Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A

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Name Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A
Date
Date Aug. 13, 2014
Location
Location Goodreads
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Entries 65
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#1 Copy

M.M. Schill

I always wondered. You say you produce clean drafts, and you apparently produce stories quickly (relatively to a lot of people I've met.), how do you keep cranking it away? What is the motivation to keep creating? (I think this might be the key to why some many people start and never finish projects. ??)

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not actually a fast writer, hour by hour, but I am very consistent. I enjoy writing, but I will admit, some days it is hard. What keeps me going? This has changed over the years. At first, it was a desire to prove myself, and to make a living doing this thing I love. Eventually, it has transitioned into a feeling of obligation to the readers mixed with a desire to see these stories in my head told.

#2 Copy

Shauna Mahana

If you had to pick any one of your characters to be your new best friend (besides your wife) for the rest of your life, who would would it be and what do you imagine would be your weekend "Let's hang out, but I don't want to plan anything, so let's do the 'usual'" ritual?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I'd dig hanging out with Sazed. The usual would be, "tell me about a religion you've studied."

#3 Copy

Hanna

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to write an epic fantasy novel for the first time?

Brandon Sanderson

Turn off the internal editor. Write with passion, and don't spend a lot of time on revision. You will grow so quickly as a writer during your first book that you want to power through it, learn a lot about the process, THEN do your revisions. Otherwise, you might end up stuck in an endless loop of revising the first few chapters.

Also, don't spend so long planning that you don't get around to writing. The goal is to train yourself to learn how to write—and you only do that by actually writing.

#4 Copy

Jerry Dol

Do you think that there will ever be a movie trilogy or tv series of The Stormlight Archive like they have done with Game of Thrones and Harry Potter?

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, I'd love it if there were. I will work to make it happen, though with Stormlight I probably won't be optioning the books for film until a few more are out. I don't have a lot of power over what Hollywood decides to do, though.

#5 Copy

Noah Hill

Is there any chance we will have a deeper backstory for Bridge 4 members? Maybe an anthology or something with short stories that detail backstory for Rock, Lopen, etc? That would be amazing!

Brandon Sanderson

I do intend to dig into some of them a little. (Rock, for example, is currently plotted to have a viewpoint sequence in a later book.)

#7 Copy

Sharade

The fantasy universe is very fond of antiheroes lately, so I was surprised when I read your books with charismatic and inspiring lead characters, who, almost single-handedly, give faith to people and make them claim back their dignity. What is so compelling about creating characters such as Kaladin or Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

I find that the antihero angle is very well covered by other authors. I am fascinated by people who are trying to do what is right because most everyone I know is actually a good person--and a good person needing being forced to make unpleasant decisions is more interesting to me. The great books I read as a youth inspired me; I'd rather dwell on that kind of story than the opposite. (That said, it's great that the genre is big enough for both types of stories.)

It IS interesting to me that over the last twenty years, what I do has become the distinctive one.

#9 Copy

Anderson Tiago

How do you feel on being read and worshiped as one of the best writers in the world by people that doesn't even speak English?

Brandon Sanderson

Humbled, honestly. I don't know if "worshiped" is the right term, and I would hope that most people are focused on the stories, rather than on me. They're what matter. That said, it has been incredible to see the reception my work has received.

#10 Copy

Kritika

I'm blown away by all the different types of people you portray in The Stormlight Archive (different cultures, social classes, genders, varying levels of...morality). What kinds of things help you create such diverse casts of characters? I'm imagining that you have a secret encyclopedia somewhere that helps you keep all your cultures and customs straight!

Brandon Sanderson

I do, actually, have a secret encyclopedia. It's a wiki on my computer, filled with information. That helps me keep things straight. However, specific inspirations are often in the people I meet. I do spend a fair amount of time looking through the internet for blogs/forums populated by people who think very differently from myself. This helps me create realistic portrayals.

#11 Copy

Matteo

Why do you so often include some sort of religious government in so many of your worlds? Is it something that comes from looking at how history developed on Earth, or do you think your religious faith influences the way you write/worldbuild?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of reasons. One is because it happened that way so often in our world. Another is my fascination with religion, and wanting to explore what people do with it. The biggest one, however, is related to how I worldbuild. I like things to be very interconnected, as I think that's how real life is. So, when I build a religion, I ask myself what its political ties are, as well as its relationship with things like the magic, economics, and gender roles of the culture.

#12 Copy

Scott King

Out of all the books you've written which do you think is the best?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Emperor's Soul is the one that won a Hugo, which gives it some objective credibility for being the best. [A Memory of Light] was the hardest by a long shot, and in some ways the most satisfying, but I'm perhaps most proud of The Way of Kings. So one of those three, likely.

#16 Copy

Jerry Dol

How much time do you usually spend on creating a magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

It really depends on the book, the length of the story, and how integral to magic is to that particular story. Some are as fast as a couple of days; some take months and months. It is also difficult to answer this question because I spend a lot of time thinking about a book before writing, and the Magic is often part of that. I will often spend years with an idea growing in the back of my mind before writing--and in those cases, the actual "outlining" may take a month, but that doesn't begin to cover the time spent on the idea.

#17 Copy

Argent

The "God Surges" you mentioned recently, are they a part of the Way of Kings frontsheet?

Brandon Sanderson

All I said regarding this was to tell a fan that it was possible to make an analogy between the god metals on Scadrial and certain powers on Roshar. However, these are not a codified part of the magic system.

#20 Copy

Jesse

I love stories in any medium, and I would love to tell one myself. But, I don't think I have anything in particular to say that hasn't been done a thousand times before. I invariably come across some story that already parallels my ideas. What makes a story worth telling even when its like has been done before?

Brandon Sanderson

The answer is simple: YOU are what makes your story worth telling. Harry Potter wasn't an original story, and yet told very well, it became an excellent series.

My suggestion to you is to ask what unique passions or life experiences you have that aren't found in the average fantasy book. This genre still has a lot of room to grow. A person passionate about sports could write a very different fantasy novel from one passionate about lawn care—assuming they take what they know and love and make us, as readers, come to know and love it as well.

Good luck!

#22 Copy

Tirithna

Does Shardplate have one general style as a pattern, or do different types exist (like European armour vs. Japanese armour), as the different kingdoms have different cultures?

Brandon Sanderson

Different types exist, but it's more along order lines than cultural ones. (That said, a person's culture could certainly influence their armor.)

#24 Copy

Val

How quickly are you able to get back into the storyline flow when you begin another book? e.g. Do you have to review notes extensively for a few days?

Brandon Sanderson

This is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I wish I had a better way to do it, actually. I usually lose a few days or more while trying to get into a book I've stopped for some reason. My primary method is to read what I've written before (or, if it is a new book in a series, the last part of the previous book.) That tends to help get me into a mood, so to speak. But it can take days of thinking, working, and throwing away my work to get into the groove.

#25 Copy

Mandi

In [Words of Radiance] Shallan notes that spren don't appear around dense groups of people, even if emotions are high. Why is that?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll find out more eventually. There are several reasons, but imagine how a creature attracted to a specific color would respond if you dumped every color together in a big mess.

#26 Copy

Leinton

So a friend and I who share a passion for sword fighting have been trying to find the real world correlates for the stances that Sharbearers use. So far we've made connections between Windstance and Haidong Gumdo, and Smokestance and the late Medieval/early Renaissance fencing. I was wondering if you could give us more information or at least hints on the other real world correlates?

Brandon Sanderson

I developed these with Ben McSweeney's help, and we plan to include representations of all the stances eventually. However, a few are NOT based on real-world equivalents, because of the size of Shardblades. Look at how various very-large weapons like zweihanders or Zanbat's were used.

#31 Copy

William Anderson

Why are do the Windrunners, Elsecallers, Stonewards, and Dustbringers have an extra connection on the Surgebinding diagram? Why do the Edgedancer, Skybreaker, Lightweaver, Willshaper's have a broken connection on the diagram? What are the dragon type things in the back of the diagram?

Brandon Sanderson

The dragon type things are a certain animal you've seen several places in the story so far.

These connections will be explained eventually, but remember it's not the orders being connected, but instead their elemental representations. This diagram is very metaphysical, and some of the elements of it are cultural.

#32 Copy

Krystal Hammond

How much do you use science to influence/guide your world building in what most people would identify as a fantasy setting?

Brandon Sanderson

I use it quite a bit, but as I'm writing fantasy, I go by the rule "do what is awesome first, then explain it." Meaning, I am looking to tell a certain kind of story, and while science is often a springboard into a magic, I will sometimes chose to do what I think makes the story better as opposed to what is scientifically rational. The way the Metallic Arts work with mass is one example.

#34 Copy

Adrienne

Can the various forms of Investiture on other worlds in the cosmere be classified as "end positive" or "end negative" like they are on Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Some can. Not all.

Footnote: This question excludes "end-neutral" and Brandon has previously established that all magics do fall into one of these three classifications.
#36 Copy

Annie Lown

In the Wheel of Time books, did the Creator have a power, similar to the True Power that the Dark One had?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm afraid I don't have the answer for this, not for certain. I think that readers of the text could argue both ways. For example, a certain event in the epilogue of [A Memory of Light] could be interpreted this way--though everyone in Team Jordan seems to have a different opinion on what is going on, and [Robert Jordan] didn't leave an explanation.

#38 Copy

Brady Dill

What kind of college classes (not English courses) would best prepare someone for writing fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

Whatever you're fascinated by! You can incorporate basically anything into a story. If you love numbers, study economics. If you like history, pick an area and type and become an expert. Whether it be law or botany, you will find a way to use it in your books.

#39 Copy

Justin Carmony

One of my favorite things about being a Brandon Sanderson fan is how consistently you publish books, I always know you'll have a new book coming out without having to wait years. What do you do to help keep up the consistency and overcome the times when you sit down and the "creative juices" aren't there, or at least not easily accessible?

Brandon Sanderson

I throw away a fair amount of fiction. If it isn't flowing, I write anyway, then file that chapter away under junk. I also hop projects a lot. I've found this makes me much more creative and eager to write.

#41 Copy

Moogle

If a non-Windrunner Surgebinder (who had spoken all the Ideals of their Radiant Order) summoned Jezrien's Honorblade, what color eyes would they get? A blend? Different colors for each eye?

Brandon Sanderson

:) I'm going to RAFO eye color questions for the moment. We'll actually be dealing with some of these in the books. Maybe not the specific ones you ask, but the concepts in general.

#42 Copy

Brian Seavey

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are educated in a field other than literature and in a profession already that is not centered around writing?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! I'll tell you that you're in luck. Take what you've learned in your field of education, and in your profession, and apply it to your writing. RJ used his experience as a solider; Grisham made a career out of writing books related to his work. You have special experience and knowledge that will make your books distinctive. Make use of it!

#47 Copy

Adrienne

In Well of Ascension, it mentions that the language of Terris had a gender neutral pronoun. If you actually constructed the language, what was that pronoun? Or did you just leave it as its English translation of "it"?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't spend a long time on the languages in Scadrial, since most people were speaking the same tongue. I just used "it" in my own writings. Roshar has a lot more detail on the languages, because culture-clash is a bigger part of the theme of the series.

#53 Copy

WeiryWriter

In Elantris the Aon used for healing is Aon Ien, but the definition given in the back of the book says it means "Wisdom". The other Aons have effects and definitions that go together, but "Healing" and "Wisdom" don't seem to match. Is there something there or is it an error?

Brandon Sanderson

It's more a cultural thing. When I was naming the Aons I had some of them cross-align like this because I feel that languages, and cultures, are often messy. (Drive on a parkway, park in a driveway kind of issues.) This is the only one that ended up in the glossary that was like this, though, so I probably should have spotted that and changed it.

#56 Copy

Kirsty Cabot

Were there any characters you found difficult to connect with when writing the remaining books of The Wheel of Time series?

Brandon Sanderson

I've never really been able to get into Cadsuane as a character, and so she was the most difficult for me to do. I love Aviendha and Tuon, but both of them think so differently from the rest of the characters that they gave me a challenge.

#61 Copy

Kurkistan

Could Miles heal back his Allomancy if it was spiked out of him?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he could not. He would no longer be an Allomancer. Also, he'd probably be dead. :)

Kurkistan

Thanks!

I'd thought maybe he could just do some super-tapping from his existing Health in his goldminds (since he'd still have his Feruchemy)...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, I see what you're asking. Using Feruchemy to heal the removed portion of soul. That's actually plausible, not so different from healing other kinds of soul-wounds. If he survived, then yes, this actually might work. (That's why I get for reading the questions so quickly.)

#63 Copy

Jaz

When you're writing/planning a new series, how much time would you say you spend on world building? Do you like to have a good sense of the world before you starting writing or do you adapt and evolve the world as you write?

Brandon Sanderson

I do a moderate amount ahead of time, but it depends on the series--most importantly, the length of the book. If I'm writing a shorter work, I can develop more on-the-fly, knowing I can make it all consistent after the fact. If I'm writing in a series, I need much more ahead of time. Developing the world for The Way of Kings took years.

#64 Copy

Catherine

Does the metal on [Scadrial] contain within it any sort of spren-like being, or anything similar to that, and also, does the Splintered nature of the Shards on [Sel] have anything to do with how the magic manifests itself without a physical representation?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial did not have an analogous, self-aware Invested set of entities. The power has to be "let go of" in a way.

Event details
Name
Name Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A
Date
Date Aug. 13, 2014
Location
Location Goodreads
Entries
Entries 65
Upload sources