You're planning the Stormlight Archive as this big long ten book series and I imagine that obviously look at your work with the Wheel of Time the other big long epic series, one of the issues that at least some fans perceive is that these series are at least perceived to sag or at least slow down at some point in the middle. People start to get very bogged down and it takes years for the next one's out, is that something you're considering for your structuring of the Stormlight Archive and what are you trying to do to address that?
Excellent question, it is actually something that I've very consciously thought about when designing this story. One of the reasons that I didn't release The Way of Kings when I wrote it back in 2002 is that I hadn't figured out this problem yet. And it's one of the reasons that I shelved the book and re-wrote it from scratch back a couple of years ago.
I really was conscious of it because I have an advantage over authors like George Martin and Robert Jordan, who have had these kinds of accusations levelled at them, in that I've read them! I've read Robert Jordan. Robert Jordan didn't get to read Robert Jordan in the same way, and I can see he's kind of pushed his way through the snow for some of us to fall behind and see some of the things that he did, even after he said "Boy, I think I might have done that differently." We can learn from that.
What I'm trying to do is... first off The Stormlight Archive is divided in my head into two five book series, it is a ten booker but it is two big five book sequences, which I do think that will give me more of a vision of a beginning, middle, and end for each of the sequences.
The other thing I'm doing is I consciously did some little thing in the books. For instance, one of the reasons we end up with sprawl in epic fantasy series is I think writers start writing side characters and getting really interested in them. The side characters are awesome, they let you see the breadth of the world and dabble in different places. What I did is I let myself have the interludes in The Way of Kings, and I will continue to do those in the future books, and I told myself I can write these interludes but those characters can't become main characters. Those characters have to be just glimpses.
The other main thing that I'm doing is that each book in The Stormlight Archive is focused on a character. That character gets flashbacks and we get into the backstory and that gives me a beginning, middle, and end and a thematic way to tie that book together, specifically to that character, which I hope will make each character, each book feel more individual.
Which is part of also the problem I feel with the big long series, that they start to blend. And then, if the author starts to view some of them as blending then you stop having big climaxes at the ends of some of them and view them too blended together. This isn't a problem when the series is finished. I think that when the Wheel of Time can be read beginning to end straight-through, a lot of this worry about middle-meandering is going to go away, because you can see it as a whole. But certainly while you're releasing it, you get just these little glimpses that feel so short to us.
I feel that if I can take each book and apply it to one character, give a deep flashback for each one and thematically tie it to them, each book will have its own identity and hopefully will avoid some of that. That's my goal, who knows if I'll be able to pull it off but it is my intention.
You seem to be pulling it off so far Brandon.
Well I only have one book yet! I mean none of these, none of these series... they all started with great first books, in fact I feel that a lot of them are great all the way through, but the sprawl issue doesn't usually start to hit til around book four is really where the, where the problems show up.