Recent entries

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
    #602 Copy

    Argent

    Nazh is, presumably, well aware of Hoid. Have they met, and how does Nazh feel about him?

    Isaac Stewart

    Nazh and Hoid have met. I suspect that Nazh is just fine with Hoid, though he wishes he would say things in a more direct way. Nazh doesn't care much for riddles or flowery language and wishes people would just get to the point.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
    #604 Copy

    TheFoxQR

    What was the process that you went through for designing the various "solar" system charts from Arcanum Unbounded?

    Isaac Stewart

    I loved making those star system charts for Arcanum. I found an old system chart that I thought looked really cool and combined it with the style of an old Arabic manuscript that caught my eye. I bought vellum, inked the start charts on there, and started painting them. It didn't turn out how I expected, so I scanned the inked lines, turned them into brushes in Illustrator, and created the charts again from there, painting them later in Photoshop and adding textures from the physical vellum projects I'd tried earlier.

    TheFoxQR

    Okay, that's just cool.

    How accurate would they be in-world (they are obviously not to exact scale, but what about planetary colors and look)?

    Isaac Stewart

    I would say that they're relatively accurate when it comes to the big stuff, but they are also done in a style that would suggest the people of the Cosmere still have a lot to learn about astronomy. Some planetary colors are right, some are just guessed at, so the simple answer to this question is: Your Mileage May Vary.

    TheFoxQR

    The specific instance I was thinking about was the depiction of the 10 Rosharan Gas Giants. Discarding the glyphs and the names, were the colors of those giants in the star chart a cultural projection, or does it have physical basis in how they appear in the Rosharan sky?

    Isaac Stewart

    All these maps are products of the cultures and eras they came from. The mapmaker in this instance is probably using reference from all over the Cosmere, and the reference he used for this system came from Roshar itself. Since it's unlikely that the mapmaker has visited all the planets in all these systems, he has to rely on others for much of the information. I suspect he has the same questions you do about this particular map, though he rendered it based on the best information he could find. :)

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    TheFoxQR

    Can you shed some light on how you went about designing Roshar's symbol?

    Isaac Stewart

    We knew that we wanted the Double-eye to be part of the symbol. So it was a matter of finding the right shape for the eye. We went through dozens of ideas of how thick the lines could be, what parts to emphasize, etc. We also knew we wanted swords to be a part of it, so we tried several ways of incorporating those until we wound up with what we currently have. Someday, I'll share the different iterations we went through to land on the current symbol.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    RiedDes

    Although I know something similar has been asked before, but could you please share a fun tidbit about Nazh?

    Isaac Stewart

    Okay, things we know about Nazh: Scottish-like accent, he likes fried Eggplants because they remind him of a similar vegetable from Threnody, he's grumpy, he looks like a young Peter Capaldi (in my opinion). I'm not sure what else I've said about him. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you that his home town will probably be called Cianalis, or some variation on that spelling.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
    #608 Copy

    Braid_Tug (paraphrased)

    We asked Brandon about gem cutting tech levels on Roshar.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He hedged some. But did let us know that while it was still labor intensive, it was not as bad as Renaissance Europe. That yes, they do have an edge. But would not state what the edge was. Even with us making jokes about Shard scalpels to make the cuts.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing my fight scenes, biggest challenges I have. One of the things I learned when I was a brand-new writer, approaching fight scenes, is that the fight scenes I loved in movies didn't translate well to fiction. I can sit and watch Jackie Chan punch and kick people for an hour and a half, and I'll just be happy. But if you tried to write that in the book, even done as dynamically as Jackie does it on the screen, it'll just get boring. "He kicked him. He punched him. He kicked him a different way. He punched him a different way." Just strict narratives of a fight are generally not very exciting, unless you make them very true-to-life and make them very short. You can certainly do just a straight fight narrative if it's a three-minute bout. But if you have somebody in battle, and it's going to stretch forty-five minutes or longer and you're gonna have this big, long, epic thing...

    One of the things I learned very quickly is that the advantage we have as writers of fiction is we are inside the characters' heads. And that's an advantage that we have over film. So while they can make kicking and punching really interesting for a long time, we can focus the reader's attention by having the character have distinct goals they want to achieve, show their emotions, and show their reactions to what's happening around them. So, my biggest advice to you would be: look at your character. Decide on what you're character's goals are for this fight. Treat the fight like it's own sort of chapter, it's own sort of narrative, with beginning, middle, and end. With the character trying to achieve things, and either succeeding or failing. And trying to just filter it through their pain, their anguish, their confusion, or their excitement. Whatever their emotion is for that chapter. And keep your eyes on the character. Less on trying to have a spectacularly visual action scene, have a spectacularly emotional action scene.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
    #610 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I was working on a book called The Rithmatist, and had just finished it in 2007, when I got a very interesting phone call. The phone call was from Harriet Rigney, who was Robert Jordan's widow, a week after his funeral. She called and said... I'd never met him or her. I'd seen him once at a convention. I didn't know them. And she asked, "Will you finish The Wheel of Time?" Just like that. I didn't know I was being considered, it just came as a phone call. And I said, after much deliberation and thought, I said "Blaeah. Yes. Absolutely." And that required me dropping everything I was working on at the time. Throwing everything into working on that. Any time I did have, I then spent on Stormlight, because I knew I wanted to release Stormlight around the same time I was doing Wheel of Time books. I thought it would be the best calling card that I could do for Wheel of Time fans. What that meant is, three projects I was working on at the time... Several of them actually. The main ones were: The Rithmatist which I just shelved. I said, "We can't publish this yet." The other one was Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians. And the other one was the Legion stories.

    I have finished the Legion stories, after a 5-year delay on The Wheel of Time, and then a longer time delay of just being in a different mindset. I have Alcatraz Six, which is being written by Bastille, almost done. It's 45,000 words out of the 50,000 words it will be. So that will be out next year, I would guess. Somewhere around there.

    The big cliffhanger, then, is The Aztlanian. Which, I tried writing. I tried working on it a few years ago. It just did not work. The outline that I had for it was wrong. And there was a certain amount of reading and study I needed to do before I felt I could do the book justice. The first one turned out well, but there's certain things looming over me on the first one that I think I did poorly that I want to correct in doing a sequel. And it's still looming over me. I still feel that I need to get it done. It's, like, the biggest promise so far I haven't fulfilled is getting that done, now that I have Alcatraz Six on the way. So, I will do it. But I can't really promise when. Because, there's certain things I want from the sequel that haven't filtered through my brain about exactly how to work yet. I do have confidence I'll do it.

    But this is part of the price that I paid by saying yes to The Wheel of Time, was I had to shelve basically all my side projects. And I had to, for a while, dedicate myself only to the mainline Cosmere books and to The Wheel of Time. Sorry about that. But it will happen.

    If I could go back, I would revise that ending to make it a little less cliffhanger-y.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
    #611 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Let me go down all the movie rights stuff.

    Reckoners is still owned by Fox. Shaun Levy's company, 21 Laps, producing. He's the guy who made Night at the Museum. He's one of the directors on Stranger Things. Really great guy, I really like Shaun Levy. They called recently and said, even though there was a lot of turmoil at Fox right now, they were still interested and wanted to keep working on the thing. They just had a new script come in. That's where we stand on that. So, they're enthusiastic, they like it. I worried that The Boys coming out, which is a similar idea, would make our chances less. They think it makes our chances more, because The Boys turned out really well and everyone likes it, and we have a more family-friendly version of basically the same premise. So they think that that will still work. So I'm very hopeful on that.

    Let's see, what else is in development. I just got an offer on Alcatraz. Can't say a lot about that yet, but it has been offered on. Legion is still under option for a television show by Cineflix up in Canada. The Cosmere rights, I'm still working on DMG on part of those, and I'm working with other people on other parts of those. The Cosmere rights are kind of in flux right now, we're looking at a bunch of different things. Nothing I can announce yet.

    Of course, the big one that is not mine, but that I am a producer on, is the Wheel of time. Harriet, I asked her first. I'm like, "Harriet, tell me if you would be uncomfortable with me being a producer." Because this is not mine, I don't want to take it over. And she said, "No, no, I want you on it." So I said yes to being a producer. That basically comes down to, they are showing me the scripts, and I am offering feedback. I have liked what I have read so far. The first script is spectacular, and the second one's pretty good. (They warned me ahead of time, the second one needed a little work, so I didn't ream them too much on it. Actually, there was a lot good to it, but the things they said needed work did need work. But they knew it already.) I was able to offer a few (I think) very helpful pointers. I can't say a ton, because I'm under NDA. But I will be flying out to Prague in October, and I hope to represent all of you Wheel of Time fans and get some photos and things that I can release and what-not. I think the Wheel of Time show is in good hands. Rafe, I really like Rafe. He's the showrunner. Every interaction I've had with Rafe has been extremely positive. He loves the series. He has his own vision for it. So I will warn you that. Any adaptation you get is filtered through the eyes of the showrunner, and this is going to be filtered through Rafe's eyes. And there are certain things he wants to do that are bold, but are good choices. So just keep that in your mind. That's what I would say.

    Otherwise, let's see. I think that's about everything on there. I'll keep my fingers crossed on the Fox thing. Like I said, I really like Shawn Levy. His adaptation of Real Steel, the Richard Matheson story. If you guys haven't seen that, it's spectacular. I really like it. It's got Wolverine making robots punch each other. It turned out to be a really touching story, really great adaptation. That was one of the main reasons I said yes when they came knocking.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Theoretically, Christmas next year is when I play to do this [Stormlight Four]. We're at 52% right now. You can follow on my website.

    That 52% is assuming that the book is 400,000 words, which is where I would hope that it would land. Oathbringer's first draft was 540,000 words, edited down to 460,000 in the final draft. So, who knows where this one will go, but my goal is, hopefully, next month, now that I've got a month without travel, to hit it hard during September and get a little catch-up done. You can read, I did a whole post on Reddit a week or so ago that talks about where I am with the book, and things like that.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    If I had any questions at all, I would say: ramp? Stormlight Archive, as it's going forward, like super power creep issues. The characters get so powerful so quickly, and it's gonna be a 10 (hopefully) book series.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Remember, it's two sets of five. And we will be... how about this. We're just gonna RAFO you now, because I'm being recorded. I'm not gonna give you any hints about the future. Just... I've got it in hand.

    I was able to write three books about Rand al'Thor at the height of his power, so I'm pretty convinced I'll be okay.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    How far out do you plan some of the magic systems? When I was reading Mistborn, you hinted the Hemalurgy stuff so early on.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I like, for a big series, to have a really tight outline, for the worldbuilding in particular, for the whole series. Mistborn, I had an advantage, in that I was able to write the whole thing before the first one had to go to press. I was early enough in my career that they were not rushing my books out. So I wrote the whole series, then went back and did all the revisions in the first one, and sent it in. Hopefully, you will be able to get the same sort of things out of Stormlight.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    Thayen and Shin bread are the only ones that have white *inaudible* flour?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. I mean, the others are flatbreads. What we're not gonna see is rising. They're gonna have yeast in those, that's the big thing they're seeing, is the yeast.

    Questioner

    *inaudible* noodles and buckweat would be...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep, absolutely.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    What would be Rock's favorite ingredient in his stews?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chili powder. Their version of a chili powder. It's gonna come out a little bit like a Korean *inaudible*. So, they use a *inaudible* powder. Rock would want to stick in the Rosharan chili, he's gonna make it super spicy.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    The sequel to Elantris. Sometime in 2020?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not. Probably, right now, I'm planning the Elantris sequels once I finish Stormlight Five. Most likely, 2020 will be Stormlight Four. 2021 will be Wax and Wayne Four. Then we'll look at getting Stormlight Five done. It's in there. I mean... the Elantris sequel isn't even the same characters, so I don't feel as urgent on that. You'll hear about them, but... yeah.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    I'm sure you have characters that you maybe don't quite like, that may be based off of real people. Does it ever help you to understand them by writing out what you think they were like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It absolutely does. That's one of the main reasons why I write, is to try to understand people different from myself, and even people that I may not understand before I start writing.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    What I'm probably going to be doing next is: Stormlight Four. Wax and Wayne. If I can sneak in a standalone of something new in there, I'll do it. Then we'll do Stormlight Five. And after that, it's Mistborn Era 3. And the Elantris sequels.

    Questioner

    And Nightblood?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Warbreaker sequel in there too, yeah, probably.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    We're actually calculating this right now, so I'm gonna RAFO you for now. But it's a RAFO along the lines of, "I've actually hired somebody." I need to have actual joules measurement for what the things can do, because we're ramming together more and more. So, we kinda have to look at, how much does it cost to boil a milliliter of water, how much does it cost when we're lifting people, and then we're gonna have to apply that across the magic systems, and it's gonna be a big pain. But once we've done it, then we'll be able to answer that, all right?

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    In the flashbacks in Oathbringer, to when we're with Dalinar, it talks about how horses aren't good for distance, and that they would rather run over distance. Why is that the case, when, like, that is not the case!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually, in our world, men have beaten horses at the long-distance run. Like, they have a race now. It involves a lot of turns, which makes it hard for the horses. But humans have won long-distance races with horses in most cases. Horses are sprinters. So, humans can outrun horses. On Roshar, it's even better, because it's a low-gravity, high-oxygen environment. So, even more so, humans can outrace horses in long distance. This is also partially because horses are not adapted to Roshar. A lot more stone and things like this. So, you've got, like, three different factors. Number one: normally, they have to cheat a little bit by making more turns in it. But humans can still usually outrace. And then you add on those things, and, in-world, humans can usually beat horses.

    Now also remember, they don't have thoroughbreds, right? They've got destriers, they're bred for war.

    Questioner

    Oh, and their strength situation's gonna be totally different than a distance running horse.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, exactly. So, if you were able to get the best thoroughbred, maybe they'd think differently. But there's a whole host of factors that are going into that in Roshar.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    At what point when writing Dalinar's character did you realize that he was going to become the <champion>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ah, I am not going to answer that, because you're answering about future books. Sneaky, sneaky. There you go, that's not confirmed yet.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    Are you still going to do the ten-year release for this series [Stormlight Archive] as well, for the leatherbound?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In fact, probably, the plan is to do it as a Kickstarter. The reason for that being, we can offer a few little options of how you'd like it. I'll probably do a novella along with it. There's some people who will just want the novella, some want the story, some want both. So, it's really easy to track on Kickstarter.

    So that's the plan. Next summer, if it all works out, we'll do a Kickstarter for it.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
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    Questioner

    Do you have any *inaudible* for the Reckoners series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I plan to do Reckoners. What we haven't decided yet is if we'll just do three in one volume. That's what I kind of want to do. My team's like, "We don't know if people will like that as much." So we're just kind of asking around, the fans. You would prefer it in one volume, right? 'Cause, together, they're about this length, right?

    Questioner

    Maybe the Mitosis side story as well.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, we definitely would find a place for that.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    italia06823834

    Are there any scenes (or just things in general) you wish you could have included art for that for whatever reason could not make it into the publications?

    Isaac Stewart

    This is often the case. Like a kid filling their plate way too full at a buffet dinner, I often have too many pieces of art I'd like to do compared to how much space or time we have to realize those pieces of art. Sometimes the hard part comes when an artist sends you too many amazing pieces and you have to just pick which ones work best for the context. For example, Dan dos Santos gave us several options for the Warbreaker leatherbound endpapers. And every one of them was beautiful! It was an extremely difficult decision to make since we could only have two endpapers, front and back. We wound up picking the art that worked best as endpapers, even though some of the options he presented us with would've made even better works of art to hang on the wall. Dan always makes the decisions difficult because he's one of the best artists working today and is just so storming good.

    italia06823834

    Well, that just begs the question:

    When are we going to get an "Art of the Cosmere" book that has all these left out pieces in it? Hahah

    Isaac Stewart

    We want to do an artbook! It'll probably happen at some point after Stormlight 5.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    simon_thekillerewok

    How's the Nicki Savage story going?

    Isaac Stewart

    Thanks for asking about this! The Nicki Savage story has been plotted and planned and is almost ready to be written. It was derailed for the time being, however, by Taldain needing a little love.

    Argent

    Are you going to tie that to the events of any of the existing Mistborn (or Cosmere?) stories, or will it be like the Allomancer Jak ones, where it exists in isolation?

    Isaac Stewart

    The Nicki Savage story I've got currently planned deals with Nicki in the real world as opposed to her serialized persona. While it's not in the main sequence of novels, it is not as isolated as the Allomancer Jak stories.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    thegatorgirl00

    Has Brandon ever wanted an image of something that you had to tell him wasn’t possible to do for whatever reason?

    Isaac Stewart

    There's a map we've been discussing since Words of Radiance that we want to put in the books at some point, and it almost made it into Book 2 and Book 3, and it's looking unlikely for Book 4. But we just don't have the information yet to make the map work, so that's really the closest experience to what you're mentioning.

    Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Every Newsletter, I like to sit down and write something for you that will be a little different. Something that gives a window into what I’ve been doing lately, or things I’ve been thinking about.

    Today, because of the White Sand release, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between Brandon the writer from the late 90’s (when the book was written) and today. I was 19 when I wrote the first draft of White Sand, and 24 when I wrote the second version (the one that was turned into the graphic novel.) Looking through it again, there is a lot about me and my writing that has changed.

    The magic system is one. White Sand has a very cool magic system, where people control sand with their mind. The magic is powered by the water inside the person’s body, which is a neat system. You need to drink a lot in order to have power over the sand--but it’s on a tidally locked planet, where the sun never sets on that side of the world. (In fact, the sun recharges the sand’s power.) So everything is connected in a cool way. Sunlight recharges the sand, a person gives water to the sand (it’s actually a microscopic lichen-like substance living on the sand, and giving it its white color, that creates the magic. The Sand Master gives water to the lichen, fueling its magical life cycle, which in turn releases power that allows the Sand Master to control the sand.) But the sunlight also makes you more likely to dehydrate, which in turn stops you from being able to power the magic.

    And then, it has the oddball--Sand Masters ALSO have the power to turn sand into water. I did this because it was cool to my then-writer brain. What if people who lived in a giant desert could make water? Wouldn’t that be useful? I use this to great effect in the story, and yet, it doesn’t fit the narrative. The modern me would never have added this power. It doesn’t fit into the entire system in a cohesive way. The rest makes logical sense; this (though I tried to justify it with worldbuilding behind the scenes) just doesn’t.

    But in some ways, the old me was more willing to take chances. This is important to realize as well--I can't become so certain I know the way that things SHOULD be done, that I fall into doing the same thing over and over. I don't think the power to turn sand into water, ultimately, works in the novel. (Let me know what you think, if you read it.) But the fact that I was willing to add screwy, out-of-the-box powers to magic systems back then is a reminder that not everything in life is neat, able to be tied up with a bow. As much as I like playing video games, I don't want my books to feel like a video game--and that's a danger when every piece of the book, magic, and setting fits together to the point that it loses any sense of feeling organic.

    A good lesson to learn from my old self.

    I find a lot of the things I do in my writing now were there in these older books like White Sand, they just weren’t fully formed yet. I can also see my early self striving very hard not to fall into cliches, or to do just what was safe or expected. One of the book's two main protagonists, for example, is a black woman. I was trying hard to make sure my books weren’t only about white dudes. And yet, I was still young in my understanding of how to make a book feel real and vibrant, full of people who see the world in unique and different ways. For example, while I have a strong female protagonist, in the first draft she was basically the only only major female character. I did this a lot in the past--focused so hard on doing one thing well that I forgot to expand it to the greater story. (As a note, we changed one of the characters in the graphic novel version to be female, to help balance this out. It worked very well, and she's now one of my favorite characters in the whole book.)

    It's hard to see past your biases in books though--and this is still something I fight against. I think great fiction somehow expresses the way the world truly is, the way the writer sees the world, and the way that people NOT the writer see the world, all at once. In this book, one of the main protagonists is dark skinned,. And yet, if you read the book, you’ll find that some of the villain groups are stereotypical, faceless, dark-skinned savages. While that same culture has some main characters who have real depth and characterization (thankfully) that didn’t stop me from relying on tropes for some of the broad brush strokes of the story.

    Writing is a constant struggle of managing clichés and tropes, and figuring out when they serve you, and when they don’t. And the more you write, the more you become aware of things you lean upon--not just tropes like the ones I mentioned above, but things that are individual. I’ve been wondering a lot about these things with my own writing. At what point does, "Inventive magic system, religious politics, and people faced with difficult moral decisions" become a cliche to me any my writing? How can I push in new areas, doing new things, while preserving what people love about my writing?

    Well, I'm still thinking about all these things. I'm very fond of White Sand, and when I was going back through it, I often found myself smiling. remember with great fondness the time I had back then to just write. There were no tours, no interviews, and nothing to distract me. I wouldn’t go back for anything, (I like actually having people read my books!) but there was something pure about that time, when I wasn't writing to deadline, I was just writing whatever I felt like at the moment. That's another thing I try to preserve today, the freedom to do odd projects now and then. Without it, I think I'd get very boring, very quickly.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy White Sand! This book needed far less revision to bring into graphic novel form than I thought it would. The dialogue was snappy, even after all these years, and the world was one of my more inventive. 20-years-ago-me wasn’t nearly as bad a writer as I sometimes pretend he was!

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    Pagerunner

    What writing system are the squiggles around the circumference of Oathbringer's Oathgate map? Do they have any relation to glyph components?

    Isaac Stewart

    The squiggles are related to Dawnchant. Probably several generations later as the script started to evolve. And yes, they have a strong relation to the glyph components that we start seeing through cultures later on.

    Pagerunner

    What do they actually say? Silver Kingdom names?

    Isaac Stewart

    I think someone somewhere has figured out what they say exactly, but you're on the right track.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Oudeis16

    I sorta wanna find out what a hemalurgic bindpoint would be and get it tattoo'd there... I asked Brandon once and he vaguely pointed to spots, but it didn't seem like he really considered it canon.

    Ben McSweeney

    it's one of those things kept purposefully obscure. There's no real benefit in being specific about it. Was a whole discussion we had internally when we did this illustration for the tapletop game. Even there we're being obtuse through style.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    brodyd21

    What time period do you think the Mistborn series is most reminiscent of? I get a feeling of 1800s England but more brutal in their politicking.

    Ben McSweeney

    Industrial-era France, with some variables based on TLR's rigid control of technological development. Skaa on plantations look more pre-industrial, Nobles in the city are more post-industrial, and so forth.

    That's the era Brandon instructed me to look towards for visual reference while designing for the MAG, so that's what I stick with. Mind you, the visual culture of Luthadel is different from that of the other Dominances.

    Second Era is specifically equivalent to about 1910 U.S.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    AshH654

    Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

    Ben McSweeney

    Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

    Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

    There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    [Seeing an uncoverd safehand is] more like seeing a woman with her hair uncovered. Intimate, but not by nature sexual. I mean, sure, everyone's got a thing, but Vorin society as a whole does not view the safehand as a sexual thing so much as a propriety thing.

    SOURCE: I asked Brandon about this way back at the beginning.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Feezec

    The art displayed above [the Arcanum Unbounded scene for Emperor's Soul] looks similar to Pattern

    Ben McSweeney

    They're unrelated (at least in terms of the fiction), this was just my take on the mural that Shai creates on one wall of her cell.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    Also that [Rithmatist] Earth is (I think) half the size of our own? Or possibly less? Brandon says it has a denser core to make up the difference.

    Brandon and I discussed it when we put together the map of the United Isles... there was some hand-wavery in terms of total numbers, but the scale on the map legend is more-or-less accurate. As you can see, that puts the Isles themselves at about 1500 miles (give or take a few hundred, I'm eyeballing it) from the cliffs of the western California Archipelago to the eastern shores of New Guernsey.

    In comparison, the continental United States is about 3000 miles across from shore to shore. So, loosely speaking, it's a half-sized planet with a core of something denser than iron to make the mass mostly the same. Perhaps gold?

    Aside from the map, which I'm not surprised if it was overlooked, we also get some clues in the travel times and distances described during Joel and Fitch's trip.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    One of the developments of the [Mistborn] RPG is that we're already seeing some "B-Canon" being produced as a derivative of the game mechanics (for example, the game develops the Koloss a lot further), where Brandon has tentatively approved the content but retains the right to modify or nullify it as his interests dictate. Same idea as Lucas and the EU, and in that you can see the framework for developing creative content through third parties. Beyond that, characters like Allomancer Jak and Nicki Savage are tailor-made for "Legends" material, with their narratives being framed as "stories within the story".

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    lyra256

    I had always pictured the Shardplate a little more "flow-y", almost unrealistic in its elegance of interlocking plates. These [Words of Radiance illustrations] seem much more classic to me, with the small plates only at tight corners. Why was it taken in this direction?

    Also why the skirts? Did the cod pieces just never quite look right?

    Ben McSweeney

    1) Partly because of my own aesthetics, and partly for practical purposes. My goals when designing for Brandon are generally twofold: follow the text to the letter (getting creative where ambiguity allows) and think about long-term developments for the Stormlight IP.

    While the structure of Shardplate as described necessitates some magical properties, I wanted to encourage a design that could be practically adapted outside of a CGI render. The designs we went with are meant to bridge a space between historical accuracy (most of which is driven by function) and complete dreamspace (where form can take precedent).

    That being said, when I imagine it in motion I envision a lot of parts that move in ways you wouldn't expect from classic armor, because the plates are layered, providing areas of overlap rather than interlock.

    If this were made of actual metal it would be far too heavy and have way too many loose parts to work... even for cosplay or live adaptation, someone's gonna have to make adjustments.

    2) Interestingly enough, there is a design in the production notes for what's beneath the skirt... it's meant to be a part of the extended faulds and belt, worn over the cuisses, which do connect to the codpiece beneath. The armor over the upper legs and groin is effectively doubled-up. I even did a little doodle for the... "cleaning access" function, because that part was in the early drafts and it made me laugh out loud. We don't see this in the published illustration because Shallan didn't ask Adolin to show her his butt on the training field, yet in retrospect I probably should have figured out a way to slip something into the margins.

    We plan to collect of those visual notes and errata in book of their own (The Art of Stormlight sorta thing), but probably not until we're closer to the mid-point.

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    tenth

    Possibility of a Stormlight Encyclopedia?

    Just wondering when/if you think one of these will be made?I'm already just so...mentally torn apart trying to keep all the tiny details and nuances in my head, not just about cosmere stuff, but specific functions of spren, heralds and their secrets, voidbringers, parshendi culture, and all the other secrets, hints, tiny details, etc. So, maybe after the first 5 are finished or at least by the publication of the 10th we could get an encyclopedia of terms, maps, etc? Or maybe even just a Sanderson Encylopedia? Thoughts?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hopefully I'm not speaking out of school, but this is a topic close to my heart, and occasionally someone asks about it at conventions or online.

    A companion book will almost certainly happen at some point, because there's a wealth of unpublished content that's collecting as the series is produced, and a companion book seems like the best way to make use of that additional material beyond it's actual purpose (serving as constructive steps on the way to the published work).

    It will almost certainly not happen before the mid-point break. May not happen until the end, but based on the first two books I feel confident that we'll have plenty of material to make a good companion by the halfway mark... it will depend on the market demand when we reach that point, and various factors that can't be predicted until we're near that time will determine it's shape and content.

    I would like to see it happen concurrently with Book V (last book of the current arc), to capitalize on market presence at the time of publication, but we'll see what happens in a few years. In the meantime, the archive continues to grow.

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    [deleted]

    Stormlight Archive was made for a Dynasty Warriors-style combat system.

    Ben McSweeney

    Stormlight has Dynasty Warriors SDNA.

    No joke, it's in my list of stuff Brandon had me look at when designing Plate. He's talked about watching Jordo play it for hours back in the late 90's.

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    rangerthef***up

    Anymore Shardblade designs available by chance?

    Ben McSweeney

    Not at this time, I'm sorry to say... the thing about Blades is that it's hard to go too wrong, they come in a wide variety of shapes and most any you imagine are probably more correct than not. They're always basically swords, he's rejected my designs in the past when they get too wacky in the shapes of the blades.

    Not as crazy loose with the term "sword" as something like the various zanpakuto of Bleach, but certainly as unusual as the less extreme parts of the Final Fantasy sword catalog.

    There's even some that look quite normal, if a bit on the large side. They don't have to be Big Damn Swords (see Szeth's), and they don't have to all ripple or twist or have wacky hilts and etchings. Elhokar's looks nearly normal.

    So you have a lot of freedom in designing Shardblades, it's hard to go really wrong.

    There is a proper design for Dalinar's Oathbringer, but he gave that sword up. I don't think anyone's taken a shot at illustrating his current blade, myself included.

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    Ben McSweeney

    This is not a design I've done for the books, but it's a question that comes up quite often. So I thought I'd nail this down in my own head, at least.

    When I think about bridges, they look something like this: http://imgur.com/Q1GhwkC

    What do you think? How would you handle it differently?

    -EDIT- In light of some suggestions from both fans and the Dragonsteel team, I've revised the design slightly; removed the vertical posts, extended the horizontals out enough for two men, and increased the total height by half.

    -EDIT 2- The side-carry! http://imgur.com/d9Ocndg MILD SPOILERS for The Way of Kings.

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    EmporerNorton

    I'm on my second read and as interested as I am in the big questions the little ones catch me just as much. Shallan questions how do skyeels stay in the air? They arent spren and dont have obvious wings. So, how do they stay up there? BS has created a trap of describing ecology a lot and now I think Im going to want to know about the natural world as much as the people in it.

    Ben McSweeney

    You guys have mostly figured it out; lighter than air gas, gliding fin/wings, undulating action combined with expulsion for propulsion/ballast. The "luckspren" that follow them around aren't inconsequential, however.

    Though in retrospect, it probably takes more than an hour or two to fill up the sacs once again.

    We try to think of semi-reasonable pseudoscientific reasons for as much of the flora and fauna as possible, if only to hold the internal logic together. So there are reasons for how/why Chulls grow big boulders on their backs, reasons for how and why plants interact with storms to spread their seeds or migrate to better ground, reasons for why the axehound's head is shaped as it is, and so forth. There's very little Brandon creates that doesn't come with some logical basis behind it, even if it's never made explicit in the text.

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    Questioner

    My commute to work has given me the opportunity to make my way through your youtube lessons and I’m now listening to the writing excuses podcast, so I consider you my favorite professor. I apologies if you have covered this in some form, I may not have listened to that yet.

    My question is about flashback scenes. When thinking about where I’m going in my story, I imagine needing to use flashbacks, although I haven’t yet. My question is – what method do you use instead of a flashback? How do you give a sense of what happened and previous info without using a flashback?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hey! Good luck with your writing.

    That’s a great question, because often you don’t want to use a flashback. You have to be very careful with them, for while they can do some interesting things with narrative, they can also kill story momentum dead.

    My favorite way to indicate things that have previously happened without using flashbacks is to make certain your characters act like they have established history together. They will have inside jokes, will make references to the past, and otherwise indicate that they’ve known each other for years. (Where appropriate.)

    Likewise, things that happened in the past that you don’t intend to show in a flashback can have a huge effect on society. Think about the 9/11 disaster in America, which many are talking about this month. Could you convey in your story that similar disaster happened, but without going into too much exposition or a flashback? Practice trying it with real-world events, making your characters talk about it naturally. (Without straying into them telling each other information that they’d both obviously know. Like I didn’t need to say to you, “Well, almost twenty years ago there was this terrorist attack on the United States…”)

    Practice subtlety like that, and often you won’t need flashbacks. (And it will perhaps teach you when a flashback is more powerful or useful for you to use.)

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    P. Lavy

    As a beginner, I would like to ask your advice on how to narrow that gap between my storytelling and story writing. (I have watched your online lectures on fantasy and sci-fi writing).

    Brandon Sanderson

    You phrase this in a great way, as the writing and the storytelling are two distinct skills that often intertwine.

    Reading into your question, I think that what you’re asking is how to make the things in your head (the storytelling) work on the page (the story writing). I have to warn you, however, that a lot of times there’s a little more going on than I might have mentioned in my lectures.

    The metaphor I often use in the lecture is how, as an early trumpet player, I could hear some music I wanted to play in my head (specifically when doing improvised jazz) but didn’t yet have the skill to make those sounds come out the front of the horn. This is a good metaphor, but it leaves something unsaid.

    A lot of writers can imagine a perfect story, but then have trouble writing it down. My experience tells me, however, that much of the time, that story isn’t actually perfect in our heads. We pretend it is because we can’t see the problems with it when we’re imagining it—we gloss over the difficulties, the issues that are quite real but invisible until we actually try to put the thing together on the page.

    So you have two potential problems. One is that the story in your head isn’t, and never was, as flawless as you imagined. The second is that your skill in writing isn’t up to telling the things that ARE working in your head. Both are eventually resolved through practice.

    To finally get around to some practical advice like you wanted, however, there are a couple of ways to bridge this gap. One is to practice outlining. Now, I’ve often been clear that there is no one right way to write a story, and non-outlining methods are valid. However, if you really want to start looking at the structure of your story critically, forcing yourself to outline it first can really help. Plus, one big advantage of a solid outline is that you’re able to keep less in your head while working for the day. You can look at the outline, know what story beats need to be accomplished, and focus your mental energy on things like showing instead of telling and really nailing character voice/motivations instead of worrying if this plot point will end up working or not.

    These fundamentals are another really great way to bridge that gap. Few new writers fail because they lack vision, originality, or ambition. They fail because it is difficult to write a character that is compelling. Or they fail because it’s tough to evoke a sense of wonder in exploring a new world while at the same time not bog the story down with unnecessary details. Practicing things like voice, showing instead of telling, and evoking setting through character can let you make the page-by-page writing interesting and compelling, which then serves to make your story work long enough for you to get to the grand ideas.

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    A. Martinez

    You talked about the prologue and the promise. I am a discovery writer by the way, but sometimes I like to walk outside while listening to epic music to get inspired. The thing is that I don´t really feel comfortable doing a prologue because that could spoil a little bit the story. However, I am concerned about the readers. If I don´t make a prologue and I start with chapter one… well, of course, it will not be that interesting as the magical battle or evil growing on the prologue.

    So what should I do? Spoil a little bit? Or just start showing my character from 0. I’ve had this dilemma for a while. I can assure you, Mr. Sanderson, that my story is going to be epic and different from the conventional. Just mindblowing. Transcendental. It will have a lot of scaling so I have to start from 0. But how can I lure my readers on the first pages without spoilers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, I’m proud to have been able to chat with you before you make it big! I like how you talk and how you think. Stay confident, but also to be willing to listen to feedback and criticism. If you want to become the great writer you dream of being, you do so (in my experience) by listening.

    As for prologues, I should say that you certainly do not need them. In fact, many authors use them as a crutch. It is perfectly acceptable (even recommended by some editors I know) to skip the prologue and go right into your story. (Though it’s not something I often do myself, so perhaps this is a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of situation.)

    The important part is not what you call your opening, but in making certain your opening is making the right kinds of promises. You say you want to start at zero and ramp up–that’s great, and you can totally do that. But try to devise an opening to your story that is engaging, and gives foreshadowing of the type of story you want to tell. Figure out how to start small, but make big promises. Some stories do this with a prologue. But other stories start with the protagonist trying something bold and beyond their skill, to show that they are challenging themselves–and this can be something as simple as running a foot race, or boldly speaking when others remain silent. It doesn’t have to actually include something epic to imply epic turns are coming.

    Best of luck to you! I suggest just starting where it makes the most sense, then writing your story. Once you are done, you can look back at that opening and see if there are revisions you could make to better align it with the story you ended up wanting to tell.