I can't talk about details, but I wrote a picture book. 127 words!
Mary Robinette Kowal
How long is the outline?
The outline is really long. But that's because... the reason I was able to be so short is because the joke of the picture book is that the description that goes with the picture is comically simplistic. And then the picture, I spend, like, a page describing each one. So the actual text is 127 words. But the pitch is, like, 3000 words, or something like that. It's just ridiculously long.
The reason I did it is because one of the things that we want to do eventually is, each of the Stormlight books has... there's a character in the books named Wit who's a storyteller who will tell stories to the other characters. And I would eventually like to do those as picture books. I think they would adapt really well. But wanting to do that and not knowing the form, I'm like, "I really ought to learn the form before I expect to do something like that." So I'm like, "I'm going to go research picture books. I'm gonna look at the lengths, and read all the stuff I'm doing, and then try my hand at it and see if a publisher is interested in just a standard, not-based-on-the-Stormlight-books." And then, if I'm lucky and it sells (which there's no guarantee), then I'll be able to watch the process, as I like to do as something is getting made. And hopefully learn more about it, and things like that. So that's why I did.
I did a [film] treatment for Mistborn, recently, where I'm like, "How would I envision this getting made?" And I basically had to throw out the book, start with the same premise, characters, and idea, and build it again for the medium, rather than try to pick specific scenes. Because specific scenes that I wrote in the book are there to work on the page. I needed a scene that did the same thing, but wasn't all internal. (Not really internal, but the character responding in their head.) And it needed to work differently. I have a lot more respect for adaptations.
Getting those subject matter experts... like, the new Stormlight book. If I hadn't had some of these subject matter experts, I would have been at sea with no oars.
Someday, perhaps, for fans, I will release the first draft, and they can compare. But it's now so embarrassing, about which things I got wrong.
Is there going to be a physical release planned for The Original at some point in the future? Or is it going to be audio-only?
I would anticipate that we would, eventually, do this. It was written for audio. I know we've just kind of briefly said "yeah, probably." But it's not like we've made any plans. It's not like we have a release in mind.
Mary Robinette Kowal
The conversations that we've had are basically, like, "Yeah, that would be awesome if someone wanted it." And also, I'm like, "And there needs to be some rewriting." There are scenes where we're relying on the narrator, and it won't play on the page.
So the answer is "Yes, probably." But we can't say when. And we have no specific plans yet.
It is hard for me to keep in mind more than one big change for a book [while revising]. I can do it, but it's hard; it's a challenge. And fortunately, the way I write books is, generally I only have one big change per plot cycle or per viewpoint. Like, I can say, "For this viewpoint character, my big focus change for this is changing this part of who they are. This character needs to be more proactive." That's one of the ones that I had for the new Stormlight book, is there was a character that just wasn't proactive enough. And I'm like, "I need to change the way that they're viewing their life, and add a few scenes in appropriate places that up the character's proactivity."
That was separate from a different character, where I had approached some of the mental health things the wrong way, and early beta readers were able to point me the right direction on how to do it better. And that character, I didn't change structurally their plot; I changed their response to it, and then a few places where that response did require some major changes. But I could have them on mind: this revision, I'm doing this for this character.
And I had, like, three of those in my 4.0 draft. And for all the other characters, I could say, "In this, we are just focusing on tightening-normal-prose sort of cleaning." And that way, when I went to the 5.0, if there were things for those other characters, I could feel that I had already done the prose tightening for them, and I could get into some more of the problems they needed, and I was able to keep the big changes in my head for the other characters. And then, in the last draft, I was able to do the prose tightening on their viewpoints. And that worked really well for this specific book.