Stormlight Book Four Update #1

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Name Stormlight Book Four Update #1
Date
Date Jan. 2, 2019
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Happy New Year, everyone! Brandon here, with my first in a series of updates about your next book.

As mentioned in my State of the Sanderson post last month, my 2019 is dedicated to writing the fourth Stormlight book. It's a long process, likely to take around eighteen months or longer (depending on how big it gets this time...) As always, one of my goals is to be up front and forward with you about how it's going. The writing process can be a tangled one, even for simple books. And these books are anything but simple.

So, where do we stand? Well, right now, the outline is a bit of a mess. While I started with outlines for all five Stormlight books in this sequence (and some notes for each of the back five books as well) even a heavy outliner like myself changes a lot about a book during the drafting process. Each change has a ripple effect through the later outlines, which I commonly don't fix other than to note sections that will need to be change or be tweaked.

In the case of Stormlight, sequences were frequently moved between books as I decided on better places for them. (Like Dalinar and Szeth's flashback sequences in book three and five being swapped--or like Kaladin's sequence from the outline of Book Three being moved to Book Two instead.)

The further I get, then, the more messy the remaining outlines become. So the first thing I need to do is spend some time digging into the outlines of Books Four and Five, sharpening them and making them work. I need to do this now, because I don't want to get to Book Five and find it in serious trouble.

Imagine I have a big pile of legos, and I'm building five cool castles from them. I have to be careful as I use more and more of the pieces that the ones left over make a cool fifth castle--rather than just a jumble of leftovers. There are some very important and powerful sequences still to come (you all know how I like endings) but the outlines need extra special attention this time around.

My goal starting tomorrow (well, today once I wake up) is to get those outlines into shape. I anticipate this taking a month or maybe event two. I need to dig back into books one and two and make sure there aren't plot threads I'm ignoring, examine the themes of this book's flashback sequence (from Eshonai's viewpoint) and map them alongside the main themes of the major plots, then choose break points for the five parts of the story. (Along with decide who the viewpoint characters for each part will be.)

For those who don't know, I plot each Stormlight book as a trilogy written as a single novel (though in five parts) with a short story collection spliced into it. That "trilogy" then connects to the five book mini arc (in this case, the first five books) which in turn ties into ten book mega arc of the series. So, I've got a great deal of work ahead of me. Fortunately, we have an entire year for me to do it! (Though I will need to spend some of that time the next few weeks signing four thousand copies of the Hero of Ages Leatherbound, which FINALLY arrived.)

So, off I go! I'll be back here sometime February or March with another update, perhaps including a (spoiler free) visual representation of the outline like I did last time. Until then, thanks for the support! The Way of Kings passed a million copies sold in the US last year, which isn't even mentioning its significant sales around the world. I'm humbled and pleased to see so many people embracing this series, the one I started assuming it would be too long and too strange to ever sell.

I'll leave you with a random tidbit to theorize about. I'm pretty sure that at my signing last week in Idaho Falls, I was unintentionally misleading about some of the things I said about Dalinar's powers (regarding infusing of spheres.) I was trying to talk around spoilers for book four...

#2 Copy

Himenss

So originally book 3 was Szeth and book 5 was Dalinar? Good that it changed...I cannot imagine book 3 without Dalinar's flaskbacks. The story wouldn't be so powerful.

Now I am curious, did Dalinar get his memories back in the original planning for book 3?

Brandon Sanderson

As others have theorized, this wouldn't have worked quite the same way.

Oathbringer's ending would still have been its ending--but we wouldn't have had the flashbacks and some of the revelations about Dalinar's character. It quickly became obvious to me, however, that the confrontation with the thrill, the reveal regarding the ancient Radiants, and the solidification of the new Radiants as a unified(?) group needed to all happen alongside Dalinar's flashbacks (and his recovered memories) instead alongside Szeth's flashbacks and his plot, a big chunk of which was moved to book five.

#3 Copy

BelgariathTAO

Wait, don't you also have a teaching job?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a good question, and though others have answered, I should post to explain for those who might be interested in teaching creative writing.

It is very difficult to get a teaching job in creative writing without an MFA or a PhD. I applied to many of those programs, submitting Elantris as my writing sample, but I was rejected from all of them. I managed to get into BYU on my second year of applying to programs--but only their MA program, which was a stop gap because it wasn't an MFA, and therefore wouldn't be enough to let me teach.

In the first week of that program, the graduate chair explained the work we would need to do to if we wanted to get into a PhD program that would give us a shot at teaching for a living. I distinctly remember realizing I could never do all of that and still write my novels. So I made the call and turned toward my fiction instead of academics.

I applied to teach as a graduate instructor, but didn't get the job. I applied a semester later, though, and was given a few freshman composition classes to teach--but it was a graduate teaching position, meaning a job I couldn't keep once graduating.

I only got my creative writing class after I sold a novel. Even then, it was sketchy. The professor before me had been let go for not having enough academic credentials. I love teaching my class, but it is only one course which I only got after publishing. So this is not a route I could have taken if I hadn't sold a book. This tends to be a big conundrum in teaching the arts. You can't get a job without being successful--but being successful usually takes so much time, you don't have time left to be an academic.

#4 Copy

Glamdring804

Yeah, it’s dangerous to leave him unsupervised for extended periods of time, as a random novella might suddenly appear.

Brandon Sanderson

The latest one is a story I really want to write about one of Hoid's apprentices, set in the future of the cosmere (between era 3 and 4) stranded on a minor shardword and trying to figure out their kite-based magic system...

(No time right now, though. Stay on target...)

yahasgaruna

That sounds very much like the first story you wrote about Hoid, doesn't it? About him landing on a new planet and trying to figure out the local magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it would be the spiritual successor of that story. I don't think it would work any more for him, the way he has developed, but I think it could play out very well with one of his many apprentices across the worlds. (Particularly if he's a little more organized about this in the space-age era.)

Someday, I really need to send my old discs from the early 90s out for data recovery, to see if anything is on them. It would be a hoot to read these old stories and really see how much of the Cosmere existed in embryo back when I was a teenager.

Event details
Name
Name Stormlight Book Four Update #1
Date
Date Jan. 2, 2019
Entries
Entries 4
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