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Warbreaker Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Lightsong Awakes from More Bad Dreams

This is the scene in the book where I originally started to turn Lightsong's dreams a tad darker. As you can see from the final version, I've now been doing that from the beginning. All to keep tension up.

Anyway, these dreams he saw—a prison, Scoot, Blushweaver—were there in the original draft. As I've said, I'm a planner, and so I had my ending well in mind by this point in the original version of the book. That ending changed in many ways during revision, but it's kind of surprising how much stayed the same. Sometimes, things just work and you do get them right on the first try.

Elantris Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

By the way, in the original draft, when Sarene gives her "All of Arelon is blessed by your presence" line when the Patriarch is on the docks, the Patriarch originally said "I know." Moshe thought this was a little overdone, so I cut it. In my mind, however, the Patriarch IS overdone and cliché–that's part of his character. But, anyway, one other item about this scene is the storm. I threw it in so that I could fudge the time of the Patriarch's arrival–the triad structure requiring me to have had him on the boat longer than the trip should take. This might actually not be necessary any more–in the original, I had him leave before he found out about the king's death. (I'm. . .not exactly sure why. Something to do with pacing and the triad structure. However, it was always my intention to have him read the proclamation at the funeral, so I had to have him ASSUME that Iadon would be executed, then take off with the proclamation. Either way, I eventually fixed this, smoothing things out considerably.)

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven

First Miles Viewpoint

Dan, from my writing group, thinks that this Miles scene is misplaced, and thinks I should have held off from putting one in for a few more chapters. (He thinks the second one is better placed.) Dan usually has a good eye for these sorts of things, so I'll admit I'm not a hundred percent sure that I like this scene being here.

However, that said, in the draft that Dan read, Wax wasn't sure it was Miles until he saw the cigar box. Even then, there was a question. I decided, because of feedback, that wasn't terribly realistic. Wax would have recognized the voice well enough from the start to begin suspecting Miles, so keeping that suspicion from the reader lacked authenticity. For that reason, in a later draft I revised so that Miles' name is mentioned in the first chapter where Wax starts suspecting him.

Miles is the most erratic character in this book, personality-wise. He's an interesting guy on several fronts, but I worry he's got too much going on in that head of his to present a compelling bad guy. He's got a lot of different motives, and he's not certain about many of them. We will see how the reaction to him is; I acknowledge that he's no Zane, however. That's probably a good thing . . .

It may sound like I'm dissatisfied with Miles, but I'm not. I just happen to like what he does to Wax more than I think Miles himself is compelling as a villain. I'm pleased with his role in the book.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Error in the Hardcover edition

I forgot to mention it in the appropriate chapter (I think it was way back in twenty-six) so I'll mention it here. Maybe I'll move this eventually.

Anyway, the hardcover edition of the book had of the more embarrassing typos in the series. (I think we got it fixed for the softcover.) It relates to Clubs and his Allomantic abilities, which is why this scene made me think of it. Way back in chapter twenty-four, I mistakenly (during one of the very last drafts of the book) mention Clubs as being a Seeker, not a Smoker, and burning the wrong metal.

I knew I'd do this some place in the series. The thing is, Clubs was originally going to be the team's Seeker, with Marsh being the Smoker. I swapped this before I started writing, but there is still some latent belief on my part that Clubs is a Seeker. And, because of that, when writing quickly and smoothing over rifts made by re-arranging chapters, I wrote the wrong metal down. (And it isn't just a single word typo; I think I even talked about him being a Seeker, and being able to sense what metals people are burning. Something like that.)

All I can say is. . .whoops!

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#5 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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#6 Copy

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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Vin waits for Elend to reveal his plan before the Assembly

I had to do a couple of drafts of Elend's "It doesn't change things" section with Vin. I didn't want to reveal his plan–I wanted Vin to work through it–but I also didn't want it to seem TOO forced that he didn't tell her.

I settled on this, which I think has a nice balance. However, you're in dangerous territory as a writer any time you have characters conveniently forget to tell each other things–or when you keep viewpoints characters plans and schemes back from the reader.

I have a history of fudging these things a tad in this series. I don't give myself that much leeway in all of my books–but I figured with the Kelsier "Real Plan" surprise I had in the last book, I have established that the characters don't always tell the reader every single thing they're plotting.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 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.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#9 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.

Mistborn: Secret History Continuity Notes ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hey, all. Brandon here. With the release of this book, there have been some minor updates to continuity that I think some of you will find relevant.The big one has to do with Hoid's visit to Terris in The Well of Ascension. For those unfamiliar with the backstory, this little behind-the-scenes action has been a source of some consistent problems. The outline, and original draft, of Well had Vin and Elend traveling up to Terris, then into the mountains, to find the Well itself.

This was a huge momentum killer in the story. Having your cityscape-focused book suddenly turn into a traveling quest fantasy for a few chapters felt very out of place, and required too much strange time-jumping to make it work. In revisions, I set about finding a way to repair this, and to overlap the Well of Ascension discovery with Vin's return to Luthadel.

The end result worked much better, but I was forced to cut Hoid's cameo. (In the form of footsteps in the snow and frost leading to the Well, hinting that someone had been there just before her.) I knew where Hoid was, and added in the cameo of him with the Terris people—with the plan still being that he visited the Well sometime during the days after Vin's return to the city.

Well, in working on Secret History, I found that this had a problem with it. Hoid had to already know where the Well is, because after the destruction of the Pits, he'd need to use the Well to return to Scadrial after leaving in the middle of book one to attend to certain other events.If you've read the story, you know this is how I proceeded. Official continuity is that Hoid went up to Terris after visiting the Well, as he had things to do there. He did not go looking for the Well. This doesn't change continuity for any of the books, though it does render one of the annotations for Well obsolete.

Otherwise, I'm quite pleased about this novella. I wasn't certain how it would go, writing something using threads I'd left dangling ten years ago. (You should thank the beta readers, who are all Sharders I believe, for their continuity help. They made me aware pf several things I needed to make much more clear from the original draft, so that canon would be more crisp.)

I know there has been a lot of discussion regarding which times when someone appears to hear Kelsier's voice were actually Kelsier. The story offers the official canon for this as well.

It's nice to finally be able to give the answers to some longtime fan questions, such as what spooked Vin during her inspection of Hoid and what was up with Preservation and the Mist Spirit. It's entirely possible that, despite our efforts, we slipped up and made some continuity error here or there. If so, I'm terribly sorry! This one has been particularly challenging to do.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Zane and Straff meet with Penrod in the night

We haven't had a Straff Viewpoint in a while, though from here out they get a little more frequent. Mostly, I had to include this to let you know why the merchants switched sides, and to give you a little hint of what was going on behind the scenes in places the heroes couldn't see.

I also wanted to remind you of Zane's penchant for poisoning his father, and Straff's own use of that mistress to heal him. This entire plot cycle (with the poisoning) was a late addition to the book in the revision process, added to give more dynamic between Zane and his father.

The really funny thing about all of this posturing, searching, and threatening in order to get the atium is this: atium is worthless. Or, rather, it only has worth as long as people give it worth.

In the minds of all of the characters, this cache is a fabulous treasure. Don't judge them too harshly–think how hard it would for you to pass up gold or diamonds, even if you were in the middle of a catastrophe. That's what's going on here. They still see atium as being incredibly valuable, even though the truth is that it was only valuable because the Lord Ruler made it so much a foundation of his economy.

True, atium can be used by Mistborn to do some pretty amazing things. However, you don't need a whole cache for that. Zane has proven that he has enough atium to kill Vin if he wants, and so more really isn't necessary for the Ventures.

Another worry, however, is that there enemies will get it–and that will let the enemies use their Mistborn to assassinate without as much fear of repercussion.

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Six

Talking Scenes

I realize that my books contain an awful lot of scenes where people stand around talking to each other. I try to keep them moving as much as possible, changing scenery, making the dialogue dramatic, allowing the characters to make conclusions and decisions. But, at the core, my stories consist of a lot of people discussing and weighing options in their heads.

I worry that sometimes I need to make things a little faster paced. I wanted to avoid too much of Elend brooding. In fact, one of the earliest rewrites of the book I did (one I did before I finished the novel, which is rare—I usually don't rewrite until I finish the rough draft) was done specifically to make Elend a more active character. In that same rewrite, I tried very hard to work out his character arc. (It just hadn't been working in the first draft.)

This was what I came up with. The emperor who knows he will end up having to make a very difficult decision, and fearing that he'll do what's right for his people—even if it seems morally wrong at the time. I didn't want to have many chapters of him brooding, but that sort of decision can't be off-the-cuff. For his character to work, I needed him to wrestle with the question—even go back and forth on it, as we as people often do.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#14 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

Well, there you go. That chapter (with a big chunk of two) was originally the first chapter of the book. Oddly, moving it back made the book move more quickly, for me at least. It's strange how you can sometimes speed up a novel by ADDING material.

Speed in books, however, has little to do with how long the book actually is, and everything to do with how captivated the reader is.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

There were a couple of interesting edits that I made to this chapter. First off, Elend's proposal to the Assembly. It was a major point of revision in the book.

One of the biggest problems the novel had in the first draft was that readers weren't getting the right idea for the theme and plot of the novel. In early drafts, Vin's worries about the Deepness and the Lord Ruler's final words came before Straff's army arrived. So, readers were surprised when the middle of the novel spent so much time on politics and war. They wanted to learn more about the Well of Ascension. (Which IS important, but not as present–particularly at the beginning–as the rest of the plot.)

So, the revisions. I wanted to make the army a much more PRESENT in the narrative. Originally, Elend's proposal to the Assembly was about something unrelated. (Disaster relief for farmers.) I wanted to show him caring for his people. However, in revision, I realized I needed to focus more. So, now that proposal deals with the army, and is a thread that continues through the next few chapters.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The limelights were added at Moshe's suggestion. In the original drafts of the book, I had bonfires burning outside. That was problematic, however, since they not only required a lot of fuel, but getting them close enough to the windows to provide enough light meant getting them close enough to be dangerous to the glass because of the heat. In addition, Moshe pointed out that bonfires just wouldn't be intensely focused enough in their brightness to provide the right illumination for the stained glass windows. (And, of course, I HAD to illuminate the windows. Why go to all the trouble of putting the balls in gothic cathedrals if nobody could see the windows?)

So, anyway, Moshe came up with the limelights as a fix. They actually work quite well–they fit the general level of technology I place the Final Empire as having, and the provide focused and intense light. As I understand it, they were the way that stages were illuminated to show the actors during the nineteen hundreds. Hence, being in the limelight as a phrase for someone who is being paid attention to.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twelve Part Two

Several other things were added to this scene in later drafts. One was the moment when Vin looked up at the windows and contemplated the Deepness and what she knew of it. As I've mentioned, I wanted more chances to talk about the mythology of the world. Moshe mentioned this as well, and so for the sixth draft (this book took seven, including the copy edit) I added in this scene.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Another big change was renaming the Lord Ruler's priests. Originally, they were called just that–priests. And, the Steel Ministry was the Steel Priesthood. I made the change to Steel Ministry and obligators because I didn't want the religion and government in the Final Empire to feel so stereotypical. This was a world where the priests were more spies and bureaucrats than they were true priests–and I wanted the names to reflect that. So, I took out "Priesthood" and "priests." I really like the change–it gives things a more appropriate feel, making the reader uncertain where the line between priests and government ministers is.

By the way, my friend Nate Hatfield is the one who actually came up with the word "obligator." Thanks, Nate!

Anyway, I when I changed the priests to obligators, I realized I wanted them to have a more controlling function in the Final Empire. So, I gave them the power of witnessing, and added in the aspect of the world where only they can make things legal or factual. This idea expanded in the culture until it became part of society that a statement wasn't considered absolutely true until an obligator was called in to witness it. That's why, in this chapter, we see someone paying an obligator to witness something rather trivial.

This was one of the main chapters where obligators were added in, to show them witnessing–and keeping an eye on the nobility. Moshe wanted me to emphasize this, and I think he made a good call. It also gave me the opportunity to point out Vin's father, something I didn't manage to do until chapter forty or so in the original draft.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I worry just a tad about the light-hearted feel of the end of the chapter here. Originally, this scene was in the book BEFORE the army showed up to attack. In the original draft I showed Elend and company living (and fighting off assassins) without knowing that an army was bearing down on them. Moving the army so that it began the book on the horizon was the major pacing change I made that sped up the book, and increased the tension.

However, we missed a few of the more light scenes–like the upcoming sparring–and I didn't want to cut them because they were so indicative of character. I decided to leave them in. Kelsier's crew is accustomed to dealing with stress and remaining jovial. The only change I really had to make was in the Elend viewpoints, which you will see in the next chapter. Still, I hope the tone isn't off–that's a real worry when you transplant scenes from a previous draft, as opposed to writing them new when you change as much as I did at the beginning here.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Blessing of Stability

It's mentioned in this chapter, and in the preceding chapter's epigraph, where the epigraph author notes that it is "rarely used." There's a simple, rational reason why you never see this one getting used in the book.

I added the Blessing of Stability after the fact.

You see, I realized that I needed at least one more Blessing to fit with what I'd built for Hemalurgy. I needed another mental power to complete the set of four. Two are the basic physical powers from Allomancy and Feruchemy: strength and fortitude from one, increased power of the senses in another. However, for Allomancy and Feruchemy, the mental powers deviate from one another. So I wanted the same thing to happen here. Hence the Blessing of Presence—which makes the mind more stable.

But after writing the book, I realized I needed a forth. The Blessing of Stability was born, and I wrote it in in a few places just to make token note of it. I like the concept for the power—that of making one emotionally stable—and am kind of glad I don't show anyone using it. I can show it off better in a later book.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This fight scene is, in my opinion, a lot more fun that the previous one. It's what I want–quick, dramatic, and shows off character by the way that the various people approach the fight.

I probably should have cut this scene, honestly. The book is a little too long. It's 250,000 words, where both Elantris and Mistborn 1 are around 200,000. I worried about this, particularly since the original Well of Ascension was only around 235,000, but we added 15,000 through editing to make the pacing work.

Regardless, when this beast got in, the people at Tor (the typesetters and the like) immediately raised a warning flag. However, some of the things they said surprised us. They said that the hardback for Mistborn 2, by their counts, was going to be over 700 pages long! Well, I knew that the book was a bit longer, but Mistborn 1 was under 500, so they were claiming it was around 40% bigger–and unpublishable.

My editor went to bat, claiming that 1) It was only really about 20% bigger and 2) That didn't matter, because the book was the right length–it worked well, and was paced well, and that he didn't want to cut it. We caused a big mess of various people arguing, and then finally the people down in production called up and said they'd done a re-assessment, and that the book would be around 560 pages or so. Very doable.

I don't know where those extra 140 pages went. If you find them, let me know. . .

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight

So, Moshe and I BOTH worried about the fact that we've got two shadow mysterious figures showing up at the beginning of this book. Part of the problem is the rewrite, which mashed things together at the beginning of the novel, increasing the speed–but then melding things together as well. Originally, the mist spirit showed up before the Watcher. Now they both are introduced in the same chapter, which happens to be the second chapter.

That makes me worry about overlap and confusion, but we decided there was nothing to be done about it. As the story progresses, hopefully they'll be differentiated enough in the reader's head to keep them straight. (It doesn't help that I have creatures in this world known as mistwraiths, which are different from either the Watcher or the mist spirit. Sigh.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Investigates the Lord Ruler's Palace

Yes, the mist spirit and the Well are related. They feel the same to Vin. There's something going on there. Also, the footprints in the dust are from someone you know. More on this later.

If you can't tell from those two cryptic comments, this scene with Vin sneaking around Kredik Shaw is one of the new scenes that I added late in the process. I felt that I needed to do some more foreshadowing for things yet to come; the original draft left the surprises at the end just a little TOO surprising. We will be back in Kredik Shaw before the book concludes, and I wanted to visit the place at least once before then to remind you of its existence, and to make a few narrative connections.

Elantris Annotations ()
#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Another big nod of thanks goes out to my thesis committee for their suggestion regarding this chapter. I'm not sure how I missed it, but in the original drafts, Raoden and company never acknowledge the fact that Hrathen had been healed. They never even mentioned it, and they certainly didn't give their thoughts on why it happened.

The fix was an easy one–you can read it in a few paragraphs in this chapter. However, the fact that it hadn't been there before was indeed a problem. Moshe was dumbfounded when I mentioned the oversight to him.

So, thanks Sally, Dennis, and John. You saved me from some embarrassment.

I like the explanation that Raoden gives here for Hrathen's healing. It seems like it would make sense to the Elantrians, and it saves me from having them suspect what was really going on.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Two

Marsh Visits Penrod in Luthadel

This chapter didn't exist in the initial draft of the book; I added it in revisions. I originally liked the idea of the characters happening upon Luthadel later in the book and having to piece together what happened to Penrod from the aftermath of his getting spiked.

Ultimately I decided to drop that in favor of showing this chapter in-scene. It was a tough choice, but knew I needed to show Marsh being active. I also had enough complaints from alpha readers about the lack of news from Luthadel that I realized showing this scene would work better. We are so attached to Luthadel as a city that it's hard not to know what's going on there. Plus, this choice allowed me to include some interesting things—such as talking about what Marsh and the other Inquisitors were doing with their time and showing another character getting spiked.

You may remember one of the spiking attempts on Elend earlier in this novel, right at the beginning. I flirted with putting more of these in, but decided that it would grow too obvious and too heavy-handed if I emphasized it that much. (The scene I toyed with included a madman unexpectedly rushing Elend with a spike.)

I think this is the last of the Marsh insert chapters, meaning others you read after this were in the first draft. You'll probably notice a larger gap before seeing him again. Marsh and TenSoon kind of get lost in this third quarter of the book, I'm afraid. We still see them, but it's infrequently enough that Spook/Sazed and Vin/Elend dominate.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

On a more serious note, this section contains some of the more lengthy additions to the rewrite. Elend's speech, and the arguments against it, were all added in the very last draft. As I said before, the first draft had Elend giving a much different proposal, as the army hadn't arrived yet.

This works TONS better. I worry that Elend comes off a little too strong–or, well, not weak enough–in this scene. I originally included it to show some of his faults as a leader. However, other readers have indicated that they thought he came off as too weak. Even if this is a book about Elend becoming a leader (or, at least, that’s a big chunk of the novel) he doesn't have to quite as hopeless as I originally painted him.

So, perhaps we've got a good balance going on here.

Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
#30 Copy

Michael M. Jones

One thing we tend to expect in YA is the presence of romance. There's no real sign of it in Skyward, though. Was this your intention from the start, or did the characters just not work out that way?

Brandon Sanderson

It was more the characters. In my first draft, I tried to shoehorn a romance in. I like romance; you'll find them in my adult books. But here, it didn’t fit the characters or the theme, and it felt inappropriate. This is a very traumatic time for Spensa, who's focused in every way on becoming a pilot and finding out the secrets of her past, and romance just didn't work. So I revised in the direction the characters demanded.

The obvious pairing was Spensa and Jerkface. That’s where I was trying to go, but it felt like a cheesy romance in the middle of an action-adventure story about finding out who you really are, and about going into battle, and all of that stress and pressure. Maybe someday I'll release the deleted scenes and people can see how poorly it worked.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

I'm a new teacher; my students are really quick to jump on me when I make mistakes. I was wondering if there's any inconsistencies or characters or any of the aspects of the magic systems you made that you could go back--

Brandon Sanderson

Absolutely. Every book. Every book, there are things that I would want to change. And it ranges-- there's a huge gamut of different things.

For instance, in the White Sand books, my first book that I wrote, that we eventually turned into graphic novels. I had a really cool magic system that was about manipulating sand with your mind, and things like this. And then I added in a weird thing where you could transform sand into water for no good reason whatsoever. It doesn't match the rest of the magic system. Because I wanted to write myself out of a hole. And as a newer writer, I did that a lot more. It ended up kind of getting canonized, and when we went back, I didn't fix it that fast, and so it ended up in the first graphic novel, and I'm like, "We need to fix this." So, the third graphic novel-- we've given ourselves enough wiggle room, fortunately, that I can be like, "And that's not what people thought it was." Because I want it to be more consistent. So you get that third graphic novel, and you're like, "Wow, they can't do this anymore?" No one ever did it onscreen, so they were just wrong. 'Cause that totally just does not belong in that magic system.

The Mistborn books, the original trilogy, I worked very hard to make sure I had an interesting, tough, but also compelling female protagonist. But then I defaulted to guys for the rest of the crew. And this is-- If you want to write a story about that, doing it intentionally, that's a different conversation entirely. But when you just kind of do it accidentally, like, I did, I look back and I'm like, "Mmm, I didn't really want to do that". But I did anyway, because of just the way that every story I'd seen I was defaulting to (like Ocean's Eleven, and things like this), where my models were, and I didn't take enough time to think about it, where I think it would have actually been a better story if I would have thought a little bit more about that. Like, there are things like that all across the board.

I did get into a little-- trouble's the wrong term. But in Words of Radiance, I reverted it-- from the paperback, when it came out, I reverted to a previous version that I had written for part of the ending. And that caused all kinds of confusion among the fans, what is canon? And so I'm like, "Oh, I can't do that anymore." But I had gone back and forth on how a part of the ending was to play out. A pretty small element, but a part of the ending. And I had settled on one. And then immediately, as soon as we pushed print, felt that it was the wrong one. But you just gotta go with it.

I don't know. I don't think there's a strict answer on how much you can change, and how much you can't. Grandpa Tolkien went back and changed The Hobbit so it would match Lord of the Rings. And I think I'm glad he did. Even if I would have been annoyed if I'd had the first version that doesn't have the connection. When I read it, it had the connection, and it was so much cooler. I don't know if I have answers on that. But every book, there is something I would want to change.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Blushweaver

Blushweaver was the first of the gods who I named, and her title then set the standard for the others in the Court of Gods. Lightsong was second, and I toyed with several versions of his name before settling. Blushweaver's name, however, came quickly and easily—and I never wanted to change it once I landed on it.

When developing the Court of Gods, I wanted to design something that felt a little like a Greek pantheon—or, rather, a constructed one. Everyone is given their portfolio by the priests after they Return. Blushweaver was given the portfolio of honesty and interpersonal relations, and over the fifteen years of her rule, she's become one of the most dynamic figures in the court. Few remember it anymore, but she was successful at having her name changed during her first year. She used to be Blushweaver the Honest, and she became Blushweaver the Beautiful through a campaign and some clever politicking.

Many think of her as the goddess of love and romance, though that technically isn't true. It's just the name and persona she's crafted for herself, as she saw that as a position of greater power. She actually toyed with going the opposite direction, becoming the chaste goddess of justice and honor. However, in the end, she decided to go the direction that felt more natural to her.

After these fifteen years, it's hard to distinguish when she is being herself and when she's playing a part. The two have become melded and interchangeable.

When designing this story, I knew I wanted to have a beautiful goddess to give Lightsong some verbal sparring. However, I realized early on that I didn't want to go the route of having a disposable, sultry bimbo goddess of love. I needed someone more complicated and capable than that, someone who was a foil to Lightsong not just in verbal sparring, but someone who could prod him to be more proactive. And from that came Blushweaver.

In the original draft of the book, this chapter had a slightly different tone. Lightsong didn't look forward to sparring with Blushweaver; he cringed and wished she wouldn't bother him. That artifact remained until the later drafts, though it didn't belong. I wrote the later chapters with them getting along quite well, so I wanted to revise this first chapter to imply that he looked forward to their conversations.

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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

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

Chapter Fifty-Three

Sazed Defends the Gate

The Sazed fights scenes interest me because of how much of a contrast they are to the Vin fights. Sazed's scenes are so brutal–strength against strength, blunt fighter against blunt fighter. Vin fights with grace. Sazed is just trying to stay alive.

I worked a lot on the plotting here of making Sazed's gate hold so long. When I planned the siege of Luthadel, I knew that I would need a very deep, character driven set of scenes with Sazed. It was the only way I felt I could add something new to this plotting sequence. The heroes defending their city during a siege has been done before. (One notable example being in The Lord of the Rings.) I was worried that I would be bored of writing these scenes, and so I decided to head that off by focusing in on Sazed here, who I thought would approach a battle like this in a new way.

I don't know what readers thought, but I found myself drawn very much into writing the scenes, which is a good sign. They up going longer than I'd anticipated, which is another good sign. Something about the contrast of the quiet religious scholar in the middle of such a terrible war was fascinating to me.

So fascinating, actually, that I forgot to write Ham into any of the scenes in these chapters. I didn't remember him until about chapter fifty-five. It was then that I remembered that the best warrior in the group had disappeared for the entire fight. So, I wrote him in, and added him to this chapter where Sazed gets to Breeze.

You'd be surprised at how often writers do things like this, forgetting a character. It's a tough call sometimes to keep track of everyone who is involved in various parts of a complex plot. Don't even get me started on the challenge of keeping track of everyone while writing in the Wheel of Time world.

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Brandon Sanderson

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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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Visits Lemex

In the very early planning of this book, I intended Lemex to live. He was going to become a mentor figure for Vivenna, and have the very personality that she described him as having in her imagination. Spry, quick-witted, intelligent.

So I decided to kill him off.

Why? Well, it's complicated. On one hand, I felt that he was too much of a standard character from one of my books. The witty mentor is not only a stereotype of fantasy, but something I rely upon a lot in my writing. (Though, granted, many of those haven't been published—however, Grandpa Smedry from the Alcatraz books is a great example of this kind of character.)

I also felt that Lemex could too easily be a crutch for Vivenna in the same way that Mab could have been for Siri. The idea was to keep these sisters consistently out of their elements, to force them to stretch and grow.

Instead, I upped the competence of the mercenaries and decided to have them play a bigger part.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Originally, the nobleman Kelsier met with was Lord Hasting. This was the only place he appeared in the book. I decided in a rewrite to introduce Elend's father here instead, since he's a character we’ll see much more from.

I also strengthened Straff in this scene. Before, he came off too weak as he bought the lies Kelsier told him. (Which, by the way, I've weakened. I realized that spreading too many falsehoods would be dangerous, and not really effective. Kelsier needs to whisper half-truths, rather than outright lies.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty

I worry a little bit about this chapter. The problem is, it's probably one of the chapters that has undergone the most revisions. Not in a "Fix problems" way–more in a "I need to add scenes to the book. Where shall I put them" kind of way.

For instance, the beginning has a few paragraphs that–looking at them now–I think drag on a bit. The reiteration of Vin's relationship with Shan, for instance. I put it in because I need to indicate that time has passed, and that Vin's relationships have continued, but I worry that I spent too much time on it at the beginning of the scene. Next, I added another scene showing skaa life (the one with children shaking the trees) in order to remind the reader of how bad things are. Then, later on, I changed the book to have canal convoys rather than caravans. So, this chapter got some more revisions. Then, I added a lot to the scene with Marsh, including Vin’s discussion of her mother.

All in all, it feels like a hodge-podge chapter to me. A lot of important information is explained, but it doesn't fit together as well as I might have wanted. The rhythm of the chapter is just a little. . .off.

I'm not certain how interested people are in the real theory of Allomancy and how it works. However, I do think that some people like to hear the theory and background to magic systems like this, so I try to include the occasional explanation. For those of you who don't fit into this category, I apologize for Marsh's lengthy explanation here.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One - Part One

You can thank my editor Moshe for the canals in this book. He's a bit of a canal buff, and when he had read through Mistborn, he excitedly explained to me how canal technology was just perfect for the level of development I had in this book. So, at his suggestion, I changed caravans into convoys, and swapped horses for longboats.

I really like the change. It gets boring seeing, reading, or writing the same old things. So, by getting rid of one standard fantasy element–highways and horses–I think we add something very distinctive to the world.

Moshe, though. Man. He knows TOO much about this stuff.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Figures It Out

And, reading here, I realize that I eventually did have Vin figure out that Yomen was an atium misting. That wasn't in the first draft of the book, and it was added late enough in the process that I'd forgotten that I put it there. I'm glad I did, though. I just couldn't go on pretending that Vin and Elend wouldn't notice this, and it wasn't a big enough reveal to keep hiding it. So, Yomen's an atium misting. Not that big of a deal compared to the other revelations coming out in this book.

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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

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.

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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.