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Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#1 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.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#2 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

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 meany 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 simpler 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.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

For the next Stormlight [book], will there be chapters from Jasnah's perspective?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be, I believe, at least one chapter from her viewpoint. I could change that but the outline has at least one from her.  It’s dangerous to do too many from her viewpoint because she’s eventually going to be a main viewpoint character, and she has a large chance of taking over a narrative that she’s part of.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#4 Copy

Blightsong

Who drew [the Oathbringer endpapers]? Are they in-world art?

Brandon Sanderson

These are in world paintings done by the Oilsworn, one of the people Shallan studied when practicing her art. The actual paintings were done by the Oilsworn's real-world counterpart, Dan Dos Santos, who did the cover of Warbreaker.

There are two more pieces in the back, done by someone else, which are also in-world art pieces. They're all part of a larger theme, and are equally gorgeous.

Phantine

I assume these are paintings of heralds, then?

Brandon Sanderson

These two [in the front of the book] are Ishar and Ash. The back two are Jezrien and Vedel.

ConvolutedBoy

Ash is so much more...shiny than I expected, but I guess that's Lightweaving for you. I love the space background too.

Brandon Sanderson

Remember, these are in-world artifacts. So this is how someone painted her from their imagination, based on lore. These are Rosharan versions of the paintings of the prophets along the top of the Sistine Chapel.

State of the Sanderson 2014 ()
#5 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.

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#6 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).

 

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#7 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.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#8 Copy

ebilutionist

Will we get a depiction of Dalinar, aside from the image in Unfettered II? I was slightly disappointed these [Oathbringer endpapers] are depictions of Heralds actually, although having said that, they are gorgeous!

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure we'll get one eventually. But there's not one in this book.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#9 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.