Talk about your process of writing; and also about how you creatively approach it.
Every writer has a different process. There’s as many ways to do this as there are writers in the world. For me, my creative process is that I’m always searching for the ideas that I can connect into a larger story. I feel that a book is more than just one idea. A good book is a collection of ideas; usually a good idea for each character—something that forms the core of their conflict—several good ideas for the setting: something that’s going to drive the economy, something that’s going to drive (for me the magic) the setting—that sort of thing—and then several good plot ideas. These all bounce around in my head—I’ll grab them randomly.
An example of one of these was for Mistborn: For Mistborn, one of the original seeds was, I was watching the Harry Potter movies that had come out, and I was thinking about Lord of the Rings, which I had just reread, and I was thinking, you know, I like the hero’s journey: young, plucky protagonist goes, collects a band of unlikely followers, face the Dark Lord… and I thought “yeah, but those Dark Lords always get, just like, a terrible, raw end of the deal. They’re always beat by some dufusy kid or thing like that,” and I thought “I want to write a book where the Dark Lord wins.”
But that was kind of a downer of a book, as I considered it, a little bit, you know, “you read this book, and then at the end the hero loses,” that’s kind of a downer. So I stuck that in the back of my mind saying “I want to do something with that idea, but it’s going to take me a little while to figure out exactly what I want to do with that idea.” And then I was watching one of my favorite movies from a long time ago—both of these ideas come from movies, many of them don’t but these two did—Sneakers, if any of you have seen it, just a, like an amazingly awesome heist story, and I thought “ya’ know, I haven’t seen a heist story done in fantasy in forever,” little did I know that Scott Lynch was going to release one, like, one year later [The Lies of Locke Lamora].
But nobody had done one, and so I said “I want to do a fantasy heist story.” The two ideas combined together in my head. Alright: world where the Dark Lord won, a hero failed; thousands of years later, a gang of thieves decided to rip the Dark Lord off and kind of try to over thrown him their way, you know, making themselves-- by making themselves rich.
And those ideas combined together. And so a story grows in my mind like little atoms bouncing together and forming a molecule: they’ll stick to each other and make something different. Those two ideas combine to make a better idea, in my opinion, together. And then character ideas I’d been working on stuck to that, and then magic systems I’d actually been working on separately. Allomancy and Feruchemy, two of the magic systems in Mistborn, were actually designed for different worlds, and then I combined them together and they worked really well together, with the metals being a common theme.
I did all of that, and when it comes down to write a book I sit down and I put this all on a page, and then I start filling in holes by brainstorming. “What would go well here, what would go well here, I need more here” [accompanying gestures indicate different “here’s”]. And I fill out my outline that way, and I fill out my “World Guide,” as I call it. I actually just got—the wonderful folks of Camtasia (it’s a software that records screens) sent me a copy of their software so that I can record a short story, and I’ll go—I’ll do the outline, and then I’ll do the story, and then I’ll post it on my website and you can see exactly, you know, step-by-step what happens. Just don’t make too much fun of me when I spell things wrong.
It’s really weird when you’ve got, like, that screen capture going on, you know people are gonna’ be watching this, and you can’t spell a word, and it’s like “I don’t want to go look it up, I can get this right,” it’s like, the writerly version of the guy who refuses to go get directions. So I like try a word like seventeen different ways, and like “Gehhhh okay,” and then Google tells me in like ten seconds. Anyway, that’s your answer and I hope that works for you. Thanks for asking.