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Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#2 Share

Nadine

Will The Way of Kings series be based on one of the worlds and magic systems you have already created or are you inventing a totally new one for this series?

Brandon Sanderson

It will be new. There are going to be a lot of different types of magic in the world (I see there's a question below asking about that, so I'll answer more there.) But there will be two main magic systems for the first book. The first will deal with the manipulation of fundamental forces. (Gravity, Strong/weak atomic forces, Electromagnetic force, that sort of thing.) The second will be a transformation based magic system, whereby people can transform objects into one of the world's ten elements.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#4 Share

Questioner

Stormlight feels very different to me on so many levels. You've got the interludes where we get to get a lot of worldbuilding, we get to see more of the planet than just one place. But there is also this sense that a lot of your books we're experiencing the aftermath of something. And in Stormlight that something is coming. How is this affecting the way that you are building your world for us?

Brandon Sanderson

So, this one's going get you a story, okay? So here's the story... So, alright, darkest time in my writing career, okay? Was when I was writing books 11 and 12 unpublished. I was getting rejection letters, and they were rejection letters for things like Elantris and Dragonsteel, which I was really confident in. Elantris, Dragonsteel, and White Sand were the good books during the era of unpublished Brandon.

White Sand by the way, is out as a graphic novel now. You can also read the prose version by emailing me through my website form, we just send it out for free, so you can compare it to the graphic novel. And by the way, Dragonsteel, you're like "Oh, Hoid's origin story", we'll do that eventually. The Shattered Plains started in Dragonsteel, and I pulled them out, and I pulled Dalinar out, and a bunch of stuff, when I built Stormlight. And so it's really a schizophrenic book now-- Schizeophrenic is the wrong term, but half of it was what became Stormlight, and half of it is Hoid's origin story. So, the half that is Hoid's origin story will eventually get a book.

Anyway, darkest point-- I'm not selling anything, everybody is telling me like "Your books are too long". This is the number one thing I'm getting from rejections, "Your books are too long, and your books are not market friendly, in that the worlds are too weird". I'm getting this-- You gotta remember this is-- I love George but  this is right after George got huge, and George introduced gritty, low magic, earth-like fantasy as kind of "the thing" that was big. And his books were large too, I don't know why people kept telling me mine were too big, but they wanted gritty and they wanted low magic and they wanted earth-like. So I was getting rejection after rejection on these things. What people were buying were things like Joe Abercrombie's stuff, which is great, Joe's a great writer. But you know, short things that gave people a similar feel to George RR Martin, but you know, but were low magic, kind of earth-like medieval societies. Basically shorter versions of George is basically what they wanted. So I actually would go to cons and they would be like "Have you read the beginning of Game of Thrones? Write something like that" and so finally against better advice, I sat down and said "alright I'll try something like that". And you guys do not want to read Brandon Sanderson trying to be George RR Martin. *laughter* It was embarrassing, and so I wrote these books, each something different.

And I like trying to do something different, I'm not sad I tried to do something different, but at the end I was like "I can't do this, these books are crap". The worst books I wrote were the two that were like books 11 and 12. Like I shouldn't be getting worse as a writer, the more books I write. And so I was in a funk and I finally just said, "You know what? Screw it, I'm gonna write the biggest, baddest, most awesome book that I can!" They say they're too [long], this is gonna be twice as long! They say that worlds are too weird, I'm gonna do the weirdest world that I've always wanted to do. I'm gonna write the type of fantasy book that nobody's writing that I wish they would write. And I'm gonna break all these rules that say 'Oh don't do flashbacks'. Screw you, I'm gonna put flashbacks in every book! They say 'Don't do prologues', screw you, I'm doing three prologues!" *laughter* It really does, because Way of Kings starts with the Heralds. Prologue. Then it goes to Szeth. Prologue. And then it goes to the viewpoint of the guy in Kaladin's squad. Also a prologue. And then it jumps like eight months and then we start the story. I did all the stuff they told me not to do because I just wanted to make the biggest, most coolest and baddest epic I could-- bad in a good term.

And I finished this book, which was basically flipping the bird to the entire publishing industry, right? And that-- Within a month of finishing that is when Moshe, who I told you is bipolar, got manic and read through his backlist of books that people had sent him, including one I'd sent him two years earlier, which was Elantris. He'd never looked at it, he read it in a night, he called me manic, and said "I wanna buy your book!". And actually what happened is, he called me and I'd moved since then, and gotten a new phone number. We used to have landlines back then, I know. I had a cellphone by the time he called me but before I had my landline number on it, and I'd actually--this is gonna date me--my first email address was AOL. I was like "Free email." And then I realized AOL-- I wont speak ill of-- Yes I will. AOL sucked. *laughter* And so I'm like "Well I need to get my own email address", so I went and got one, but that meant the email had changed. And I sent to anyone who actively had one of my books on submission like "This is my new contact info", but he'd had it for two years. I figured I was never seeing it-- If you were on the last panel, I mentioned that I sent things into Tor and they vanished, and I never got rejections-- I never got rejected from Tor, I sent them four books, they're still just sitting there somewhere I'm sure. But, so I finished this big beast of a book, right, and then I sell Elantris, and I'm like "Great, now I don't know what to do". So my editor is like "Oh what are you working on now, I want to see that too", so I sent him Way of Kings, and I still remember when he called me, he was like "Uhh... Well this isn't the sort of thing that new authors usually publish. Can we split it?" and I said "No, you split the book and it's a really bad book, 'cause you have all the buildup but none of the payoff". And he's like "Ughhh", and I said "That's alright, I've got this idea for Mistborn", I pitched him Mistborn. "I'll do Way of Kings later", there were some things I wanted to fix about it, it actually needed something, and I didn't know what that something was yet, and I didn't learn it until working on The Wheel of Time, but that's a different story.

But you're asking why is Stormlight so different. Well Stormlight is a series like of my heart. This is the book that I wrote when nothing else mattered, and I thought I might never get published and I just wanted to do what I felt that the genre needed that nobody was doing, right? And so I felt like fantasy needed to be pushed a little further in its worldbuilding, and so I did that. I felt like-- There just a lot going on. The interludes were kind of my solution to the problem Robert Jordan and George RR Martin were having, which, they're fantastic writers, I was able to learn from them. And Robert Jordan, I think one of the problems he had was that he fell in love with the side characters, and then these side characters took over the story to an extent that then it was hard to manage. I'm not bashing on Robert Jordan, he talked about this, he talked about book 10 and how being a parallel novel was a mistake. I could learn from his mistakes, it doesn't make me a better writer, what it means is I can learn from what they did. And I said "Okay, I'm going to put pressure valves in my book, I'm gonna put a short story collection in each novel where I get to write about side characters, and those who wan to skip them can skip them, and those who don't can read them", and I'll just make sure that I contain them in these short stories, these interludes, and that lets me do what I want but also lets the book keep its focus. So I'm doing a lot of things with these books that were like my love letter to the epic fantasy genre, and so I'm enthusiastic that you actually all like it and are willing to read them. *applause*

Kraków signing ()
#5 Share

Questioner

Does titles of the five books from the first arc create a ketek?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I actually considered it but it’s just too confusing so I actually tossed that out before I even started the first book. But I did consider it. It just was too confusing.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#6 Share

Questioner

What’s the hardest power you've created to find a balance for?

Brandon Sanderson

Hardest power to create a balance for? I'd say first is Wheel of Time, but I didn't create that... Hardest to balance… They've all been fairly easy so far. My guess is that it will end up being Stormlight just because I am doing so many books in that world, and I'm not resetting characters as much as I am in Mistborn, that I'm going to have to be careful about power creep... That's an excellent question.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#10 Share

Questioner

So the first one is Kaladin's backstory, the second is Shallan's backstory, who's next?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually haven't been able to decide yet. It's going to be one of the five for the first five books are Kaladin and Shallan and then Dalinar, Szeth, and Eshonai and I can't decide which one matches the next book best. And I'm going to have to write it...

Argent

What's the current list for the back five?

Brandon Sanderson

Current list for the back five... Jasnah, Lift, Ash, Renarin, and Taln.
Footnote: Brandon eventually decided to go with Dalinar for Stormlight 3.
Shadows of Self release party ()
#11 Share

Questioner

Do you already know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end. Yes I do! *crowd cheers* I'm an outliner, so I have lots of plans. I have not yet written the last scene. I wrote the last scene of Book 5 just so I had it in hand, 'cause there's two five book arcs. But I've known for many years and what's going to happen is hidden in the books already. So! *crowd woos* When it happens you'll be able to go "OH!!" When it happens in twenty years-- *laughter*

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#12 Share

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

The drawers with the infused gemstones. Is that the Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No. That is not the Stormlight Archive.

Questioner 2 [PENDING REVIEW]

Is there a Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. But... it means the books. The archive of books that are all named after in-world books. The Archive is a pun on archived collection of books.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
#13 Share

SageOfTheWise

Aww, was really hoping to get a Rysn book. Hopefully we still get a lot more of her anyway.

She can team up with Adolin and make their own club for people too cool for books.

Brandon Sanderson

Rysn will appear again. Not getting a book does not mean someone isn't an important character, just that I don't consider them as having a flashback sequence worthy of structuring a book around.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#15 Share

HellaSober

(Until the second five books, where our primary characters will shuffle. So you Renarin fans will have to be patient.)

Do you worry that assuring us that a character will likely survive the first arc of the series removes some of the tension in their scenes?

(While you've discussed the idea that a main character can have a book about them while they are dead when Dalinar was expected to be central to book 5, this seems different)

Brandon Sanderson

I have said many times before that Renarin and Lift are main characters for the next five, but--as you point out--I've also said that I have no problem having a main character who is actually dead, and their story told through flashbacks and the stories of the other characters. Renarin is not safe, but you will see a lot more from him in the future, even if he does die.

To say more would be to give too many spoilers about the nature of the back five books.

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#16 Share

Shawn M. Halversen (paraphrased)

I asked him about the time between each of the original 99 desolations.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It turns out that the number 99 in the stories was made up, and that there were much fewer of them. He also then stated that the cosmere runs along a 10,000 year gap and that Roshar falls right into the middle of the timeline. He ended with "That should give you a perspective of the timeline and events of the desolations".

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#17 Share

Wetlander

How much time elapses between the beginning of the main part of the story [where they start out at the Shattered Plains] and the end of the series?

Brandon Sanderson

And the end of the series? Because the end of the series, um, we have a 15-year gap between [books number] 5 and 6. So, the first five will probably be Wheel of Time-ish, sort of, each one picks up where the last one left off; we have a little more time, maybe, than Wheel of Time, but not terribly much, so it will probably be just a couple of years for the first ones, but then we will jump.

London signing ()
#21 Share

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

For the first 5 SA books he's heavily outlined them. For the last 5 SA books he has outlines for the main climax scenes. For the flashback characters for the last 5 books he's not settled on which ones or order but current plan is for Taln, Ash (aka Shalash), Lift, Jasnah and Renarin.

He also specifically stated that for one of the flashback characters that they would be already dead (sounded like definitely dead not maybe dead).

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#23 Share

MarlonRand

Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.

What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.

One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.

I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.

Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.

Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.

Orem signing ()
#24 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So I think you dropped like, so many cosmere bombs in Oathbringer. And I'm just low-key worried that there's not going to be much more to reveal. I hope that that's not the case and I just want a small confirmation.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There is still plenty to reveal. Remember it's two five book arcs

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So we're okay?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah. I've still got a few bombs to drop.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#25 Share

Swamp-Spirit

We have a lot of Renarin questions just because he is a character we both care a lot about, just another what could you-- give us a tidbit about Renarin's relationship with Bridge Four?

Brandon Sanderson

I can tell you this, here's a good tidbit. You know the books are about ten characters. Renarin's one of them. But Renarin, you know the first five, he's not one of. So Renarin is one of the main characters for the back five, which are focused more on the Heralds, and he is one of the characters with the flashbacks there. So Renarin, you are not going to get everything you want about him until the back five books. So just keep that in mind.

Swamp-Spirit

I can live with that.

SF Book Review interview ()
#26 Share

Ant

The Stormlight Archive already has that feeling of an "epic" tale, not just in the size of the novels and the rich world building but the story too. Do you have any idea how long the book series might go on for?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I conceived The Stormlight Archive as a series dealing with ten characters, where each book took one of the characters and delved deeply into their past and their psychology. Granted, the other characters will appear, as Kaladin is a big part of Words of Radiance even though this volume could be described as Shallan's book. Since I have those ten characters, and there are ten orders of Knights Radiant, I built a ten-book series with two five-book arcs: five books and then a break, followed by another five books.

Oathbringer release party ()
#27 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I'm curious to know if there are any books-- any stories or scripture in the Book of Mormon that have particularly inspired your writing, that you like.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, King Benjamin's speech is the thing that I can point to most specifically as influencing me on my views of leadership, specifically in The Stormlight Archive.

Sasquan 2015 ()
#29 Share

Questioner

So I know you talk a lot about the length of the Stormlight books before and how Tor has had some interesting worries there.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah. They were more worried about it-- They would like me to write shorter, but they were much more worried before they became the explosive smash hit that they are. *laughter* Now they're just like-- They've learned. "Do what you want Brandon" *laughter*

Questioner

How do you balance, you know, wanting to extend a scene or wanting to do more flashbacks, or do more characters, while still making sure you get the plot and turn out an incredible book?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right. So epic fantasy does have this issue of spending so much time dallying with side stories that you lose, sometimes, focus of the main plot. So I've tried to do this thing with the Stormlight books where I consciously made two decisions. One was I would do a flashback sequence in each book that kind of focused on one character that hopefully gave a kind of soul to that book that allowed you to remember "Oh whose flashbacks was that book. Oh that was this one." and that one lead you to understanding the theme of that entire book. Hopefully that will help keep that. The other is that I try to confine my time to the side characters to the interludes, which are slice-of-life glimpses of Roshar. And if I can confine myself to little stories there, then I have a set amount of room-- It's like giving yourself this ground to play in that is bounded, so you finish when you're done with that. I get three interludes between each part, so I can write a bunch of little short stories to explore side characters. But I have to be very careful, you know, "I don't want to do this character yet because I've got this new character" I've got to balance that. And those two things together, hopefully, will help me. Now the issue is most books that-- the series that have had trouble with this in the past don't have it until books 3 or 4, so we won't know if I'll be successful until we get through books 3 or 4, where it starts to appear. So watch me for the next couple years and we'll see if it manifests.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
#30 Share

jmcgit

You don't have to worry about him becoming unproductive, but I do worry a little about Stormlight taking more out of him and needing more and more "hamburger and fries" to recharge. I also am suddenly worried about the series growing beyond 10 books, especially with Peter Ahlstrom suggesting that story could be moved from 4 to 5, but story can't be moved from 5 to 6 without delaying the planned time jump.

GRRM started with ASOIAF planned as a trilogy, and even if he were fully healthy and productive, it's hard to see how he would wrap this up in the currently planned seven. Wheel of Time was pitched as a trilogy, and the publisher knew better, and Jordan was signed to six books, we wound up with 14. Stormlight Archive originated as a 10 book series, and now I'm slightly worried as to whether this is going to grow like many fantasy series do.

I don't think it would be by much, Sanderson appears to have a much more detailed plan than some of these other authors, but even growth from 10 books to 12 books would make a huge difference considering the interesting concepts I'd like to read that are bottlenecked behind the end of Stormlight.

Peter Ahlstrom

I think that if he ends up with too much content, more novellas like Edgedancer are much more likely than expanding the number of books.

Also, Brandon has already moved plot elements forward in the name of awesome. Moash's plot for book 2 was originally planned to be in book 3.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#32 Share

PyroSkink

Is each book in this series a focus on a particular character? Did I read that somewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Each one has a flashback sequence dedicated to a certain character, and a plot that has something to do with the flashback sequence. I do this to help differentiate them, and we sometimes call it "their" book--but that's a little of a misnomer, as the main plot may not revolve around the flashback sequence. It will simply relate to it.

PyroSkink

Ah right. It was Kaladin then Shallan, next is Dalinar? Or is it Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

This one is Dalinar most likely. Then (probably) Eshonai, then Szeth. Unless I swap those two.

Back five are Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln, Jasnah. Not necessarily in that order. (Though that is the planned order right now.)

I do have to give my standard disclaimer. Someone getting a flashback sequence does not indicate they survive until that book. I'm fully willing to flashback to a character who died in an earlier volume. So that isn't as much of a spoiler as it seems.

And Taln is defined as "The man who thinks of himself as the Herald Taln, and whose viewpoint we got briefly in Words of Radiance."

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#33 Share

zuriel45

Jasnah, as I've said, grows more important in the back five.

I'd say spoilers, but I doubt you'd kill her off..

Pitchwife

This is entirely from memory so please forgive me if I get this wrong, but I believe [Brandon] has hedged on this topic in the past, e.g. who says she has to be alive (in the usual sense) to be a POV character?

Brandon Sanderson

I've said that flashback characters (which are the ones I've announced as having "books" dedicated to them) can die before their book arrives.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#35 Share

FirstSelector [PENDING REVIEW]

...The Tenth Name of the Almighty, Elithanithile, He Who Transforms. Is this related to the fact that Akinah is divided into ten parts, and the things  you find there?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Uh, yes... Are these things all related to the concept of change and why things are divided into ten parts in The Stormlight Archive, and the answer was "Yes, these are all very much interconnected."

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#37 Share

Questioner

Thing about Stormlight, are you kinda writing a series about the nature of abstraction?

Brandon Sanderson

Kinda yeah see…*recording paused* journey before destination.

Questioner

Yeah, that is my favorite, so far. I mean I don’t know all the orders yet. Because that is...I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

Brandon Sanderson

It is, the nature of abstraction and that sort of stuff is a very big part of it.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#38 Share

Brandon Sanderson

I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)

The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.

I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.

Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.

Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.

These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .

Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.

This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.

I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#39 Share

Questioner

I just noticed stylistically the cover for Oathbringer is a little bit different. Is that still Michael Whelan?

Brandon Sanderson

That's still Michael Whelan. Yeah, Michael is really-- Michael is my favorite illustrator. I don't know if you guys know-- have read what I've written-- but I got into fantasy and science fiction because of Dragonsbane-- the cover of that. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but it was Dragonsbane and then I went to the card catalog and found the next book closest to it that looked-- that was a dragon book. So I didn't know dragon books, and I found Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which also had a Whelan cover at that point. And I just kind of-- Whelan became my go to. He's gone through various art stages, you can go look. For a while he was doing these really sweeping landscapes, as you see some of the Dark Tower covers have that, and Way of Kings-- the original-- has that. And he's occasionally done figure studies, through his career. And then with this one we're getting like a color study really, it feels like to me, which is another thing that he's done. So I kind of feel like I've gotten three different styles of covers from Michael, which I really like. I actually think his Shallan painting from the inside cover of Words of Radiance is my favorite. But that one came about because he's like, "I felt like painting Shallan," and he just did. *laughter* "Do you guys want this? I just painted it." It's really funny because Michael Whelan, like, it's really hard to get him for a cover. I mean, you know his prices are way higher. And then when he just accidentally does another cover for you. It was very cool but kind of weird. I own The Way of Kings, like the actual original. I'm so happy, like I-- after all these years of admiring Michael Whelan I had to buy that one. So it hangs in my office above the fireplace.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#40 Share

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

Bridge Four

I've spoken before on my creative process. I build books out of good ideas, often developed in isolation until I find the right place for them. (Allomancy and Feruchemy were originally developed separately, for separate books.) When a book doesn't work, the ideas get broken apart and bounce around in my head some more until I find another place to try them out.

Bridge Four—and the plateau runs—were originally part of Dragonsteel. Dalinar was too, so that's not all that surprising, I guess. However, Bridge Four is unique here in that when I decided to move them from Dragonsteel to The Way of Kings, I had already completed both books and felt pretty good about them. They are both important sequences in the Adonalsium Saga, and lifting Bridge Four from Dragonsteel meant taking away its most dynamic, powerful plot structure.

That decision was not easy to make. The problem is, both books were fundamentally flawed. Oh, they were both good, they just weren't great—and I felt I needed to be doing great in this point of my career. (Hopefully during every point of it.) The Way of Kings had an awesome setting and some great characters, but no focal plot sequence that really punched someone in the gut. Dragonsteel had wonderful ideas, but they never really came together.

In the end, I took the best part of the book that otherwise didn't work and put it into the book that needed a little extra oomph. The moment of decision came when Ben McSweeney, who was doing concept art on the book, sent me a concept he'd done that looked shockingly like the Shattered Plains. (Which, remember, were not even on that planet at that point.) I realized that they would fit the worldbuilding of The Way of Kings better than they ever did Dragonsteel, and that I could put greatshell monsters in them.

So, I ripped apart a book I love to make a (hopefully) better book. Rock came along to Roshar for the ride (he was an original member of Bridge Four in Dragonsteel). I added Teft, who had been left languishing for a decade or so after Mythwalker became Warbreaker and he didn't make the jump. Bridge Four seemed like a great home for him.

[Assistant Peter's note: Teft is mostly the same character as Hine from Mythwalker, but also has a character aspect from Voko in that book.]

Shadows of Self release party ()
#41 Share

Questioner

Will Stormlight Archive ever possibly get an anime?

Brandon Sanderson

Will Stormlight Archive ever possibly be an anime. Anything is possible. *laughter* But it is unlikely unless somebody comes to me and really wants to make one. It's not a market I know well enough to pursue. I'll watch good anime when my brother gives it to me, but it's not like I know that market and how to make it happen.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#42 Share

yahasgaruna

The plan to have each book focused on one order is still on, right? Does that mean Book 3 will focus on the Bondsmiths or the Skybreakers depending on whether Dalinar or Szeth are the flashback focus? And what about the book focused on Ash, since she was the Herald of Shallan's order? Am I right in assuming that book will focus on the Dustbringers?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#44 Share

Brandon Sanderson

So my method of plotting-- I've been asked about, "Do I use seven-point story structure? Do I use three act format?" I actually don't use any of these things. So they're tools that I think are good to study. For me I use just a very simple: Promise, Progress, Payoff. This is what I focus on for plot,and I subdivide my stories into subplots and things and say, "What's the promise? How do I early on promise what type of plot this is. What's the progress? What's the payoff?" And you're asking how do you make sure that the hype lives up to the promise, and that is dangerous. The longer you go between books, the more that hype almost like-- I feel part of the-- If you're looking at The Wheel of Time, there were books when we fans were waiting for them to come out, that we were super frustrated by when they came out, that when I reread them in the whole series I didn't-- were less bothered by. It felt like, when I waited three years for something, the hype of what that needed to deliver was way different than when it was book ten bridging between book nine and eleven. And so that is a consideration.

My job-- I think that if your progress is right, if you can kind of-- like if you say, "We're moving towards something here," this is the sort of emotional reaction you're going to get from it by showing-- for instance, an easy way to talk about this is a mystery, right? If you want the mystery to be really cool, then it's your progress toward the mystery that's going to indicate what kind of reveal and surprise that's going to be. If, you know, the characters discovering clues and getting more and more horrified, then the payoff at the end has to be something horrific, right? But if they're like, "Ooo! This connection and this connection together are making something really interesting. If I can just figure this out then it'll click together." Then the payoff is, instead of discovering horror, the payoff is then, "Oh, this comes together and I understand now." So you need the reader to understand that's their kind of payoff, is it clicks for them like it does for the character. And it's really-- that progress is the most important of those three in a lot of ways. If you can indicate to the reader, "This is just going to be satisfying. This character is finally going to let down this burden. That's the progress we're working toward. It's not going to be a surprise, it's just going to be satisfying. That's how you do that.

There are certain things that there's just no avoiding the hype on. In fact, the further the series gets the more I'm worried about that, because-- in part because I'm such a believer in this kind of progress and things like this-- there are very few things, like in the Stormlight for example, that you'll get to that you will be super surprised by if you've been reading the fan forums, because the clues are all there in previous books. And so you just, I think, as a writer have to be okay with, if you're going to lay the foreshadowing, people will figure it out. And I can talk more about like, the third book has some big reveals about the world that I think the casual reader's going to be like, "Woah, mind blown!" where the people who have been on forums are like, "That's it? We've know that for years Sanderson!" But, you know, if you don't-- the only way to really surprise people is to do something completely unexpected. Which is, sometimes can be really nice, but a lot of times it just makes for a twist just to twist for twist's sake, so. I don't know that I've figured this one out a hundred percent across a series, but within a given book, yeah.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#48 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

When Kaladin runs out of Stormlight, is that something you've worked out, how much Stormlight should have, and how much each move takes?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, what I do is, I actually write the thing first, and then I tell my assistant, "Work out how much he needs," and then I give him that much. I work backward. Yeah, I do that a lot in books, but that's a little bit seeing how the sausage is made, there.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#49 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Time-wise, where do the events of Bands of Mourning happen with respect to Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...So, Bands of Mourning, all the Wax & Wayne books take place after Stormlight 5, but I'm not sure if it happens after or before Stormlight 6, It'll have to wait, because there's a time jump between Stormlight 5 and 6 that I haven't exactly defined in the timeline yet.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#50 Share

Brandon Sanderson

I'll be reading to you from one of the interludes, which are interesting things to write.

So if you haven't read Stormlight-- Epic fantasy has this sort of problem, right? I love epic fantasy. I grew up reading epic fantasy. It's my first love of genres. And I have an advantage over some of the people writing epic fantasy in that, like you know, [George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan], in that I've read [George Martin and Robert Jordan], and they don't have that advantage... Robert Jordan couldn't read Robert Jordan and necessarily had to write the stories, and I feel like at-- when I sat down to approach Stormlight Archive, which I kind of want to be my big epic, right? Hopefully I don't do anything bigger than this... *laughter* 520,000 words long. The writers in the crowd-- Yeah, 520 is pretty long. It's a quarter longer than Words of Radiance was. I am trimming it in my fifth revision. That's where I normally trim. So maybe we'll get it down to like 470 or 450 or something. But at 540... *inaudible* wants to go up. So I looked at these epic fantasy books that had come out before it-- series-- and I said, "What can I learn from them? How can I prevent myself from following in some of the same problems?" And I noticed that a lot of these big epic fantasies have this issue, kind of mid-series, where the side characters kind of take over the story, and the story deviates from its focus on to a side character focus for a while. It seems to happen very commonly. And as a writer my instincts said what's happening is the writer is wanting to show the expansiveness of the world, which is one of the big things we try to do in epic fantasy, right? They're trying to show the breadth of it, and they do this by adding characters from lots of different walks of life and different parts of the world. Which is a good instinct, right? It's gonna give you that sense of size and scale to the epic fantasy. But what happens is you kind of promise them these side stories will have their resolutions, and as you're pushing kind of towards the ending of your series you realize, "I need to tie in all these side characters." And so you end up with these books that are really focused on side characters, wrapping up their stories, and it feels like it creates a speed bump in the series. And so I said, "Well what can I do with like the format of my books that will mitigate this? Is there something I can do?" So I was kind of-- I'm a big fan of...

My thought was, I would write the books and I would find natural breakpoints inside of each book where it wouldn't feel like as much of a speed bump to kind of go off to somewhere else. Like, one of the problems with like some of these side stories would be like you're really into one of the main characters' stories and then it's like, "And then here's viewpoint from random person that you don't care about," right? Which you do care about! Some of the side characters in Wheel of Time were some of my favorite. But it's just that momentum you've got on the main characters, and then it feels like it's a break, we don't see them forever. So I try to find natural break points, that I would then insert completely random things from around the world, but I would only give myself, like, two of those per break and then I have to be done. And you know-- this forcing myself in this format with the interludes I felt like allowed-- would allow the reader to be able to know what's coming, so that, you know, if you can anticipate-- if you're like, "Alright, we have our break now. We can go to the side characters. Really enjoy them. Get to see the breadth of the world," And then we can come back to the main story and know that it's coming back very quickly. And also know that these side characters aren't going to take over the story. That there's only going to be this space for them. And you also kind of know-- for those -- I do know some people who read an entire Stormlight Archive book and then go back and read the interludes, as if they-- They're basically a short story collection in the world of Roshar. Now, skipping them is dangerous because I usually use the interludes for one important character. And each interlude has one really relevant character for each book. So in the first one, Szeth has interludes, right? And he's a very relevant character. And in this one-- well you'll see who it is in this one.

But I also like doing readings from the interludes because reading the interludes don't spoil the book nearly as much for those who haven't read the first ones, or things like that.