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Bonn Signing ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lirin was impressed by how calm he felt as he checked the child's gums for scurvy. Years of training as a surgeon served him well today. Breathing exercises, intended to keep his hand steady, worked just as well for covering up fugitives as they did for surgery.

"Here," he said to the child's mother, digging from his pocket a small carved carapace chit. "Show this to the woman at the dining pavilion, she will get you some juice for your son. Make certain he drinks it all each morning."

"Very thank you," the woman said in a thick Herdazian accent. She gathered her son close, then looked to Lirin with haunted eyes. "If... if child found-"

"I will make certain you are notified if we hear word of your other children," Lirin promised. "I'm sorry for your loss."

She nodded, wiped her cheeks and carried the child away towards the town. The morning fog obscured most of Hearthstone. On the outside, it looked like a group of dark shadowy lumps, like tumors. Lirin could barely make out the tarps stretched between buildings, offering meager shelter for the many refugees pouring out of Herdaz. Entire streets were closed off this way. The sounds of plates clinking and people talking rose through the fog. Those shanties would never last the storm, of course, but they could be quickly torn down and stowed. There just wasn't enough housing otherwise.

Glancing at the line of those waiting for admittance today, he wondered how many more people the town could hold. Erik and the other men - once guards at Roshone's mansion, now forbidden swords - organized the line and kept anyone from sneaking in town before Lirin saw them. He had persuaded Brightness Abijan that it was essential he see each refugee and judge if they'd be bringing dangerous diseases into the city. In truth, he wanted to intercept those who might need a wound bound or a treatment.

The woman carried her child up to the watchpost just out of town. Here, a group of armed parshmen lifted her hood and compared her face to descriptions that had been sent to them by the Fused. Hesina, Lirin's wife, stood nearby, ready to read the descriptions as required. She was one of the few women in the city who could read, though Brightness Abijan and several of the other parshwomen were quickly learning their lessons.

Parshmen carrying swords, learning to read. Even a year after their awakening, Lirin found the notion odd, but really, what was it to him? In some ways, little had changed, despite the coming of the Everstorm and the awakening of the Parshmen. Their skin was different, but the same old conflicts consumed them as easily as they had the Alethi brightlords. People who had a little taste for power wanted more and they sought it with the sword. Normal people bled and Lirin had to try to put them back together. He turned back to his line of waiting refugees - he still had at least a hundred to give medical assessments to today. And hiding among them was one in particular. In some ways, it was the man who was the author of all this suffering.

The next person in line had lost an arm in battle, but the wound was a few months old at this point and there was nothing that Lirin could do about the extensive scaring. He held up his finger and moved it back and forward before the man's face, watching his eyes track it.

Shock, Lirin thought. "Have you suffered wounds recently you are not telling me about?"

"No wounds," the man whispered, "but brigands, they took my wife, good surgeon. Took her, left me tied up to a tree, just walked off, laughing..."

Bother, mental shock wasn't something Lirin could cut out with a scalpel.

"Once you enter town," Lirin said, "look for tent fourteen and tell the women there I sent you to bed in that place."

The man nodded dully, though his stare was so hollow Lirin wondered if the man had registered the words. Memorizing the man's description - graying hair with a cowlick in the back, three large bulbs on the upper left cheek - Lirin made note to check tent fourteen for him later tonight. It was the place were he had assistants watching for refugees who might turn suicidal. It was, with so many to care for, the best that he could manage.

"On with you," Lirin said, gently pushing the man towards the town. "Tent fourteen, don't forget, I'm sorry for your loss." The man walked off.

"You say it so easily, surgeon," a voice said from behind Lirin.

Lirin stood and turned with surprise, then immediately bowed in respect. Abijan, the new city lord, was a parshwoman with stark white skin and fine red swirls on her cheeks.

"Brightness," he said, "What was that?"

"You told that man," Abijan said, "you were sorry for his loss. You say it so easily to each of them, but you seem to have the compassion of a stone. Do you feel, surgeon, for these people?"

"I feel, Brightness," Lirin said, "but I must be careful not to be overwhelmed by their pains. It's one of the first rules of becoming a surgeon."

"Curious," she said. The parshwoman raised her safehand, which was shrouded in the sleeve of her Havah. "Do you remember setting my arm when I was a child?"

"I do."

"Such a curious memory," she said. "It feels like a dream to me now, that life. I remember pain, confusion, a stern figure bringing me more pain. But now I recognize that you were simply seeking to heal me. So much trouble to go through for a slave child."

"I've never cared whom I heal, Brightness, slave or king.

"I'm sure the fact that Wistiow paid good money for me had nothing to do with it. He of course wanted his investment protected." She narrowed her eyes at Lirin. When she next spoke there was a cadence to her words as if she were speaking the words to a song. "Did you feel for me? The poor confused child slave whose mind had been stolen from her. Did you weep for us, surgeon, and the life we led?"

"A surgeon must not weep," Lirin said softly. "A surgeon can not afford to weep."

"Like a stone," she said again, then shock her head. "Have you seen any plaguespren?"

"Diseases aren't caused by spren," Lirin said. "It is spread by contaminated water, improper sanitation, or sometimes the breath of those who bear it."

"Superstition," she said.

"The wisdom of the Heralds," Lirin replied. "We should be careful." Fragments of old manuscripts, translations of translations of translations, spoke of ancient diseases that killed thousands, spreading quickly and persistently. Such things hadn't been recorded in any modern text he had read, but he had heard rumors of something strange on the west. A new plague they were calling it. Details were sparse. In truth, he wasn't sure what to watch for, but Abijan moved on without further complaint to him. Her attendants, a group of elevated parshmen and parshwoman joined her. Though their clothing was of Alethi cuts and fashion, the colors were lighter, more muted than humans might wear. The Fused had explained that the singers in the past eschewed light, bright colors as to not distract from their distinctive skin patterns. Lirin sensed the searched for identity in the way that Abijan and the other parshmen acted. Their accents, their dress, their mannerisms - they were all distinctively Alethi, but they hung on what the Fused said about the lives of their ancestors and tried whenever they could to emulate them. He turned to the next group of refugees - a complete family for once - and though he should have been happy to see that, he couldn't help wondering how difficult it was going to be to feed five children and parents who were flagging from poor nutrition. As he sent them on, a familiar figure moved down the line towards him.

Laral wore a simple servant's dress now, with a gloved hand instead of a sleeve, and she carried a water bucket. Ostensibly, she was seeing that nobody in line was thirsty. She didn't walk like a servant though. There was a certain determination about the young woman that no forced subservience could smother. The end of the world itself seemed about as bothersome to her as a poor harvest once had. She paused by Lirin, offering him a drink, ladled it to a fresh cup rather than taking straight from the bucket, as he insisted.

"He is three down," Laral whispered to Lirin, as he sipped. <Laral grabbed him.>

"Shorter than I expected him to be," Laral noted. "He is supposed to be a great general, leader of the Herdezian resistance. Looks more like a traveling merchant than he does a soldier."

"Genius comes in all shapes, Laral," Lirin said, waving for another drink. More to give him an excuse to keep talking.

"Still," she said, then fell silent as Durnash passed by, a tall parshmen with swirled black and red skin a sword on his back. Once he was well on his way she continued softly, "I'm honestly surprised at you, Lirin. Not even once have you suggested that we turn this man in. He'd be executed. You think him a criminal, though, don't you?"

"Criminal? I'm not sure, but he bears a terrible responsibility. He perpetuated a war against an overwhelming enemy force, he threw away the lives of his men in a hopeless battle."

"Some would call that heroism."

"Heroism is a myth you tell idealistic young men to persuade them to go bleed for you," Lirin said. "It got my son killed and my other son taken from me. You can keep your heroism, and give me back the lives of those wasted on foolish conflicts."

General Reddit 2018 ()
#5 Copy

Fiechair

Is Eshonai really going to be the flashback character for book 4? Don't you mean Venli?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it is Eshonai. (And has always been planned to be Eshonai.) As the series progressed, I knew I wanted to do some unusual things with the flashbacks to keep them all from repeating the same themes and format. My hope is to craft something that is very interesting in the way that it both informs what Venli is doing in the future, and expands upon who Eshonai was in the past.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#6 Copy

Mrrobot112

Eshonai is flashback character [for Stormlight Four], but she is dead in the present. So...who will be main protagonists in the main timeline? Hope for Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin will be as important as they were in first three books)

Brandon Sanderson

Eshonai will still be the flashback character, and Venli will take a larger role to provide counterpart past/present. But, as always, you will find a focus on all five protagonists from this sequence. (I view them as Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai/Venli, Szeth.)

Mrrobot112

I heard it would be one year time gap (in world) between books 3 and 4, which make me think about structure of the book. Does it mean, something important could happen during this year, and then it will be explained in some form(maybe another set of flashbacks)? If so, it's hard for me to visualize the book structure: main timeline, Eshonai's flashbacks and another set of flashbacks for past year? Seems like a mess. Or it will be like Mistborn era 1 time gaps between each book? Main narrative just continues without getting stuck with one-year break, and nothing important happens off-screen. It will be nice to get some qualification from you, if possible. Cause now I'm a bit confused.

Brandon Sanderson

Right now, I've got it like Mistborn--we're checking back in a year, as I need to give some things time to progress in world. We'll see when I actually write it, though.

Mrrobot112

Thanks! But please, don't do things like Alien 3-movie, if you know what I mean. It's when they did a time gap between two movies and at the beginning of the new movie they told you that your favorite character died during the time gap, deal with it. This is the worst thing ever and a reason I'm always a bit skeptical about time gaps in fiction. Just hate when things like that happen off-screen. Just don't do it with your books, please. At least can you promise you wouldn't? And what do you think about this trope in general?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually want to write an essay about that very trope (I call it the Newt Principle.) You might see it on my website at some point.

Things will happen during the gap, I'm afraid. You might like it, you might not, but I do plan some of the flashbacks in the second half to help cover this time--so you'll see it eventually. If it helps, I'm pretty sure I understand the dangers of the Newt Principle, and how to not fall into that trap.

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

Questioner 1

In The Stormlight Archive, do we ever find out how the Assassin in White, how he gets the sword?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that should be next book.

Questioner 2

And does it intertwine any more with Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh... that you're gonna have to wait a little while for. You're talking about Nightblood. I thought you were talking about the Honorblade. Next book will explain how he got the Honorblade. How he ends up with Nightblood, really how Nightblood got onto the planet, is gonna take a little while. I will work it in. But it's gonna take a while.

Questioner 2

Does that sword have a character arc, because it feels--

Brandon Sanderson

The sword is important and relevant to multiple series.

Questioner 2

It's getting better.

Brandon Sanderson

He has learned some things in the intervening years. He learns real slowly.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#9 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.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

With the Stormlight Archive, when you created this, do you know everything? Do you know the end of the book at the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

I do, but... You have to be willing to change as you go, as the characters mature and you mature. For instance, Adolin wasn't gonna be a main character in the original outline. And as I developed the first book, I realized I needed another perspective of somebody who could offer perspective on the things that were happening. That was Adolin's perspective. So I brought him in as a main character. So that wasn't in the original outline.

And for instance, the ending of Book 2, with Kaladin, was actually originally the ending of Book 3. So I ended up switching those around. So things like this happen.

Books 4 and 5, my dividing line, where those two divide, is not really strict right now, and so one of the things I'm doing in outlining is saying, "Let's make sure Book 4 feels like a book, rather than half of a book that Book 5 ends."

FanX 2018 ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

So...all the 3 Way of Kings books begin from a different person's perspective in the past. Who're you doing next time?

Brandon Sanderson

Let me see...so Gavilar is last, so he's not fourth. I think it's Navani, but I'm not 100% sure. Yes, I think it's Navani, but I will have to look at what I've got in my notes. The 4th one's been the wild card. I always went with Szeth first and Gavilar last.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Main Projects

The Stormlight Archive

Book Three is done! Edgedancer is out!

I'll be spending about four months of 2017 doing revisions on Oathbringer, then will have a tour in the fall. (Might manage to get to the UK on that one too.) Things are looking good for Stormlight and Roshar, and not just because we are working on a film. I'm excited for you to read the next installment.

I'm officially adding "Oathbringer (Stormlight 3) third draft" to the progress bar, now that I'm almost done with the second draft. (Most of which was completed during writing the first draft, as I explained above.)

Book Four will probably not be released until 2020—I'll start managing those expectations now, rather than trying to promise 2019 like I thought I might be able to do, once upon a time.

As I always promise, I'll see if I can speed that up. But if you take the year it took to outline Book Three and add eighteen months to actually write it, we're already at 2.5 years—not counting other projects I want to do.

Status: Book Three in revisions, out in 2017.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#17 Copy

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

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#18 Copy

Pagerunner

Do you have a working title for Stormlight Four? Have you chosen the interlude character yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Interlude character is Eshonai. I've had several working titles over the years, but one that stuck around a while was The Song of Changes. I'm unlikely to keep this, as it was never meant to be a final title.

Pagerunner

Interludes are Eshonai again? Like in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry, I was getting my lines crossed. Flashbacks are Eshonai--the interludes are not something I've announced right now.

Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
#19 Copy

Michael M. Jones

What's next for you with this series and in general?

Brandon Sanderson

My outline for Skyward calls for four books. The sequel will come out a year from this November. Starting in January, I plan to work on the fourth [book] in The Stormlight Archive, and that'll take about 18 months. I split my time between that series and other projects to prevent myself from getting burned out. When I finish a big epic fantasy, I need something different to get excited about for a while. So I'll jump back into this series after the next Stormlight.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#23 Copy

Questioner

So in one of your State of the Sanderson posts you said that the "Wax and Wayne" series was going to come out in late 2019, but then you decided to write another trilogy that lasted two years, so--

Brandon Sanderson

So Wax & Wayne 4. Abandoning Apocalypse Guard has put me a little on the rocks for when I'm going to do that. Right now I'm planning Wax & Wayne 4 to be a book I use as a break from doing revisions on Stormlight 4. Stormlight 4 I have to start in January if I'm going to meet my stated goal of having them come out every three years, which I realize is a long time between books, but remember that they're four times longer than a normal book! *laughter*. You're laughing, but Oathbringer was 450,000 words, Skyward is 110,000. So Oathbringer is longer than four Skywards. I do have Skyward 2 done, and am going through the editing process right now. *applause* So Wax & Wayne 4 is very much on my radar-- I wrote the first one taking a break from Towers of Midnight, so the chances are good I'll need a break from Stormlight 4 and write it there. I don't know if it'll be out next year or the following summer. Stormlight 4 we're shooting for the fall of 2020, and I should be able to get it right around that time if I start in January, so that's the plan.

Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hey, all. Brandon here, back for another update on your book.

January went well, and the outlining process is moving along. I've set the percentage bar perhaps a little higher than it deserves to be, considering that I plan to get the outline for Book Five done as well y the time that hits 100%, but I haven't started it yet. That said, I'm feeling very good at what I've accomplished so far. I've cracked a few tricky problems in the plotting, ones I anticipate being the toughest parts of the outline--which makes me optimistic that I'm further along than the wordcount might indicate.

I did have to stop to do a quick 3.0 revision on Starsight, the sequel to Skyward, which is coming out in November. That's finished as of around 1:00am this morning. I'll be diving back into Stormlight now, though I'm in LA this week doing pitch meetings for Dark One as a television show. (So far so good, but these are very preliminary-type meetings, so don't expect any big announcements anytime soon.)

Plan is to be finished with the outline of Book Four by March 1st. (Tentative title: The Rhythm of War, but I'm not 100% on that yet.) Then I'll dive into the book.

Writing a Stormlight book is not an easy or quick process. To finish on time, I'll need to do 40k words a month every month this year--which is a tall order. (My average is around 30k a month, though, so it's not impossible.) That would have the first draft done by January 1st, then give me six months of grueling revisions to finish the final draft by July, which would allow a Christmastime release. This isn't set in stone, though, and if I don't meet this schedule the book could slip into the beginning of 2021.

For now, I'm going to solicit a little help from you. While writing Stormlight 3, I built a specific playlist of some of my favorite epic-fantasy-feeling songs. I've posted it before, but if you missed that, find it here.

You can click on my profile to find the similar playlist I made for Skyward. I have been searching through other playlists people have made on Spotify with the right kind of music so I can build a similar playlist for Stormlight 4, but I thought I'd kick the question to you folks as well.

Do you have any suggestions? What songs in specific (songs are better than artists, as I try to keep my playlists varied with only a couple of songs from any one given artist) do you listen to while reading the Stormlight books? What songs would you suggest to me that I listen to while writing the book? (Other than the Kaladin album, of course.)

Generally, I prefer things that have an epic instrumental feel to them--though I don't mind words here and there. And I get tired of things that sound TOO trailer-esque. (Inception sound. Inception sound. Inception sound.

For reference, my favorite song on the Oathbringer playlist--and the one I play in my head at the climax--is Alive by Phil Lober. Anyway, please suggest things for me to put on my playlist. Songs that are on theme, or even songs you just think are epic for whatever reason. (Though do look through the other two playlists I've made first, to double check the song isn't on one of them. I probably won't put any repeats on this playlist.)

And as a final note, I won't be having replies from this thread sent to my inbox, and I don't know if I'll have time for many specific replies to questions. But I do plan a more involved AMA sometime in the near future, where I can answer questions. I will also hop back on the thread at some point and grab the suggested songs.

Anyway, I'll give you another update when the outline is finished. Until then, Journey before Destination.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects

Stormlight

As you just read about above, I am on track for starting this book on January first. I'll begin with a reread of the first three books, as I find I need a periodic refresher, even on my own novels. This will also be important for helping me really nail down the outlines for books four and five.

As I've worked on the Stormlight series, I've shifted a lot of things around in the outlines. Famously, I swapped Dalinar's book and Szeth's book (making Book Three have Dalinar's flashbacks instead of Szeth's). But along the same lines, I moved a chunk of Book Three into Book Two, and then moved around smaller arcs for Three, Four, and Five.

The Stormlight series has a very odd structure. Each novel is outlined as a trilogy plus a short story collection (the interludes) and is the length of four regular books. This lets me play with narrative in some interesting ways—but it also makes each volume a beast to write. The other superstructure to the series is the spotlight on the ten orders of Radiants, with each book highlighting one of them while also having a flashback sequences for a character tied to one of those orders. If that weren't complicated enough, the series is organized in two major five-book arcs.

What this means is that I need to do some extra work on books four and five, as they together tie off an arc. There are some small plot lines I've been pushing back from book to book as I nail down what each volume will include—but I can't do that with Book Five, as it will be the capstone of this sequence. So I need the outlines to be tight to make certain I get everything into them that needs to be there.

Anyway, that's a long way to say, essentially, I'll start posting updates to the Stormlight subreddit in January, and you can follow along there or on the progress bar we'll post here on my website on January first. I've commissioned a special piece of artwork to be used in Stormlight Four blog posts, which we should be able to reveal next year. (I'm pretty excited about it.) So you have that to look forward to as well!

Note that while I'm optimistic about this being my fall 2020 release, delays could happen if the book doesn't come out smoothly on the first draft. I'll keep you updated with regular posts. A lot will depend on how long the revisions take.

Status: Book Four is my main project for 2019, for an anticipated 2020/2021 release.

Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Time for another update on your book, everyone! If you missed the previous update, it can be found right here. This update will get into some nitty-gritty outlining and wordcount details, which some of you might find boring. (Just a fair warning.)

Since the second update, I've indeed started into the book full-time. However, you might have noticed a little delay in the progress bar ticking up. This is because at the end of February (just before going to Hawaii) I decided that Starsight (Skyward Two) needed some more work.

I requested that the publisher push that book back a couple of months (it's now scheduled for first week in December) as I did a medium-sized overhaul based on some decisions I'd made after reading the beta reader comments. I'm pleased to say that revision went really well, and Starsight is in excellent shape. It did put me a little behind on Stormlight Four, I'm afraid. Looking at my tracking spreadsheet (which I used to gauge how I'm moving along) when I started into Stormlight four first part of April, I was about 45k words behind. I'm moving at a good speed, and am about 42k words behind now, with about 15k words finished.

This is merely a way of marking guideposts; I don't intend rush the story in order to meet arbitrary deadlines. This is partially me just trying to give you, and my publishers, an idea of when to expect the book. If I finish it by January 1st, the book can come out Christmas 2020. If I don't, we will probably have to nudge it back.

For reference, one percent on my progress bar is 4k words, and I anticipate the final book being 400k words long. A lot could happen during the next year of writing--the book could go super long, like happened with Oathbringer. Or I could run into some serious plot problems, which require time to work out. (For example, I've already thrown away chapter one after doing a short reading of it at an earlier convention--trying again with a slightly different tone.)

That said, I really like the new first chapter, and am now well into the fourth chapter. I promised you an update on the outline this time, and I'm looking at this book in a different way from the last two. As you may remember, I tend to plot each Stormlight book as if it were three volumes, combined together. (Along with a short story collection in the form of the interludes.)

With books two and three, the outline divided the novels into "books" by section. Part one of Oathbringer, for example, was "book one" of my three-part outline. Rhythm of War, however, is plotted more like The Way of Kings--meaning the separate books in it are divided by viewpoints.

In TwoK, Kaladin's complete arc was "book one" of my outline. Dalinar's was "book two" and Shallan's was "book three" with all of them being interwoven into the final product, and with Part Five being a capstone epilogue to them all. This novel is similar, though with more viewpoints.

We have what I'm calling the Primary Arc, which focuses on four characters who are all together in one place, their plots interweaving. The Secondary Arc is three different characters, their arcs interweaving, but in a separate location from the primary arc. The Tertiary arc is the last two characters, in a third location.

There will be ties between the three arcs, but the book will read a little more like TWoK than Oathbringer--with several separate stories that imply interesting things for one another, but which generally focus on their own goals. Book Five should, then, be an interweaving like Book Two or Book Three.

That's the plan, anyway! I'm not 100% done with the outline yet, as I want to explore some viewpoints first to make sure everything is lining up the way I want.

The next update probably won't be until mid summer, as I want to take a nice chunk of writing time to determine how things are progressing before I come back to talk here.

Until then, please enjoy listening to the community playlist of favorite epic tracks that remind them of Stormlight. This is what came of the previous thread, where I asked for suggested music to listen to while I work on Book Four. I've been doing so, and am slowly cultivating a shorter list of my favorite tracks that I'll release at a later date. Thanks to /u/DevilsAndDust- and my assistant Adam for putting this together.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

Previously, you told me that Hoid loves bacon. Is there any other thing that you can tell me about Hoid that we won't be able to RAFO?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, I'm running out of stuff to tell you about Hoid that I can't RAFO because I get asked this enough that I forget what I've told people and what I haven't. I'm particularly fond of his monologue for the fourth book. So, be looking forward to that. It's a little different than the others.

Planet Comicon ()
#31 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lirin was of the opinion that tragedy was the means by which the Almighty proved the virtue of men. How else was one to explain the events of the past year?

He ducked his head and stepped to the side respectfully, pulling his cloak tight as <Abijan?> strolled past. He remembered setting her arm in a splint some ten years before, soon after her arrival in the town, though she’d been called <Adi?> back then. Brightlord Wistiow had paid good money for her, and after she’d broken her arm, he’d wanted his investment protected.

Now, instead of a simple smock, the parshwoman wore a fine silken havah. White, which was an odd color. Lirin didn’t think he’d ever seen a human woman wear a dress that shade. But the Fused taught that in the past, the parshmen—or singers, as they now began to be called—had preferred solid and often muted colors to not distract from the patterns of their skin. <Abijan>, like many of the town’s new parshman Brightlords, listened intently to what the Fused said about the past. They treated the ways of the ancient parshmen like scripture, but couldn’t cover up that they were more Alethi than they were like those old singers. <Abijan> wore her safehand in a sleeve, and when she spoke to her companions, two townspeople who currently had her favor, she didn’t have even a hint of an accent.

Her skin patterns were swirling shapes, like mixing paint, red on white. Lirin had to admit the pattern was indeed striking against the white robe. He kept his eyes down, however, and remained by the side of the pathway, waiting until the parshwoman disappeared in the morning fog. Such extreme deference wasn’t required, but it was best to be careful when you were known as a potential troublemaker.

Lirin pulled his cloak tight again and continued on his way through the dense fog. Though the sun was well above the horizon, he saw it only as a vaguely circular white blotch. They’d been seeing spring weather lately in Hearthstone, and that meant morning fog. A welcome shroud for his chosen activities this day.

As he neared the perimeter of the town, he passed an increasing number of improvised shanties, blankets and tarps stretching between rooftops, making a kind of shelter for the crowded refugees. Entire streets were closed off this way. The sound of plates clinking and people talking rose through the fog surrounding him. These shanties would never last a storm, of course, but they could quickly be torn down and stowed. There just wasn’t enough housing otherwise. Hearthstone, as one of the towns of modest size this close to the Herdazian border, was clogged with refugees these days. In Herdaz, men could claim to fight for freedom, but how free were the corpses they left to bleed into the storm waters?

In some ways, little had changed, despite the coming of the Everstorm and the awakening of the parshmen. The skin of some involved in the battles changed, but the same old conflicts raged. Those who had a little taste of power wanted more, and sought it with the sword. The normal people bled, and men like Lirin had to try to put them back together. At least it seemed to almost be over. Word was that the resistance in Herdaz had finally collapsed, and the singers were securing dominance in the country. That meant more refugees for a time, but maybe after that, everything could settle back down and men could stop killing one another.

Unfortunately, as he emerged from a line of shanties, he found a sorry lot waiting for him. It was hard to get a count in the fog, but there had to be a good hundred people here. And with Hearthstone already nearing bursting, where were they going to fit so many?

Brandon Sanderson

So the rest of the chapter outline goes—and the rest of it’s in a real big mess—Lirin is there, he’s kind of looking through the refugees for sickness. Really, he’s keeping an eye out for that Herdazian general that had an interlude in the third book. He’s gonna be relevant here, they’re gonna try and hide him. But then they’re looking through the refugees, and one of them is Kaladin!

Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Back in update #3, I promised to check back with you mid summer. I'm here a little early, as this felt like a good point to let you know how your book is going. Yesterday, I finished Part One of the novel, which (at 111k words) puts us at just under the 28% mark, assuming the book is 400k words total. (The first book was around that; the next two were longer, so fair warning, the % may not be entirely accurate.)

The short, TLDR version, is this: Part One is done, the book is looking good, and I'm modestly confident in a 2020 release.

Read below for a more fiddly, numbers oriented analysis of how things are going.

I gave myself 10 months to do the rough draft as a hypothetical deadline. That is a little on the quick side, but doable. That translates to about 1300 words a day, if I were writing seven days a week. (Which I don't do--I usually manage to write new fiction four days a week, with one day dedicated to email, meetings, newsletters, grading student finals, that sort of thing.) Once in a while, I sneak in a little work on Saturday, but I don't count on it.

What this really means is during those four days writing time, I need to do about 9k total words to keep pace. This wordcount number, I should warn you, is more a way for me to judge my progress rather than it is an absolute requirement. The writing process needs to remain flexible, even for someone who likes a strong outline like myself, and while guidelines for wordcounts are helpful, I'm careful not to treat them like a factory quota, to be achieved regardless of quality.

They are helpful for pace, though. In an average week, I commonly do between 8k and 15k of writing, so this is a manageable goal. With that in mind, how is it going?

Well, as talked about in the last post, I started Stormlight about a month late because of some work I decided needed to be done on Starsight. That meant I started the book at about 44k words behind in April. Steady writing through April up until May saw me making up ground. When I flew to Germany for the tour there, I was 31k behind instead, and was feeling good about the progress.

Germany was, of course, a disaster for new writing. (Tours almost always are.) I got some work done on a sequel novella to Sixth of the Dusk, but no Stormlight writing. (Really complex narrative is difficult for me to do when traveling a lot, as it requires more focus than I can often give.)

When I got back, I had slipped to 52k words behind. I dove back in, and restored the writing grove for Roshar, and have made back most of that time. As of yesterday, I'm 33k words behind, assuming I want to have the rough draft done by January 1st. (Which is pretty much a must if I want to release the book in 2020.)

As before, I do need to give the warning that if the book needs more time, I WILL take it. I recognize that is what most of you would like anyway, so we'll see what happens. Part One, however, turned out very close to my plan--and I'm pleased with it. As I said, this book follows more of a Book One style plot than a Book Two or Three style plot. The characters will be mostly isolated doing their own thing in three separate plot lines, interwoven in the narrative, but with little interaction between them. In fact, the three different arcs should (if I work it out right) hit their climaxes at three different points, giving a more sequential hit of more intimate plot moments rather than one big enormous finale, like happened in Books Two/Three. (Not that there's anything wrong with that; I just prefer some variety. Book Five, as you should be able to guess, will be more like Books Two/Three than Books One/Four.)

So my next step is to dive into a revision of Part One. This will put us a little more behind, as it will take about a week--but it will let me get the first chunk (which is book length on its own) to Moshe for editing over the next few months. That way, we can use his time in parallel to mine, as well as let Karen do continuity edits and Peter (eventually) do an editorial pass.

If that works as it should, and if I do this with each part as I finish them, I'll have 3/4 of the book waiting with editorial work done on it come January 1st. That will let me dive into a third draft immediately.

My goal after the revision of Part One is to pick one of the character clusters mentioned in the previous updates, and work on it straight through to the end. (I'll probably pick the second arc, which should be around 80k words long and follow three viewpoint characters in their distinct plot sequence.)

As always, thanks for reading and for putting up with my eccentricities as a writer. As a note, like in the other posts, I will not be sending replies to my inbox--so apologies if I miss something you say in this thread.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#40 Copy

Questioner

I have a question about the Sibling, actually. So, do you-- Can you say something about who or what the Sibling is?

Brandon Sanderson

Who or what the Sibling is? I can tell you, the Sibling will be a matter of discussion in a future novel of The Stormlight Archive. That's a RAFO. You will find out a lot more as the narrative progresses. The Sibling is very relevant, but I don't want to say too much right now. 

Questioner

There is a lot of rumors that there's something going on...

Brandon Sanderson

..Saying too much about the Sibling is gonna give big spoilers, so I'm just gonna stay quiet on it, alright?

Legion Release Party ()
#41 Copy

Questioner

Are we just going to see Szeth kill a lot of people in the next book?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth has some better influences than he's had in a long while. He did have some good influences early on. But it's been a long time since he has had as good influences as he now has. I wouldn't count Nightblood as one of those. But at the same time, he's had worse influences than Nightblood.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
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Peter Ahlstrom

Well, on Friday Brandon was explaining what's in book 4 and 5, and after he got well into it I said, "So we're in book 5 now, right?" and he said, "No..."

_Kelsier_

Since each book is getting longer than the others and having heard what he wants in book 4, do you think he will have to split book 4? I don't want to look past the mark, but it seems like he's on track to have to publish Stones Unhallowed parts 1 and 2.

Peter Ahlstrom

In this case, he could probably move some plot elements from book 4 to book 5. The issues that make Oathbringer unsplittable probably won't apply then.