Recent entries

    FanX 2018 ()
    #5501 Copy

    Questioner

    On your Tor.com release of Oathbringer, I made a comment, it was about the Windblades being powered by Urithiru. Would that be barking up the right tree or the wrong tree?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is a, barking up the wrong tree. Good question. I don't think I've seen that question before.

    Questioner

    Even [Alice?] brings it up in the next chapter.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Did she? No, that's a false correlation, the strata are more just there because of how Roshar works, than they are to make you draw a parallel there.

    Questioner

    And only Shallan and others can really see the colors *inaudible*.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmmm. That is not a false correlation, right there.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5502 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you make good characters, good heroes, and good villains. How?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a big question. Best thing I can tell you is, try to look for the nobility in every person, even if you may not agree with them yourself. Listen to the character. Every person is a hero in their own story.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5503 Copy

    Questioner

    I was curious about how you see your writing and your job in context of your discipleship.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that making good on talents you're given is a very important thing. I think art is good for art's sake, and it is an innate and inherent good. Expressing who you are in fiction and exploring who other people are brings us together, makes us closer, makes us understand people when you read fiction written about people very different from yourself. I think pure religion will try to understand other people's viewpoints and listen. So I think that that is all very important, and I think that fiction is comfort in a lot of people's lives

    I don't sit down to write a book and say, "My job is to convert anybody, or to preach." I try to present the world as it is through lots of different people's eyes, and I think that is an innate good. This is the big argument that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien had, though. They were on different sides of that argument. What is the nature of allegory in fiction. I err a little more on Tolkien's side.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5504 Copy

    Questioner

    I've started a lot of little things of literature, but I've never been able to finish, 'cause I start on one thing with all these ideas, and then I get all these ideas about something else, and I don't see the two worlds fitting. So I start on something else. So, how do I...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is Professor Sanderson saying, "You need to make yourself do it." You won't learn how to finish stories until you start doing it. And doing that, learning to keep on a story, even when it starts to get hard, and you're more excited about something else, and this one's not turning out the way you like, or things like that. Learning to finish it anyway is the only way you'll learn how to do that, and make it good. So, you have to finish stories. Don't stress too much about them turning out right. Books that you write are all practice. Even for me, right now. Practice at getting better. You want to be a better writer. Rather than a person who wrote a book, you want to be a writer who can write great books. So, practice like you're practicing piano, or whatever it is. Just tell yourself, you've just gotta finish.

    Questioner

    Do you agree with, "You should know the ending?"

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on... everybody's different. Some writers are better if they don't. Some writers are better if they write toward an ending, get there, and then revise so that ending matches. You'll have to do that. Some writers are better if they have a strong outline. Go watch my university lectures, on YouTube. In the early lectures, I talk a lot about discovery writing versus outline writing, the advantages and disadvantages.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5505 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you build all your characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Characters are the hardest for me to explain. The answer I can give you is, I usually try writing and just experiment with the viewpoint and voice, and see if that works. And if it does, then I start working them into the book. But often, I'll do freewrites. I'm looking for conflict, looking for an interesting perspective of seeing the world. I'm just looking for something different about them.

    Questioner

    So, like, in Mistborn, do you create your characters individually, and then you add them to the story?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of times. Like, Kelsier was created before I started writing Mistborn. Vin was also, but Vin changed a whole bunch, to the point that, really, I started writing the book, experimented with different voices, and found the one I wanted for her.

    Questioner

    How were you able to diversify the amount of characters you have? Like, Shallan, she had such a dark past. How do you get that so accurately?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've had some help on Shallan. I've got some friends who have dealt with similar issues that I interview, I get notes from, and I have read the books and tell me where am I going wrong, where am I going right. That's really handy. Listening to people, interviewing people, using primary sources. Invaluable when doing characters. Even the newest book I'm working on, Skyward... Like, in that one, it's nothing about a deep, dark past, but the main character's a fighter pilot. And I got a ton of stuff wrong. But fortunately, I found some fighter pilots to read the book and tell me where I was going wrong. So it got right.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5506 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm curious, how did you get the inspiration for putting lights in spheres that give people powers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I bet, if you track back where the origin of this is, a lot of the ideas like this goes back to Dune, where magic as part of the economy was really fascinating to me when I read it as a teenager. And so, I've always looked for economic components to my magic. And I loved the idea of coinage being useful for something. So, the idea that you have these spheres that act as light was really fun for my worldbuilding and things like that. It means people just don't use fire as often, and you have an economy that can go late at night without burning candle wax to go late at night. You're just using a side effect of your money that you already have. And this led some really cool worldbuilding directions. I would say the origin probably goes back to Dune.

    Where did it come from as Stormlight? Partially, it's just, the way I built the Cosmere, I wanted commodifiable magic that you could use in an economy and trade, because of the way the Cosmere worked and the greater, larger where I was going for the future books, that just made it a lot more interesting to me.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5507 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you think you would ever teach a class at the Storymakers conference?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do, every once in a while, teach at Storymakers, yeah. I really like that conference. I think it is probably the best writing conference in the region. I can't make it every year, though. But every three or four years, I go in and I teach one.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5508 Copy

    Questioner

    I wanna know how many series you're working on right now.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you really wanna know, go Google "State of the Sanderson.' Every December, I go through all the series that I'm working on. I say where they are, and what I'm planning to do with them, and which ones are done and which ones aren't. So just Google that.

    Questioner

    Another question on that is, how do you keep your characters straight in the different books that you write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Keeping characters straight isn't tough. Keeping events, which things I've said and which things I haven't... and in that case, it's a matter of having a good continuity editor. Or rereading the books before you write the next one. Once in a while, I will have changed my mind in the middle of writing a book, and I forget. So, I go trying to write the sequel, and my continuity editor's like, "You explained this already. You have this whole thing." And I still, like... Mistborn, I changed silver to tin, and I still have just never been able to remember that. My fingers want to type "silver."

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5509 Copy

    Questioner

    I have to say, I find more gospel conversations after going through The Stormlight Archive with people than any other fictional book I've ever read. Does that intentionally bleed in, or is that just part of who you are?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a little of both. I don't preach in my books. What I am determines part of what I find heroic. But I'm very fascinated by religion. So I like to have lots of different people in the books who have lots of different viewpoints on religion that talk about it, like we kind of do in real life. So, you know, you have someone like Dalinar, who is kind of very... almost revolutionarily faithful. And you have Kaladin who's just straight-up agnostic, "Don't know, don't care." You have Jasnah, who's an atheist. You have someone more like Navani, who's a classic conservative faithful. I just like having all of these different people interacting.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5510 Copy

    Questioner

    When you kill characters, how do you make them dramatic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are lots of different philosophies on this. Certain authors do it certain ways. It depends on the emotion you're going for. Usually, it depends on if it's a tragedy or not. A tragedy is, they don't fulfill the character arc that they're promised. They make wrong decisions at the wrong moment. And you, the reader, are left disappointed in them. And the opposite, like a heroic story, they make the decision. It might have consequences, so you're left sad, but also thrilled. And it depends on which emotion you want. And some writers prefer a method where they want you to never know who's safe and who isn't. And those writers will often kill a character in the middle of a plot arc, out of nowhere. And those are three different ways. I am way more likely to use the first two. A character who makes the wrong decision, and then dies because of it, as a tragedy. Or a character who makes a hard decision, fulfills their character arc, and may not make it anyway, still can feel very uplifting despite the loss.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5511 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you planning on doing a sixth Alcatraz?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, from Bastille's viewpoint. She is currently writing it. We are just waiting for her to finish. That shouldn't be too long.

    And things aren't as bad as Alcatraz made them seem. He's a little melodramatic, if you can't tell.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5512 Copy

    Questioner

    Where would you suggest a beginning writer start writing? Like, novellas? With short stories?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd recommend you start with the format you read the most. Once upon a time, short stories was the way to begin. But that's because a lot of the readership read short stories, got used to reading them, and magazine subscriptions were a big deal. Once the novel became the dominant form... I don't feel like you should write something you don't read. We use, in writing, a phrase: "Write what you know." This doesn't necessarily mean you can't write about someone very different from yourself. But your experience is part of what's gonna make your story unique. And so, putting part of yourself into every book is important. And also, writing in genres that you are familiar with, that you know the tropes of so you can use them in new ways. So, start on novels if you read novels.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5513 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever wanted to write an alternate ending to a book or a series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I actually did that with Words of Radiance. There's some small tweaks that I made. The end result was too much confusion among fans, which one's the canon, even though they were just minor things, that I feel like that was an experiment that I just don't ever wanna go back on.

    Like Mistborn One, there are things I don't like about the ending of that. It's a little too deus ex machina. A little too unforeshadowed, some of the things that happen. But that's just my lack of skill as a writer during that era. And you just learn and grow. You learn how to do things right by doing them poorly on occasion.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5514 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever regretted killing off a character, or not killing off a character, in your book series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. In the middle of Words of Radiance, there is a character who dies, but comes back. And in my original draft, it was very clear. (Wink wink, reader; this character's coming back.) And I think that was actually the version I wanted. Because I felt like, when I did the original draft, and I sent it to beta readers, they're like, "Oh, well this character's obviously gonna come back." And I'm like, "They figured me out!" And I made it hardcore, so they had real worry the character wasn't coming back. But that was not a major moment in the series, it was removing a character so another character could shine. So, I should have just been okay with them knowing that character was coming back, because there are... I feel like I faked out the readers for no big gain. There wasn't really reason to try so hard to fake out readers on that thing. Where there are some legitimate characters where, you know, either, really they're dead and I want people to mourn their deaths. Or there are other characters where their return, I want to be very dramatic. And I feel like you've only got a certain amount of that energy from readers that you can play with them that way. And I shouldn't use it for things where I just want a character out of the way for a while.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5515 Copy

    Questioner

    What's the book that you've enjoyed writing the most?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably Bands of Mourning. I basically, for Bands of Mourning, just kind of took the "I am just gonna have fun with this" route, and it turns out it worked really well for those characters.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5517 Copy

    Questioner

    Why is it that - even though we don't see this often - you've chosen to have some of your characters swear and some of them not?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, a couple of reasons. One reason is, I honestly don't think swearing is that bad. Using the Lord's name in vain is a different thing, which you will see me not doing. I think, as a writer, words, part of me is "It's a little silly that we associate two words that mean the exact same thing." Another reason is, I feel like there are certain places I have to let my characters go further than I would. Because otherwise, every character is gonna act like I would. I tried writing Mistborn books with made-up swear words, like I use in Stormlight. It just didn't fit the world. This is a really dark world where terrible things are happening, I'm like, "I can let them use a few Biblical swear words." And it felt right to me when I did it. My fourteen-year-old sister, when she read them, she went through and crossed them all out and wrote her own curse worlds in. Mostly "poopyhead," and things like that. But, you know, it's kind of a balance, I think, every writer has to make a call on themselves. Where you kind of stand on that line. Certainly there are certain words I haven't used, even still.

    I think, maybe, we're a little too focused on some things, like language, and a little less focused on... Like, I'm far more worried about the violence in the books. And I've been actively trying to decide how much I pull my punches on that, versus not. Because I think that in our society, there's too much of a tendency toward glorifying violence. But that's the cool stuff, right? I love a Jackie Chan film. So where's the line between a Jackie Chan film, which is kind of showing off what the human being can do, and a glorifying in the killing of others. And that line is one that worries me, and that I'm far more concerned on, then whether or not I let Wayne use a little bit of colorful language. But that's my personal... everyone can make their own decision.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5518 Copy

    Questioner

    What would you say is one of the books you're most proud of writing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably the final Wheel of Time book. That was the hardest book for me to write. Someone else's world, someone else's characters, keeping it all straight. Doing a good job of releasing something for so many people that they'd been waiting for for so long, the pressure was just really high.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5519 Copy

    Questioner

    So, question about the Reckoners. In the beginning of Steelheart, Deathpoint kind of lazily points his finger at Steelheart. So, it didn't seem like he feared him very much at all. So, my question is, if he didn't fear him, then how come Steelheart wasn't affected by it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, he didn't. He was trying to act cool. But that fear was there. At least, that's my explanation to myself. And it's part of why Steelheart makes the entrance in the way he does.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5520 Copy

    Questioner

    If you Hemalurgically steal a Shardblade, what <entropy takes place>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Like, if you were going to steal someone's Connection to that Shardblade?

    Questioner

    The bond with the Shardblade.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The bond with the Shardblade?

    Questioner

    Would it take longer to summon?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, no, you just wouldn't summon it anymore, the person who got it Hemalurgically would summon it. That would be kind of a wasted use, to get a dead Shardblade. Lot easier ways to do that.

    Questioner

    I was just wondering if it would take longer to summon if somebody used Hemalurgy to steal it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, yeah, there's a little bit of leak to it, so probably.

    Questioner

    It wouldn't make sense for it to be less sharp.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5521 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I was taking (and this is honestly true) a linguistics class when I wrote [Elantris]. And I was like, "So far, all the worlds I've come up with have had really normal pronunciation. What if I actually used my linguistics knowledge?" And then, of course, that's the first book that gets published, and one of the big reviews was like, "Sanderson's terrible at names. You can't pronounce these." I'm like, "Uhhh..."

    Questioner

    My take is, apparently nobody read the pronunciation guide.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, no one really did. But I pronounced it all wrong, too. I pronounced everybody's names wrong. I'm American, I can pronounce these like Americans.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5522 Copy

    Questioner

    Are we gonna get leatherbounds of everything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The theory is yes. Some of them will be combined. Like, I'll probably do the Wax and Wayne Mistborn books as two in one book and two in one book, so there's two volumes. But I think the plan is eventually to do them all.

    Questioner

    Just all the Cosmere? Or, like, every single one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We should do everything. It depends on what interest is, for people. We will definitely do every Cosmere book. That, you don't have to worry about.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5523 Copy

    Questioner

    Was there a character where you just had a really hard time doing a bad thing to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that doesn't really happen to me. I've got it all planned out ahead of time, so I'm well prepared for it.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5524 Copy

    Questioner

    Y'all are makin' movies, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't really have control over that. I can nudge it along, but Hollywood is a weird place. And it is very hard to get movies made. I like the people who have the rights, I think they're doing right by us, but I don't know when and if they'll ever be able to make it happen.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5525 Copy

    Questioner

    Who's your favorite, and who do you think has the most of your own personality?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, every character I write is part me, and part not-me. So I'm not sure if there's really a Brandon stand-in. Alcatraz is *inaudible*, my mom says. So, perhaps that. I feel a real kinship with Sazed. But every character is a mix between me and not-me.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5526 Copy

    Questioner

    Something I've noticed, 'cause I've been watching your videos, which I'm super grateful for. What I was wondering is, something I've noticed is that you're very good at asking the right questions. Like, when you're teaching your class, then you ask questions that garner great ideas. So, this is probably a really hard question, but how do you get your questions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Instinct, I think. Looking for the questions that are not yes-or-no questions, that's certainly part of it. Practicing deconstructing stories, so that you start to learn, like the whole chef versus cook thing. It's very cook question to say "Why does this tastes good?" It's a chef question to ask "What does putting this spice in do."

    Questioner

    Like, "Why does this work?"

    Brandon Sanderson

    "Why does this work?" I think that really leads you on the route to the right questions. A lot of instinct, a lot of practice. Practice makes instincts. The hardest thing about teaching my class is acknowledging that a lot of what I do, I do by instinct, and breaking it down may not be that helpful, even though it sounds really smart, if that makes sense?

    Questioner

    And something that you said is that a lot of it is just sinking into your unconscious, because you do it so many times?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Putting things into your unconscious so that you can consciously think about new things until you're familiar enough with those that they sink into your unconscious, and you can focus on something else.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5527 Copy

    Questioner

    What's the Secret Project you've got going?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm contractually obligated not to say.

    Questioner

    My wife is really excited and hoping for Alcatraz <super fast>.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alcatraz is in in the process. I've made some really decent progress. It shouldn't be too much longer on Alcatraz.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5529 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any way to get the novel version of White Sand, or is all just graphic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you want a novel version of White Sand, if you sign up for my mailing list, we send you the ebook. And you are welcome to print your own copy (as long as you don't distribute it) that you make for yourself. That's the best way to get White Sand. I don't have any plans to print them right now. It's possible that someday I will. So if you wanna be patient, maybe we'll do some Dragonsteel Edition, or something like that.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5530 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any way I can get a physical copy of the Infinity Blades?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We are planning to do (we have for a long time) a nice little kind of Collector's Edition that has the stories and the scripts and the concept art for the video games. So, eventually, yes. Right now, we don't have any more copies, I don't think. You can email Kara, or the Brandon Sanderson store, and see if she has one lying around. If she does, then we can get you that one. I mean, there were only, like, a hundred of each of those printed.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5531 Copy

    Questioner

    What do you do? Any other hobbies you do outside of writing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I play... Magic: The Gathering is my nerd hobby. I like traveling quite a bit, which is good, because my job has me traveling.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5533 Copy

    Questioner

    Do we have a date when the Lost Metal will come out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We do not have a date. I have to write the book first. Lost Metal shouldn't be too far off. Dropping Apocalypse Guard and doing something else instead put me behind a little bit.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5534 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did you get your ideas for most of these books from? What inspired you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, it's different for every book. Could you pick maybe one of them, and I can tell you where that one came from?

    Questioner

    Let's go Way of Kings.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Way of Kings, the original concept, the very first, was probably Dalinar. Where I wanted to tell a story about someone who was the brother of the king, and the king dies, and the son takes over, and the son's a bad king. And what do you do if you're put in that position? The conflict of duty to versus your family versus duty to the kingdom. That was probably my very first idea for Stormlight. From there, the storms were another big early idea. A world wracked by these storms, how would it develop?

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5535 Copy

    Questioner 1

    When I'm writing, I noticed that all my characters, they start out different, but they just become the same.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They blend together? That's okay, that happens. That's one of the easier things to fix in revisions, is to do a revision just focused on making sure their voices... The big thing you don't want to have happen, particularly in the first draft, is that you lose their motivations. If their voices start to blend together, you can fix that. But if their motivations start to become muddled, it's a lot harder to fix in post. So, make sure you're laying down their motivations and getting their plots right, make sure that what they do is motivated by who they are. You can tweak voice. Voice is really easy to rewrite a sentence, so it feels like it's in voice. But you do wanna do that in revision. You do wanna practice and learn how to do that. I wouldn't stress it too much. I have the same sort of problem.

    Questioner 2

    How do you get good motivation for a character? Because I feel like that ends up, really, kind of terrible in...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Motivation is the easiest place to go wrong with a character. And if it's strong, readers will forgive a whole host of other ills. And it's not as hard as it sounds. Make sure what the characters are doing comes from who they are, not from what the plot wants them to do.  Make sure it comes from a place, like... And sometimes, that may mean revising the plot. Or sometimes it means you just have to establish it more clearly. And I can't tell you which problem is without reading the book. But that is my suggestion. Make sure the choices they're making come from who they are, rather than what the plot wants them to do.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5536 Copy

    Questioner

    If you were to write a Magic [The Gathering] story, which member of the Gatewatch would you be most excited to write for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *long pause* I don't know. Mmm... I think my favorite of the Gatewatch is Teferi. (He counts now, right? He has an oath?) So, probably Teferi, I would say. I've always liked Teferi.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5537 Copy

    Questioner

    How long do we have to wait until the next [Stormlight Archive]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I divide my time about half-and-half, Stormlight and non-Stormlight. I finished Stormlight [Three] last year in June. And so, I'm taking eighteen months and writing the Skyward trilogy, and then I'm gonna write the next Stormlight. They usually take about eighteen months.

    Questioner

    Who's the next one gonna be about?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Next one, flashbacks should be Eshonai. The last flashback sequence should be Szeth. Of this group. Then, there'll be five more books, but those will take place about ten years later.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5538 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm sure you have an outline over Stormlight Archive. How do you go about making an outline for each book? Is that just something you go at when you write the book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I write the next book, I dig into that in detail. Stormlight books are particularly hard, because I kind of outline them each as a trilogy each that I write as one book. It's the only way that I can conceive these enormous novels. And usually, what I'm looking for, that I don't always have until I work on the outline, is some sort of through-line story to make sure that the book feels like a cohesive whole, even though there's lots of different viewpoints and things.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5539 Copy

    Questioner

    I just earlier finished Bands of Mourning, and I didn't know about Mistborn: Secret History until I finished it. Are you planning on releasing more like Mistborn: Secret History in the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I can, I would like to. It was really hard to find time for Secret History. I started working on it right when I finished Hero of Ages. And it took me all this time to finally get it done. So, because they're little side projects, I have to find the right place to squeeze them in.

    Questioner

    Obviously, there's more to the story, with the ending of Bands of Mourning...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Yeah. I mean, Mistborn was originally conceived as three trilogies. It's actually four series now, four Eras, but who knows if I'll add another one. But we will be going to a modern-day Mistborn series next. And, really, the stuff that I have in Bands of Mourning is more to deal with the modern-day series than it is the Wax and Wayne series.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5540 Copy

    Questioner

    What would you say to someone who's considering writing, but just isn't sure.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Go for it. It's good for you. You don't have to become a professional writer for writing to be good for you, any more than you have to go for the NBA to have basketball, playing one night a week, be good for you. It will be good for your brain, you will enjoy it. I say, just set aside a little time every week and write. And maybe it'll turn out that you have a real passion for it, and that you're really talented at it, and it will end up becoming a career. But even if it doesn't, writing a book just for you and for your friends... like, my first books, nobody but my friends read. And that's okay. Jane Austen's first books, she wrote them for her sisters. So, it's totally all right, just go for it. If you need any help on how to start, watch my university lectures. Or go to Writing Excuses, my podcast, Season 10. We kind of step you through writing a book. Go for it.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5541 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you write and teach? Don't you teach at BYU?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, but I teach one class, once a year, an evening class. It's just for fun.

    Questioner

    Writing's full-time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing's full-time, yeah. I've been full-time writing since... I taught for, like, two years at BYU, and then went full-time writing.

    The class I teach, I just have a blast with. I just have one class, and it is a lot of fun.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5542 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have any tips for anyone writing a narrative?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I do. So, remember that you become a great writer by practicing, the same way you become a great pianist or anything else. And those early stories, your focus should just be on getting them done. Experimenting, learning how you work as a writer. Don't stress them too much. Just practice. Set goals and accomplish them. Say "I want to write this much a week." Usually set an hour goal, be like, "I'm gonna write two hours a week." And then try to dedicate yourself to that. And you will get better. Nothing will teach you more about writing than just doing it.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
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    Questioner

    Who's your most frustrating character to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmm... gonna be some of the Wheel of Time characters. I was never a huge Cadsuane fan. But I ended up enjoying writing her viewpoint more than I thought I would. I would say Mat from The Wheel of Time was the hardest for me to get right, so probably him. Otherwise, most frustrating... I don't know. Like, when I'm writing a character, they have to be my favorite while I'm writing them. Otherwise, something's wrong, if that makes sense.

    Questioner

    What about the funnest?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The funnest would probably be Wayne, probably, from the Mistborn books. He is a blast to write.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5544 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you working on a sequel to the Rithmatist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, but slowly. Rithmatist has some specific issues with the setting, and things like that, that are a challenge to overcome. Part of that is also psychological on my part. I wrote the Rithmatist, it was the last book I finished before The Wheel of Time happened. And The Wheel of Time really diverted my career a large amount. And so, finding the place where I was when I wrote Rithmatist again in my brain, has been a little bit hard. I took a stab at it once, and didn't like where it was going. But, I will eventually be doing another one.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5545 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you get over writing block?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, writing block is one of those things that is really individual. Having writing block, it's like going to a doctor and saying "I have a headache." The doctor's gonna be like, "Great, that eliminates nothing. It could still be anything." And writing block is the same way, it's all very individual. Why you're having writing block can be related to all kinds of hosts of issues. The most common ones have to relate with kind of a performance anxiety, that's very common. In that, when it's in your head, it doesn't have to be perfect yet, or you can imagine that it is perfect. And when you put it on the page, it's not. So, the worry that you're going to do it wrong or that you're already doing it wrong is a very big deal that stops writers. And usually the answer to that, to solving it, is just to write anyway. To be able to say, "It's okay if I write this chapte,r and it's not perfect. Because once I get something down, then I can start to fix it." Most writing blocks can be solved by just writing anyway. Oftentimes, for me, I have to write something bad before I start writing the right way. Like, Apocalypse Guard, I knew something was going wrong as I was approaching the ending. But if I never just not finished that ending, I wouldn't have anything to fix. So I wrote it anyway; I wrote what I had done in the outline, and it ended up... it didn't work. But now, I have something to work on that I can end up fixing. And a lot of people get stuck in that "I can't write it 'til it's perfect' sort of mode.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
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    Questioner

    I know you write multiple books at a time. Do have advice for, like, balancing those?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Balancing multiple books at a time. So, one of the things that I do is, I generally will work on an outline for one, while I'm writing another, and then doing revision on a third. And it feels like those three things take different parts of my brain. And so it actually can be, like, nice exercises, like when you're at the gym, you don't work the same muscle group all the time. You move between them. But what I don't generally do is write new fiction on multiple things at a time. I find that I need to keep focused on that story. So, while I work on multiple things at a time, I'm not necessarily writing on more than one thing at a time.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5547 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    What's my biggest challenge in writing books?

    There's a couple. One of the big ones I have nowadays is not repeating myself. It's a much bigger danger if you write in a lot of different series, like I do. Like, if you just write in one series, the tone and themes of that series are very similar, it's okay book-to-book, because that's what you want for a book. But if you're jumping a lot, and then every series starts to feel like it has the same tone and theme, then you start to repeat yourself. And so, the longer I go as a writer, that's one of the big challenges.

    The other kind of big challenge is making sure that I'm juggling my main projects, like Stormlight and Mistborn, and the side projects that I want to do. The way my writing psychology works is, if I spend too long on one thing, I get burned out. But because of that, it's very easy for me to, instead of working on one good series that's gonna make my name, it'd be easy for me to write fifteen smaller books that all just go completely wacky directions. So I want a balance between that. I want things like The Stormlight Archive, and I want things like the novellas that I do.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5548 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    What do I like to do besides write? Excellent question.

    My nerd hobby is Magic: The Gathering. So, I go to extreme lengths to foil out my cube, and things like that. I used to have a lot more time for things like this than I do now. And that's mostly having a family, right? As you grow up and put on your big-boy pants, you're like: I have three children, I'm gonna spend discretionary time on things that they enjoy. Which means I end up playing Roblox way more than I end up playing Dark Souls these days. But as they get older, I'm hoping they will enjoy some of the things I like, as I spend time doing the things that they like, as well. I actually have a pretty healthy work/life balance. I'm fortunate in that my job, I can do anywhere, at any time of the day. What I usually do is, I get up at noon. (Because I'm a writer. I'm not an insurance salesman, I'm a writer. This is just one perk to the job.) I get up at noon. I work from about noon until five. Then I shower, get ready for the day, hang out with my family from about 5:30 until 8:30, 9:00. And then I'll usually go back to work at about 10:00, somewhere around there, and I'll work from about 10:00 until 2:00.

    I found that, for my writing... Writers are all very different, right? I like two four-hour blocks. By the end of about four hours of work, I'm brain dead. The words are just not flowing as well anymore. And if I take a break and go to a second block later on, I'm way more effective as a writer. I have the benefit of having no commute. So I can do things like this. All through college, what I would do is, I actually worked a graveyard shift at a hotel in Provo. And I would go to work at 11:00. And it's Provo, so nobody's there after 11:00. You're a really sketchy person in Provo if you're staying up 'til 10:30. So from about midnight until 5:00 or 6:00, I could write every night. And that's how I put myself through school, was working there. But these days, you know, I try to make time. I used to work Saturdays, and I don't anymore unless there's something like [a convention]. I take Saturdays off. I have a pretty decent balance. The only time where it gets a little unbalanced is if I have a big tour. And those can be pretty grueling. I would much rather have this problem than not, right? My first signings, you can find pictures of me with my grandma here at the Iona Falls Barnes & Noble, where I was sitting in the front, and there were five people there who were all related to me, and that was our book signing! And now I will go to... often, book signings start at 6:00 PM, and get done at 2:00 AM if I'm in Portland, or Seattle, or one of the big cities like that. So, you do that six days a week, in a different city every day, and it can get a little exhausted. So I don't love that part of it. I like the signings. I just don't like the twentieth signing, if that makes sense.

    Let me give a little bit of advice here. If there are those of you who are writers out here, there are two things that maybe to keep your life in balance I would recommend. The number one cause of breakups and divorce among my writer friends is that their spouse feels like the writer's ignoring them. It's very easy to do. As a writer, it's very easy to... it's one of these jobs, there are a lot of them like this. Being a schoolteacher is like this. You don't leave your job behind. Your job is always there with you; there's always a little bit more you can do. And because of that, it tends to consume everything if you let it. And you can be out to dinner with your spouse, but you're thinking about your book. You can be driving somewhere and giving only noncommittal responses, because you're thinking about the book. On the other side, if you happen to be the spouse of a writer, the number one thing you can do is jealously guard their writing time. For a lot of writers, a small interruption can mean... To you, it's like, "Oh, I need to ask this question for thirty seconds." But if that breaks the writer's concentration for twenty minutes, because they're spun in to the work, they're really into it, they get interrupted at just the wrong time, it can be a big interruption. So, the balance I suggest is to make a deal. Writer, when you're there with your spouse and your family, be there with your spouse and family. And then make the deal that, when the writing happens, they're gonna try to guard that door and protect you from being interrupted.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #5549 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you familiar with TVTropes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm familiar with TVTropes, yes.

    Questioner

    What is your favorite tropes to use?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wow. Favorite tropes to use? The trick is... As everyone knows, TVTropes is really dangerous because you can spend a lot of time on there. And for writers, it can also be very dangerous because, while everything is a trope, you don't want to be told too often that the thing that you thought was really original has been done five hundred times. At least, not until you've already done it, and put your own spin on it. Like, obviously I would say my favorite trope is probably Thief with a Heart of Gold. I don't know what they actually call it on TVTropes. You end up seeing that sort of thing all the time in my books.

    My actually favorite one to read about on TVTropes is Worf-ing people. Where [Star Trek] Next Generation would do this thing, in order to show how cool the new villain was, in the opening scenes they would beat up Worf. And then they listed all the times that Worf would come on in the beginning, and something would beat up Worf. And that was to tell you, "Oh wait, this alien's serious business." It beats up Riker, not a big deal, but if it beats up Worf, we're in trouble. But the fact that they did that so often, if you actually watch the shows, means Worf actually is kind of a wuss, because Worf basically exists to get beat up by aliens to show how tough they are. It's one of those things where, when you overuse a concept that is really effective a couple of times, particularly in a serialized story, it ends up proving the opposite point to you.

    FanX 2018 ()
    #5550 Copy

    Questioner 1

    I was just wondering about the timeline in Alloy of Law. How long does is it take Wax to get back to the city after Lessie died?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's... I would have to look exactly at the timeline. I believe it is months and not years, but I am not 100% sure. It might be, like eight months ?

    Questioner 2

    I thought it was six months.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Six months? That's the sort of thing that I have to look at a timeline for. I'm not gonna remember that, but yeah, something like that.

    Questioner

    So if I came back tomorrow, could you answer that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I probably could not. If you send me an email I probably could. But this sort of thing I have to go, dig into the timeline, say "Hey Peter, where's our timeline on this. Hey Karen, what's the month... get out the master timeline," and stuff like that.

    Usually I do a lot of the books, writing them without really worrying too much about the timeline, and then I give them to Karen, and Karen's job is to make all the timeline fit. And she'll come back to me and say, "We need more time here, for these people to get here," and things like that. And so I adjust the books to match the timeline. And so, a master timeline is not something I take into a large account when I am writing. It's more important in Stormlight books 'cause of the storms. You can't just off-the-cuff if there's a storm or not a storm. But in a lot of other books doesn't matter as much.

    Questioner

    I was just a little confused when Marasi said that Wax had come back at the same time as the thing, it didn't make sense at the end.

    Brandon Sanderson

    We'll see. You can always fire us an email, and we'll go to the master timeline and see what Karen says.