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Oathbringer London signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

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

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.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

What are the other books in The Stormlight Archive going to be about?

Brandon Sanderson

Well each one is going to cover a flashback sequence for one of the characters and each one will focus on a different order of the Knights Radiant. And that's not always the same, like the flashbacks for the first one were Kaladin and it was also Windrunners, but we won't always have them be the exact same.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

So, one of the things I know, you have your own universe that you've produced, and it's fantastic. what's the series you're gonna create or have created that's the cornerstone, that will have the largest impact on the universe.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say Mistborn going all the way through is probably the most impact. Stormlight is gonna have a decent one, so is the Elantris world.

Questioner

Is there gonna be a union book or series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the final Mistborn series.

Arched Doorway Interview ()
#4 Copy

Rebecca Lovatt

How much time do you spend during the initial planning stages of writing your novel, developing your magic systems and going through the laws and such?

Brandon Sanderson

It really depends on the book. For Steelheart, I didn't need very much. On that I'm using a superhero-themed story, and all I really needed to know was: How did people start getting their powers? How are their weaknesses developed? How are these things interrelated? From there I can just look at each power set and say, "Okay, this person has this power set."

Rebecca Lovatt

You don't have to extrapolate quite as far with superheroes. At the same time, they are very limited magics that only work within a certain small realm, so the reason you don't have to do as much extrapolation is because there isn't as much to do. In that case, it was the matter of a week.

Brandon Sanderson

With something like The Stormlight Archive, it was a matter of months or years of working on the magic systems. It really varies.

WorldCon 76 ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things I read when I was researching for Stormlight that was really interesting, I kind of dug into, was this idea that practical medicine, particularly through the Middle Ages up approaching the Renaissance, was actually the one that was regarded with fear, superstition, and dislike. Which is why it fell to the barbers. And what we would call the "superstitious physician" was a well-respected position, depending on where you were looking. And it was this weird area where people who were approaching things practically and actually doing what you needed to do, were being ostracized and vilified. It wasn't as bad as being an executioner; that was the worst deal. But there was this sort of thing, that those people stayed-- You did not want your son or daughter marrying into that family, and these sorts of things. It was really interesting.

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

Goron

You've mentioned before that all your books so far are in chronological order (Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive). Alloy of Law takes place about 200 years after The Hero of Ages. (Right?) Does this put it chronologically before or after Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law takes place around 300 years after The Hero of Ages and several hundred years before the events in The Way of Kings. That does put it around the same time as Warbreaker.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

...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.

GollanczFest London ()
#8 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

*inaudible* [Presumably about the interval between Stormlight 5 and 6]

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I can't tell you too much without giving you spoilers. It's not a jump like Mistborn. It's more like ten or fifteen years. It will be the same characters, but some of the main characters will fade to be more minor characters, and some of the minor characters will fade to be more major characters. For example, Lift is one of the main characters for the second part, and Jasnah, and Renarin, and such.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

So do you know quite a bit about what the end of the <Stormlight series> is going to be?

Brandon Sanderson

I do.  I do indeed.  I've actually written the epilogue of Book 5.  

Questioner

Oh yeah?

Brandon Sanderson

Just to get into my head.  I wrote it out.  Peter, my assistant, sent an explanation point after he saw that appear in the Wiki and stuff.  So yes.  And actually the ending of the entire series of the ten books is somewhere in those two books, just like with Mistborn it was in the first page.  It's not on the first page but it is in those two books.  

A Memory of Light Portland signing ()
#14 Copy

Brent Weeks

So I hear the Stormlight Archive is supposed to be ten books. So does that mean 15 or 20? *audience laughs*

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive is supposed to be ten books. I'm hoping it will be ten books. It is two sequences of five, so you can ask me after the first five-book sequence where I am in my original outline. It should stay pretty close to that, I hope. I don't know. I used to be able to say everything stayed the same length I wanted it to be, but then my Wheel of Time book got split into three, so I can't say that any more.

Brent Weeks

Two years between books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, two years between books. They're very thick and involved, and I want to be doing other things as well. I like to jump projects--it's what keeps me fresh. It's what allows me to keep on doing this productively, and if I get stuck in one thing, no matter how much I love it, I find that I get less and less excited about it as time passes. But if I finish one book and skip to something else--like an Alcatraz book--for a little while and then jump back, I find my enthusiasm has come back to the beginning, where it was. And so I do a lot of jumping between projects.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#17 Copy

Chaos2651

One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantris: Sel

Warbreaker: Nalthis

Mistborn: Scadrial

Way of Kings: Roshar

White Sand: Taldain

Dragonsteel: Yolen

There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#18 Copy

Questioner

I'm 66 in a couple months and I want to make sure I live long enough to read the whole Stormlight--

Brandon Sanderson

Alright.

Questioner

Am I going to?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll definitely make it through the first five. The thing about it is I'll break in the middle, but the first five come to a natural climax, and then there's an in-world break of 15 years. Not 15 years away for us but an in-world break. And then I'll do another trilogy. I think you'll make it through them all. I think you'll easily make it, you look very hale and healthy.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#22 Copy

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.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
#23 Copy

Questioner

So, I was gonna ask about which character the next book would focus on?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, no, that's not spoilery... I said from the get-go I am perfectly all right writing a flashback sequence for a character who has already died in the books. So it's not telling you any spoilers to tell you who the various characters are. So, the front five are Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Eshonai, and Szeth. Those are our front five. And our back five are Lift, Jasnah, Ash, Taln, and Renarin. And, not in that order. I've flipped the order quite a bit as I've been going. 'Cause Dalinar was gonna be book five, and now he's book three. So now Szeth is book five, and Eshonai is book four. Right now, Lift is book six. But the back five, I'm not concerned about, other than making sure I'm setting up the right things, and it's gonna come together.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#26 Copy

Xyrd

Can I ask what defines a "trilogy's worth of arcs"? I always thought that roughly corresponded to wordcount, but your wordcount-per-trilogy has halved from ~650k (Elantris, Mistborn 1, Warbreaker) to ~325k (Mistborn 1.5, Stormlight-without-interludes, Reckoners) so I must have that wrong... but I'm not sure why that's wrong.

Brandon Sanderson

I plot these like a trilogy each. The entire [Reckoners] trilogy, for example, is shorter than the way of kings. I plot a book of Stormlight using similar (though not exactly the same) methods as I use in building a series of other books.

Xyrd

What does "like a trilogy" mean? Or is there somewhere you'd recommend I go to learn more? From my uneducated perspective, "like a trilogy" means "long, lots of stuff happens, three books".

Brandon Sanderson

Well, what makes a book for me is usually an arc for a character mixed with a plot arc. Often multiple plot arcs and character arcs. It is less "stuff happens" and more "stuff happens for a reason, building to pivotal moments or discoveries." My YouTube writing lectures might help explain better. Look for the ones on plotting.

Xyrd

I think I understand...maybe...

  • "Arc" is point-to-point, be it for a character or a plot. Length-in-wordcount isn't relevant, difference between points is.
  • The difference in wordcount isn't a matter of "arcs" being shorter, it's a matter of there being fewer not-tightly-arc-related words, similar to how stand-up comics tighten up routines.

Do I have that right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup. You've got it. Though often, the difference in a longer book is the number of arcs. For example, in Mistborn, Vin has multiple arcs. (Learning to be part of a crew, training to use the magic, practicing to join high society, falling in love, and learning to trust again.) Those are mixed with a large number of plot arcs. A shorter book might have a character with a more straightforward, single or double arc.

fangorn

My first encounter with the term "story arc" was from J Michael Straczynski talking about Babylon 5 in explaining how it was plotted.

The term to me invokes a visual of tracing an arc across the sky from left to right, symbolizing the journey of an overarching plot or narrative to its conclusion.

Brandon was using trilogy with respect to the Mistborn series until Shadows of Self got away from him and became two books bumping the total to four :-).

Brandon Sanderson

That's almost right. I wrote Alloy of Law as a stand alone test of the new era. I liked it, so I plotted a trilogy to go alongside it. I ended up writing Bands of Mourning before Shadows of Self for various reasons, but it isn't that Shadows of Self got turned into two books. Those were always two very different books in the outline.

The point where things expanded was after I tried out Alloy of Law, liked it, and decided to do more books with the characters.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

Why do you do interludes? What possessed you to go that direction instead of just including it as another chapter?

Brandon Sanderson

I felt that one of the foibles of the large series epic fantasy genre is the tendency of authors to go afield down paths of side characters. It happened to Robert Jordan, it happened to George R.R. Martin. And so reading theirs I hoped to learn from them and say "I'm going to do this thing that gives me a pressure valve to tell these stories that are outside the main line but I'm not going to give myself enough room that I can just turn this into a full character, yet." That allows me to do goofy stuff around the world but have a form for it built into the book.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

So I know the last Alloy of Law was a standalone book, not part of the next trilogy. Is this book [Shadows of Self] the start of the next trilogy?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. This is not the start of the actual, official next-- Like-- So, I'm calling these books all Era 2, I moved the next books to Era 3, but this is the start of a trilogy about Wax and Wayne.

Questioner

Is that why they're kind of shorter?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Well they're kind of shorter because I wanted something to balance Stormlight that was-- So like Stormlight you have to keep track of all these characters and they have this continuing storyline that is so deep that it's-- you kind of have to re-read each in the series each time. I did not want you to have track that in another series, any of my other series. That's why both Steelheart and Mistborn now you will see the self-contained stories, where certain things-- it's a trilogy, but it's keep track of one, or two, characters, not keep track of an entire thing. And then there's an arc and done, an arc and done, an arc and done. That is intentional. So, you might see Stormlight stories more that length when I go back to... Scadrial for longer stories.

Questioner

So there's still going to be another trilogy that's more modern and then a sci-fi one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes there's still going to be a modern trilogy and a sci-fi trilogy.

BookCon 2018 ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

How did you know that Stormlight and Mistborn were going to be the focus [of the cosmere]?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of writers figured out the *inaudible* exploration. And I had the advantage when I broke-in that I had written all these books before, and I was able to go back and say, "The Way of Kings, there's something special about--" right from the beginning, there's something special about that.

I was able to look back at say, Mistborn, which had I had tried the magic system. The magic system really worked, my best magic system. I know this has the best magic magic system, if I can match a plot to it that makes it a good book, I can make that magic system kind of the spine of what I'm doing.

...So I got lucky on that. In some ways, not publishing for a long time was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me.

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

Questioner

In the second series of Stormlight Archive, are they going to be about the same characters?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. So when I sat down to build The Stormlight Archive, there were a couple of things that I learned from The Wheel of Time. One was that the further an epic fantasy series goes, the more important it is that you have a structure to the series. It's very easy for the books to start blending into one another, and it's also very easy to let side characters take over books. This is very natural for us as writers, particularly in a big epic fantasy, and I felt that when I approached The Stormlight Archive there are a couple of things I did. One is that I said "All right, I'm going to confine all my side characters to these things called interludes, where I can just go crazy and do whatever I want, but they have to be like, isolated in their own containment unit called the interludes to prevent me from turning from the books just going in all directions at once."

The other thing I said is, "Each book is going to be about an order of Knights Radiant, and it's going to have a flashback sequence directly tied to that order." So that when you say "All right, which book is book three," you're like, "Oh, that's Dalinar's book, that's the Bondsmith book." All of the characters are in all of the books, but each book has kind of its own soul and theme that helps me as a writer structure where I'm going to release information, and what it's going to be about. And so when I set down this, I said said "I'm going to pick 10 characters, 10 orders (and they are not always going to be exactly what you expect), but I'm going to build each book to have a theme based around those things."

The first five were Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai and Szeth. So those are the five books you are going to get in the first arc. And the second arc is Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln and Jasnah, right. Now, all the characters from the first five will be in all those books, and some of them will still be main characters. You can expect it, like it is one series. All the ones that survive *crowd groans* no spoilers. But you can expect in the back five, people that you are expecting that are main characters now will still be main characters, and you will have a lot of space dedicated to them still, but the flashback sequences, and the themes of the book, will focus on those five. And so it hopefully will help it all have a structure and a feeling. 

Between book 5 and book 6, in-world, there will be a time jump of about 10 years, so just be expecting that. But I can't say anything more without getting into spoilers, so I won't. But that's what you can expect.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#32 Copy

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.
Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#33 Copy

Questioner

You know the artwork... the arches with the faces? What are those?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are each of the Heralds. And those archways, Isaac picks based on what he thinks the themes of the chapter are. I don't pick which faces go on there. He reads the chapter... he tries to align what's happening with the emotions represented by the various characters. 

Questioner

And the thing underneath it is?

Brandon Sanderson

Generally the symbol of the viewpoint character. But those shift. Like for instance we sometimes start with a general one, and as the characters get more individual we add ones specifically for them. Usually you'll have one that's the viewpoint character, and then like for instance the ones for Jasnah and Shallan split apart when originally they just had one, and stuff like that.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#35 Copy

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.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#37 Copy

Questioner

You mentioned you like the interludes-- that the assigned characters don't take over the story. Is that to say that we will never really see those characters again or do--

Brandon Sanderson

You will see them on occasion. For instance, in the first book there's a guy named Axies the Collector, right? And in the second book in one of the interludes somebody walks by him, right? But the idea is that the interlude characters, for the most part are-- I'm not promising you an entire story about them. They-- you're getting a glimpse of the world and most of them will not return. A few of them will, on occasion. You'll see references to them and things like that. Their main point-- the main point of them is so that we can-- I can just have a pressure valve to just tell stories about Roshar that don't have to necessarily be in the main plot. Though I always choose one-- I choose them very specifically, right? I do them knowing that there's something-- some part of the world that you need as a clue for later on. If you like foreshadowing and stuff, a lot of these have foreshadowing.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
#38 Copy

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 ()
#39 Copy

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.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#40 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

For those who don't know it is Dalinar's book. Each story, each novel in The Stormlight Archive delves into one of the main characters' backstories and catches you up how they got to their first chapters in the first book. So the first book was Kaladin, second book's Shallan, third book's Dalinar. Right now, fourth book is Eshonai, fifth book is Szeth. I could end up switching those two. But that's kind of how that works. And then, for those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive-- at the end of book five there will come to a conclusion, though it's not the main conclusion, it's the end of the arc. We will leave Roshar for a while while I write a few more books, and when we come back Roshar in-world will have passed about fifteen years. And then we will do the back five characters as I call them-- their backstories. So that's Lift, Jasnah, Taln, Renarin, and Ash-- yeah, Ash. There's two Heralds among that group, so you can kind of guess what those flashbacks will deal with, in the back five. The main characters of the first five, who survive, will still be a big part of those back five. So it's not a separate series, but I do consider it two separate arcs. We need to pass some time for some various reasons.

Kraków signing ()
#41 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any idea when you’ll finish this series?

Brandon Sanderson

So there’ll be two five-book groups, first five should finish fairly soon. But then there’ll be a break while I write something else and then I’ll come back to the back five, so i’m not sure, but the first five will have their own arc.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#42 Copy

Shovelbum26

You've written about a huge amount of cultures where women are expected to conform to what we think of as "traditional gender roles". In Stormlight, Mistborn, Elantris and Warbreaker all, the strong women are largely defined through how they buck these rigid gender roles. I never got the sense that you think of those as "natural" gender roles for women but more that you were using the Fantasy setting with its stereotypical Elizabethan ideas of gender to critique sexism. That's a great and well established way to address sexism in novels, but the other way is to actively challenge stereotypes in the setting, by showing that our idea of gender roles isn't inevitable (by showing a society with a very different idea of gender roles).

Brandon Sanderson

I'm aware of the things you say regarding sexism, and they are things I think about a lot. On one hand, you want to make stories relateable, which often requires leaning on people who struggle against the boundaries set for them. At the same time, it becomes a cliche if every young woman is forced to become a fighter for gender equality--and it lets her gender define her struggles in a way that is not heaped upon the male characters.

With Stormlight, I'm trying to take a different look at this idea in many ways. Some of which would be spoilers to talk about here.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#43 Copy

McCullough

In what ways do you feel that finishing The Wheel of Time helped to prepare you for The Stormlight Archive and how did it change your writing in general, if at all?

Brandon Sanderson

I gained three things, I feel, by working over the years on [The Wheel of Time]. (And, in particular, by studying [Robert Jordan]'s work in depth.) I learned how to better balance lots of different viewpoints, I got a better grip for foreshadowing and subtlety over many books, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to write a really sold third person viewpoint.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#46 Copy

Questioner

Where are the rest of Roshar's named gems? Like, we have the Hope diamond, we've got dozens of--

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of them are in the [Thaylen Gemstone Reserve] ...There's a lot of them around and there are places like that. One of the tricks, and I actually kind of was aware of this, particularly in book three, I was like "Yeah, I maybe should have named some of these things earlier." One of the tricks with a book like Way of Kings, there are already so many new names and terms that oftentimes I find myself finding ways to not include a new name or term because the overwhelming nature of the learning curve is so big. And I will admit, writing book three I'm like, "Ah, I should have named some of these earlier," this is what they would do.

But it's kind of this Occam's razor, well, that's the wrong term. It's this idea of "Let's try to keep it as simple as possible for that fact that it's really complex." and that's why I naturally just didn't do it. 

I would say in-world a lot of them are named. But you've also got to remember that gems are not as eternal on Roshar as they are. They are a little more ephemeral, you will often end up using them for something and they are wearing out, so to speak. So the idea that a diamond is forever is more of an Earth concept than a Roshar concept.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#48 Copy

HarveyJYogscast

Something I've been wondering: are you intentionally alternating between male and female main characters through the whole series? Because I believe I remember reading that Eshonai will be book 4 and Szeth will be book 5.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I'm alternating intentionally. It's a pattern I don't feel slavish toward, so if the next book doesn't work for Eshonai but works for Szeth, I'll break the pattern. But the originally outline alternated through all ten.

NotOJebus

What happens if you write the next book for one, but then Book 5 doesn't work with the person you have left? Will you change the book so the flashbacks suit it or will you change the flashbacks to suit the book?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll deal with that when (if) it happens. I suspect either is possible, though I could also just decide to do a different character, if I feel it makes the story work the best.

Boskone 54 ()
#49 Copy

yulerule

Are any of the interlude characters that we’ve met in other interludes?

Brandon Sanderson

You’ve met Axies the collector, and he appears in another interlude. Rysn is in an interlude in the first two books. You met Ash in one of the interludes and she’s going to be an important character, she’s very relevant. So I would say that a lot of the interludes have characters that show up again or are likely to show up again.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#50 Copy

Questioner

I wanted to ask-- So you--I think more than almost any other fantasy author--you create universes and then you leave them behind. Entire uni-- I almost feel like you could sit down-- you could have like pages of a physics lecture in each of your universes and you would have equations for how it works. Do you have-- Have you always had these ideas for these various universes with gods and magic systems and things like that, or are you always creating them, sort of as you go? 

Brandon Sanderson

It's yes and no. A lot of the ones you're seeing in the cosmere are things I created at the beginning to be kind of what the cosmere was. But I left some holes intentionally cause I knew I would come up with cool things that I wanted to add, and so I built in that wiggle room, and I'm always coming up with new ones. And there are way more that I want to do than I can write, like the one I keep wanting to find a chance for is--

Do you guys know how Nikola Tesla tried to create wireless energy? I think I've talked about this one. Like, he tried to create wireless energy, and I'm like "What if there were a world where that happened naturally?" Where you had a natural current going, and you could like set your lantern on the ground and it would create a current from the sky to the ground and your light bulb would just turn on. You don't need electricity. And how would-- What if we have giant toads that could shoot out their tongues that would create a current,  and they're like taser tongues? *makes zapping noises* Stuff like this. And so, I started jumping in to looking at electricity and things like this, and current and whatnot, and that's just all back there and I'm like "Aww, someday I need to be able to write this." But there are so many things that I want to write that I just don't have the time for, so it's a yes and no.

Questioner

So do you have, like, "what if" questions and then you build a universe from there?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually they're "what if" questions, but Sanderson's Zeroth Law--I've got these laws on magic you can look up,  they're named humbly after myself--so Sanderson's Zeroth Law is "Always err on the side of what's awesome". And usually it's less even a "what if?" and it's a "That's so cool, taser toads!" Like if you really want to know the truth of where The Stormlight Archive started, there's all this cool stuff, like part of it was like "What if there was a storm like the storm on Jupiter". And then I eventually changed it to a storm that goes around the planet, something like that, but the real truth was "Magical power armor. YEAH! Magical power armor is cool! Plate mail power armor! Why would you need plate mail power armor?" Y'know, and it starts with the really cool idea. Mistborn started by me drifting in a fog bank at eighty miles per hour in my car and loving how it looked as it drove past and saying "Is there a world where I can imitate this feel, where you look out and it streams by." It's those early visuals or concepts that make me say "Oh yeah, I wanna do that!". That is where my books really come from, and then I layer on top of them the "what ifs?" and trying to build a realistic ecology based around these ideas.