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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Physical Signs of Impending Doom

The earthquake here, by the way, was added in one of the later drafts. My editor and I decided that we needed something else to show that the world was approaching collapse—not just sociologically and not just because of the mists. The earthquakes and the rumblings from the ashmounts are an indication of this. Watch for more of them.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One final note for this chapter. Bilg. I prefer him dead. (This is the guy Demoux fought at the end of the chapter, with Kelsier's help.)

In the original draft of the book, I had Kelsier–through Demoux–kill Bilg in the duel. I thought this was appropriate, and would be the sort of thing that Kelsier would do. In addition, I really wanted to emphasize the ruthless edge that Kelsier has. He is willing to do whatever he has to in order to see that his goals are achieved. It's that conflict–the happy, joking Kelsier mixed with the hard, ruthless rebel leader–that makes him interesting to me.

Joshua was the big complainer on this one. He felt that my books are too optimistic for something THIS harsh to be done by one of the main characters. He felt that readers wouldn't go along with it–indeed, it was one of the main points that my alpha readers brought up. Some liked it, others hated it. The scene did it's job.

Eventually, I went with Joshua's suggestion, however, and left Bilg alive. To me, this kind of castrates the scene. However, I suppose the most important elements still get across, and Kelsier gets to remain less tarnished a hero.

Still, I would have liked the death to remain, if only for the future books. I'll eventually post this scene as a deleted scene from the book.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Six

Sazed Agrees to Put On the Metalminds

Sazed was getting close to putting on those metalminds again even without Spook's interference and demands. You can tell by the way he fixated on them recently, and how—despite his determination not to wear them—he ended up getting them out and polishing them. He's been waiting for an excuse to use them.

That said, I like the depth of Sazed's conflict presented in this chapter. He's come a long way from the first draft of the book, where he simply sat around as a depressed lump. (I'm probably exaggerating his weakness in that draft, but I'm pleased enough with this draft that it feels like it's leaps and bounds ahead of the old one.)

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#6 Copy

Tyran Amiros

Why does Bastille say they're speaking Melerandian in book 1 and Nalhallan from book 2 on?

Brandon Sanderson

When I originally wrote Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, I put that in there partially as a throwaway joke. Melerand is one of the main kingdoms in Dragonsteel, and I thought it would be amusing for them to be speaking that language somehow filtered into this world. By the end of the book I decided that Alcatraz could not be anywhere in the same continuity as Dragonsteel and that I was probably wrong for including that. Though there are other jokes in there relating to my other books—it's much like the scene where Quentin speaks in Spook's dialect. Those were just jokes, inside references to my other books.

Remember that Alcatraz was written as a writing experiment, not as something that I was intending to publish. As the series grew more serious to me, meaning that I developed what I actually wanted to happen—which with me usually happens as I write book two of a series, when I sit down and build an arc for the entire series—I "realified" Alcatraz's world a little bit, if that makes sense, made it its own substantial thing. So at that point it wasn't appropriate for them to be speaking Melerandian anymore.

Elantris Annotations ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty

Originally, I had the steps leading up to Elantris from the outside be a construction put there by the people of Kae. I knew I wanted a large number of scenes on the wall–it is such a dominant visual feature of the book that I thought it would make a good stage for scenes. However, I quickly realized that it would be the people of Kae–not the Elantrians–who controlled the wall. The Elantris City Guard grew from this idea, as did the set of steps constructed on the outside, leading up.

As I worked more and more on the book, however, I came to realize that the pre-Reod Elantrians wouldn't have needed a city wall for protection.

Obviously, to those who've read more, there is a good Aon-based reason for the wall. However, there is more to it than that, as well.

The wall of the city is a symbol–it's part of the city's majesty. As such, it made more and more sense that there would be plenty of ways to get up on top of it.

When we got the cover art back from Stephen, we were amazed by its beauty. A few things, however, didn't quite mesh with the text. One of these was the set of steps–they were so ornate, so beautiful, that it didn't fit that they would have been designed by the people of Kae. At that point, things kind of fell together, and I realized that there was no reason why the Elantrians themselves wouldn't have put a large staircase outside the city leading up to the wall.

And so, in the final rewrite of the book (the ninth draft) I changed the staircase, and the general feel of the wall, to give the proper sense to the reader. The staircase was placed by the Elantrians as a means of getting up on top the wall. The wall itself became less a fortification, and more a wonder–like the Eiffel Tower. It is there to be climbed and experienced.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elantris 10th Anniversary

First, in relation to Elantris, May is the 10th anniversary of its release, my first published book! In celebration, we've been putting together a 10th Anniversary Edition, which is coming out later this year. It will be in trade paperback form (the paperback format which is more the size of a hardcover), and I'm hoping I can get Tor to print at least a few hardcovers for those who want to get them.

We've packed this edition with some cool extras. It includes a new foreword by Dan Wells, a retrospective by myself, an Ars Arcanum appendix (as this was the only one of my Cosmere books not to have one), brand-new redone maps by Isaac Stewart, and a very short extra scene. In addition, as I mentioned, we've changed a few things.

Now, this is the dangerous thing I talked about above. We've seen in certain high-profile films that changes done by the creator many years later are controversial. It's a slippery path. Part of creating a work of art is learning when to let it alone—most writers I know could just keep tweaking something forever. The quote (often attributed to da Vinci) that says “Art is never finished, just abandoned” is quite a true statement.

However, Elantris needed some attention. When I wrote it, I didn't have access to a good cartographer who could make the continuity of my crazy map-based ideas for the story work out. I did my best, but it never quite clicked. The maps didn't match the story, and the conceptualization of the ending was always kind of vague because of this disconnect.

Well, I have Isaac now, along with Peter who is really, really good with the minutiae of this sort of plotting. We've made two kinds of sweeping changes, then, to the text:

Map Continuity: We've had to shift the locations of some buildings and events as we've figured out a scale for the maps and for the city. We've tweaked the ending; the events are the same, but where certain things happen has been changed to fit. (Over the years, many of you have asked me about this, and I've had to admit that we just got it wrong.) This shouldn't change the story in any significant way except that now it actually makes sense, but I thought you should know.

Language Changes: Peter has done a very, very thorough copyedit, and has made some stylistic changes to remove some of the quirks of my earlier prose. (Extraneous commas, for example.) Again, this shouldn't change the story in any significant way except to make it more readable.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#9 Copy

cinderwild2323

What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

It's twofold. Spoilers follow, obviously.

In the original draft, none of the alpha readers felt that I had 'sold' Jasnah dying to them, and were all like, "Ha. Nice try. No body. She's alive.' So I kicked the assassination scene up a notch, until betas were like, "Stormfather! Jasnah just died!"

That was a mistake, I now believe. (Though this didn't get changed, and won't get changed.) Sometimes, I over-emphasize to myself the importance of surprises and twists. The book is fine if readers suspect Jasnah is still alive--actually, I think it's stronger, because it is more satisfying to be right in that situation, and doesn't detract from Szeth's miraculous survival at the end.

I knew this soon after I'd released the book, but decided it was just too extensive a change to try tweaking.

The other one I did tweak. In the battle at the end between Kaladin and Szeth, I'd toyed with letting the storm take Szeth--him essentially committing suicide--as opposed to him spreading his hands and letting Kaladin kill him. I felt that after the oath Kaladin had just sworn, stabbing a docile opponent unwilling to fight back just didn't jive. This I tweaked, changing the paperback from the hardcover, which has produced mixed results.

Most people agree the change is better, but they also say they'd rather not have the hardcover and paperback have different accounts in it, and would rather I just stick to what we put in the hardcover. It was interesting to try, to see what the response would be like, but it seems that the better option all around is to just wait until I'm certain I don't want to revert any of the revisions or tweak anything new.

Elantris Annotations ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, this section marked one of the biggest changes to the text during the revision process. In the Mad Prince version of the novel, the soldiers who ride up to Kiin's house were members of the Mad Prince's army. They arrested Raoden–he went willingly–and tried him for the death of their leader. This took the better part of two chapters, and ended with Raoden almost getting beheaded.

Overall, I kind of happy to lose the scene. The trial was a big distraction, and I'm not sure that I ever pulled it off narratively. There were a few interestingly tense moments, and it did let Raoden show his honor in his defense (he accepted the judgments of the army assuming they promised to make Sarene queen.) However, I sense that the scene in general was just over-written.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Originally, I had Vasher make an oblique comment about Bebid's daughter as a way to get him to talk. However, I shied away from this in later drafts, moving to more nebulous indiscretions instead. I felt that a comment about a daughter might sound too much like kidnapping on Vasher's part, even though I was thinking that his daughter had done something embarrassing that, if revealed, would get the priest into trouble.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In the original draft of the book, Kelsier didn't show up at this meeting. He let Yeden do the recruiting. However, as the drafting proceeded, I decided that I wanted Kelsier to present himself more fully to the skaa population. With Yeden now acting as their employer–rather than just another member of the crew–I also needed to show what Kelsier could do that Yeden could not.

Of course, this is also the first hint we get of Kelsier's true plan. I decided that I wanted him to give this speech here to initiate the idea that he's building himself a reputation with the skaa.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kalad's Phantoms

Kalad used to be Khlad, by the way. I didn't want his name to sound so Pahn Kahlish, which I signify with the extra h sounds to give them an airy feel to their words. I added the mythology of Kalad's Phantoms to the book late in the process, wishing to give some more depth to the superstitions of the world. And perhaps do some other things too. . . .

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Koloss are something I've been trying to work in for a time. Originally, in the very first draft of Mistborn one, I had them make an appearance in the prologue:

The skaa worked the fields with the lethargy of the hopeless, their motions methodical and listless. Though the sun's light was darkened and ruddied by the ever-present smoke, the day was still oppressively hot. Yet, no skaa man paused to wipe his soot-stained brow–being seen resting by a koloss fieldmaster would invite a whipping.

So, the skaa worked. Eyes down, watching the dirt by their feet, they dug at the weeds–daring not to speak, barely even daring to think. Koloss stalked amidst them, blood-drop eyes alert for signs of skaa laziness.

Obviously, I changed their place in the world drastically. During the drafting of book one, I was still working out what I wanted the koloss to be. I knew they were going to be something monstrous, and as the first draft of Mistborn One progressed, I slowly cut them from the book and decided to save them for book two. As the characters talked about them, the koloss reputation became more and more nasty–and I went so far as to explain that the Lord Ruler himself feared to keep them near human settlements.

So, when it came to plan book two, I put a lot of effort into developing the koloss. I wanted them to be cool visually, live up to their reputations, and work within the worldbuilding and magic of the setting. You'll find out a lot more about them as the series progresses.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong's Climactic Scene, with His Vision of the Boat

Lightsong's vision and eventual death in this chapter are another of the big focus scenes. In fact, I'd say that this little scene here is my absolute favorite in the book. It's hard to explain why, but I get a chill whenever I read it. It's the chill of something you planned that turned out even better than you expected. (As opposed to the planning for the Siri/altar image, which turned out poorly and so had to be cut.)

I worked hard to bring this scene in my head to fruition. No other section of the book has been tweaked more in drafting—everything from changing it so Lightsong grabs the God King's hand as opposed to his foot, to reworking the imagery of the ocean. (That imagery, by the way, came from my honeymoon while standing on the cruise ship at night and staring into the churning white froth above deep black water.)

Many people on my forums called this event ahead of time—Lightsong healing the God King. I'm fine with that. It did seem like a very obvious setup. One character with powers he cannot use until healed, another with the power to heal someone one time. Sometimes it's okay to give people what they expect—particularly when the result is this scene. I hope they didn't expect it to be as powerful as it is (assuming readers like the scene as much as I do). I want this one to be very moving.

It's the final fulfillment of Lightsong's character. Note that even in the end, his sarcasm and irony come through. He told Siri not to depend on him because he would let her down. Well, Lightsong, you're a better man than you wanted us to believe. There's a reason why so many are willing to rely upon you.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Originally, I had Vin far less emotionally affected by the scene of slaughter. I wanted to imply that she's seen a lot of death and hardship in her life, and so something like this wasn't all that shocking to her. Alpha readers, however, found her too callous here. I did a rewrite, and realized that I liked it much better with Vin reacting emotionally to the scene of death. She still puts up a strong front, which is very like her. However, she no longer just walks through it without reacting.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One - Part Two

Originally, you may be amused to hear, I was going to have Vin go on this trip with Yeden, with Kelsier staying behind. I even wrote about half of the "leave for the caves" scene with Kelsier telling Vin he's going to send her with Yeden.

I'm still not sure what I was thinking.

Fortunately, I came to my senses, and I quickly reworked the scene. Vin had to stay in Luthadel–she's go too much to do there. But, I did want to get a chance to look over the army, so I sent Kelsier instead. It worked out very well, as I was able to do some other things–such as have Kelsier show off for the troops.

However, I didn't want to spend TOO long out here. When Vin had been the one coming to the caves, I'd planned two or three chapters. When it became Kelsier, I knew I wanted to shrink it to one chapter. So, that's why we get the kind of weird "time passes" omniscient bit at the beginning of the second section.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Gets Her Earring Back

Getting Vin's earring back to her proved a logistical problem here, perhaps one of the biggest puzzles in the entire book for me. If I pulled the earring, then Ruin couldn't talk to her, and I couldn't include the scenes of her and Ruin in jail. I felt they were very important—both to make good use of Vin's time while imprisoned, and to get across useful information about the nature of Ruin—his goals, his motivations.

And so, I needed to have Yomen give the earring back. But why? Why would he give a piece of metal to an Allomancer? Vin's reasoning in this chapter is the best I could come up with. Yes, Yomen has atium, ready to burn it. He is, indeed, trying to spring any traps Vin has ready. In fact, once he had her taken away, he followed a distance behind and waited by her cell for the rest of the day, expecting her to try something. When she didn't, he was rather confused.

The earring also presented a problem in that in the original drafts of book one, silver was an Allomantic metal. I later changed silver to tin and played with what the metals did. However, I didn't have the specifics of Hemalurgy down. And so, when I got this book, I worried that her earring would be the wrong metal. Hence the silver plating explanation, as I worried that I'd forgotten or missed some instances in book one where I mentioned the earring being silver. (I tried to cut all references to its actual metal, so that I would be open to build Hemalurgy as I saw fit.)

Notice that Ruin's voice doesn't come to her until after she puts the earring back in. As she points out later, his telling her to kill isn't as specific as she's interpreting it. He's just sending her a general feeling that she should kill and destroy; his attention is elsewhere at the moment, watching what Spook is doing.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Wanders the Slums, Then Finds the Safe House

I made one small revision here in this chapter. I added the statue as a reference point. Before, Vivenna just happened to run across the safe house while wandering.

Why the change? It's just the same thing, right? She happens to wander by the statue, then manages to remember the directions. It's still a big coincidence when you think about it.

However, it doesn't read like as big a coincidence. Adding in her seeing the statue, then having to work to find her way to the safe house was a way of making it seem, to readers, that it wasn't just a coincidence. Because there was effort involved, I feel it will read more smoothly and less oddly to most readers. Part of this is because a statue in a city square is easier to notice than a given house on the side of the street, and partially because the discovery can be more gradual this way.

This is part of the smoke and mirrors that a writer uses. Sometimes I worry that explaining these things will ruin the book for readers—but I guess if you were the type it would ruin the magic for, you probably wouldn't be reading behind-the-scenes annotations in the first place.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#20 Copy

Questioner

In The Emperor's Soul - when did you decide to change the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

It was Mary, from the podcast with me, is very good at short fiction. She read it, and she said, "This intro is just holding the story back." And I read it again, and I'm like, I really feel that she's right. I felt at the end of it that the intro was interesting for people who liked Hoid already, but for people who didn't, it was just distracting and confusing. So at the end of the day, I cut it out, and I think it was a good move, even though it was sad. If you google the phrase "killing your darlings". it's a phrase we talk about in writing and storytelling. That scene was what made me want to write the book, it's what started me off in writing the book, and then I cut it out. But sometimes you have to end up doing that.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty-Six

Talking Horses that Talk about Their Feelings

A fun story about this chapters beings by me admitting that I didn't come up with the "TenSoon digests a horse" trick at first. I tried writing this scene with Sazed clinging to TenSoon's wolfhound back as they ran to the south. It was awkward to describe, even more awkward to imagine, and it never worked that well.

Eventually, while working on a solution to the problem of getting Sazed south to the Homeland, I realized that TenSoon could just digest another body and use that. Easy fix, and one that fit marvelously with the magic and setting.

This intersects another story relating to my friend Nate Hatfield, one of the guys in my writing group. He's a big fan of Dinosaur Comics, a webcomic that often deals with philosophy or literary criticism. Years ago, he brought a comic to the group where one of the characters in the comic strip complains that fantasy books are all about talking horses that talk about their feelings.

All through the writing of book two of Mistborn, Nate took delight in the Vin/TenSoon scenes as they were about a talking dog who talks about his feelings. He never let me live that connection down.

And then, almost just for him, I had TenSoon take on the body of a horse for a few chapters. I doubt I'll ever hear that end of that one. At least he didn't end up saying much about his feelings. ;)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Four

Marsh Kills a Smoker

This chapter was a late addition to the book. My agent, during his second read through the novel, noticed that Marsh basically disappeared through the middle of the novel—much as he had in book two. In addition, the reader got very little sense of what was happening in the Central Dominance while all of the characters were out taking care of other cities. In my books, the cities themselves tend to be characters, and Joshua was disappointed to not have at least a few token mentions of Luthadel in the middle of book three.

I agreed with him, and that's where this Marsh chapter—along with the next one—came from. An attempt to have him doing something, rather than just sitting around being controlled by Ruin, while at the same time showing some of what is going on in places where there aren't any main characters to narrate for us.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Six

Vin and Elend discuss going into Straff's Camp

In the original version of this particular chapter, I had Vin think that Elend's idea to go into Straff's camp was terrible. She thought it was too dangerous, even foolhardy. And, since Vin is generally a very competent and trustworthy character, the readers agreed with her. They all thought that Elend was doing something incredibly stupid in this chapter.

Now, what I had been TRYING to do was have her offer strong objections, then get brought around by the end of the sequence to admitting that Elend was right. Unfortunately, that just didn't work for this scene. The plan was crazy enough that readers were already inclined to thinking it was crazy. When I instead switched the narrative so that Vin had a grudging, yet favorable, opinion of the visit to Straff's camp. With her weight of trust behind the endeavor, suddenly readers had no problem with what Elend is doing.

Readers trust Vin more than Elend, which makes sense. If she tells them that something is a good idea, they're more likely to go along with it. It was an important lesson for me as a writer. I realized that Elend needed Vin's support in these early chapters otherwise he wouldn't have the readers' support. He is untrained and is stumbling as he tries to learn. In order for us to trust him, Vin needs to.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Vivenna Begs

This chapter and the next one were originally a single chapter. In the drafting process, I realized that my original chapter just wouldn't do. I'd been in a hurry to get on with Vivenna's viewpoint, and I had been worried about spending a lot of time on the streets with her, since I didn't want to retread ground I've seen in a lot of other books.

In this case, I was letting my bias against doing the expected thing make the book worse. Now, my drive to find new twists on fantasy tropes and plots usually serves me well. I think it makes my books stand out. You know that when you pick up a Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel, you're going to get a complex, epic story with an original take on magic and a different spin on the fantasy archetypes.

However, this same sense can be problematic if I let it drive me too far. It's nearly impossible to write a book that doesn't echo anything someone else has done. It's tough enough to come up with one original idea, let alone make every single idea in a book original. I think that trying to do so would be a path to folly—a path to rarely, if ever, completing anything.

In this case, we needed to have a longer time with Vivenna on the streets. We needed it to feel like she'd earned the sections of time she spent there. I knew I didn't want to go overboard on it, but I also couldn't skimp. So I sliced the chapter into two and added some material to each one, particularly the second chapter.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The koloss army was another thing that got shuffled about in this book. Originally, the Luthadel folks discovered its advance pretty early on. All of their discussions, then, talked about the fact that they had three armies bearing down on them.

I pushed back knowledge of the koloss for a couple of reasons. First off, koloss are scary–and I think they deserve to be treated differently from the other two armies. Their appearance can throw a real wrench into things later on, once Elend and company hear about them. It allows for the reader to know something that most of the characters do not, and leads to anticipation and tension.

In addition, it gives Sazed another good reason to exist in the plot. Now he knows about the koloss and nobody else inside the city does. His mission, therefore, is even more vital. He has to bring information back to his friends.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong's Wisecracks

The other major Lightsong revision happened in the form of a humor upgrade. My editor didn't complain about the same thing as my agent—instead, my editor wanted to laugh more. He wanted more witty lines from Lightsong. I resisted this at first, as I worried that making him too snappy would undermine his internal conflicts. I wanted him to be droll, but not necessarily brilliant.

Eventually, however, my editor prevailed upon me. He was always of the opinion that a few extra witty lines wouldn't undermine anything. I have to say, I like the lines, and I'm mostly glad to have them. But I do worry about overloading the humor in Lightsong's chapters, and therefore diluting his internal conflict.

Elantris Annotations ()
#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Moshe and I agreed on just about every edit or change made to Elantris. There is one small thing, however, that we kind of went the rounds about. The word Kolo.

Galladon's "Kolos" are, in my mind, an integral part of his personality. I characterize him a great deal through his dialogue–he doesn't really get viewpoints of his own, so everything I do for him at least until the ending I either have to do through Raoden's thoughts or through Galladon's own words. When I was coming up with Galladon's character, I realized I would need a set of linguistic features that would reinforce his culture's relaxed nature. So, I went with smooth-sounds, and gave their dialect a very "chatty" feel. The Dula habit of calling everyone "friend" came from this–as did their habit of softening everything they say with a question tag. Linguistically, questions are less antagonistic than statements, and I figured a culture like the Dula one would be all about not antagonizing people.

A number of languages in our own world make frequent use of similar tags. Korean, the foreign language I'm most familiar with, has a language construction like this. Closer to home, people often make fun of the Canadian propensity for adding a similar tag to their own statements. I hear that Spanish often uses these tags. In many of these languages, a large percentage of statements made will actually end in a softening interrogative tag.

Anyway, enough linguistics. I'm probably using the standard "literary" posture of falling back on facts and explanations to make myself sound more authoritative. Either way, I liked having Galladon say "Kolo" a lot. In the original draft, the tags were added onto the ends of sentences, much like we might ask "eh?" or "understand?" in English. "It's hot today, kolo?"

Moshe, however, found the excessive use of Kolo confusing–especially in connection with Sule. He thought that people might get the two words confused, since they're used similarly in the sentences. Simply put, he found the kolos distracting, and started to cut them right and left. I, in turn, fought to keep in as many as I could. It actually grew rather amusing–in each successive draft, he'd try to cut more and more, and I'd try to keep a hold of as many as possible. (I was half tempted to throw a "kolo" into the draft of Mistborn, just to amuse him.)

Regardless, we ended up moving kolo to its own sentence to try and make it more understandable. "It's hot today. Kolo?" We also ended up cutting between a third and a half of the uses of the word, and losing each one was a great pain for me. (Well, not really. But I'm paid to be melodramatic.) So, if you feel like it, you can add them back in your mind as your read Galladon's lines.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, and no. I don't know what Camon's throat-rope is tied to. You did have a foreshadowing of this kind of execution earlier in the book. (Though, to be honest, I added that in during a rewrite. I didn't come up with particular method of killing someone until I got to this point in the book. It seemed to me that the Inquisitors wouldn't just kill Camon. They'd do something more drastic.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend Discovers that the Koloss have been left to Destroy, then Elend Executes Jastes

And here we have the scene where Elend Kills Jastes. This, more than anything, is a sign to Elend of the way the real world works. This chapter is a sign of innocence lost, and a measure of the price of idealism. Elend will never be the same man after this.

Some of my alpha readers rebelled against this scene, but–unlike the scene where Kelsier used Demoux to kill a man in book one–I decided not to cut it. This event says too much about what has happened to Elend, and it means too much to his character. However, I did arrange things a little differently. In the original draft, Elend struck and killed Jastes, then explained why he did it. In this version, he outlines Jastes' sins first, then takes his head off.

Now, finally, Elend and Vin have discovered Sazed's lies. Did you wonder about him sending the two of them off to climb the mountain in the winter? Spook was around to stop that, in case you were wondering.

And yes, Spook knew. Considering how long it took Vin to get over the fact that OreSeur knew about Kelsier's plan to die, you can imagine that she's not soon going to forgive Spook for this one. In his defense, he was pulled about between some very strong emotions and motivations, not the least of which being his uncle explaining that if he DIDN'T go, nobody would be there to explain the truth to Vin and Elend and keep them from trekking all the way to Terris. Besides, Spook didn't want to die, and this path offered him an escape. Can you blame him?

He'll blame himself. Book Three.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Correspondence on Metal Sheets

The metal letters mentioned several times in the book (including in this chapter) were almost all changed to metal in late drafts. (Save the Goradel letter later on; that one was metal from the start.) I realized I wasn't giving enough of a sense that the characters were paying attention to Ruin's ability to change text that isn't on metal, and I wanted to show them taking precautions. I have my writing groups to thank for getting on me about this one.

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Brandon Sanderson

This initial section, with Tresting and the Obligator, was added during one of the last drafts of the book. I had some troubles starting this novel. I really liked the Kelsier section of the prologue (which was originally the first chapter.) However, before I got to Kelsier, I wanted to have a kind of scene-setting omniscient description of the skaa working.

The important part of this zoom out would have been to show them all with heads bowed, then show Kelsier look up and smile. I tried several drafts of this, and eventually settled on something that was okay. Later on, however, I decided that it was just too much of a viewpoint error to have an omniscient section in one of my books, especially since it was the first section of the novel. So, I decided to set the scene from Tresting's viewpoint.

Once I changed that, I like how this scene turned out. However, it does mean that the very first viewpoint that you see in the book is that of a passing villain who doesn't really matter very much. I guess that's all right, but it's part of the reason I moved this back to being the prologue–I think that gives more of an indication that the characters introduced aren't necessarily the main characters of the book.

Other than that, I liked how this scene let me introduce some of the world elements–obligators, Inquisitors, the ash, the nobility, and the Lord Ruler–in a quick, easy way. Plus, I got to have the scene with Kelsier looking up and smiling, which always gives me a bit of a chill when I read it.

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Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Five - Part Two

Lightsong's Dream

The Lightsong sections received two major upgrades during the last few drafts of the novel. The first was the enhancement of his memories of his dreams. We don't get to see the dreams, just their effect on him.

In the original draft, these dreams were far less ominous, particularly at the beginning of the book. My agent complained that the book felt like it lacked direction, particularly in the Lightsong sequences, and asked me to find a way to make it more tense. He didn't care if Lightsong joked; he just wanted to feel a tension underneath. A sense that all was not right.

The dreams came from this. Originally, Lightsong just dreamed about the ship leaving the port. In the later drafts, I added him remembering more in this chapter—the city on fire, the flames causing a red reflection on the ocean.

This actually wasn't a change to the dream. That's what I'd intended him to have dreamed; I just originally had him forgetting. I didn't start getting into the violent dreams until much later in the book, one chapter in particular. But because of Joshua's requests, I moved the sense of danger up from those later chapters to here to begin foreshadowing earlier.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen

This chapter went through some heavy edits. First off, I originally had Hrathen interrogate the Elantrian off-stage. At a suggestion from my editor, I put this in-scene, showing Hrathen talk to the Elantrian. The intention here was to give a little characterization to Hrathen by showing his logical approach to studying and interrogating his prisoner.

The other big change to this chapter came in the middle. As I was working on the later revisions, I realized–at Joshua's suggestion–that I really wanted something here in the early middle of the book that showed Hrathen sparring against Dilaf and winning. In certain sections of the book, Hrathen's character came off too weakly–and this was one of the chapters. Originally, I had Dilaf extinguish the torches of his own accord, then burn the Elantrian later, despite Hrathen's protests.

In the new version, I get to have Hrathen prove his competence by having him wrestle control of the crowd. He is the one who burns the Elantrian, which enhances the scene by letting Hrathen feel guilt for it. He comes off much stronger in this chapter than he did before.

Those of you who have read on realize how important this is to the plot, because from here out, Dilaf starts to get the better of Hrathen. I needed to reinforce Hrathen's strength at the beginning of the story, otherwise I feared that the scenes of Dilaf winning would make Hrathen seem too weak. Hopefully, things now feel like they are balanced–one gaining dominance for a time, then the other wrestling it away, and so on and so forth.

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Brandon Sanderson

In the original drafts of the book, I had Sarene feeling a sense of foreboding here at the beginning of her section. My thought was that we'd just seen the Dakhor attack Raoden–the reader is going to be feeling some tension, so I thought I'd like to keep it up in the Sarene scene.

There's still a little bit of it there, but I cut most at Moshe's recommendation. He felt that having Sarene feel an unnatural eeriness about this particular night was too melodramatic, and implied a kind of psychic link. Personally, I think there's nothing psychic about it–it's just a general storytelling convention that characters can sense when something is wrong.

Either way, I do think the more subdued tone of this first part has its own advantages. By having Sarene completely ignorant, even unconsciously, of what is coming, I think I build a sense of tension. The reader knows danger is approaching.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Four

Cutting the Mad Prince forced me to rewrite a bit of this chapter. As I mentioned, in the original draft, Raoden and Galladon saw Eton's army crouching outside the city. At first, Sarene didn't know what to make of this news. She decided it couldn't be a Fjordell army–one could have never arrived so quickly. She knew it wasn't Teoish.

The chapter used to end with a startling realization from Sarene–she decided that the phantom army must belong to Prince Raoden. She decided that he hadn't died or been killed, but had instead fled to raise an army to take the throne from his father. I thought this was a very clever twist, and it was one of the things I was most sad to lose by cutting the Mad Prince.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Two - Part One

Lightsong Plays Tarachin With Three Other Gods

This is the newest scene in the book, added in the last revision before the novel went to copyedit. I added it for two reasons. My editor wanted to see another chapter between the previous Lightsong chapter and the next one. He felt that the god made up his mind to help Blushweaver too easily, and wanted to spend more time with Lightsong mulling over the decision.

I reacted quickly to the suggestion, as I'd been wanting to show Lightsong interacting with some of the other gods. It's sometimes too easy for me to build my books around a small core cast and rarely involve any others, and I have to force myself to include more characters to round things out. This book had a distinct lack of scenes with "ordinary" gods. We got to see a lot of the exceptions, but never the run-of-the-mill divinities who make up the ranks.

I wanted to show how they schemed and how they acted. Putting Lightsong with three of them here helps the book quite a bit, I think. It makes the world feel more real and helps his character by providing contrast.

The game is something I developed in order to make this scene work. I wanted a divine game—one that wouldn't require too much effort, would require a lot of preparation and extravagance, but would still qualify as a sport. So, we have a game where the gods can sit on a balcony attended by a fleet of servants and scribes tallying their throws.

When my editor read the scene, he loved it instantly. He called to tell me it was one of his favorites in the book, partially because of some particularly good Lightsong quips. He says that he fully expects some Sanderson book readers to develop the rules for the game someday, then play it at a con.

[Editor's note: Also compare the game of Stones in the deleted Mad Prince Eton scenes from Elantris. Warning: Contains spoilers, so do not read this if you have not read Elantris.]

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In the Mad Prince drafts of the book, I was still holding off on revealing him to the readers. His army was out there in this chapter–visible because of its fires in the night. I revealed that Hrathen considered the newcomer an ally, but I hadn't yet given away who the newcomer was.

The Mad Prince's disappearance was probably the most time-consuming cut I made, not to mention the one most difficult for me personally. I'm happy to know he lives on in his web presence–he's practically the star of the "Deleted Scenes" section. The cut came at the suggestion of Joshua "Axe Man" Bilmes. The stark truth is, the story didn't need another random diversion here. We're getting very close to the climax, and introducing another whole character–with his own plot, problems, and tangents–just wasn't good for the pacing. Eton was, in my opinion, a brilliant character. However, he just didn't belong in the book.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two - Part One

Siri Rides South, Stunned

Already, you should be able to see another tone shift in the book. We've gone from lazy highland romping to frustration and terror. My goal with this book was to keep that up—to always have things moving and the characters being pulled out of their comfortable lives into situations that force them to stretch.

One fun thing you can research yourself by looking at the first draft chapters of Warbreaker I posted. In them, I toyed with having Mab the cook be sent with Siri to be a lady's maid.

I didn't intend this while planning the book, but after writing Mab—and having so much fun with her character—I wanted to keep hold of her and let her add some color to Siri's sections. However, I cut this idea out pretty quickly. (Though a draft of this chapter exists with Mab accompanying Siri—I think in that draft, Mab is the one Siri is complaining to, rather than the poor guard outside the window.)

Why cut Mab? Well, a couple of reasons. First off, Siri's plotline was much more dramatic and emotional if she was forced to leave behind everything she'd known. Giving her a support character like Mab undermined Siri's plot and growth as a character. Beyond that, Siri's plots didn't need more color. We've got plenty of interesting characters and experiences coming for her, so the addition of another character wasn't needed.

I tried the chapter, but then realized that my original instincts had been right. I was forced to cut Mab out.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen - Part Two

Shan was a later addition to the book. In the original draft of the novel, I did mention her in this chapter, but we didn't see her–and Lord Liese didn't mention her. As I wrote the first draft, however, I began to realize that I needed more tension and political wrangling in the Vin ball scenes. So, I expanded Shan and made her a larger character. Then, during the first rewrite, I added her in to this scene, along with some others.

The purpose of Shan, therefore, is to show that some of the nobility ARE the way Kelsier says. The thing is, most of what we get about the nobility come from him, and he has a very skewed perspective. Our only real opportunity to interact with them is at the balls, and so I knew I needed to cram a variety of personalities into this scene, so that people could have a chance to experience the range of the nobility.

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Brandon Sanderson

Camon was originally far less competent than he ended up in the final draft. Originally, Vin was constantly (in this chapter and the next) thinking about how he was making mistakes when talking to the obligator and the crew. I thought this would establish Vin as an intelligent, insightful character–one who is even better than the guy in charge of her crew.

However, I eventually realized that this didn't work. Camon was too incompetent–the version of him in the first draft would never have been able to keep control of his crew. In addition, by making him so weak, it weakened the threat to Vin. It's always better to have antagonists be strong, if only to make the heroes look stronger by comparison. Though Camon is only a minor villain in this book, strengthening him made the story seem much more logical, and I really don't think I lost anything.

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Brandon Sanderson

Clubs and Dockson die

And, speaking of Breeze, here we have Clubs's death scene, as seen by Breeze. So, in truth, Spook was prophetic when he said that Clubs had said good bye to him for good.

The simple truth is that felt I had too many characters in the books. I couldn't flesh them all out, and I really needed to get rid of a few. Clubs was, unfortunately, one of the casualties.

Of course, I didn't just kill him because I had too many characters cluttering the story. That was one of many reasons. I knew that I couldn't go through a siege without losing a few characters. It just wasn't realistic. The characters had dreaded this conflict too much, and they knew it was going to be dangerous–probably deadly–when the invasion came. I often say that I feel I can't protect my characters from the decisions they make. I did write in a little more power to some of Clubs' scenes in the book once it was certain that he would die here. The interactions between him and Sazed and him and Breeze in this novel were there partially because I knew he was going to die, and I wanted to give him some chances to participate in the story before going.

Dockson was the other one I decided to kill. In the initial draft, the scene with him dying ended with a koloss killing him from behind, without him looking at it.

My alpha readers complained profusely about this. So, at the request mainly of my friend Skar, I let Dockson grab a sword and charge before dying. Another send-off for Dockson is the comment he makes, noting that if the crew done things differently, turning on the nobility as he had wanted to in book one, he and the others would have been no better than beasts. It's his way of acknowledging that they'd done the right thing, and is a little bit of a redemption for him. He'd tried very hard to work with the noblemen, to make up for the atrocities he committed during younger years.

The final reason that I knew Dockson and Clubs had to die was because I wanted to REALLY make you think that Sazed was going to die too. If everything is working right in these chapters, you'll be sitting there, knowing that Vin is going to arrive in time. Yet, you'll question, you'll worry, and you'll begin to fret. You'll see Clubs drop, then Dockson die, in rapid succession. Then we come to Sazed, and he falls, out of metals, out of hope.

That's when I bring Vin in.

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Hoid the Storyteller Tells Us the History of Hallandren

This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded infodump.

And so, I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn't use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using another of his favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or at least even more confused) if I didn't use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about . . . well, let's just say that there's a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.

Anyway, I love this storytelling method, and I worry that Hoid here steals the show. However, he's very good at what he does, and I think it makes for a very engaging scene that gets us the information we need without boring us out of our skulls.

Is everything he says here true? No. There are some approximations and some guesses. However, all things considered, it's pretty accurate. All of the large bits are true.

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Chapter Five

One of my writing groups had an intense reaction against Vin killing the dog in this scene. I'm not sure, still, WHY they got so upset–but they really didn't like it that she killed a dog "in cold blood" as they put it.

So, her little "I'm sorry about this" in her head is there for them. At least now they know she kind of wishes she didn't have to do it.

That dog had it coming, though.

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You'll notice the quick mention of the Widow's Trial in this chapter. This sub-plot was actually added later in the drafting process, and I had to come back and write these comments into this scene. It will become apparent why later on.

Though, you spoilers already know how it is used. I needed to get Sarene into Elantris somehow, and I wasn't certain how I was going to do it. Somewhere along the way I devised the idea of the Widow's Trial. In the end, it worked quite well, as it provided the means for Raoden to create New Elantris.

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Brandon Sanderson

One interesting aspect of the book that I haven't mentioned yet comes with the metal of tin. Originally, tin wasn't one of the Allomantic metals—I used silver instead. You see, I originally paired silver and pewter together, thinking that pewter had a significant amount of silver in it. Well, turns out that isn't the case. (Remember, each set of paired metals is a metal and an alloy made from it.)

My false impression on the belief that pewter is a silver/lead alloy goes back to my childhood. I remember when I used to paint lead fantasy figures that I bought at the local hobby store. One of the employees told me that they would be going up in price because the manufacturers wanted the figures to be safer. They were going to cast them out of pewter instead of lead, because pewter is much less toxic. I asked what the difference between pewter and lead was, and the employee told me that pewter is lead PLUS silver, and that's why the figures cost more.

He meant tin, I guess. Either way, that's stayed with me for quite a long time. I soundly resisted changing silver to tin during the first drafts of the book, even when I found out the truth. The problem is, I really liked the name "Silvereye" for those who burn silver/tin. It sounds far slicker than "Tineye."

I eventually came around, however. Consistency in the magic system is more important than a single cool-sounding name. I blame Hobby Town in Lincoln Nebraska for my pains.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Ten

Sazed's Struggle

Here I can see how giving Sazed something to do—letting him study his religions one by one—makes his viewpoints far more interesting. The previous version of this chapter, which perhaps I'll post, had him simply riding along, listening to Breeze, despairing. That was boring.

Yet, making one small tweak—giving him something to do—changed that dramatically, at least for me as I read the chapter. It allows Sazed to struggle, and a struggle can be even more tragic than a loss. Either way, it's more interesting to read because conflict is interesting. Here, he's trying—even though he's failing—to find meaning in the world. He can try to shove aside his depression and read his pages instead.

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Brandon Sanderson

Killing off the army like this was planned from the beginning. I knew I needed some kind of big wrench in the plans of the crew, and figured this would make a pretty good one. Plus, it felt natural, since it was a problem with Kelsier's own growing reputation. The very thing he's been working so hard to foster eventually turned against him.

When alpha readers read this chapter, they didn't see the loss of the army as much of a setback. That was one of the first things that made me realize the big flaw in the early drafts. I'd talked a lot in the crew about stealing the atium, but I'd spent all the time with them actually doing things on recruiting the army. So, the readers were still focused on the job being the atium heist, rather than the capture of the city. In that context, losing the army isn't all that bad.

So, I like how the rewrite focuses much more on the army. It makes the events of this chapter all the more poignant. Yeden, the one that was employing the crew, is dead. That should mean the end of everything.