question is, there's a very long chapter in A Memory of Light that was done very deliberately. I've used this before and in other books. Oathbringer does one, not nearly to the extent, but there's a certain point in A Memory of Light—and this was me, this was just kind of my love of trying to make the form of a novel match what I'm trying to get across with the novel.

In A Memory of Light, there was a point where the characters could not set down their swords and take a break, and I wanted to make sure that part was not divided up, to encourage as many readers as possible to have to push through it, even if it was kind of late at night *crowd laughs*, to get to the chapter break, so that they would feel some of the same feeling that the characters were feeling. And that's just my writerly way to get that across. In Oathbringer, it was more like, "This is where the breaks fit most naturally." I wasn't trying to do the same thing, but it's a similar sort of thing, where I want the momentum to not have a break until a certain point in the story. I don't anticipate ever doing-- The one in A Memory of Light was like 90,000 words, which, if you're unaware, an average novel is 80,000 words. So there is a novel-length chapter in A Memory of Light. And so, yeah-- *playfully* eh.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I've been plugging away on the book, slowly but surely. Part Two went longer than I wanted. (Big surprise.) I finished it last week, though, and the full book current wordcount is at 247k. (400k is the goal. Note that of that 247, some 20k or so is for Parts Three and Four, as I wrote the flashback sequences for Dalinar all straight through.)

I wanted to be further by the arrival of July, but was slowed down by two things. First, touring in February and March. Writing while on tour is killer, and I tend to be very slow during high-travel times. After that, I spent most of May writing Edgedancer, the Stormlight novella that is going in the Cosmere Collection this fall. (I consider it an apology for not having Stormlight Three out this year.)

Everything is still looking good for an Oathbringer release next year. I don't have any major touring until I go to Europe in October/November, and there are no other projects like Edgedancer on my plate. So at my current rate of 10k a week, without any interruptions planned, I should be finishing up right around the middle of October.

Part Two turned out well, though it's a slower, more lore-and-character focused section. (It includes some viewpoint chapters I think you'll find unexpected and interesting, though it has less action than other sections of Stormlight.)

If you look at the visual outline from the second update, I've finished everything for Part Two. My next task is to do a quick revision of Edgedancer to be turned in this week, and then do a revision of Part Two. I'm doing an unusual thing (for me) in revising each part after I finish it, then sending it to my team for continuity and editing. We discovered that a big slow-down in getting Word of Radiance ready was me waiting for the team to get back with increasingly-complex and detailed continuity notations.

This means when I finish the first draft of this book, it will actually be the second draft, which will speed up revisions a ton. (I should be able to move right into them, and do the third draft right away.)

The biggest challenge for the book will be making sure I don't go TOO long, as (like other Stormlight books) it's important to me that the book be read as a single volume, instead of as separate books published in a split-up way. (I can't prevent this in some markets, though.)

As always, thanks for reading.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My Year

January–June: Oathbringer Revisions

I spent most of this year doing revisions for Oathbringer. I did several exhaustive drafts during the January–June months, and did the final handoff to Peter (for copyediting and proofreading) right at the end of June.

June–Mid September: The Apocalypse Guard

Then, for the first time in what felt like forever (it was really only about sixteen months), I got a chance to work on something that wasn't Oathbringer or Edgedancer. I launched right into The Apocalypse Guard, the follow-up to The Reckoners…and it didn't work. I spent July, August, and part of September writing that. (I finished the last chapter sometime in early September, and turned in the second draft a few weeks later.)

September–October: Legion 3

I was already feeling a little discouraged by that book not quite coming together, though at that point I assumed I'd be able to fix it in revisions. (Well, I still think I can do that–I just think it will take more time.) Mid-September, I launched into Legion Three: Lies of the Beholder. That took around a month to finish, bringing us to mid-October. By then, I knew something was seriously wrong with The Apocalypse Guard, as my revision attempts were fruitless. So, I called Random House and pulled the book–then launched into Skyward.

October–November: Skyward

I have been writing on that book ever since, and you can read the blog post yesterday about that.

November–December: Oathbringer Tour

The tour was wonderful–somehow both exhausting and energizing at the same time. Here are some of the fan costumes that showed up this year. Thank you all for coming out to see me!

December so far: Skyward

Unfortunately, and I know you guys know to watch for them, there are no hidden or secret novellas or books for this year. I have been running around feeling behind all year, first on Oathbringer, and then trying to find a replacement for The Apocalypse Guard.

Orem signing ()
#36 Copy

Questioner

What was your hardest scene to write?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll have to pick it by book, right. Like actual, actual hardest. Have you finished Oathbringer? Hardest scene in Oathbringer to get right was actually the scene where Kaladin met with the guy in the lighthouse, that involves the foreshadowing of where he needs to go and stuff like that. No, actually that's not it. The first chapter. The Dalinar scene where he is in the vision and he jumps off and he goes and inspects the rubble and things, I did four versions of that chapter that were completely different, that weren't in the vision. That one was actually really hard. Finding out where to start this book so that it felt like it had it's own soul, but it wasn't, you know--

General Reddit 2017 ()
#37 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.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#39 Copy

Jennifer Liang

Okay, so I think the question everybody wants to ask you all the time is, what are you working on right now?

Brandon Sanderson

What am I working on right now. Well--

Crowd

*assorted cheers of Stormlight and other title*

Jennifer Liang

This isn't a vote. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I think they say that because they all know-- they watch the progress bars on the website. Which I actually put there early in my career, before I was-- As Dan, my friend Dan, Dan Wells-- he says "You used to be Brandon Sanderson. Now you're BRANDON SANDERSON." So before I was BRANDON SANDERSON I put those bars on the website because I was a Wheel of Time fan. And it helps so much to know how far along a book is, if you're waiting for it. I know not all authors work that way, so don't go harass other authors who do that. Some-- I have some friends who, y'know, if they-- The more they talk about the book to people, the harder it is for them to write. And so they get very closemouthed and quiet. And I am not that way, I am a very open person, so posting that up there gives me some kind of accountability in some ways. Like, alright the fans get to know what's going on--

So I'm working on the third Stormlight book. *cheers and applause* That is currently 330 thousand words long. *cheers* Which, for comparison, the original Way of Kings was around 300 thousand and Words of Radiance was around 400. And so-- And it's only three-quarters the way done... *laughter* So I've prepared the publisher that they have to go through this again. Maybe I'll be able to get the future books in the series a little shorter. But this one is going to be a big one. Which I know you guys are so sad about. *laughter* I anticipate it being published about one year after I hit 100% on the first draft. So if you watch that progress bar, right when that ticks to 100, you're looking at about a one year period. I've been doing really well, momentum's being really good lately. And so I'm expecting that to be October, but just watch as that goes. It will slowly tick up. It's not ticking up right now because I'm actually doing revisions for Part 3 of the book. Which I'm doing the revisions as I write the book this time to get my editior-- Who's bipolar-- I give him the cha- parts when he's manic, so he revises them, and that let's us get through the periods where he's not manic. And he's manic right now, so I'm going to send him a part and be like "Okay Moshe, time to work on this." You just have to learn how to work the business this way when you've got an editor like Moshe. Book's going really well. This will have, most likely, Dalinar's flashback sequence in it, and I will be reading one of those at my reading tomorrow. *cheers*

Which I like to read from those, because they take place before the first book so it's not a huge spoiler for people who haven't finished, like, Words of Radiance, or anything like that yet. Because it takes place before the series, but they're also very self-contained sequences. They read very well.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
#42 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.

Firefight Phoenix signing ()
#43 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

Sasquan 2015 ()
#44 Copy

Questioner

So for big, big books like Stormlight, what is the ratio of time spent on the first draft versus on revisions, and has that changed over the course of your career?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh wow. They take more time in revision. They take more time at every step of the way than the shorter books. So a book like Calamity I can write pretty solidly, I can write 2 to 3 thousand words a day on that rough draft, and I spend two weeks on an outline and whatever that turns into it's only a couple months of writing. A Stormlight book, the plotting is so intricate it often takes me a year before I'm comfortable with the outline I'm working on-- so I will writing other stuff while working on this outline-- 'till I catch what the soul of that book is going to be, but then all of the interludes, and all of the things, and boy, every book we've had big portions we need to knock out and re-write. It just takes a long time. I would say 50% of the time I spend on-- You take the time I spend writing the first draft, cut it in half and that is the time I spend revising on your average book. But it really depends. Like Stormlight I started the outline last year, or a year ago in June, and started my first exploratory scenes--I posted a few of those online--then went back to the outline, and outlined for a year and then I felt good writing it. So I started that in June. I will write this all the way until March and then we will probably be revising it until six weeks before the book comes out, because that is the absolute deadline that Tor needs before they can print and distribute it *camera pans to Peter making a wryly amused expression* So that's about how long it will take to do this book. It's a lot of work. You know I like doing this because I like having multiple things going, right? Like I don't think I can write a Stormlight book every year, in fact I couldn't, that process I just outlined is a two and a half year process. So, it's just not something I could do. But during that two and a half years I can do some shorter books, some novellas, and just experimenting with different types of writing.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#46 Copy

Questioner

It must be very difficult to write Dalinar, since it's--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah he's a very different person, it's kind of brutal to write him now. But it works, it's a good counterpoint.

Questioner

*inaudible* Shallan and Kal are both younger, so you have less to write about than Dalinar?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah the flashbacks cross about 20, 30 years with Dalinar so it is a challenge. But you get to see a lot of sweeping changes in his personality which is really fun.