Recent entries

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5051 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any magic system you consider softer? And any magic system you consider harder than most of the general audience would think they are?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...So, this is gonna dig into definitions of what you consider a soft and a hard magic system. And I don't know that we can come to an agreement on this in such a large crowd. I do think that sometimes Harry Potter gets a bad reputation for being a soft magic system where I feel like Harry Potter's a really good study in how you can have a very rule-based magic system for one book. Though she tends to ignore her own rules book-to-book, but that's okay, because that's what the story is. It's a hybrid, where it's really hard for one book, and the rules set up in that book are then used to great effect, and in the next book we get a new set of rules. Which is, you know, the same way that James Bond does it and things like this. Kind of resetting her magic a little bit between books. Not completely, Harry-Potter-philes, I'm not trying to trash on it. I think it's interesting to look at, because I think people don't understand what she's doing, some of the times, with that magic. But whether something is hard or soft doesn't really matter to me in general. It's the sort of thing I think people expect me to think about a lot. I just want the story to work, right? I don't care if it's a hard magic or a soft magic, if it's low magic, if it's high magic. If the story works, and the magic is in service of the story, I'm gonna like it, regardless of what it is. Even if it's-- like, people will be like, "I bet you hate those elemental magic system, where it's just the same old magic system." I'm like, no! My favorite magic system is probably The Wheel of Time, which is an elemental magic system. Even a step away from that, Jim Butcher's Codex Alera did an elemental magic system really well. It doesn't-- There's nothing that's just, like, "You shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that." Tell a good story.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5052 Copy

    Questioner

    If there is universal truth and it changes, does it make it not true anymore?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That depends on your personal philosophy. My personal philosophy is that there are capital-T Truths, and those don't change, though a lot of the things around them do change. And it is through discussion, conflict, and approaching the spiritual that we step closer and closer to. It's a very Platonic sort of concept, that we are approaching perfection through our imperfections mashing together. And so, Truth hasn't changed, but our understanding and our capacity to get closer to it does change. And that's a personal philosophy of mine. I bet I can talk to people who have a different personal philosophy, that I would find very interesting. But for me, I think that's an excellent question to ask. If it's capital-T Truth, it shouldn't change over time. But we do, and we're not always the best at determining what it is.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5053 Copy

    Questioner

    You were talking about change. Do you-- A lot of fantasy has this cyclic nature to it, as to the linear nature that a lot of times we think about. How do you think that plays with the idea of change, if you're just doing the same thing over again?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that's a great question... What I love about fantasy is the ability to play with theme. Obviously, with The Wheel of Time, this was one of the themes, that history repeats itself, which is a theme of our world as well, and things like this. I like how they're able to play with that. One of the things we do in fantasy is, we take a few concepts, and we'll often just kind of throw realism out the window, in order to try and do something. And that's the whole point of fantasy, right? Realism's out the window. We'll make you feel like it's plausible, but realism's out the window. We're gonna have a society that doesn't change very much across 2000 years of time, and then we're gonna have them change dramatically in a year and a half. And this concept allows you to exaggerate the things that we've all kind of felt in our life, that change is outpacing our ability to keep track of it, and play with that concept of nostalgia vs keeping up with change, and I think Robert Jordan did a really good job with that. And I wouldn't look at the genre and say "The genre is backward-thinking" because of that-- And some people do. Because I feel that fantasy, like science fiction, is fundamentally about the now, that's what we write about. Science fiction and fantasy approach it differently, but Stormlight Archive is not about what it's like to live a long time ago. I don't know what that's like. I'm not a historian. I'm writing about the now through the lens of everything I'm kind of interested and passionate about... The idea of what I'm interested and passionate about ends up in the books, even if I don't think about putting it in directly. This is how I explore the world.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5054 Copy

    Questioner

    How many countries have you visited in the last year to sign, and which was your favorite? And why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm not going to pick favorites, because I'm being recorded. *laughter* But, let's see, in the last year-- In the last year, I've been to Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, England on tour. And they're all awesome. They all treat me really, really well. I will highlight just in this-- I'm not gonna pick a favorite, but I'll highlight my Bulgarian publisher, because in Bulgaria, it's like, this one gregarious guy who's publishing science fiction. It's kind of like how in the olden days in the States you had *inaudible* and people like this, this guy is just like-- there aren't as many readers of science fiction and fantasy there, but if you're reading stuff, you're reading what he has decided you're reading. It's like, this is cool! And he prints them in his house. He has a big press, and he prints every copy in his house, and he has a store that he sells them out of, it's his store, and he distributes them to other bookstores, too, but mostly you go to the Bulgarian Mysterious Galaxy. And buy the books from him, that he has decided, and it's a really eclectic bunch, 'cause he also does the Smurfs, and me. Whatever he likes, he does some Bulgarian fiction, whatever he likes he publishes. And he picked me up in his sports car blasting techno music. And then at my signing that night, played DJ, with the entire crowd who came to see me, playing music, and it was just the most surreal and awesome experience. Contrast that to Germany, which I love, but I went to, and they were all on-time and by the book, and it sounds like a cliche, but it was, like, they had everything planned out. There was no loud techno music during my signing. Lots of wonderful people came. It was a very interesting contrast.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5055 Copy

    Questioner

    What do you think a world without non-consensual death would look like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, a lot of science fiction writers have done some really good jobs with this. And I don't know what it would actually look like, it's a good question... So, you can choose. It's gonna look something like...

    Have you read (this thing was really brilliant) Football in the Future? Oh my goodness, you guys probably haven't read it because (it's brilliant, it's super brilliant) but it's a new media story, and it's written-- Look up Football in the Future, it's not actually about football. And telling you anything more than that is, like, a super-big spoiler. But I read it last summer, and it blew my mind. New media meaning it's, like, hypertext and videos and music and things like this, and, I don't want to spoil it for you, really, but go read Football in the Future. You will love it. That was a really cool take out, but it's obviously exaggerated, like, that one's done for sarcastic effect. Maybe something more along the lines of a post-scarcity society, like the culture. I think the culture really has a lot of good science fiction.

    The thing for me, the difference between science fiction and fantasy for me is, really good science fiction makes me say "I can see how you take something we have now, and you extrapolate to the plausible, even though it can be very far from what we are." And fantasy, I believe, takes what's impossible, and then tries to make it plausible, and we kinda meet in the middle.

    So, yeah. I'm not sure, but there's an answer.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5056 Copy

    Questioner

    Which character in The Stormlight Archive do you most relate to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...This is a good question, but it's a hard question. Because all of my characters are partially me, and partially not me. Every character... So, in some ways, Jasnah is the most "me" you're gonna get in one of these books, because you've got the very analytical, somewhat ambitious, gregarious person who ignores what everyone tells them is the smart thing to do and does their own thing, and then proves everyone wrong. On the other hand, a fundamental pillar of Jasnah is her atheism, where I am a theist. And so it's like, every character, I can probably go on like that about. Every character's got a chunk of me and a chunk that's deliberately not me.

    Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
    #5057 Copy

    Questioner

    How much did the alpha, beta, and gamma readers in your opinion influence the end product [of Oathbringer] here today?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...I find them invaluable. Let me define them for you first.

    Alpha readers are a very select group. My editor, my agent, my wife, and, like, my assistant-- like Peter. These are alpha readers, people who are reading it in a very raw form.

    Beta readers are more like a test audience. The difference between alpha reader and beta reader is that the alpha is somebody who's an industry professional, for me, who can say-- can look at the structure and say "here's some advice on structure" and things like this. A beta reader is just a person who likes books, whose job is just to say "I like this, I don't like this, this is why." Right?

    Gamma readers are proofreaders. So, usually, Peter handles all the gamma readers. I don't even see what they say, because that's all to fix proofreading.

    I am a very big believer in test audience. I know some writers don't use them at all, but I find it really, really helpful to see how people are responding to the text and the fiction, and then looking and saying, "What is it that is making them feel this way? Do I want that? Do I not want that?" It is just a huge piece of the toolbox for me, a huge tool in the toolbox. (That metaphor doesn't work, because a larger tool in your toolbox is not necessarily more useful, but go with me on it.) I would say, they had all kinds of effects. And we might have Peter do some blog posts on things that I changed because of the beta readers while I'm online. And once you've read the book, you can ask me, we'll try to post about some of this stuff. Usually, they're not making suggestions, they're just giving their feelings, and I'm looking for the places where I've misfired. Where I'm like, "I thought this scene would be super dramatic," but everyone is confused. That's the sort of scene you want to find, and then ask yourself, "How can I make it work instead."

    Questioner

    You had 70, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I had 70 beta readers on this. They wrote around 600,000 or 700,000 words. So, more than was in the book, about the book. Yeah. It's crazy.

    Oathbringer release party ()
    #5058 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I talked a bit about it, in the Write About Dragons lectures at BYU, I just had the idea. I realized that a lot of my favorite stories were kind of like these boy-with-a-dragon-egg stories, right? One of my favorite stories of all time is Dragon's Blood, by Jane Yolen. Just, absolutely amazing book. And I thought, that's the kind of story I like, but it's been done to death. But then I thought, hey, I can do a different version of that. So, this story, basic premise is How To Train Your Dragon, but instead it's a girl who finds a spaceship, and goes to Top Gun school. So, it's like a mashup between Top Gun and Ender's Game and How To Train Your Dragon with an old broken down spaceship with a really weird personality. And I'm going to read you the prologue of this, which happens when the main character is rather young.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5063 Copy

    Questioner

    What are you reading?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right now, I actually just started reading [Under] the Pendulum Sun... I read two chapters of it, it was very good. It's by an author [Jeannette Ng] who is British, who came to one of my signings earlier, so I looked it up... She came in costume, she came as Jasnah, and she's a professional writer herself, so I'm like, "I've got to read her book." ...The first two chapters were delightful. Missionaries going to fairyland, the land of the fae.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5064 Copy

    Hoidonalsium

    What was the order of the Shards coming to Roshar and changing allegiances? Did humans come with Odium?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So... you're talking about on Roshar specifically? So, Odium had visited Roshar. The humans gave him more of an ear... The Dawnsingers would have considered him the god of the people who had come, but-- I mean, it wasn't like they necessarily brought him. He was capable of getting around before that. I mean, he did kinda come along with them, he was instrumental in what happened there.

    Hoidonalsium

    Okay, but he was separate, and after Honor and Cultivation had really settled there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, he was after Honor and Cultivation had settled.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5066 Copy

    Hoidonalsium

    Was Hoid's Cryptic the same one that was meant for Elhokar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Hoidonalsium

    Is there anything more to the Cryptic than Pattern? Like Shallan's Pattern?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's more to every individual! But it is not a more powerful Cryptic or anything like that.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5067 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Syl Leaves

    I hated sending Syl away from Kaladin here, but it had to happen—in part because of how much it hurt to send her away. She's basically the only light left in these scenes with Kaladin in Bridge Four.

    Syl wasn't in the original draft of Kings. I developed her over the years between 2003 and 2009; there was a time when the four winds from mythology would be active and alive on Roshar, and she was one of those. Eventually, the spren developed as a concept. They grew out of the greater worldbuilding and magic system rules for the cosmere. (The connected universe of my epic books.)

    At that point, she became a sentient spren—one of many that would be in the books. Still, she was very special. I do worry about the Tinkerbell vibe that she gives off to some people. I tried hard to distance her from that. No wings, the constant shape changing, that sort of thing.

    Her innocence and childlike nature is an important foil and balance to the darkness in Kaladin's life. Then she leaves, and all innocence is gone from him.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5068 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nine

    Kaladin in Bridge Four

    This chapter is probably the most depressing thing I've ever written.

    Writing a depressed character, someone in this bad a situation, is risky. It goes against almost every writing rule out there. A character like this can't be active, and there is basically no progress to the story. (I talked a little about this in the chapter 4 annotations for both The Way of Kings and The Hero of Ages.)

    Sometimes I'll read the writing of new authors in my class who will try to use depression as a character flaw. They've heard instructors—perhaps myself—talk about how internal conflicts can create a really strong character. They also know that depression is something real and difficult to deal with in life, so they figure it will make a good demon for the main character to overcome.

    The trap is that if the author is truly good at writing depression, then nothing actually happens in the story. It can be wonderfully authentic and at the same time wonderfully boring to read.

    This chapter is kind of the culmination of me breaking rules in the beginning of The Way of Kings. I think this chapter makes the story incredibly more powerful—but the chapter itself is like a kick to the face to read. Slow, depressing. I assume this is probably the biggest place where—if people are going to stop reading—they put down the book and never pick it back up.

    As I've said before, The Way of Kings is the book where I decided to break many rules to create something I felt was awesome. Great risk, and hopefully great reward.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5069 Copy

    Hoidonalsium

    In that one long rejection of Odium, how many Oaths did Dalinar swear before merging the Realms? And is "I am Unity" the fifth.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that is not an Oath. He swore one ideal in that experience.

    Hoidonalsium

    Okay. How many Oaths is he on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The number you think. So, he should have just finished three, right? Or maybe four. I'll have to go look. It's the number that you think it is. I'm not being sneaky on you. There's nothing sneaky there. He doesn't get armor, so I can't remember where he is... He should be at three. "Life before death." "I will unite instead of divide." "I will stand up each time I fall." Yeah, so he's done three.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5070 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yalb the Sailor

    This chapter is Yalb's time to shine. One of the things I love about The Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan's use of side characters who sometimes pop in, steal the show, then vanish. I love how they show up now and then in the text.

    I'm not sure I can do the same thing here. Robert Jordan had worldbuilding reasons why small characters would get tied to the main characters and keep appearing in their lives again and again. I don't have those reasons.

    Still, writing Yalb, I wanted him to really pop off the page even though he's only in the book for a few pages in these early scenes. I intend for him to return. In another type of story, he'd be one of the main characters.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5071 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shallan berates the book merchant

    The timid nature is a result of the problems in her past (see book two's flashbacks). I see the moments of flaring passion as being far more “her.”

    Shallan's father has an infamous temper; it's buried deep within her as well. If she'd been allowed to grow up more naturally, without the oppressive darkness that her family suffered, she would have turned out as a very different person. Still, the person she could become is buried inside her. In my mind, this is one of the big connections between her as a character and Kaladin. It is also part of why both attract a certain type of spren…

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5072 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eight

    Shallan Rejected Again

    I do wonder at reader reaction to these Shallan sequences. Some in the writing group found these scenes too long. They figured it was inevitable that Shallan would end up as Jasnah's ward, and so spending several chapters with Shallan working overtime to secure the position wasn't interesting to them.

    I admit this is a potential problem with the sequence. However, I felt it important to show both Shallan's determination and Jasnah's character with these sequences. I needed to show Shallan working very hard for what she wanted. It also gave me several opportunities to show the contrasting timidity/insolence that makes up how I view Shallan as a character.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
    #5074 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seven

    I've taken some visual art classes. I'm terrible at drawing—as you would expect from someone without a lot of experience—but I felt it would be important to know how visual art works and how artists think. Listening to the professors talk was in many ways more useful than the practice itself, though I did enjoy the drawing as well.

    (As a side note, my final project for an art class in 2002—a basic drawing class—was a landscape of Roshar with rockbuds and the like. I took a stab at doing my own concept art, and bad though it was, it did help me start to visualize the world.)

    How Shallan thinks here is really a blend of how I think as a writer and how I've heard visual artists think of their process. I'm drawing heavily on my own experience, and because of that blend, I suspect that to many artists her process will sound odd.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5082 Copy

    Questioner

    When Skybreakers are about to decide to follow Dawnsingers. Why now? Why not before?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So this is a little complicated... Until they came back, by Nale's interpretation, then the law of the land was human. When they returned, the law of the land <became> Dawnsinger. And at that point, it was his job to <switch to them>. It is his logic, but you don't have to agree with that logic. Because Nale's logic is maybe not the best.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5083 Copy

    Questioner

    Back to Stormlight. Is there significance to the color of moons?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, there is a significance to the colors of the moons in Stormlight, but it is not a major player in theories. There is a significance, but it's not, like, one of these things that you're going to read book seven and be like "The colors of the moons! It was there all along!" Sometimes, I put stuff like that in, right? It's not like that.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5084 Copy

    Questioner

    Yes, or no. With all of the cosmere books that have been put out, do we have enough information to deduce the Ghostbloods' motives?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ummm... *laugher* I would say yes, but it's not like you are a fool if you haven't gotten it.

    Robert Jordan once answered a question like this saying, "Well, the answer should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer." Which I never thought was fair. Like, no, it was not. Szeth, some people guessed it. And some people will guess this. A lot of the foreshadowing in my books, it's this weird thing where, when you do proper foreshadowing, and then people have three years between books, they're gonna figure some things out. Which presents a really interesting challenge to me as a writer, because, like, there are big things that get revealed in Oathbringer, that people who have been steeped in the world for the last seven years... they kinda knew this would happen. We get the beta readers, and they're like, "So? Doesn't everyone know that?" But at the same time, the casual reader, beta readers were like "Holy cow! This is a huge revelation!" And books need to work both for the person who has been really steeped in it, and the person who's reading along that maybe doesn't want to go get all the spoilers from all the fan guessing. So it is this weird balancing act that, as a writer, you have to perform, particularly with the longer books in the longer series, where you want to make sure they're engaging to the hardcore fan, but not overwhelming to the person who maybe hasn't reread the books since the last one came out. And I don't know that I have that balance figured out, but it is something I think about a lot...

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5085 Copy

    Questioner

    So, I was gonna ask about which character the next book would focus on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, no, that's not spoilery... I said from the get-go I am perfectly all right writing a flashback sequence for a character who has already died in the books. So it's not telling you any spoilers to tell you who the various characters are. So, the front five are Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Eshonai, and Szeth. Those are our front five. And our back five are Lift, Jasnah, Ash, Taln, and Renarin. And, not in that order. I've flipped the order quite a bit as I've been going. 'Cause Dalinar was gonna be book five, and now he's book three. So now Szeth is book five, and Eshonai is book four. Right now, Lift is book six. But the back five, I'm not concerned about, other than making sure I'm setting up the right things, and it's gonna come together.

    Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
    #5087 Copy

    Questioner

    I wanted to ask whether cake has a soul? In Realmatic theory, stuff has souls. So, somebody turns wheat into flour, and flour has a soul. Do they come together when I bake the cake?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...So, this gets into some weird cosmere theory stuff. The level that if you are a student of philosophy, you'll recognize just wearing on the sleeve where this one came from. This is a mashup of Shinto beliefs and the theory of the forms by Plato, and kind of its own weird thing, that became Realmatic theory in the cosmere...

    So, in the cosmere, things take on an Identity and a soul based on how people perceive them. It's human perception that is creating a lot of this, because the various powers that made the universe have this sort of desire to be sentient. And power left long too long in the cosmere starts thinking, that's just how it goes, and starts thinking of itself the way it is perceived. So, that cake, as soon as its created, the disparate parts of the souls start being thought of as a cake, and start gaining some traction as a cake. If you left that cake alone long enough, which wouldn't take too long for a cake because people don't look at cake and think "Oh, a bunch of wheat and flour." They think "Cake." That thing will start having a combined soul of the various bits of power, and the longer you leave it, the more permanency it's gonna have as a Spiritual artifact in the cosmere.

    So, yes, cake has a soul.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5088 Copy

    Questioner

    What do you think about book piracy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...So, I have a love-hate relationship. I like that things like torrents for books exist for people who have lost their books or who want to try one out, I think there are very legitimate reasons for it to be out there. But there's a sense of entitlement that just rubs me wrong sometimes. Like, the other day, we found a whole bunch of Ebay listings for selling the ebook, for people who had just downloaded the torrent and were just selling it on Ebay. That kind of stuff just gets under my skin.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5089 Copy

    Questioner

    The casting for these films. Is that just gonna be, like, professional people, or will it be open to the public?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have asked them to hold open casting calls. So, I don't know if they'll do it, but I have asked them. We're not even that close yet, though, right? It takes forever. We're not close enough for you to start being eager about that. It's still a few years if-- even if it happens.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5091 Copy

    Questioner

    You know the sparring guards, for the Shardblade training, the guards they put on the Shardblades. Are they made of aluminum?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, they are not. Peter will not let me make them made out of aluminum. He's my continuity editor, he keeps me honest. I tried to get them to be aluminum, but there are reasons why they can't be. So we had to make them their own weird little thing, unfortunately. But you could make a sheath out of aluminum for a Shardblade that would work.

    He keeps me honest, so it's good, but I did try to fit them in that way.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5093 Copy

    Questioner

    Who is the greatest warrior in the cosmere? I think it's Kaladin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, define "warrior" versus "soldier" versus--

    Questioner

    Who could win at an all-out fight? Even with powers taken away, I think he could still take on a lot of the other warriors.

    Brandon Sanderson

    A question. Are they on a battlefield? 'Cause Kelsier just murders him in his sleep.

    Questioner

    Battlefield.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The actual soldier, battlefield, is probably Kaladin. Problem is, you could put Dalinar in his prime. And they're both pretty good. But, Kaladin is a true soldier.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5094 Copy

    Questioner

    VenDell, the kandra from the Wax & Wayne era. So, at the start of the book, coat is brown. End of the book, a light tan. Is he doing something specifically himself to change the color?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, yeah.

    Questioner

    Is it what I think it is?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What do you think it is?

    Questioner

    It appears to be some sort of, kind of, almost Awakening?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. More mundane than that.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5095 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I actually am having a meeting on Monday with my publisher saying "We need to get more books to India," because that is the number one complaint I get... The number one country that emails me of people saying "We can't get your books" is India. So hopefully we'll do something about that.

    Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
    #5096 Copy

    Hoidonalsium

    The resonance between various powers, specifically about Shallan... The way that she seems to be sort of Soulstamping herself, is that due to a resonance power? Or is that something external—or is it mental?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...It's a combination of the two, but it's not resonance. It's more mental health and her magic kind of interacting.