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Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#1 Share

Argent

Can somebody travel to the Spiritual Realm, the same as the Cognitive?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's a very different experience. It is possible… You may have seen people do it...

Argent

As in you're not sure, or you're being obnoxiously vague?

Brandon Sanderson

No...

Questioner #1

As in, you probably have but he's having trouble remembering it.

Brandon Sanderson

No no no... For instance, Elend burning atium and duralumin pulled most of him into the Spiritual Realm.

Argent

Oh, that's what happens there.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. He kind of got yanked into- You also have seen people Ascend with the powers and dip into the Spiritual Realm for a little bit.

Argent

So, Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But they could be on both, or either, or both at the same time. But you have seen Vin stick into the Spiritual Realm. And it happened to Sazed/Harmony...

Questioner #2

Oh! So is that where the gods live? Kinda?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the bulk of the Shard's energy of being is contained in the Spiritual Realm, yes. Except for one notable exception!

Questioner #2

The <mists? mistwraith?>?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Footnote: We now know that the "one notable exception" Brandon refers to at the end is the Dor, which is mostly contained in the Cognitive Realm.
White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#2 Share

Questioner

So in the past five years or so the contents of the magic system has come to kind of dominate current popular fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah!

Questioner

Because it's become so culturally prolific, do you feel that authors are going to soon reach a point they don't have time to actually systematize--where they have to explain their system? Can't they, like, go back to the way *inaudible*--

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

Questione

So you can just have magic that *inaudible*, but it's still cohesive and logical and effective?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, so the question is, "Magic systems in fantasy have very much moved toward 'the explained'." The rule based magic systems. Particularly--I'd say it's been about ten years. Me and Rothfuss and Brent Weeks and some of these kind of-- That was because we were kind of a reaction--reacting against soft magic systems we'd read growing up. It shouldn't be too much longer. He's asking, "Will they go back the other way?" It shouldn't be too much longer before you see people reacting against us. So yeah, it's totally gonna happen. And there, you know, there are great books like Uprooted. It's already started to happen. Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a very soft magic system. It's a fantastic book. And so there's an example. I'm sure you'll see more, I mean-- I don't think China Miéville's ever explained his magic much. But yeah, I think that you will see something that gets really big, that is a reaction to what we're doing. That's just how--that's how storytelling goes, and things like this. I think you're right to wonder if it's going to happen, and I assume it will.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#3 Share

Alex

Taln’s Scar.  Was it present throughout the entire timeline and just not mentioned in books, say Elantris? Or did it appear at a certain point in time?

Brandon Sanderson

It did not appear at a certain point.  And it is not equally visible through the Cosmere, simply because of where it is in the sky and where they are in relation to it and things like that.

Alex

And how much ash in the sky.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes…  Peter knows exactly where it is.

Alex

I am hoping that the map in the anthology...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it should.

Tiffany

We are really excited about the map. Also the writing, but really about the map.

Brandon Sanderson

I’ve seen the little star charts that Isaac’s done for each of the worlds, and they are awesome.  Because they’re going to be--  This is more, like it’s the Cosmere Collection, we haven’t hit scientific revolution in most of the worlds yet, so it’s going to be more like if da Vinci had drawn them or something.  So don’t expect--

Brandon Sanderson

So don’t expect it to be like science fiction star charts yet, but they will be very helpful in these sorts of things.

Argent

Could you nudge Isaac to release a wallpaper version or a poster or a printable of any of those?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay yeah, I can totally make him do that.  Like if the full Cosmere one turns out well I’m sure he’ll want to do something like that.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#4 Share

wicktacular

questioner's paraphrase, delete after transcription review: Based on the bit during the open Q&A about Odium splintering Dominion and Devotion and shoving their power into the Cognitive, and that blocking off the Spiritual, which makes Sel's magic so location (or Identity of location) based - if a Shardbearer traveled to Sel, could they still summon their Shardblade?

Transcription:

So from what you said about Odium sticking Devotion and Dominion in the Cognitive, if they *inaudible* Shardblade, well Shardbearer, and travelled to Sel would they *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... what-- I'm going to RAFO that. I've never asked me that before. I guess I haven't really explained that whole thing before to people.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#5 Share

Argent

At the end of The Bands of Mourning, Wax starts seeing what seems like souls, as he’s holding the Bands. He sees lines. He ponders that man/metals they’re same thing. Is he seeing Investiture there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, to an extent he’s seeing-- Yes. He’s seeing the Cosmere equivalent of atoms, Investiture, and energy waves all being the same thing.

Argent

Okay, so kind of a building block of things.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it’s almost like he’s seeing the [axis? access? axes!?], the atoms.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#6 Share

Questioner

I'm a huge fan of the Writing Excuses podcast.

Brandon Sanderson

Well thank you.

Questioner

I always say it's like a master class in genre writing, so I thought you should—for aspiring writers who are in the room—that you should take a few minutes and tell them about the podcast in case they don't know about it.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So, what happened is, my brother was taking this class in college. My brother's one of these people who take like ten years to get an associate's degree or whatever it is. [laughter] You know, he's got a good job in IT. It's like, he doesn't need the degree, but he feels like he should have one, so he's like taking a class here, and taking a class there. I see people nodding; you either have done this or have loved ones who have done this, but anyway....

Bystander

Like doing this ourselves...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, or doing this yourself. [laughter] So, he's taking this podcasting class for whatever reason. He's like, "Hey, you should do one of these, Brandon." "What? I'm not into podcasting; I'm not a radio personality." He's like, "No, no; you should do this." And he had this great idea—we wanted to do like this web serial that's adventures, like an old classic radio drama, and all of this writing-intensive stuff, which is why he came to me. And I passed on it; I said, "No, I'm not gonna do that; it sounds fun but I just have too many things on my plate; there's no way I can write all of this for you."

But the idea for a podcast stuck in my brain, and I started listening to some podcasts—I really enjoyed a lot of them I listened to, but it seemed like there was this habitual problem in podcasting where it would be, friends sit around a table and chat, and then, you know, you turn on the podcast and it says one hour and thirty minutes, and you're like, "Ninety minutes, guys? Come on! Is there no editing going on? Can't you stick to a point?" Like, a lot of them are like, you know, the three-hour-long podcast where we're going to, I dunno, drive to Texas and talk about it. And they'll have this topic on, it will be like, "We're gonna discuss the new Batman movie," and I'm like, "Oh good, I want to hear what fellow geeks think about it." And then you see that it's a two-hour-long podcast, and you know they're gonna talk about Batman for like fifteen minutes of that, and then the rest is gonna be like what they had for dinner. [laughter] Because you know, you've been to lots of cons; you've been to lots of panels. You know how it goes; we get off topic. And every discussion of Star Trek turns into an argument of who's the best captain or whatever, and it's the same sort of thing over again.

So anyway, I was thinking about this, and thought, I really would like to do a writing advice podcast. So many people email me wanting advice; so many people would like to try to take my class but can't. Often my class have fifteen seats and I have seventy-five people showing up wanting to add, and we pack as many into the room as we can, but I wanted to do something that would let me give some of this writing advice. So I figured I wanted to do a podcast that was short and sweet. I wanted to organize it more like a little news program where you have one moderator throwing questions at people, and making sure that it stayed on topic, and did it in just a short period of time—I thought fifteen minutes was the right amount of time; just a quick, on-topic podcast—but I can get kind of dry. I've got this university background, right? I just kind of blab—you've been watching me; I do this—and so I'm like, it'll be better if I bring on people who are funny so that people can laugh—that are glib and all this other stuff—and so I went and got the two funniest people I know, which are Howard Tayler and Dan Wells—a horror writer and a comic book illustrator and writer—and I figured that would also give some diversity to the podcast.

And so we started doing this podcast, and it really took off—it was very popular—and so we eventually added a fourth member because we realized that we were not as diverse a cast as we could be, considering we were all three white dudes from the same town. [laughter] So, we called up Mary [Robinette], who has a very different perspective on life than us, and had been the best guest on the podcast that we'd ever had, and we figured at that point, the podcast now had a sponsor—Audible—so we could afford to fly Mary out, because we do it in person. We can't—this whole Skype thing, you just don't have the same chemistry. And so we started flying Mary out, and so for now, two seasons we've been doing with Mary, so it's the four of us doing writing advice, that we just tackle a topic every week and go at it, and we've had a lot of fun with it. We recorded a bunch of episodes before Dan moved to Germany for a little while, and we did cool things like, for instance, we each brainstromed a story—one episode was for each of us—and then we're all writing these stories which we will then post the rough drafts, and then we will workshop them on an episode, and see the evolution of the story, and then we'll do revisions. I actually, when I worked on my story, I grabbed one of the screen capture technologies—what's it called?—Camtasia, and I recorded myself typing the whole thing. It's like, wow, this is me at the computer going for six hours; maybe we can speed it up or something. But I had screen captures of me just typing the whole story, and then I will do screen captures of the revision process, and then post those so that people can watch a story being built, and watch it evolve, and watch all this sort of stuff. So, it's pretty cool, the podcast, so if you're interested in writing and reading, or if you just want to hear us sometimes be funny, feel free to listen; it's Writing Excuses.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#7 Share

AndrewHB

Is the rapier a weapon that somebody who doesn't have a Shardblade would use on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Why do you ask that?

AndrewHB

You know why. Because of the last scene in Words of Radiance. The weapon was an unusual weapon that, well, she needed. *inaudible* odd form *inaudible* If it's common then you can understand why someone would have a Shardblade of that type.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, so... you are on to something.

AndrewHB

So that's a read and find out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep, read and find out. You know how to read and find out. I'm not going to answer it, but *inaudible*.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#8 Share

Questioner

I personally love Wayne, the character. <Explain to me> what that inspiration was.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted-- I started with a character who changed personalities when *inaudible*. And I kind of built out from that.

*interruption*

 

Questioner

Was there a personal... Was there a person who like-- that might have reminded you.

Brandon Sanderson

No. *inaudible* It was just that I wanted to write somebody who was a little more goofy. A little more interesting. A colorful character who would be a *inaudible*. Who could just be a representation that this is a little of a lighter world than we were in before.

Oathbringer release party ()
#9 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Multiple Investiture? Possible? Have we already seen it?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. And yes. Well, you've seen it, but you wouldn't be able to know.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With that, is the planet they're on that matters?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

For most of the magics, no.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Okay. Since there *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Among other things, yes.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#10 Share

Questioner

The Alethkar culture, [...] competitive [...] is that *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I wouldn't say that it is specifically. That could be in the back of my mind. They were very competitive cultures long before <Pathism> was around. They would certain like <Pathism> but there are other influences causing this to happen there.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#11 Share

Questioner

Are you ever going to expand on the cosmere in its own book or is it going to be a long *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the thing that started it all, Dragonsteel, is going to be about the cosmere a lot more, and the third Mistborn trilogy will be also.

Questioner

I like how you have that background going through all your different cosmere novels, tying them together

Brandon Sanderson

I want to make sure that it never becomes the forefront until I am warning people, "Now, you need to know this stuff."

Oathbringer release party ()
#12 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So, in Edgedancer, there's a spot where they're going through all the weird things going on in the city, and they're talking about some spren that only shows up if she dumps water out. Is that significant, or is that a crazy person? ...The spren that shows up every morning if she leaves water out?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, that is true.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Okay, she's is not crazy?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

She's not-- Okay.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Are the spren intelligent?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Sapient spren, no. But she may have the cause and effect mixed up. She may not have the cause and effect correct. She might have correlation and causation mixed up.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#13 Share

Questioner

I know the Cosmere has been around for a while. *inaudible* I guess it's a hard thing. Like, how soft...

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's all still evolving. It will continue. Like, you can't get so locked into an outline--even though I have them--that you don't change it when something better comes up. A big example of this is Adolin, right? Adolin was not *inaudible* character. And yet in the first book I needed *inaudible* I needed a viewpoint of somebody who was not imagining things, right? Somebody who was kind of more normal guy-ish. And he has a huge thing in the book. So now the outline of all ten books has changed because *inaudible*. And so, you've got to be willing to do that, I feel, as a writer.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#15 Share

Questioner

What are your favorite books?

Brandon Sanderson

Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly--it got me into reading. Les Misérables--my favorite classic. And then book four of The Wheel of Time. *inaudible*

Questioner

Really? Book four?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep, book four. Rand going to the pillar in Rhuidean? It's my favorite. Have you read those?

Questioner

No.

Brandon Sanderson

No, okay. It was one of the experiences I loved growing up. And I still love it, despite the fact that I *inaudible*.

Questioner

Yeah, that's got to be pretty awesome you got to finish it. 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, it was awesome. I didn't know them. They just called-- his wife called me on the phone and asked if I could do it. Just out of the blue. No application or anything. "I like your books. Will you to finish this."

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#16 Share

yulerule (Paraphrased)

I also asked about the connection between the spren and Surgebinder, such that the spren turns into what the Surgebinder wants. Like in Edgedancer, [Wyndle] turns into a bar of metal and into a Shardfork. Wyndle himself isn't "in tune" with Lift, so his turning into something that she needs with no prior warning...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they actually mix. When the bonding is happening, what's happening is that the gaps in the souls are being filled with the spren's <essence>. And they are actually melding into one 

yulerule

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

And they are actually melding into one individual *inaudible*.

yulerule

<And the minds are separate?>

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mhm.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#20 Share

yulerule

I actually had like a really-- theory I was developing the past couple of weeks about Regrowth, and healing, and the Cognitive Realm. Let's take a look at this...

*Written/Paraphrased:* In the cosmere, you have matter, mind, and soul. Obviously, the physical world is most well understood (same as ours) and the spiritual is most mysterious. When anybody dies (going off from info in Secret History) their soul, which was tied to their body, the Connection is broken and the soul/Cognitive Shadow appears in the Cognitive Realm then goes on to the Spiritual. If healing is applied at any moment while the soul/Cognitive Shadow is in the Cognitive Realm, the Connection can be reestablished and that is why Regrowth can heal recently dead. Type of wound Shardblade versus not may determine how fast the Shadow is sucked into the Spiritual Realm. Also amount of Investiture a soul contains. Souls = Investiture, or at least all of them contain some?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's a RAFO. We'll dig into that a little later.

yulerule

Oh, *inaudible*. Am I close?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you're on the right track.

Firefight release party ()
#22 Share

Questioner

The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.

Questioner

So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.

Questioner

So say--

Brandon Sanderson

If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.

Questioner

[...] the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#23 Share

Questioner

Where does the concept for the broadsheets come from?

Brandon Sanderson

So I get together with my team: which is Ben McSweeney who does a lot of the artwork, Isaac who does all the symbols and maps, my editorial assistant, and myself. And then we brainstorm as many cool things as we can, and then Isaac lays it out, Ben does all the art, and then together we all just write different *inaudible* for the articles so it feels like a newspaper that a lot of different people are writing.

Questioner

That's awesome. Thank you very much this is very cool.

Brandon Sanderson

That's how we do it.

Isaac wrote the Allomancer Jak pieces in the next one so you should read that one. It's really fun, it's his debut of fiction.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#24 Share

Brandon Sanderson

[brandon spoke about how he planned all of The Stormlight Archive books to be named after in-world books - that's where the "archive" part comes from. Book #3 will be pretty... unique. He said we'll know what he is talking about when we see it (so I guess it won't be a normal book format or something. Maybe the Shin write their books on stone tablets or something...).]

 

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#25 Share

Brandon Sanderson

So the reasons the fans...*inaudible* ...because I've found-- there's some authors I've read who allowed that to happen, and it seemed like it could compromise the integrity of the book. However, once in a while someone will ask a question, I'm like, "...yeah," right? Like someone asked about-- if Shallan might have some latent bi tendencies, right? And she'd been admiring women throughout the books. I'm like, "Yes, she probably does." Like that's something that was there that I hadn't vocalized, so that happens. And once in a while they ask me questions I'm just stumped on because I hadn't even considered it. In those cases I'll either say that or I'll just say, "RAFO, I need to think about it."

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes. Well, you come up with the fundamentals of a magic... *brief interruption* ...then some questions can be easily answered. If you know, okay-- how-- Like with Elantris the fact that they could do it in any medium. They could chisel it. They could do all of these things to get the-- if they want to get it drawn in the air, says that, you know,... *inaudible*. And so if you have the fundamentals and they are consistent, you can extrapolate. And the fans should be able to extrapolate too.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#26 Share

Questioner

There is an overarching storyline between all the books [?] that we finally find out about in the last book, between two gods that are at war, and you were saying yesterday in your lecture how you tend to freestyle your characters but you tend to plan certain other events, and specifically to do with the ring in Vin's ear. Was that a planned event, or was that a part of the overarching plot?

Brandon Sanderson

That was a planned event that I worked out. What I'll do a lot of times when I'm building a series is, I will build an outline for the first one, and then I'll have just a few paragraphs on the rest of the series, and then I'll write the first one, and once I'm done with the first one, and I'm sure of the characters' personalities, that really allows me to expand the outline for the rest of the series; it's very hard to write—you know, to build a full, complete outline for everything until you know exactly who the characters are gonna be, and as I said yesterday, my characters I allow to grow very naturally. Characters do always get veto power over a plot, meaning if I get to a point where I'm like, the person this character's become would not do this thing that the plot requires for them, I either have to go back to the plot and rebuild it from scratch, or I have to go say, this is the wrong character for this role. Let's try a different character cast in this role. And I've done both before.

And so, with Mistborn I did plan that in from the beginning and then write the first book and then in the second two I expanded on it and said yes, this is going to work—this can be an important feature of the story—and so it was one of those things that came together that you always hope will come together, and it did. Being able to embed some of the things in book one that work for book three, and I was really using it as practice for the larger series and things like that, so the fact that it came together made me more confident I could do this sort of thing across bigger series. But I'm very pleased with how the Mistborn trilogy turned out. I did have the training wheels on for the Mistborn trilogy; when I sold Elantris, they said they were going to publish it in 2005, and that they needed my next book by then. Well, that was two years away. I had a good writing habit and work ethic at that point, and so I was able to write all three books of the Mistborn trilogy before I had to turn the first one in for publication which gave me a safety net in case I wasn't able to get all of this stuff in and whatnot—I could change the plot so that I can not have to fall face-first, so to speak—but it did all come out so I was very happy with that, but it did allow me to go back and tweak a few things, like for instance, there's a character who becomes a viewpoint character in book three who hadn't been one in the first two. That wasn't planned in the outline; that's something when I got to book three and was working on it, I felt, I really need to give this character more space, which meant that there was a location this character was in—Urteau, which was not built into the plot to be a major location—and so I had to go back and add some foreshadowing for this place, that it was important and these sorts of things; it allowed me to do some stuff like that.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#27 Share

Questioner

Going back to The Wheel of Time for a second... One of my favorite things about A Memory of Light is you had so much-- I guess free rein with parts of it... Can you give me an example, or a couple of examples, of something that you got [???] I could be totally wrong about this situation but say like, when [???] was first creating a weave to see a whole battlefield. Was that something you did, or was that actually Robert Jordan's.

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question, I'll go through a few of these things for you, that one was me. One of the things that was awesome, but also a little bit difficult is the wrong term-- Anyway, it was awesome to be able to come into The Wheel of Time as a fan, and have read the books for twenty years and be thinking about "Wow, I wish this would happen", and then say "Wow, I'm gonna make that happen" ...But as I was doing it, I was also realizing it was dangerous, because there was a real danger for putting in fanservice type stuff, not in the traditional meaning of fanservice, but like the fanservice of "Narg showed up in the Last Battle again" or things like this. Like little fan jokes. I found that I had a lot of temptation to put those in, and so I had to ride this really careful line where I was saying "What do I as a fan want, to make the book more fulfilling not just as a joke".

One of the things that as a writer I've always wanted to see was gateways used for more than they were used in the books leading up to that point, you know, teleportation, instant travel has a lot of ramifications. One of the things I kind of put on myself was that I didn't want to create a lot of new weaves, because I knew if I did, I'd really risk taking it to far away from Robert Jordan's vision. So I said "Let's stick mostly to the weaves he's used, and see if I can use them in more innovative ways". This whole idea of taking the magic and digging deeper into it rather than going wider with it. And so a lot of the stuff with gateways is me. A lot of--

So for instance, I also went in and said to Harriet coming in, "Every book that Robert Jordan's done, almost all of them, has added a new character who's become a main character who used to be a side character. If we don't do that for these last books it's gonna feel weird to people. So I would like to take one of the Asha'man and bring them to prominence, and make them a viewpoint character and do what Robert Jordan's done" and so that's where Androl came from. And they're like "Well there's nothing in Robert Jordan's notes other than this little bit about his profession, take him and play with him, and do whatever you want." And that was almost a little pressure valve for me, to put the more "Brandon-y" sort of things, goofy magic system stuff with that, and that pressure valve allowed me to not really-- knowing my writing style, I was able to make the rest of it be a little more Robert Jordan-esque, if that makes sense.

You see that pressure valve there, you see it with Perrin in the Wolf Dream, in the world of dreams, because-- I've said before, Robert Jordan didn't leave very much on Perrin. Perrin is a big, empty-- big blank slate for these books. We knew where he ended up at the end and that was it. So Perrin was the other sort of "Do whatever you want, Brandon" sort of thing. He left a lot more on the other characters. So if you're reading a Perrin scene or if you're seeing them play with gateways, you're seeing me kinda let Brandon leak out a bit more. And this was done intentionally, I'd say part was a pressure valve, but also when I was given this, Harriet sat me down and said "You are the author now. I didn't hire a ghostwriter on purpose. I didn't want somebody who was just going to be Robert Jordan, because that would make a bad book", in her opinion. "What Jim-- Robert Jordan can't finish this, so you need to do it and yes, we want to stay true to his vision, but you are the writer now." And she was very clear on that, and I've always remembered that and how much that meant to me, being-- You know, she was the ultimate authority, but I had creative control to do whatever I felt the books needed, and the she-- her job was to rein be back if she though I went too far, and make sure the voice was consistent and things like that. So I got to do a lot with these books that I don't think a ghostwriter would have been able to do.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#28 Share

AndrewHB

I wondered if I could follow up to that Machiavelli question. Would Elsecallers be a-- one of those other, uh-- one of those...

Brandon Sanderson

So, yeah. Elsecallers are fairly compatible. Like, Elsecallers feel like the journey is... the journey is the entire species, right? And that the journey is the destination. *inaudible*

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#31 Share

Ravi

I'm curious how you were <feeling about whole process of> the graphic novel. <Specifically how you felt about the whole thing translating,> because I have the draft. 

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

Ravi

<You were kind enough to send me that.> You know, you were very descriptive.

Brandon Sanderson

<And it didn't translate well?>

Ravi

Not so much-- although I did see <glimpses of you popping through>.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, so, I focus on the positives. <But there might be some things I might not agree with.>

I think that's fair. Of course.

And I-- what we came up with was the < a list of a few things>... *inaudible* Like the only one that really bothered <me> was... where is the big battle? *searches through the graphic novel* <The big splash page> right there. I'm like... <when did this turn into> white people verse brown people? You've read the book. This isn't about white versus brown. This is, again, how did we end up with white versus brown? Why aren't these people wearing armor? These guys are the ones that are outcasts and these are the high society. And so when I got this stuff, I was like, "Uhh..." These panels where they'd done earlier where they have the skin tones and the <the clothes for the Darksiders>, I'm like, "Really good!" But then when that one came together I was like, "Oh great, oh great, here we go." And when you put the whole thing together, some things came out really cool. Like I think the Darksiders turned out cool. The Darksiders were awesome. The magic turned out really great. But again, I'm like, "Where's the armor? Where's the cultural markings? Where's that stuff?" But yeah, yeah. The thing is, the guy who's drawing them is Asian, right? So <he should, you know?>... alright, so that's my thing. But again, you've read the book. Like, where's <that detail?>... But that's-- when you give the story to someone else you have to let them <do what they will>.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#32 Share

Questioner

As a writer, I tend to be more character-driven. I love what you've done with the character development of the two of these guys throughout the series. How much of them growing throughout the series, as you work on everything else, it comes together?

You know, characters I don't plot out as much. It's very easy to write them being cardboard. So, I try to let it be an outgrowth of what they're passionate about. Just kind of letting the passions of the characters drive their reactions in the narrative, and I think you'll never go wrong with that.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#33 Share

Chaos

How accurate would you say the northern continent on the Sycla map is? Is it horribly inaccurate?

Isaac Stewart

This map has severe deficiencies, especially in the northwest.

Chaos

Is there any reason why the cities seem to be on the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Seem to be where?

Chaos

On the borders, or coastline, like literally all of them.

Isaac Stewart

So Brandon can tell me if I'm wrong on this, but normally at the level of technology we're at in this world you've got to have cities near water. That's really what it is. Early cities are almost always near a source of water.

Chaos

And so the rivers are just the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Yeah. I mean we have the rivers that come in through the border in some places but rivers also are just a great border between places. Especially when there is-- when you're not building bridges over all of them. I will tell you... I won't answer what's going on up here.

Chaos

Is it really this enclosed though? Like it's pretty enclosed?

Isaac Stewart

It's pretty enclosed. This right here is pretty distorted, I will tell you that. And I made it look bigger than it is...

Eric, we will eventually release a more correct map.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#34 Share

Questioner

Any more Mistborn stories in the works?

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#37 Share

Questioner

For this story, with Dalinar hiring the guy who shot at him with an arrow, was that at all based on Genghis Khan?

Brandon Sanderson

It was, that's where I got it. [...] I used to, when I first published <The Way of Kings?>, "You guys recognize this" and no one did, so I stopped talking about it. He was famous for not only that *incomprehensible*, but for recruiting people from every battlefield he went to. The better soldier you were, the more he wanted you in his army.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#38 Share

Questioner

I love *inaudible* this series. How did you come up with Elend?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wanted an idealist *inaudible* revolutionary stuck in a world that wasn't ready for one yet, and that was my pitch to myself, right? Like if you took, you know, someone like... one of the great *inaudible* like Hamilton or somebody and just stuck them in a world that just was not ready for their ideas. How would that go?

Questioner

That sounds like the *inaudible*. Don't you have that in mind, like...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but he-- he that was-- yeah, yeah. His plan was-- be an idealist. The second book is where he realizes he can't make the same path he wants to, and third book is kind of reconciliation of how he can create this step that will eventually lead to Democracy and things like this, which you eventually then get to see in later books.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#42 Share

Questioner

If there is only one Shard on [Taldain], are there other Shards in the solar system?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhh. Now that's a clever question. The answer is "no". One for that solar system. And there's also, um-- we'll stop there.

Questioner 2

There's also what?

Brandon Sanderson

There are other places with only one. It's not uncommon for there to be only one. I've gone to the planets with multiples intentionally because the conflict there is very long. And the ones on the planets without multiples: like for instance in Warbreaker the conflict is not about cosmere-centric things. And you'll see that very commonly on the planets you go to. There's the same sort of things on Elantris. And so when you see me going-- even though there are two there, they're dead. And so, when you see me--

Questioner

The reason I ask is that there have been intimations that in Stormlight Archive a Shard may be on the moon just from things that people have--

[...]

There have been *inaudible* that that may be the case, so I had to ask.

Brandon Sanderson

You guys are awesome, thank you so much.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#43 Share

Questioner

Do you know the part in Wheel of Time when Mat is-- seems to be trapped in his *inaudible* ways before he meets Verin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

In the town? I always think, when I read-- Every time I feel like-- Is it a <tone> war?

Brandon Sanderson

It is, yeah.

Questioner

Writing the characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

And is there any correlation between that and Legion and you?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, most definitely. Legion is... You know, I'm-- I don't actually hear voices or see things. But there is this sort of part of you that becomes a different person all the time. I can see if I were more unhinged I'd be like that or like Shallan.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#45 Share

Lance Alvein

To get us started, Brandon, do you want to give everyone a quick idea of what the Cosmere is?

Brandon Sanderson

(laughs) Okay. So, here's what's going on: When I first was trying to break in—this was over ten years ago now, like fifteen—someone told me that your first five books were generally unpublishable. That was fairly good advice; I found that for most people it's really just your first novel; your second novel tends to get really good. For me, I did end up writing five experimental books that I never published; Elantris was my sixth book. Another piece of advice I got while I was working on it, however, was: you don't want to start with a big epic, the reason for that being is that you want to give a chance for readers to read something, you know, a single volume, or maybe one or two books before—so they can see, so they can trust you to finish a story before you jump into a big epic. It actually seemed like pretty good advice to me; it also works very well with publishing because approaching editors and things like that, you want to be able to send them a book, and if they reject it, but say, "Hey, I'd like to see something else by you; this wasn't the right project for me, but I like your writing." You can't really send them book two of that series, right? Because, you know, they want to see something new, and so I sat down to write a sequence of three or four standalone epic fantasy novels that potentially could have sequels maybe, but the idea was to make them standalone. But, kind of in my heart, I've always loved the big epic. You don't grow up reading Robert Jordan and Tad Williams and Melanie Rawn and people like this, without saying, "I want to do that." And so, what I started doing was actually building a hidden epic behind the scenes with all of these books, the idea being that there were characters who were crossing between the worlds. They would have a story that someday I would tell that wouldn't be directly important to the book itself, but would lay the groundwork and give foreshadowing to something very large coming.

And so I designed this thing—you know, I'm a worldbuilder—I designed this thing with a sequence of planets and a story behind the story, and people crossing between them. And so, when I wrote Elantris, I embedded all of this in there, and then my next books were in that sequence jumping around—some were before, some were after—and so there are these continuing characters. Well, years and years later, I decided I would finally start writing something big and epic; I was tired of not getting published; I was tired of all the advice people were giving me; I had written a couple of books that were not very good based on the advice that people had given me. I said, "I just want to write my big epic," and that's when I started Way of Kings, and wrote that. [?] And I’d done the launch into the big epic, some of these things are going to be more important to the series; it was kind of me honestly giving figuratively the bird to all of publishing, saying, you know, "You've told me that my books are too long, that two hundred thousand words is too long; I'm gonna write one that's four hundred thousand," so...you know: "I don't care; it's gonna be big and awesome and it's the book for me." I spent eighteen months working on this book, and right after I finished it, I sold Elantris. It sat on an editor's desk for a year and a half. He finally picked it up and read it, and tried to get a hold of me the next day wanting to buy it.

And so, suddenly I sell Elantris which I had written like five years before, which had all these things embedded in it, and I sent that editor The Way of Kings, because you know he wanted to buy two books from me. He's like, "Alright, the standalone is great; what else do you have?" so I sent him Way of Kings, and he panicked. [laughter] He was like, "Ahhhhh, this is huge, and what are all these illustrations that you're talking about, and I don't know if we can...can we break this into like four books?" And I'm like, "No no, it's gotta be one book." And he's like, "Ahhh...." But fortunately for him, I didn't feel the book was ready at that point, otherwise I might have forced him to publish it. I felt my skill wasn't up to the task of doing that since I'd practiced only doing standalones up to that point, and so I said, "I want to do a trilogy so I can practice the series format; I've got a pitch on this book called Mistborn that I want to write for you." And Mistborn was the first book that I ever wrote knowing it would get published. So when I sat down to write Mistborn, I had already sold Elantris, and Elantris was coming out, and it all of this stuff embedded in it, and I'm like, "Do I keep going with that or not? Do I just go all in?" And so I decided to go ahead and do it, and so Mistborn has all of this behind-the-scenes sort of story things built into it, and there's a character from Elantris—it's the beggar that Sarene meets near the end—who is also in Mistborn, who is the beggar that Kelsier talks to, that they wanted [?—5:30] pretending to be blind, that he gets information from, and then this character keeps appearing in all of the books as kind of a little Easter egg that was not so Easter-eggery because the fans found it right away. [laughter]

And so the Cosmere is my name for this big universe, which is actually, you know, just a play on "cosmos"—it's not the most original word—but it's something I had actually come up with when I was a teenager, so, it's one of those relics that's in there that if I were to do it now, I might name it something a little less obvious. I don't know; it does work, and it is a fun name, so that's there. The character's name is Hoid, and there are other characters moving between the planets, and so there is a buried deeper story to all of my big fantasies. The thing that I want to tell people, though, is that you don't need to read them in order because these are just Easter eggs; there's not a story there that you can really piece together yet. I don't want people to feel they have to read Elantris before Mistborn, or they can't, you know....if you read them all, at some point you will have some little extra tidbits of information, but there's not something there that's going on that's chronological that you need to know about right now, but that's in a nutshell what's going on there; there is an underlying theory of magic for all of the epic fantasies that they all follow. I love the concept in science of the unifying law, right? If you guys have studied physics, there's this belief that somewhere out there there's a unifying theory that will unite all of physics, and because right now, you know, the things that happen on the macro scale don't really match what happen on the quantum scale, and you kind of have to have two sets of equations, and people believe that someday we’ll find that link that'll put them all together, and that's fascinating to me, science is, and so I have a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds that people in-world on various planets are figuring out with regards to theirs, but if they had all of the pieces they could kind of put it all together.

So there you go. Long answer. You're going to get long, rambling answers to all these questions. Just warning you. This is what I do. This is my time to ramble, so... [applause]

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#46 Share

Questioner

The metals that were formed from Shards, like atium and lerasium. Are they somewhat naturally occurring, like in pools of power, or are they specifically [?]?

Brandon Sanderson

They are somewhat naturally occurring.

Questioner

Really? Even on other Shardworlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh. They could exist somewhere else. There are some special circumstances on Scadrial, but yes. The idea is that the pools are one state of this mythological matter.

Questioner

So if you have the physical state and the liquid state, is there a less liquid state? Because some of that's being used.

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Oh. Yeah. Yeah. But, I mean, it's such a drop in the bucket compared to the actual Shards. So that it is a statistically insignificant amount, but it is an amount.

Questioner

So Harmony's pool, wherever it is is statistically larger than...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#47 Share

yulerule

*Written:* How much compounding would a nicrosil Twinborn would need to do to get a metalmind that is as Invested as Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

*Reading question:* How much compounding would... *mumbling*

Wow, so much.

*Writes:* Wow so much. 

yulerule

*Written:* A thousand breaths doesn't seem to be that much--the God King has tens of thousands. Would a piece of stone, wood, cloth, or plain metal that has a thousand breaths be as Invested as Nightblood, or is there something more? 

Brandon Sanderson

No, it needs more. Needs more.

*Writes:* Needs more.

yulerule

More?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

yulerule

Does that-- is it *inaudible* nicrosil? *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, good question.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#48 Share

Questioner

So, when you were starting to write your books, did you have the idea for-- Like [???] magics tied together or did you have that from the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, excellent question. So, he's asking about the Cosmere, where all my epic fantasies are tied together. Where did that come from. I can trace a few paths back in my brain where that came from. What I can say is that it was built in from the beginning of the books you have been reading. But you remember, those weren't my first written books. I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. Elantris was number six. Way of Kings was number thirteen. And so-- I love this idea of a big, connected universe. The first person I can remember doing it, that blew my mind, was when Asimov connected the Robots and the Foundation books, which I thought was so cool when I was a teenager.

Another path that I trace this [concept?] also, though-- I don't know how many of you guys did this, but when I'd read a book--I still do this, actually--I would insert behind the scenes a kind of character that was my own, who was doing stuff behind the scenes. Like I would insert my own story into the story, just kind of take ownership of it in a strange sort of way. I remember doing this with the Pern books. I'm like "Oh, no, they think that person is who they think they are, but nooo! This is this other person!" And so I had this kind of proto-Hoid in my head jumping between other people's books.

So when I sat down to write Elantris, I said "Well, I want to do something like this". All the people I've seen doing this before-- and they've done it very well. Michael Moorcock did it, and Stephen King did it, and things like this, I'm not the first one to connect their books together, not by a long shot. I felt like a lot of them, they kinda fell into it, and as a writer, having seen what they did, I could then do it intentionally, if that makes sense. And so I started out with this idea that I was just gonna have this character in-between who is furthering his own goals, and built out a story for him, and then I went-- After I did Elantris, I wrote a book called Dragonsteel, which isn't published, and it was his origin story, for this character. And then I wrote some more books, and so, of course-- and things like this. Eventually Elantris got published and the other ones didn't, and they weren't as good as Elantris was. And so I took them all as kind of "backstory canon", and moved forward as if they had all-- they were all there and they had happened, but nobody else knew but me. Which allowed this cool foundation for you like "wow, that stuff has happened", because I had books and books of material that I could treat as canon in this way, to let me know where thing were going. So it wasn't planned-- It was planned from the beginning, but not the beginning of my writing care. From about book six was where it started.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#49 Share

Questioner

I’m interested in Adonalsium. Out of the people that were leftover from just before its Breaking [Shattering], did they think it was a good idea or a bad idea?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh… Opinions are mixed.

Questioner

Is it mixed between the Vessels and the non-Vessels?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the Vessels support the decision that they made. I would say of those remaining, who are not Vessels, the majority think it was a bad idea. I would say it’s split between them (?), it’s not 100%

Questioner

What’s the number of [people on Yolen?] remaining that are not the Vessels

Brandon Sanderson

Not many.  It is a number that you could count to reasonably.