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Brandon's Blog 2004 ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Interestingly enough, I’ve never written a sequel. After seven years and fourteen novels, you would think that I’d have tried a sequel at least once–but I never have, not really. (Early on, the third book I wrote [Lord Mastrell] was a continuation of my first book [White Sand]. I don’t really count it as a sequel, however, since I simply stopped mid-plot on my first book because it was getting too long. I declared it to be ‘book one,’ took a breather and wrote something else for a while, then came back and finished the story.)

Manchester signing ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

I wanted to ask, at the beginning you mentioned that you had twelve books written before your first book was published, can you tell us, or are you allowed to tell us how many have actually been published?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I can actually go down the list for you. It is somewhat interesting, I think, for people. My very first book was a book called White Sand, and it was basically kind of a Dune rip-off. Your first book is always  a rip-off, right, of somebody, as a new writer? And that doesn't count the one in high school, which was a SUPER rip-off, like a major rip-off, it was basically a Tad Williams meets Dragonlance. Full blown with elves and things-- Yeah it was totally--

White Sand is the first one I finished, and I actually then went and wrote a science fiction book called Star's End.  And then I wrote the second half of White Sand, because I just stopped and said "This is long enough to be a novel" and then I wrote the rest of it and called that book two, that's actually the only sequel in there I wrote. And then I wrote a comedy, where a lot of the thesis of that comedy came out in Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians ten years later, so that one's kind of half been published. White Sand and Star's End are not any good, they have not been published. And then I wrote something called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was really weird and sci-fi-y and stuff, and that one hasn't been published because it's really bad too. And then book number six was Elantris which was pretty good. Book number 7 was Dragonsteel, which became my honor's thesis as an undergraduate and half of that book ended up in the contemporary Way of Kings, the Bridge Four sequence was all from Dragonsteel and I ripped that out when I re-did Way of Kings.

After that was a re-write of White Sand, with better writing nowadays, and that one we're turning into a graphic novel, that one's good enough to read-- The biggest problem it has is its a little too bloated.  The story-- It's like 300,000 words with 150,000 words of story. And so we are going to condense it-- into a graphic novel, so you will eventually see that one. The next one was called Aether of Night, that one didn't get published, it's really two decent books that don't work well together, like one half is a Shakespearean farce about a guy who takes his brother's place on the throne, they're twins, it's mistaken identify, yadda yadda; the other half is this dark brutal war book with an invasion going on, and the two halves never really translate well. People read this and they're like, that chapter is hilarious and fun, and OH MY GOODNESS, and yeah, so-- Maybe someday I'll do something with that.

After that I wrote a book named Mythwalker which became Warbreaker. I ripped out the good parts of that and wrote Warbreaker later on. Then I wrote a book called Final Empire, which is not Mistborn: The Final Empire, because then I wrote a book called Mistborn, and neither of those books were working very well. And then I wrote a book called Way of Kings and then I sold Elantris and I said "I want to take these two books that weren't working very well, and I think if I combine them--" because Mistborn had a cool magic system and the Final Empire had this whole thing about the Hero who failed and the Dark Lord took over and mixing these too ideas turned into a great book and that became Mistborn: The Final Empire.

And basically everything from then I've published, Warbreaker came next which was a re-write of Mythwalker. The Way of Kings, the one you hold, is a complete rebuild, I started from scratch, and added the Bridge Four sequence from Dragonsteel and some of these things... The only good one in there, that wasn't published, is White Sand I think, and I think it is going to make a really nice graphic novel because the story is really solid, the characters are really solid. I just wasn't a good enough writer to know how to condense where I needed to.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#3 Copy

Macen

I have read White Sand and Aether of Night, and I don't know why they're not published because I loved both of them.

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand is not published because I don't feel that for one, Kenton has the depth of character that I like to have nowadays.  He's more an old school character of mine where he just isn't, personality wise, doesn't have quite enough.  Beyond that I feel that White Sand as a narrative meanders a little too much.  I feel if I cut back about a thousand words and fix him, we would have a good book.  Aether is not published because I feel that I wrote two different books and didn't blend them together very well.  There is the kind of farcical, Shakespearean, switched places, silliness, and it's fun, but it's like a mistaken identity almost sort of stuff and romance and things like that mixed with these dark things are coming out of the shard pool and destroying the world.  And those two stories never meshed together well enough for me to want to publish them.  

Macen

So would you say it would take one more revision?

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand one more revision. I'm not sure what I could do with Aether of Night because those two just don't work together.  White Sand we are trying to do as a graphic novel.  

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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rockeh

Was White Sands inspired by that one episode of Writing Excuses, where you guys brainstorm sea travel on a tidally locked planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! White Sand was actually my first novel, written starting in 1994. It wasn't very good, but I took another stab at it in 1998, and that version was far better. (It's the version I'm adapting to the graphic novel.) It was tidally locked from the get-go, as I found the idea of a planet with a "Dayside" and a "Darkside" very interesting as a fantasy world.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Phantine

Would Lord Mastrell be a good name to disambiguate it [the original draft of White Sand] from the Graphic Novel and the Prime version?

Peter Ahlstrom

No, Lord Mastrell (actually spelled Lord Mastrel at the time) was the third book Brandon wrote, but it's essentially the second half of White Sand Prime. That book didn't finish, he just got to where he had written 243k words and said "guess that's the end of the book." Then Lord Mastrel was another 204k.

Both together cover the same amount of story as the later version of White Sand. Glancing quickly at the end of Lord Mastrel, a big difference was that Kenton got 6 months to prove himself instead of two weeks. (Also, for some reason Lord Mastrell has all manual page breaks. The horror!) There are also some...interesting differences in how the final vote went.

Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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Isaac Stewart

White Sand has an interesting background. Many of you know that it was the sixth novel Brandon wrote–Elantris–that was picked up by Tor and published as his first novel, but by the time Tor released Elantris in 2005, Brandon had written more than thirteen novels. Mistborn, which came out a year later in 2006, was Brandon’s fourteenth.

But White Sand was Brandon’s first novel. His third novel–Lord Mastrell–was a sequel to it. When Brandon wrote his eighth novel, right after the infamous Dragonsteel, he went back to White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell and rewrote them both from the beginning, combining them into the White Sand we now give away for those who sign up for the mailing list. I believe this was also the novel that got his agent Joshua’s attention, and while Joshua didn’t offer representation just yet, he did offer some suggestions for a revision. Brandon also had a list of things he wanted to accomplish were he ever to have the chance to return to White Sand and revise it. But when Elantris came out, turning around and revising an old novel was just not in the cards.

When Dynamite proposed a three-part graphic novel several years ago, Brandon met with Team Dragonsteel and laid out his vision for White Sand. We pulled out his revision notes along with Joshua’s commentary from so long ago. We re-read White Sand and made our own notes, and together as a team we fleshed out what Brandon would have liked to have done were he to revise White Sand today without the luxury of rewriting the book from the beginning. We clarified character motivations, we strengthened character arcs, we changed the gender of one of the main characters, and we brought in stronger elements from the Cosmere at large. Together, under Brandon’s direction, and with Dynamite’s help, we crafted this into the canonical version of White Sand.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

You do know that I've got a character in one of the books named Bowen?

Herowannabe

Really?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He's actually been in the books so far, but not by name. He's one of the Worldhoppers. If you go look and talk to them they may have identified him, some people who have read. He's from White Sand. I wrote the book in '98. Yeah, he's one of the Purelake guys.

Herowannabe

Is he Blunt?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, Bowen, you'll have to see because when I redid the linguistics for the world, his name I think got changed. I think it's now Baon. But in the very first draft of the very first book I ever wrote his name was Bowen. And the reason I think I changed it - is because he's a bowman. And I'm like "I named the bowman, the archer, 'Bowen.' That's kinda dumb." But in my head he's still Bowen.