Is Silverlight that place that is not a planet where there is a Shard?
Is Silverlight that place that is not a planet where there is a Shard?
When are you going to tell us about your Secret Project?
Well, I have an NDA that I have signed, which says I will not tell people what it is. So, because of that, I'm staying just far away from it. I have said before, I'm letting them announce it when they want to announce it. It will be announced probably, and released, before the end of the year, is my expectation. I can't say anything else. Even if you guessed right what it was, I would have to say, "I don't know." Or "That sounds like it would be fun." But I will have to imply that I don't have any idea what you're talking about, even if you guess right.
As Professor Sanderson, do you get situations where past students have success but you don't really care for it and how do you handle it?
That has not happened to me. The students who have gotten published, particularly lately-- To get into my class at BYU, you have to submit an application and chapters and there's a three-day window and we get a hundred applications and we take fifteen. These days, about a third of those students that get in tend to be what we call, "continuing education," meaning they are people who have gone to BYU and take only that class. Oftentimes, they move to Provo to take that class. So there's some pretty stiff competition and the writers who are in the class these days are really good.
But even in the older days, the people who got published, you can usually tell, and even if you can't, I mean, there's not a lot of writing out there that I can't read and say, "Wow! I understand how someone appreciates this," right? Part of, I think, being a writer and an artist is learning to appreciate things, even if you don't necessarily care for them, to be able to recognize, "This is good and someone is going to love this. This has craft, even it's not something that I particularly enjoy." But none of my students have even been there. All the ones that have gotten published, I'm like, "Wow, this is a great book." So, maybe someday I'll have to deal with that, but I haven't really had to deal with it so far.
How has your worldbuilding changed over time to date.
So, it's become a lot more deliberate. And it has become more-- One thing is I've let myself push further. I've found that worldbuilding is one of those areas in storytelling where I can let myself kind of off the chain, off the leash, and go steps further than I thought I could, and it still turns out well. A lot of times if you do that with story, for instance, if you do that with plot, the way to kind of go off the leash and do something unexpected with plot is to do something that's not foreshadowed and is not satisfying, which can make for a really interesting story. Go watch Into The Woods if you want to go see something that-- Yeah, half the audience groaned when I mentioned Into The Woods, for a good reason. That's not a reason to not tell those stories, but experimenting with plot can, in many ways, be something that fails pretty spectacularly. Good to do it, it's good to learn those things, but worldbuilding, I've found, I haven't found that I've gotten ever too far where it's failing because the worldbuilding is too different. I've failed with my worldbuilding because I haven't brought the elements together. In fact, Apocalypse Guard, one of the reasons I pulled it is the worldbuilding was not working. And I can't release a Brandon Sanderson book with bad worldbuilding, right? *crowd laughs* That's like the baseline, "No." It's not the only thing that was broken in it, but it was one of the things that was broken in it. So, more deliberate, allowed myself to stretch further, and I would say I'm always kind of looking for those conflict points, nowadays, in the worldbuilding. The points of conflict are really interesting to me.
I had a question about [steel] Ferrings. So, I saw that you had mentioned in a previous talk that you could only move so fast with air resistance, like eventually you'd start burning up. If you were to become an Edgedancer as well?
If you can combine those two powers, Edgedancing and [steel] Ferring, then you are able to do things that would circumvent that restriction. Yes, indeed.
When you're thinking about parallel stories and writing them, how do you keep them disparate so that you don't have characters from one story overlapping with another story...
This is a balancing act I perform when writing big, long books, because a lot of times for narrative reasons, it is better to write them "this set of characters, then the next set, then this set, then that", and go back and forth, but a lot of times, for continuity of theme and character building, it is better to write them straight through, right, that one character's throughline, so you make sure it has an emotional arc to it. And the longer the book gets, the more delicate that balancing act gets, right?
So on a Stormlight book, I usually split the book in my head into three parts, like I write a trilogy of books, and then bind them together as one, with a short story collection making up the interludes and things. And I usually would go, alright, part one, Kaladin from beginning to end of part one. Part one, Shallan from beginning to end of part one. Now I will weave these chapters together and I will read through for theme and make sure that the pacing is working, because the pacing and tone can really get messed up when you're doing that.
Fun story about that: A Memory of Light, I did this with some of the things, and I was weaving them together for the prologue, and two of the things I was weaving together, was characters getting engaged, it was the ladies making a bridal wreath to give to Rand, and the other was the fall of Caemlyn and the people who were trying to live as things were happening there. Not to go into too many spoilers, but it was a really dynamic action sequence, with a lot of terrible things happening, and when I wove those two together, the tone whiplash was terrible. And it was like, one of the worst parts of the book was "here's a happy thing where we're gonna get engaged, now this person dies, then we go back to this happy thing". *crowd laughs* So I had to yank the engagement sequence from the book, because there was no tonal place in that novel where it could go that it wouldn't do that.
And so you run into that trouble, but I think that with the longer books, what you're noticing, keeping the characters' throughline consistent is the more important factor. It's a lot easier, I think, to fix pacing and tone by where you move the chapters and what you cut out and what you add in in revision.
So there's a certain very long chapter in A Memory of Light. There's also a certain very long chapter in Oathbringer. I'm assuming you used similar techniques; both are very effective. Did you come up with that when writing Memory of Light or were you inspired by someone else for doing that?
Nope, that was something I had wanted to do.
So the question is, there's a very long chapter in A Memory of Light that was done very deliberately. I've used this before and in other books. Oathbringer does one, not nearly to the extent, but there's a certain point in A Memory of Light—and this was me, this was just kind of my love of trying to make the form of a novel match what I'm trying to get across with the novel.
In A Memory of Light, there was a point where the characters could not set down their swords and take a break, and I wanted to make sure that part was not divided up, to encourage as many readers as possible to have to push through it, even if it was kind of late at night *crowd laughs*, to get to the chapter break, so that they would feel some of the same feeling that the characters were feeling. And that's just my writerly way to get that across. In Oathbringer, it was more like, "This is where the breaks fit most naturally." I wasn't trying to do the same thing, but it's a similar sort of thing, where I want the momentum to not have a break until a certain point in the story. I don't anticipate ever doing-- The one in A Memory of Light was like 90,000 words, which, if you're unaware, an average novel is 80,000 words. So there is a novel-length chapter in A Memory of Light. And so, yeah-- *playfully* eh.
Do you have any places where you put worldbuilding material out in public?
Once in a while. I put up the outline for Steelheart once the series was done. I usually keep things close to the heart if there are things that have not yet been finished. The dramatist in me does not want the spoilers to get out there. (Even though... studies have all said that if you have spoilers, you generally enjoy a story more than if you haven't. I am incapable of believing those numbers, and doggedly dislike spoilers.) There are some that I'll release, and you can look on my website where I talk about some of this stuff. The Steelheart outline's floating around out there somewhere, and it has a bunch of the worldbuilding elements for that in it. And I'll do more of this as I finish up series and release them.
Could someone who is spiked, not on Scadrial, still talk to the Shards?
Yes. Little asterisk, but yes.
You've written a lot of novels and talked a lot about form. Are you interested or excited about any new formats of writing that you might take in the future?
I would like to try my hand at video games. I play a lot of games. I am really interested in the way that video games tell stories in ways not like books. I generally (though I can enjoy those games) don't like the stories of games that try to do it like a book. So I like things like Dark Souls, that does its worldbuilding and storytelling in a way very different from the way that a book does its storytelling. Or even something like Infamous, where they make you run across to do something, and while you're doing it someone calls you on the phone and gives you an infodump. That's really interesting to me.
So I would like to try my hand at it at some point. My first attempt, which was getting a Mistborn videogame going, did not work out. But I have not given up. I have no news on that, but let's just say I have not given up on finding a way to worm my way into video games. And you see me doing this periodically. The Infinity Blade books were me wanting to work with video game storytellers to try and figure out how this format works better. And you'll see me doing more of this in the future.
When you do the big twist at the end of a book, do you always have that twist in your mind when you begin writing the book, or do you do the twist after?
I generally have it ahead of time. I am an outliner. I like-- Writers tend to fall into two camps with a lot of variety in between--they're not polar opposites--between what we call "gardeners" and what we call "architects." I'm more of an architect. I like to build a structure and then hang my story on it. That said, you need to be flexible and willing to take something better if it comes along. For instance, Secret Project, which I can't tell you anything about, had a different ending than the ending I just put into it, because the ending just didn't land, right? I'm like, "Alright, I need to go back to square one and I need a better twist for this story," and I dug into it and came up with one. That causes a lot more revision to have to be done, but at the end of the day, I think you need to be able to do it. Sometimes when you're writing you just come up with something better, you're like, "I need to try this instead 'cause it's stronger".
What's your favorite Wayne one-liner?
Probably "defecation of character". My favorite Wayne moments are the ones that you could conceivably miss. Like, there's one for the next book where he calls being pressed into the army, "corporal punishment," that I'm just totally over the moon over, that I think people will probably miss, and that's what makes them fun.
For the Saint in Skyward, I just love the funny prophet character. What was your inspiration for that?
So, the Saint in Skyward. Not giving any spoilers. When I was working on this character, I was really looking for something-- I look for linguistic cues. Because if you can have linguistic cues to who's talking and what the character's like, and something that'll characterize them through their language, that makes it so much better in storytelling, because you don't have to put that in narrative, you can put it in the flow of a conversation. And you'll notice, at least I've noticed, that a lot of the great screenwriters look for these sorts of things, so they can tag who is speaking, even if it's offscreen, by the way that they are talking, and I just love to do this. And a lot of these things come out of me taking a scene and working with it and casting different people in the roles and trying their voices until I hit on one that I say, "That's interesting, let's dig into this further", and that's what happened there.
The Returned. When they come back, they appear really attractive. Is that based on their own idea of what's attractive, or society?
It is going to be society. But they are definitely having an influence over it, so let me say both in that case... Yeah, there could be a short, bald one. That is totally viable, but it's maybe what the person views as a societal ideal, how about that, an easier way to explain that.
What's your favorite guild in Ravnica?
Probably Dimir, probably. I mean I'm Esper, but I'm more interested in Dimir than I am in Azorius.
That's exactly where I am, actually. I have an Esper Commander deck, been drafting Dimir heavily. Thank you so much!
I'm glad Dimir's finally good, 'cause in the previous two, Dimir has not been a place you wanted to be, either in original or in returns.
Will the gap between Warbreaker and Stormlight be filled in?
Yes. Partially through implication, but with some actual explicit scenes that will happen.
A friend wanted me to ask if you ever had plans to put in a transgender character.
Yes. Trying to find the right place, but it will likely happen sooner rather than later.
Is the nation JinDo in Elantris-- Are they at all- were you thinking of Shinto, the Japanese religion that also goes by Jindo?
I did not know it was also called Jindo, but I was definitely working with Japanese morphemes when I was creating that.
Is there a maximum speed a Coinshot can propel themselves or something else?
Yes. It will vary slightly based on the strength of the Coinshot, but there are maximum velocities, just kind of-- you would burn yourself up at certain points.
So imposed by the laws of physics.
Yeah, laws of physics are going to-- Those aren't normally going to come in play in Allomancy, because Pushing that hard will be really difficult... But, as we are getting into more mechanical uses of Allomancy, those laws of physics become more and more relevant.
Where do you lie on the "BrandoSando" versus "Branderson"?
I would probably go "Branderson", but I don't mind either of them.
Because I'm firmly in the BrandoSando camp.
BrandoSando? What about "BrandySandy"? I get that one too... No one goes with the cool ones. "Oh, the Sandman". I'm not cool enough.
Is silver in Shadows for Silence similar in any way to aluminum in the rest of the cosmere?
*hesitantly* Yes, but not really. Silver is like silver, and aluminum is like aluminum.
Does aluminum have any specific use in Shadows for Silence?
Yes, you could definitely find a use for it.
Why are Spensa's eyes purple?
Because the artist drew it that way. Since Spensa's eyes, I don't imagine actually being purple, but it looked really cool on the cover, so there we go. Maybe they're canonically purple now. Maybe I'll write that in.
In The Stormlight Archive, do corrupted spren act differently in fabrials?
Yes. Excellent question!
What's your favorite Lopen moment?
Probably where he is on the ground talking to the sky. Probably that one.
Which hand is the safehand?
It is the left hand.
Have we seen Kelsier outside of Mistborn yet, and will we see him outside of Mistborn?
No you have not. And RAFO, but realize, he is-- The way Investiture works, you would consider him similar to how you would consider a spren. It's gonna be hard for him to get off-world.
It also means that he can still-- He gets kind of close, he gets really close--
I considered him still--
Still on this side.
Yeah, but he got close to the line. But I would say he did not get off [Scadrial].
So it's gonna be hard.
Why did you write Zane for the Mistborn series?
Zane was a character that I found fascinating. When I designed him, I felt that the setting and characters needed more nuance, and he provided it. I feel that Zane could've gone either way, and he made a bad decision at the end, but could've absolutely gone the other direction and I was really interested in the idea of someone who thought they were insane but actually weren't. So a bunch of things collected, making Zane.
What inspired you to write Dalinar's amnesia and all that? What was your inspiration for that?
That, all of that, was really just partially narrative necessity. I didn't want to dig into that until I got to the right book, and so I needed the meddling to have pulled a little bit of that back. Plus, the fact that he was an alcoholic let me get away with a little bit of what was going on there. I really liked the intriguing element of someone who had had a piece of their memories ripped away and then was being given it back at the right time, right? That deliberateness of it was really interesting to me. I thought it made for an interesting story hook, when you meet a character and then realize he's had part of his memory excised. It's a bunch of things moving together.
I just finished rereading through Legion, and I was curious what led you to write so much about religion and that sort of thing. As a religious person, I really appreciated the fair way that you dealt with it in those books.
Being religious myself, it fascinates me, and the different ways that people intersect religion. Having one person who had all of these different personas that can all have different, varying levels of interaction with religion and the divine was also really fascinating to me. It offered me an opportunity that I probably couldn't do in any other story.
Were you intending to kill Eshonai off from the beginning of the series, or is that a decision you made later on?
That was a decision I made later in the outlining process. It was not begun that way, but it became obvious I needed to do it fairly early on. Why?
I was just wondering, because as I was reading Way of Kings, a lot of people thought she was going to be a continuing character, maybe even be one of the good guys later on.
Right. The decision I came to, and it was probably-- Trying to remember exactly when it was. When I came to the decision that Venli was more interesting as a perspective, viewpoint character than her sister was, because we already had characters in the series whose attribute was paragon of their-- This kind of paragon soldier who's trying to do the right thing is well covered in The Stormlight Archive. She was intended originally, but pretty early in the revision process, I decided it needed to go the other direction, 'cause Venli just worked way better as a viewpoint character.
Is Eshonai still getting a flashback book?
Yes, she's still getting a flashback book. I didn't change any of that. In fact, before I even began the series, I knew there were some characters who would not make it to their flashback book, and I wanted to make sure that I made clear that that could happen.
You said that before, I was like, I want to hear it.
Eshonai was intended to continue through, but I changed that pretty quickly, when I realized-- like I said.
Will we be finding out more about the Ryshadium?
Yes, but it's one of those things we're gonna find out in little bits here and there. I mean, I think I've told people they are animals that have managed to form a spren bond, which has given them more-than-animal intelligence. It is the symbiosis there that is letting them. So if they did not have the spren bond, they wouldn't be--
Does Lopen have a good story later? Because he's my favorite.
Yes, he does. Lopen has lots of good stories coming up.
The second set of Stormlight books, [six] through ten, will that-- will those be more focused on the Heralds' point of view, is that the idea?
Yeah, so Taln and Ash, who are both Heralds, are going to be main characters, and they'll each get books dedicated to them. The characters who survive the first five will still be main characters as well, but it's gonna turn more on what happened with the Heralds and things like that. The first five are turning more on what happened with the Knights Radiant and then the last five are more what happened with the Heralds... 'Cause we'll get flashbacks to the time of the Dawnsingers and things like that.
When Shallan is telling the story about the girl and the wall, she said that her hair was white. Does that matter in any way?
Are the Shinovars-- Shin people hair white?
They are not all white, but I'll RAFO the further question.
For Hoid: how old is he at the end of Oathbringer?
Very old. *gives RAFO card* Here you go, here's your card.
Has Hoid been in contact with Harmony in the timeline so far? Like, physically.
Physically in contact with Harmony in the timeline so far? "Physically" as it relates to a Shard is a difficult thing to say, but I would say that yes, they have interacted.
The missing number of Shardblades. I just want to confirm that, when the Blades were abandoned, that all of them stayed in the Physical Realm. My question is, did some just evaporate?
Ahh, good question. They did not evaporate.
How is the Cognitive Realm of Nalthis?
Yes, Nalthis. I'm gonna RAFO that. You will see it before too much longer, I hope.
As I read about the Parshendi, can't help but think of indigenous peoples. How do you deal with that and respecting the whole experience of colonization?
I think one of the things I have to do is embrace it. Like, if I just ignore it, it's worse, and so that's why I've tried to dig into and kind of acknowledge the issues. I mean, it is a minefield, right? I'm wandering into a minefield by writing a story that is basically based off of--
Yes. But at the same time, ignoring it wouldn't work. And the thing about it is, most cultures in our world, this is a question they had to deal with. Whose land is it? I mean, we're still fighting this war--we, I say, we aren't--but war is still being fought in the Middle East over whose land is it, and it's both of theirs, right, depending on how far you go back. And things like that, and so I think ignoring it is the wrong thing to do. But I also think there's a danger in trying to present an answer that is too easy, and so that's the line I have to walk. Embrace it, talk about it, not present an answer that is too easy, present multiple sides on it. It's kind of like the same way like the people in Roshar are both incredibly racist and incredibly sexist, right? Writing people who are racist and sexist without the narrative itself bolstering those sorts of those things is really hard. But, you know, we sign up to do hard things, and if I fall on my face, the best thing I can do is just acknowledge that I've fallen on my face, as I have done in the past.
I noticed in the end of Oathbringer, right before Dalinar goes all Unity on us, that his fabrial gets ripped off his wrist. Is that significant?
Yes. Maybe not for the reason you're thinking, but it is.
Have you thought of the implications of Pulsers, or cadmium Mistings, in space travel?
Yes, I have.
Because you could slow down the time bubble around the ship and extend your life span during long journeys.
Yes, I have thought of that.
Are spren able to visit other planets than Roshar?
So, spren are, because of the nature of their Investiture, connected too strongly to the planet to normally get off. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but I will just say, normally no.
So the Cognitive Realm, or whatever that sort of like-- is that different on other planets?
Yes. It looks different on each planet, partially based on perception.
Is Yaalani a character in any other stories?
Right now, no. Good question.
Does not seem like a Eelakin name. And there are people in Stormlight who seem to have aviar.
Yeah. People in Stormlight do have aviar. That has happened. But let's just say, during Stormlight era, getting things on or off of First of the Sun is really hard.
Any progress on making any visual adaptations of any of your works?
The closest right now is actually probably Snapshot, which is a lesser-known novella of mine. That's at MGM, we have a really good script, and they're about to announce a director very soon.
With a cadmium or bendalloy savant, would they be able to impact the amount of time that they can compress or expand?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
So they could fit-- Theoretically they could make-- fit more time into the same amount of metal.
Oh, that's what you're asking. Yeee-- *pauses* So, yes, technically, because... Yes, but mostly what that's going to do is going to influence your strength and how much you can multiply--
The size of the bubble?
The size of the bubble and the amount of time, like when you flare, you are pressing more time into it and a savant is gonna get really good at that. They're gonna get good at changing the bubble and the shape of the bubble, they're gonna get good at some of the other things involving the bubble. It does technically, as you become a savant, does mean you're able to squeeze a little bit more out of your metal, because that's just how it works, but that's not the main effect.
In Warbreaker, is the picture that Lightsong saves the same picture that Kaladin finds in Celebrant?
*Presumably gives RAFO card*
If you had to make any of your books into a musical?
Ooh. Well, since we already have a canonical version of The Hero of Ages as a musical in the Mistborn world, in one of the broadsheets, we would have to go with that, we would have to do the version in-world.
I think Warbreaker would translate the best.
Yeah, that's probably true. If you want a real answer, that's probably true. It's probably the best.
I was wondering what your thoughts on cosmemes are.
Cosmemes? I think they're hilarious and we can only aspire to the greatness that is trebuchet memes or prequel memes. Someday, perhaps, we, too, will be great.
How do you decide whether or not a story is part of the cosmere?
There's a couple dividing lines. If it mentions Earth, I'm not gonna put it in the cosmere, because I don't want any sort of relationship there. At that point, the dividing line becomes, does the magic fit the cosmere, and is the story one that fits the cosmere, right? I made the decision very early on, I wasn't gonna try and force everything in. So if it's a natural outgrowth of the stories I'm telling in the cosmere, then I will go that way. I'm usually more finicky about pulling them out than putting them in. There are very few stories I've put into the cosmere, and I've pulled a ton of them out.
Our entire family reads your books, and we have differences in how we pronounce things, so I was wondering if you could read this list of words for me?
Alright, let's warn you that I do not pronounce the names correctly. Upfront, I will just warn you that I pronounce you like an American, not like a local. So Jasnah, Kelsier, Sazed, Sadeas, Camon, OreSeur, koloss. Kelsier, for instance would be kel-SEE-ay in world, but that's not how I say it, cause I'm American.
Are we gonna get to figure out how Vivenna got to Roshar?
You are, eventually. It may take me a little while, but I will get to it.
I see Shai as one of the founding members of the Seventeenth Shard trying to hunt down Hoid. Is there any--
I'm gonna RAFO you on this. I'm gonna RAFO you on that. I'm not even going to say whether or not she ever managed to get off planet, even.
Are the humans who arrived on Roshar at the first Desolation refugees from the Evil on Threnody?
No. Good question. Excellent question.
Any idea when we'll learn more about The Lost Metal?
Yeah, probably middle next year you'll know more about it. It's going to depend on how working on Stormlight 4 goes.
How do you think Kelsier really feels when it's revealed that the skaa really are different from the other ruling--
So-- *pause* I would call it still a matter of debate whether they are or aren't. Whether they were is a different matter of debate, right? But I would say that a lot of the things that were claimed about skaa were not accurate. Some of the things claimed about them were, and that is part of what makes it subject to debate. And Kelsier is very good at not accepting answers he doesn't like.
Has Jasnah come up with her armor? Because there's a part where they say that geometric shapes were kind of disappearing and it wasn't like someone changing like they normally would.
I will RAFO that for now.
How was Vin able to use the mists against the Lord Ruler even though they hadn't been keyed to her?
That-- You are making an assumption there, and so tell him he might be making the wrong assumption.
In Shadesmar, the solid and liquid phases are inverted. So, in the Spiritual Realm, is it something to do with solid and gas phases, or is it not the same at all?
It is not quite where you're going, but I like the way you're thinking.
So then what's the reason that they can't travel to the Spiritual Realm?
The Spiritual Realm is not a place.
Do you know the value of a heliodor and a smokestone and all that, the relative values?
Peter does. I wrote it out once and now I have him just fact-check it for me when I write the books. So I will often say, "Worth about this much, give me the right money and change". So I made the original guide that they follow, but nowadays I don't have to use that; I can just bracket and say, "Something worth about this much".
I've heard this theory passed around, and I just want to see if you'll confirm it or not. Are you actually a bunch of tiny writers in a coat, or--
No, no, no, I'm a bunch of robots programmed to create books. The "tiny writers" one is completely false.
How about something related to Emperor's Soul?
I had a really good idea for a sequel earlier this year, but I don't know if I'll ever do it. I don't want to Lucas it. I don't want to take something that works so well on its own, and then make something that makes it not work as well on its own. I might do it, I might not.
In the Death Rattle, "In the storm I awaken, falling, spinning, grieving," have we seen it on screen?
You have said the fandom puts too much emphasis on the Lord Ruler's children. Is that because the Lord Ruler suppressed his ability to pass on his abilities to them?
Brandon, that makes no sense. What? Now I'm even more upset. It's actually my fault, 'cause I keep telling people that the Lord Ruler's kids should be important, so you can blame me.
People can be important and not be cosmere-relevant.
Yeah, but they'd be like super-powerful Mistborn!
Yes, who died nine hundred years ago!
But he spent so much time getting Feruchemy away from Allomancy!
Yeah, that's true.
Are there any different effects on a larkin depending on what kind of Investiture it eats?
Yes, but they are not enormous.
If an Awakener with Perfect Invocation turns something white, can they or another Awakener then use the white thing back to gray, back to white.
I actually thought about this. My answer ended up being a no.
Can you give a little explanation why?
I will delve into it more as I delve into the nature of color and why it's relevant to multiple magics in the cosmere. So it's a RAFO.
Are there any plants that can eat Investiture that can naturally develop?
Yes. Good question!