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Skyward Seattle signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How does the destructor blast for a Poco not destroy its own shield

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

In Skyward, I have the shields work directionally, the same way a lot of science fiction does. Like you could fly out of a hangar bay that has a shield on it, but you can't fly back into it unless they change the frequency and stuff like that. That's how things are working for me. They will let things not come in but will let things go out. It's Sci-Fi technology that's kind of an old stand-by for how shields work and I just kind of rely on that one.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#2 Copy

NotOJebus

What do you feel is the main difference between writing sci fi and fantasy is? Did you learn things in writing Skyward that you feel will help you write Mistborn Era 4?

Brandon Sanderson

For me, it's a fine line, because I'm not writing Hard SF--but instead, a kind of hard fantasy. So my books tend to ride the line between SF/Fantasy anyway. And Skyward is straight up space opera, I'd say--most of the technology that we use in the books is fantastical anyway.

In SF, I feel I can lean on shared vocabulary a little more. This has been particularly handy in the novellas I've done, where we can use Earth as a reference point. Modern (and beyond modern) communication, and expectations of character education, also play a big part in changing how I approach the stories.

In some ways, it comes down to different storytelling traditions, and what they each afford you. Again, though, it would be different if I were writing hard SF.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#4 Copy

OrangeJedi [PENDING REVIEW]

She noticed that the race in Skyward that the people are fighting are Krell, and that there are krell in Sixth of the Dusk.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That is not a direct connection. It's just, the Krell are a race of aliens from Forbidden Planet, one of my favorite classic science fiction movies, and I'm just doing it in Skyward as an homage to that. Krell in Sixth of the Dusk is just me looking for a thing that sounds like the right name for the thing.

OrangeJedi [PENDING REVIEW]

So they're completely unrelated?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Completely unrelated. Other than the fact that I've watched Forbidden Planet, like, six times.

Oathbringer release party ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I talked a bit about it, in the Write About Dragons lectures at BYU, I just had the idea. I realized that a lot of my favorite stories were kind of like these boy-with-a-dragon-egg stories, right? One of my favorite stories of all time is Dragon's Blood, by Jane Yolen. Just, absolutely amazing book. And I thought, that's the kind of story I like, but it's been done to death. But then I thought, hey, I can do a different version of that. So, this story, basic premise is How To Train Your Dragon, but instead it's a girl who finds a spaceship, and goes to Top Gun school. So, it's like a mashup between Top Gun and Ender's Game and How To Train Your Dragon with an old broken down spaceship with a really weird personality. And I'm going to read you the prologue of this, which happens when the main character is rather young.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#6 Copy

zorro_pickanalytics

Did you know from the start Skyward would be a good fit for an existing world or was it something you realized after starting to develop the story?

Brandon Sanderson

It was once I started developing the story. I often am working on the elements of stories separately before I combine them into one whole--and so it wasn't until I sat down to do the outline, officially taking several pieces of various story ideas and combining them--that I knew for certain that this was a good fit.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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KillerSlipper

What was your biggest challenge when writing Skyward? And possibly as a follow on - are there any new challenges or surprises that come to you as a writer even after all these years of doing it ?

Brandon Sanderson

The biggest challenge to Skyward was getting the actual fighter-pilot stuff right, followed closely by the fact that I didn't really have a safety net for this book. Having already pulled a book from the publisher, and having a very small time to get this one written, I felt I really needed to nail it on first try--and I did, fortunately.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects

Mistborn

Wax and Wayne 4 is on the slate next after I finish Skyward. (Though if it's going well, I may do the entire trilogy for Skyward first.) I need four or five months at least to do Wax and Wayne, so rain or shine, my plan is to get into this on September 1st at the latest. Hopefully a little earlier.

This will wrap up the second era of Mistborn books. (And yes, I've settled—at long last—on just calling it that. All the other terms I tried were just too confusing.) Once the Wax and Wayne books are done, I'll look to do something else for a little while before coming back for Era Three. (1980s spy thriller Mistborn.)

Status: To be written in 2018.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#9 Copy

R'Shara

Hey, is Brandon willing to tell us which universe Skyward is in yet? He said a while aback that it was in a universe (not cosmere) that he'd written before.

Brandon Sanderson

So, here's the thing--it's a pretty big spoiler. Meaning if you know the novella this is tied to (and it's one of the ones mentioned in this thread) you'll know a moderately large plot point in the book.

It's not the type of spoiler that will ruin a story--I do think some readers would enjoy watching how I lace them together. But do be warned that if you haven't read my science fiction novellas, and you hate spoilers, you might want to wait until Skyward is out to read them.

That said, if you know the terminology of the novellas in question, you'll find your answer in chapter seventeen.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Jofwu

I'm really hooked by the "girl and her dragon" idea. Were there any fun or interesting things you were able to explore by virtue of replacing the dragon with a spaceship? That is, it's easy to imagine the fun similarities, but I'm curious if there were any notable differences introduced by that swap.

Brandon Sanderson

Hm... Well, normally in the dragon egg story, a trope is that the dragon needs to learn how to fly/fight and the trainer needs to learn with them.

Here, the ship knows how to fly--but is busted up. So there's a lot of fun in the story relating to how exactly to get parts for the ship--which leads to a completely different style of storytelling.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So, you always talk about how you're an outliner. So, what do your outlines look like, and how long are they ranging from your YA books to something like Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, the one for the new book, Skyward, is about five pages long, and it's mostly-- first it's "Here's the worldbuilding paragraph," there's a bunch of headings and paragraphs. Characters, about a paragraph or two about each one. And then five parts, I tend to do a lot of five act things. So, prologue, part one, part two, part three, climax. Just a bunch of bullet points.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

And how long would one be for, like, Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oathbringer one's, like, 30 pages.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects

Stormlight

It's time to take a little breather. I've begun working on the outline for book four, which is kind of a mess right now because of things I've been moving around between books as I write. My goal this year for Stormlight will be to have rock-solid outlines for books four and five done by December 2018.

My current projection is that I'll spend half of my time writing Stormlight, and half of it doing other things. (I spoke last year about just how big an undertaking a Stormlight book is–and why I can't write them back to back.) I realize that many of you would prefer to have only Stormlight, but that would drive me insane–and drive the series into the ground.

I think this is a realistic schedule. So, I'm giving myself 2018 to work on Skyward (hopefully a trilogy) and other projects. Then on January 1st, 2019, I go back to Stormlight refreshed and excited to be back in Roshar, and I write on book four until it's done. (With a 2020 or 2021 release, depending on how the writing goes.) I do hope to find time for a novella, like Edgedancer, that we can put out between books. This one is tentatively called Wandersail.

For those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive is a ten-book series composed of two five-book arcs.

Status: Writing outline for book four.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Questioner

Is there anything in particular that majorly influenced the path that Skyward took at any point?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a big reveal at the ending that, once I came up with it, made me really excited to write the book - but you'll have to read it to find out.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

We'll have the Skyward beta coming up soon.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh cool. Yeah, I'll bug Kara and Peter. See if they need some help with that.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Mhm, yep. We need teenagers for that one. We're going to have a separate teenager one, because it's a YA, and an adult one. And the adult one is to find all the nitpicky stuff, and the teenager one is just "respond to each chapter, what did you think of it?"

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...[Skyward] is teen, 'cause it's in my Reckoners line, and it's a story I've been playing with for some four years now, and I built an outline, and it's kind of like a cross between How to Train your Dragon and Top Gun, with starfighters. A girl finds an old broken-down starship with a really screwy AI that she thinks she can get up and running. In the meantime, she gets into starfighter school and is learning to be a pilot, and there's all kinds of mysteries and things about the nature of really what's happening with the planet why they're being attacked, and things like that. It's a whole lot of fun.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Projected Schedule

My projected publication schedule looking forward swaps The Apocalypse Guard out for Skyward and moves the Legion collection into the place of Wax and Wayne 4, reflecting what I actually wrote this year. (Note, these are always very speculative. And Peter is probably already worried about Stormlight 4.)

September 2018: Stephen Leeds/Legion Collection

November 2018: Skyward

Fall 2019: Wax and Wayne 4

Sometime 2019: Skyward 2

Sometime 2020: Stormlight 4

Sometime 2020: Skyward 3

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

My Year

January–June: Oathbringer Revisions

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

June–Mid September: The Apocalypse Guard

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

September–October: Legion 3

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

October–November: Skyward

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

November–December: Oathbringer Tour

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

December so far: Skyward

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

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Torrieltar

For those who haven't seen this before, Brandon recently updated his website to show that he's started working on a new "Mystery Project".

Anyways, Brandon mentioned in his interview with Crendor that, over the summer, he finally managed to craft a really solid outline for "The Dark One", and I'm almost certain this is his mystery project.

"The Dark One" is a Cosmere YA story that has stymied Brandon for years on end, so it'd be no surprise that he'd want to write it as soon as possible now that he's "finally cracked it" and has a storyline he's confident with. I can just see him cackling at the idea of springing this on us out of the blue after all these years. We're on to you, Brandon!

Brandon Sanderson

It was almost Dark One...but I have other plans for that right now.

This is a different book that has been brewing for many years that I finally decided to work on. I probably won't talk about this until State of the Sanderson, though, because it will take some explaining.

SpoCon 2013 ()
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Questioner

You recently announced in your blog post a new Cosmere short story called Skyward. I was wondering if you could talk about that a little bit?

Brandon Sanderson

Skyward is the working title. I've talked a little about it before in my class, so if you watch my videos, I talk about it a little bit in there. It will be a teen novel in the cosmere. It is science fiction era.

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

On tour, I did a reading from what up until now was listed as "Mystery Project" on my website. If you missed the newsletter explanation, I've pulled the book I was going to release next year (The Apocalypse Guard) because it needs more work. Instead, I've turned my attention to something else—and after a furious bout of writing, I'm confident in where it's going. So it's time to announce Skyward.

Like Steelheart and its sequels, this is a kind of borderline YA/Adult project. In the US, it will be published by Delacorte Press (publisher of Steelheart) in the Young Adult section of bookstores, while in the UK it will be published by Gollancz (publisher of almost all my books) in my main line, shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section of bookstores.

I've mentioned Skyward before in summaries of stories I'm working on, but haven't said much about it. I started noodling with the ideas in 2012, I believe. (The year that the Write About Dragons recordings of my lectures happened, where I mentioned it briefly—but not by name.) The first outline thoughts are dated summer 2013. It's a book I've been wanting to write for a long time, and it finally came together this year.

It has its roots in some of the very first books I ever read as a young man getting into fantasy. Like many young readers, I was captured by books about dragons, specifically books about boys who find dragons and learn to fly them. These have been staples of the fantasy genre for some fifty years. For me, it was The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey and Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. For others, the "boy and his dragon" story that captured them was Eragon, or How to Train Your Dragon.

I've always loved this story archetype, but I've never written anything using it. This is in part because…well, it's a familiar story. Too familiar. I wasn't certain I could add anything new to it. So I left it alone, letting ideas simmer, until in 2012 something struck me. Could I mash this together with a flight school story like Top Gun or Ender's Game, and do something that wasn't "a boy and his dragon," but was instead "a girl and her starfighter"?

Skyward was born, much like Mistborn, with me taking two ideas and mashing them together to see where they went. And they went someplace incredible—I grew increasingly excited about the project, as I saw in it a chance to both play in a space I loved, and do some very interesting things with story and theme. It wasn't until this year that I got the personalities of the characters right, but I really got excited when I found a place for this in the lore of stories I'd been creating.

The official pitch is this: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

As I've played with Skyward over the years, I tried to pull it into the Cosmere, then found it didn't work there. However, it is in the continuity of something I've written before. Something that isn't the Cosmere, and isn't the Reckoners. And no, I won't say anything more for now.

The goal right now is to have Skyward done in time for a publication date of November 6, 2018. We'll see if I can meet that deadline! I'm optimistic. As always, you can follow along on the progress bar on my website. Look for a cover reveal and chance to pre-order soon!

Skyward release party ()
#35 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What made you want to write Skyward?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Skyward is a weird book in that it is a science fiction book based on a fantasy idea. Some of my favorite books when I was growing up were stories about a boy who finds a dragon egg or a dragon, and raises the dragon and then flies on the dragon, all sorts of fun stuff happens. And I've always wanted to do one of these stories. One of the very first books I ever read in fantasy was Dragonsblood by Jane Yolen, which I just reread so I could write a little review of it. And it's great. One of my favorite books of all time is The White Dragon, by Anne McCaffrey. And you'll find some Anne McCaffrey references in this book, you won't have to look that hard. But the idea was I wanted to do one of these books, but I never felt like I could give a good spin to it. And it is when I combined it with some other worldbuilding I had done in a science fiction universe and changed it from "a boy and his dragon" to "a girl and her spaceship" that the story really started to connect, because the worldbuilding that I had built for this galactic science fiction really clicked with this story. And that was kind of the breakthrough that I made, was combining these two things together.

So, Skyward came from me wanting to write a story about a dragon. It just turns out the dragon is a spaceship with a really weird AI.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#36 Copy

SomeLameName7173

[Skyward] looks like it will be a very fun book. How much of the book will actually be released before publishing? and how long is the book

Brandon Sanderson

Book is 110k words long. And...right now I can't remember how much I talked them into releasing. Somewhere between a third and half, I believe.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#37 Copy

6th_account_so_far

How much of an impact did interviewing professional fighter pilots have on the story? Did anything learned from them actually change parts of the book in significant ways? Did you learn anything weird or unusual that you found fascinating?

Brandon Sanderson

The pilots were a HUGE help. The biggest issue I had, which was really hard to get through my skull, was the different ways that G-forces interacted with the human body.

I knew the basics, and had flight suits operating correctly and was watching for people pulling too many Gs. But the fighter pilots kept explaining things like "eyes out" and how it wasn't just number of Gs, it was the direction they were pulling. It wasn't until I called one of them and had a lengthy conversation that it started to click with me.

From there, some of the direct feelings of pulling Gs--feeling like your skin is sliding off your body, or that you've aged a hundred years--I got from them.

As always with a sf/f book, one of my goals is to walk the line between realism and fiction. I tried to make the battles feel real enough to not kick an actual pilot out of the story, but at the same time, I specifically gave the fighters technology that we don't have, in order to spice up how the combat would work.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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WeiryWriter

At one point in time you were planning for Skyward to be in the cosmere, which is no longer the case. If you were to pick a Shard, or Shards, that would fit Skyward what would they be? (Not necessarily the Shard that would have been featured in-cosmere, but a hypothetical Shard that fits the book/world in its current state.)

Brandon Sanderson

Skyward was more "The travels of Spensa, space pilot" than a true story back when it was in the cosmere. But as the story is right now, I'd say Autonomy would find it very interesting.

Legion Release Party ()
#40 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What technology that you have heard of recently in real life has inspired fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There's gotta be something in Skyward, right? Maybe?

Obviously, the Legion stories are, all three of them, inspired by real-world technology that I read something interesting about, and then go and write a story about. The first one, taking pictures of the past with a camera, not a real-world technology, but I was reading about photography and things like that. The second one, storing data inside of human cells, that's a real thing that lots of people are trying to do that, it's very interesting. And I didn't want to do a story about that, because I thought other people would do stories about that, so I did a story where someone storied data in a body and then lost it. And the third one is directly inspired by my kids love of their VR.