Has there been something [with worldbuilding] you decided to put in that inadvertently has pigeonholed you in a way? Where it’s like, “Oh, that element shouldn’t…” Basically, any regrets, in terms of worldbuilding, that now, in hindsight, that was a little too solid; something you wish you had left a little looser?
I think one of my big worries for a long time was in the White Sand books. I made a bunch of mistakes there, because it was the first world I ever built. So the magic system in that, there are some very cool things about it; there’s some very non-cohesive things. I had people have the ability to turn sand into water for no good reason, that does not fit the cosmere magic system as it developed. That one, I’m like, “Why did I even put that in?” I think I tried… I can’t remember if we got that cut out, or not. It was in the early drafts of the White Sand graphic novel scripts. I remember trying to cut that out, and I can’t now remember if we got it cut out. It might have been too integral to the story. But regardless, there’s things like that that I’m like “eh…”
I wish I, at the end of the Mistborn trilogy, had been more clear about how many metals there were left to discover. That’s definitely a mistake. But I just went ahead and was like, “You know what? I made the mistake, I’m just gonna explain it after the fact. I made a mistake, and we’re doing it the way I intended it to be, rather than the way it came across.” And I’m okay copping to mistakes and letting people know.
One of the things I keep wanting to do is have Peter, every time a book comes out, release a notes file that’s kind of like… you know how, when a video game gets an update, you have the bug fixes and power rebalances? I want to release a bug fixes and power rebalances thing for this. Where we’re like, “This little aspect of the world just never made sense. We’ve retconned this out. Now you can understand.” Stuff like that, I feel like we should be doing that.
Way of Kings is a great example. Way of Kings ended up using more Earth metaphors than the rest of the Stormlight Archive. If you read Way of Kings, there’s more references to grapes, there’s more references to ravens, because I just was not into the world as well (even after doing all this worldbuilding) as I eventually got into it. I’m like, “They wouldn’t use a raven metaphor here. They wouldn’t say something looks like a flock of ravens. They don’t see ravens.” And finally I said to Peter, “Go ahead and bug-patch these out of Way of Kings, for the newest version.”
I see in the chat, “flock of chickens.” Well, really, it should be “debris flying in front of a storm.” Something that they have seen a lot that becomes a natural metaphor for their language. Not even a flock of chickens, because they don’t see a flock of chickens.