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    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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    Questioner

    When you're developing magic systems do you have it all planned out before you start writing the scenes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I usually do, but I let myself have some wiggle room to change things as I go. Usually by the end of the first book I have it all locked down. Before the first book I have an outline for my magic system. I write the book and see how it works and see if there are things I need to tweak, and then I go back and make sure that it's locked down, and then I can write the other two to be consistent with the first one.

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    Questioner

    If you electrified metal would that have any impact on being able to Steelpush or Ironpull it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do not currently have that as an effect, that interfering with it requires Investiture, and electrifying is not Investiture. So no it would not. In fact, I'm absolutely sure it will not because the plans call for that to be a possibility they are doing in the future.

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    Questioner

    You're a lot faster at getting your books out, getting these really awesome books out, then many other writers. And I think you know who I'm thinking about. What’s the secret?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The secret is my work ethic. It's beaten into me by my parents I think. I write every day. It's like that classic pioneer work ethic. I just, I write my stories every day, I do this compulsively. I think the other thing is, we talk about someone like Pat Rothfuss. He is a perfectionist, to a level beyond me. I am okay getting my prose pretty good and then handing it to the editor, and letting them work on it, you know what I mean. He has to be perfect before he hands it on, if that makes sense. And I think that as a result, his biggest strength over me as a writer is his prose is more lyrical because he works so hard on it. So it shows. It's like he takes that extra one percent, but that extra one percent takes him like two extra years to get. Some other writers, as you get older, they just, the grind of it gets to them and they slow down. I just love what I do and I write every day.

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    Questioner

    When you do your outline, all the revelations and twists, do you always stick to your outline?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do not. Now the difference between me and someone who's more of a discovery writer is I will rebuild my outline when I start going off of it. So what I'll usually do is I'll try-- if I think I'm gonna break the outline, I'll try a chapter that direction, see if I like it. If I do I'll then rebuild the outline and then go forward on it.

    Questioner

    Do you ever refer back to your previous book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Definitely. Usually what I'll do is I make an outline for the first book, I'll write the first book, and then I will outline the series. That's very common for me.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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    Questioner

    What kind of embroidery is it [on Alethi women's clothing]? Is it like flowers, patterns?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No no, it is a lot of things but the Alethi's don't do the flower thing as much... It's not really an Alethi thing, floral patterns. So you are seeing a lot of designs and hatchings. They may look a little Arabic to you. Or the glyphs and things like that you will see worked in but very stylized.

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    Questioner

    I had a question about how the Alethi women exhibit their wealth through their dresses. So I know there’s embroidery in the fabric and the fact that you're kind of disabling one arm? But besides that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So gemstones, like well cut gemstones and then fill them with Stormlight. 

    Questioner

    Oh ok, but they're round, so...

    Brandon Sanderson

    No no, not the spheres, the actual stones. Gemstone rocks will still hold-- The sphere is just the way to make sure you don't lose them, you can make any sort of jewellery or gemstone, in your hair or anything like that, glowing would be how they would show off their wealth.

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    Questioner 1

    I've been trying to figure out how to... make an Alethi dress with a safehound pouch without the hand being all bulky.

    Questioner 2

    Yeah, or looking like it's amputated.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are people online who have done them and they look good.

    Questioner 2

    Yeah, I've looked them up. The problem is when you have the thing there, and because your putting things that are about the size of a marble, it ends up looking like there's a clump.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh yeah, it does. It does look-- it looks odd to our eyes. It's natural to them, if that makes any sense, but if you make it a little bit tighter, also we found that helps.

    Questioner 2

    But what it be unreasonable for it to go really long, because I was thinking that would be kind of pretty.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah you could totally do a really long one.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #6910 Copy

    Argent

    The ketek in the first book ["Above silence, the illuminating storms - dying storms - illuminate the silence above"], it seems like this refers to Honor's death.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmhmm.

    Argent

    What does "Above silence," refer to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Above a silent land. 

    Argent

    Hmm. Roshar, somehow? Okay, you're not gonna tell that.

    And the second ketek, in Words of Radiance, similarly refers to the highstorm and the Everstorm... Is there more to it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it's by Navani about the two [storms].

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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    Argent

    There is a person on the forums who noticed that Shallan has this awesome Memory thing going on, Jasnah seems to have a really powerful, kind of, geolocation thing going on, Kaladin is a really good fighter - are those just their traits, or is there something supernatural going on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is something supernatural going on. Each Order... Well, how about this. If you look at the scholar interpretations, there are some scholars who think that these things are not supernatural, in the past, and some who said they definitely are. But many, if you look, many Lightweavers had powerful mnemonic abilities.

    Argent

    So it's definitely tied to the Orders?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's tied to the Orders. Now, I am not going to say that you've got them all 100% correct, but each Order, there are things that come with Order, things that do not add up from simple the "you get this power plus this power," there is something else going on. And I would say that for Windrunners, watch the number of squires and the power of the squires... is abnormal for the Windrunners.

    Argent

    And each Order's squires are somehow different from the other Orders'?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeeeaaaah... some Orders don't have them, [that] is the difference.

    Argent

     But some have more?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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    Argent

    Can you confirm the real names of the Heralds for me? I have Jezrien (ˈjɛzɹən), Nale (for Nalan) - is that right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nale (neil) is what-- Nale is, yes, yes.

    Argent

    Chana [pronounced Shana] or Chana...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Argent

    Vedel.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vedel (vəˈdɛl), yeah. Chana (ˈt͡ʃænə) is also called Chanarach (ˈt͡ʃænəɹæt͡ʃ). Either one would be alright.

    Argent

    Okay, but her birth name...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably-- I think Chanarach is actually her birth name and Chana is the nickname.

    Argent

    Vedel... Pali, for Pailiah?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I think Pali (ˈpæli) is the nickname in that case.

    Argent

    Okay, Ash?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that's a nickname.

    Argent

    What's the real one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shalash (ʃəˈlɑʃ).

    Argent

    That's not he just the Vorin...

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that one was actually symmetrical.

    Argent

    Awesome. Battar (bəˈtɑɹ)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Argent

    Kalak?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kalak (kəˈlɑk), yes.

    Argent

    Talenel (tæləˈnɛl), with a nickname Taln (tæln)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Argent

    And Ishar (ɪˈʃɑɹ)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #6919 Copy

    Argent

    When a Surgebinder's eye color changes when they Surgebind or have a Blade [out], is the color of their eyes corresponding to their Order? So Windrunners would do blue, and then--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. 

    Argent

    So each Order gets a different eye color?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Each Order does indeed have an eye color representation.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #6921 Copy

    Argent

    Can the forms of power of the listeners be treated as anti-equivalents of the Orders of the Knights Radiant? Could we consider Stormforms to be anti-Windrunners?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You could consider it that way, but there is not a one-to-one analogue.

    Argent

    Because it seemed like there are ten voidforms, and their abilities are kind of anti-Surges...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, yes, there is definitely something there, but again I say, it's not a one-to-one correlation. They are not going to be exactly opposite.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #6922 Copy

    Questioner

    If I were to impulsively Soulcast pewter, the way Shallan does with the blood in The Way of Kings, would it come out that an Allomancer be able to use it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You could create Allomantically viable metals, yes.

    Questioner

    But is it automatic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say that the pure metals are, but the alloys are not.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #6923 Copy

    Questioner

    Where does the fiber for fabric come from on Scadrial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    [Brandon misunderstands the question to be about Rosharan fabrics] Some of it comes from seasilk. The silk is not the same silk that we [have], most of it is from plant-based textiles. Most of the-- here we have insects, we can use their cocoons and stuff; cocoons on Roshar have rock in them. And so it's a little bit hard. But a lot of the plants do too, and there are a lot of plant-based textiles you can use, so...

    Argent

    Didn't you ask about Scadrial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, Scadrial! I was thinking about Roshar. Yeah, Scadrial is an Earth analogue. Scadrial is my place that if it's on Earth, you can assume it's on Scadrial. That is not the case for the other worlds, but it is for Scadrial.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #6924 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth's Motivations Here

    If you're reading through for the second time, pay close attention to the things Denth says here about Lemex. They're having a conversation about how Lemex could be a patriot but still steal from the king. Well, Denth is kind of talking about himself here, and not Lemex. He's hinting that he thinks (or would like to think) that he can both do his job and be a good man at the same time.

    These are things he's struggling with. He tries to tell himself that he doesn't care, but he does. He has kidnapped Vivenna here without her knowing it, and is very deftly manipulating her. (By the way, Jewels tails her to the assembly meeting, if you were wondering.) He does feel bad about this, just like he feels bad about killing Lemex. That doesn't stop him from doing things like this, though.

    He does plan to get Vivenna's Breath. He knows, however, that in the end he can probably just torture her into giving it to him. In this scene, if you could see into his head, he's trying to figure out how exactly he can get her to give it to him without having to hurt her.

    He doesn't really believe he can do it, though. Life has proven to Denth lately that he just has to do bad things. He almost sees it as inevitable.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth Chats with Her about Breath

    Vivenna and Siri are beginning their role reversals here. Siri is learning to be more reserved—though it's more that she's learning to act like a queen. Taking responsibility, being active rather than inactive.

    Vivenna is being forced, just a little bit, into inactivity. She thinks she's doing things, but she's mostly just reacting. Beyond that, she's experiencing what it's like to lose control of her emotions repeatedly.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirteen

    Timing of This Chapter

    My editor threw me a little curveball in the last edit for this book by asking me if I could move the first Vivenna chapter (the previous one) up a few spots so that she was introduced earlier in the book.

    This presented a problem, since I had her arriving, meeting the mercenaries, going to Lemex, then going to see Siri all in the same day. (Though across three chapters.) That meant that I had to move two chapters forward, then, since I didn't want to break with the mercenaries telling her that they were there to kill her. I wanted to go directly to the next scene with her.

    It took a lot of juggling. One of the revisions I had to make was to move this third chapter a day later in the process. She had to arrive, fall asleep, then get up the next morning and have a conversation about giving the Breaths away. Then she had to go see Siri that same day.

    I still worry that this jumble caused timing issues. I think I caught them all, but I worry that at one point Lightsong says, "The presentation of the queen is two days away," then we have Vivenna arrive that same day, then fall asleep and go see Siri the next day. If that's the case, then the explanation is—unfortunately—that the chapters aren't happening quite in chronological order.

    Usually, I try to make my chapters all chronological, even across different viewpoints. But once in a while, the story is better if they aren't. The distinction is very hard to pick up. But I think it may happen here. (Note that a lot of authors, like Robert Jordan, don't strive for chronology—they like it better if the chapters are out of order a little. In a Robert Jordan book, for instance, we'll often have characters doing things in one chapter, then jump to other characters doing things a few weeks earlier. The chapters are always chronological by viewpoint, but the viewpoints can be off from one another. In fact, he plays with this concept a lot, setting book ten mostly back during the same time as book nine.)

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Siri Realizes That She Needs to Be Proactive

    As I said in the other section, I think that Siri's plot here is just a tad accelerated from what I'd like—but that's necessary. Nothing is worse in a book than a character who never does anything. She needed to get through her fear and her worry and decide to become proactive. It was only then that interesting things could start to happen in her storyline.

    So, I pushed through the moments of indecisiveness and inaction as fast as I could, getting to this moment where she decides to change. I feel that her character being what it is (impulsive and determined) justifies her quickly deciding to take responsibility for herself, now that she's been placed into a situation of great stress.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twelve

    Lightsong Hears Petitions

    The concept of petitions—and the gods being able to heal someone one time—grew out of my desire to have something about them that was miraculous. Something obvious, something more than just an ability to make vague prophecies. Their Breath auras are amazing, true, but an Awakener with a lot of Breath can replicate that.

    I took the idea of being able to die in order to heal from an idea discarded from Elantris. If you look at the deleted scenes (Caution: Spoilers for the ending of Elantris), you can read about how there was originally a subplot to the story where the Seons (the floating balls of light) could expend the Aon at their center and create a miraculous event one time. However, doing so would kill them. I eventually ended up not using this plot structure in the final draft, and so I cut all references to this ability from the book. I felt that it was too contrived in that novel.

    I've always thought it was interesting conceptually, however, so I developed it into this book as an aspect of Returned that makes them different. They can create one miracle—and in this world, that one miracle has to be a healing. They can expend their divine Breath to heal someone.

    This created another problem for readers, however. It became very difficult in the book to explain to them that a Returned could still Awaken things—but not by using the Breath granted to them by their Return. In other words, if a Returned gained a hundred extra Breaths, they could use them just like anyone else's. But if they give away the Breath they start with, it kills them.

    Every person starts with a Breath. Well, Returned start with one too—a divine Breath that can be given away to heal someone else's Breath that is weakening and dying. That's what these petitioners are asking for.

    But regular Breaths, they can give those away. They just have to be tricky about it.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, in this chapter, he's trying to give Siri a seed of worry and doubt. He's hoping that if she feels she's in danger, she'll trust him more and that will let him do what he needs to. At this point, he's not sure that he will kill her. It's more that he's hoping he'll be able to manipulate her to in turn manipulate the Idrians in the city. So he wants to make sure Siri sees the Hallandren as her enemies. He can tell that she's beginning to think her life in the city isn't all that bad, and he's worried about that. Idris and Hallandren won't go to war, in his opinion, if Siri is too content.

    However, Denth's success with Vivenna out in the city (and yes, Bluefingers is the one employing Denth) will eventually convince Bluefingers that he doesn't need Siri for that role. Unfortunately for her—and for him, in a way—he realizes that if she were seen as having been killed by the Hallandren priests, it would certainly spark a war.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Origin of Bluefingers as a Character

    Bluefingers originated, like most ideas for my books, as a character unconnected to any story or world. I wanted to tell a story about a scribe in a palace who was looked down on by the nobility for his simple birth, but who became the hero of the story. I felt that a scribe would make a nice, different kind of viewpoint character.

    And maybe I someday will tell a story like that, but the character evolved to be the one who entered this story. He's much changed from those origins, as you can see, but he's largely the same person in my mind. And I love the name Bluefingers for a scribe character.

    Yes, Bluefingers was also planned as a traitor from the beginning. The whole reversals idea required me to build my shadowy villains quite carefully and deliberately.

    Just above, I spoke of the original Bluefingers as a hero. Well, the thing is, that's how he still sees himself. The heroic Pahn Kahl figure with his fingers in events, ignored by the nobility (or, in this case, the priests) because of his race and position, he was able to manipulate quite a bit of what was going on in the kingdom.

    He was the hero trying to free his people. He just took it too far.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eleven

    Siri Visits the God King's Chamber Again

    To be honest, in a perfect world, I'd probably slow this down just a tad. I'd insert another chapter from Siri's viewpoint with her going to the chambers, the God King watching her, and her being subservient. I wouldn't do this chapter, where she explodes at him, until their third scene together.

    But that would only happen in a book where I don't have quite so much going on with other viewpoints. My books are already a tad on the long side, as far as the booksellers are concerned. They'd like it if epic fantasy novels shrank down to about 120,000 words (instead of my average of 240,000).

    If I'd really thought it mattered, I'd have put the extra scene in. The real problem is that since Siri is only one of four major viewpoints, I needed to be careful. If this book were only about her, I could have filled her chapters with more political intrigue and added a lot of subplots. That would have made a slower pacing with the God King work. However, I decided not to go that direction with the book, so I needed instead to make sure the pacing was quicker on the main plot she's involved in.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth the Traitor

    Denth was always going to betray Vivenna. In fact, this is one of the very early concepts for the book—the idea that I wanted a bad guy who was not only likable, but funny. Too often, villains are portrayed as simply despicable people. If they laugh, it's evil laughter.

    But people just aren't like that, not most of them. They're real, they have goals and motivations, but they also laugh, cry, and feel. Denth is a mercenary. More than that, he's a man who has caused a lot of pain and death in his long lifetime, and he copes with it by letting himself be hired to do important tasks. So that he doesn't have to feel as responsible.

    In a lot of ways, I imagined Denth as the anti-Kelsier. Glib, smart, and hired to do impossible tasks. Only in this book he works for the wrong team. In this scene in particular, he was doing his best to nudge Vivenna to give him the Breaths. His job was only to hold her, to keep her captive and in reserve just in case the plots with Siri failed. That way, there would be a second princess to use in the plots. He was assigned to work for Lemex originally just to give him an in with the Idrians in the city, so that he could rile them up to incite the war further. But when he found that Vivenna was coming, he realized that she would be a much better pawn, and so he poisoned Lemex and took her instead. His employers were very happy to have a backup princess.

    So, anyway, Lemex's Breaths were secondary. Denth wanted them, but he knew that the most important thing to do here was get Vivenna to trust him. So he tried to subtly manipulate her into giving them to him. (He intentionally acted reluctant to take them in order to goad her.)

    In some ways, even though he doesn't have a viewpoint, a big theme of this book is the tragedy of the man Denth. He could have been more. At one time, he was a much better man than most who have lived.

    Tonk Fah is a waste of flesh, though. Even if he is funny sometimes.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Visits Lemex

    In the very early planning of this book, I intended Lemex to live. He was going to become a mentor figure for Vivenna, and have the very personality that she described him as having in her imagination. Spry, quick-witted, intelligent.

    So I decided to kill him off.

    Why? Well, it's complicated. On one hand, I felt that he was too much of a standard character from one of my books. The witty mentor is not only a stereotype of fantasy, but something I rely upon a lot in my writing. (Though, granted, many of those haven't been published—however, Grandpa Smedry from the Alcatraz books is a great example of this kind of character.)

    I also felt that Lemex could too easily be a crutch for Vivenna in the same way that Mab could have been for Siri. The idea was to keep these sisters consistently out of their elements, to force them to stretch and grow.

    Instead, I upped the competence of the mercenaries and decided to have them play a bigger part.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Ten

    Vivenna Meets the Mercenaries in the Restaurant

    Denth was planned as an important figure in this book from the early going. I was looking for a type of character I'd never written, someone who could be interesting, but not steal the show too much from Vivenna. But I also wanted someone who would provide some good verbal sparring (a theme of this book) without simply replicating the way that Lightsong makes word plays.

    Denth's and Tonk Fah's personalities grew out of this. I wanted them to offer a more lowbrow sort of humor, conversations that dealt with more base types of joking. They aren't supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny, but hopefully they're amusing and colorful as characters.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #6938 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Parlin as a Character

    Any of you who followed the development of Warbreaker as a novel through the early stages know that Parlin, as a character, changed dramatically across revisions. He began with a different name (Peprin) and was much more bumbling and innocent. He provided some comic relief and often said dumb things.

    This just didn't work. For one thing, we already have the mercenaries in Vivenna's viewpoint to give us some fun lines. (More on them later.) For another, Peprin was just too dense. I didn't like how stupid he came off. He seemed ridiculous rather than funny. So, I chopped him out and replaced him with a similar character who was more competent.

    For instance, in the original draft, Peprin bought a hat because he thought it was cool—but it just made him look stupid. Parlin buys the same hat, but his reasoning is that if you're going to go about in the woods, you dress in woodland colors. If you're going to go about in the city, you want to start dressing in city colors. It's good reasoning, and you'll see him follow it more in the future. The two men do the same thing, but in my head the rationale was completely different, and that changed how I wrote them. (I hope.)

    Reading through the book again, I still feel that Parlin just isn't enough of a character. With the mercenaries there to dominate the scene, Parlin gets lost. I feel that if I had the time, I'd probably chop him out again and replace him with yet another character, one who talks more, so that he can be more a part of things. Ah well.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Watches the City

    One of the reasons I knew that I had to make Vivenna a viewpoint character was that there was such a wonderful contrast between her and Siri. The way they look at the world is so different that it provides excellent opportunities for the story. The way they each respond to their first visit to T'Telir is an example of this.

    Beyond that, with Siri and Lightsong locked in the court, and with Vasher doing whatever the heck Vasher is doing, we didn't have any characters who could experience the city itself consistently with a sympathetic viewpoint.

    As I've stated, this book began as one about the two sisters who are forced into each other's roles, and how they deal with those changes in their lives. Vivenna is an integral part of this process.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #6940 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nine

    Vivenna as a Viewpoint Character

    Generally, Vivenna is the readers' least favorite character in the book. I can see why that is. Siri gets to be the flamboyant younger sister, Lightsong the pithy courtier, and Vasher the mysterious unknown. Vivenna, then, is saddled with the responsibility of being the older sister trying to do what is right. She's not as dynamic as the others, particularly from the start.

    Perhaps this should have made me want to put more into her viewpoints. Change her to be more dynamic, perhaps. However, I resisted that. Of the four, Vivenna is the most like me. The older sibling who gets into other people's business, ostensibly for their own good. I was a lot like that when I was younger.

    For me, Vivenna is the most interesting character in the book. Yes, Lightsong was the most fun to write—but Vivenna is the one who has the most potential for growth and change. Particularly because she isn't instantly appealing like the other three. Much like Hrathen in Elantris, Vivenna begins very far from where she would need to go if she wanted to gain the rooting interest of readers. You'll have to read on and see if she actually gets there.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #6941 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eight

    Siri Wakes Up Untouched, Then Explores the Palace

    These Siri chapters presented a little bit of a problem to me in that I generally focus my writing around conversations. A given chapter will have some action and description, but usually the series of scenes revolves around important discussions between characters.

    But in the palace during the Jubilation, Siri has almost nobody to talk to. She just doesn't have anything to do. A note to aspiring writers: A character not having anything to do is bad. You want action, motion, and conflict in your stories. That's what keeps them moving and interesting.

    But in this case, Siri's lack of direction was necessary to make the plot work. In these chapters, Siri is just reacting—trying to stay afloat in a world very different from her own. So I had to focus on other ways to make the scenes interesting.

    A lot of times, in writing, needs like this end up defining aspects of the books. I hadn't intended the palace to work as it did—with each room being modular, any of them able to transform into any type of room. I intended to give Siri her own set of chambers, as might be expected in a situation like this.

    But when I reached this point in the book, the chapter was looking dull, and I knew I needed some little twist to the palace to make it original enough to hold Siri's—and the reader's—attention here. It's a very small thing, but I think that one change added a lot to the chapter, and therefore the book.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Blushweaver

    Blushweaver was the first of the gods who I named, and her title then set the standard for the others in the Court of Gods. Lightsong was second, and I toyed with several versions of his name before settling. Blushweaver's name, however, came quickly and easily—and I never wanted to change it once I landed on it.

    When developing the Court of Gods, I wanted to design something that felt a little like a Greek pantheon—or, rather, a constructed one. Everyone is given their portfolio by the priests after they Return. Blushweaver was given the portfolio of honesty and interpersonal relations, and over the fifteen years of her rule, she's become one of the most dynamic figures in the court. Few remember it anymore, but she was successful at having her name changed during her first year. She used to be Blushweaver the Honest, and she became Blushweaver the Beautiful through a campaign and some clever politicking.

    Many think of her as the goddess of love and romance, though that technically isn't true. It's just the name and persona she's crafted for herself, as she saw that as a position of greater power. She actually toyed with going the opposite direction, becoming the chaste goddess of justice and honor. However, in the end, she decided to go the direction that felt more natural to her.

    After these fifteen years, it's hard to distinguish when she is being herself and when she's playing a part. The two have become melded and interchangeable.

    When designing this story, I knew I wanted to have a beautiful goddess to give Lightsong some verbal sparring. However, I realized early on that I didn't want to go the route of having a disposable, sultry bimbo goddess of love. I needed someone more complicated and capable than that, someone who was a foil to Lightsong not just in verbal sparring, but someone who could prod him to be more proactive. And from that came Blushweaver.

    In the original draft of the book, this chapter had a slightly different tone. Lightsong didn't look forward to sparring with Blushweaver; he cringed and wished she wouldn't bother him. That artifact remained until the later drafts, though it didn't belong. I wrote the later chapters with them getting along quite well, so I wanted to revise this first chapter to imply that he looked forward to their conversations.

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    Chapter Seven

    Siri Enters the God King's Chambers

    This is one of those chapter breaks that is there for stylistic drama more than anything else. Thematically, these two chapters are really the same chapter. However, I wanted to break before she steps in because it works so well as a dramatic turn in the story.

    I've had e-mails asking me about how to decide when to break a chapter. Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer this one. Breaking chapters isn't something I plan; it's something I just do. A good chapter should have a nice arc of its own, with rising action, a climax, then perhaps some brief falling action. (And thinking of that, you can probably see why chapters five and six can be considered a single chapter in this regard.) But there's not a real science to it—break where it feels right.

    Anyway, Siri's entrance here is probably the first big climactic moment of the book. It's where I've been pushing the novel since the beginning, and is one of the focal scenes for this book. (The scenes that I imagine and develop before I being writing, which then propel their section of the novel.)

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    The Royal Locks

    A group of people whose hair changes color based on their emotions is another one of those little story seeds that had been bouncing around in my head for years before I wrote this book. I even did a few test chapters in other settings with characters who had this physical attribute. (Dark One, which I don't know if I'll ever finish, toyed with it. As did a book set in the Aether world.)

    Eventually, this attribute slid into Warbreaker. I'm glad I found a good home for it; I love how it adds a little bit of flavor to Siri and Vivenna, making them distinctive in a way that doesn't have much of anything to do with the plot. I always talk about making things connected, and that's very important. But you have to be careful not to make everything too neat. That leads to its own problems, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation.

    The Royal Locks do work into the worldbuilding, as you'll find out eventually in the book. However, mostly they're around to give a distinctive feel to the world and the royal line, to show you that there is something unique about the royals. It hopefully enhances your understanding of why Hallandren would work so hard to bring them back into their own line of kings.

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    Chapter Six

    Siri Is Bathed, Then Sent to the God King

    This was a strange sequence of chapters to write. I've spoken before on writing characters of the opposite gender. This has grown easier and easier for me over the years, partially—I think—because I started out so bad at it that I insisted on forcing myself to practice and practice. Now, it's usually as easy for me as writing men. In fact, I don't even think about the gender of the character when I'm writing—I think about who the character is. What their motivations and conflicts are. How they see the world and how they react to things. True, their gender does influence this—just as it influences their personalities. But I don't sit down and say, "I'm going to write a woman now." I sit down and say, "I'm going to write Siri." I know who Siri is, so I can see through her eyes and show how she reacts.

    All that said, I'd never before tried writing a wedding night from the viewpoint of a woman. It presented a few interesting challenges. For one, there's a whole lot more nudity in this book than in my other books. I don't shy away from this (even though I myself am probably more conservative than most of my readers in areas of sexuality), as I feel that what you do with your imagination is your own business. This scene could be done in a PG way, a PG-13 way, or an R way. It's completely up to you how you want to imagine it.

    One interesting thing to note is that my own wedding happened during the process of writing this book. I wrote this chapter before then, but I was engaged at the time. While working on the novel I got to go through the entire progression of awkward moments of a wedding night myself. (Yes, it was our first time, by choice.)

    I think that probably colored how I wrote Siri's viewpoints throughout the entire book.

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    Lightsong's Wisecracks

    The other major Lightsong revision happened in the form of a humor upgrade. My editor didn't complain about the same thing as my agent—instead, my editor wanted to laugh more. He wanted more witty lines from Lightsong. I resisted this at first, as I worried that making him too snappy would undermine his internal conflicts. I wanted him to be droll, but not necessarily brilliant.

    Eventually, however, my editor prevailed upon me. He was always of the opinion that a few extra witty lines wouldn't undermine anything. I have to say, I like the lines, and I'm mostly glad to have them. But I do worry about overloading the humor in Lightsong's chapters, and therefore diluting his internal conflict.

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    Chapter Five - Part Two

    Lightsong's Dream

    The Lightsong sections received two major upgrades during the last few drafts of the novel. The first was the enhancement of his memories of his dreams. We don't get to see the dreams, just their effect on him.

    In the original draft, these dreams were far less ominous, particularly at the beginning of the book. My agent complained that the book felt like it lacked direction, particularly in the Lightsong sequences, and asked me to find a way to make it more tense. He didn't care if Lightsong joked; he just wanted to feel a tension underneath. A sense that all was not right.

    The dreams came from this. Originally, Lightsong just dreamed about the ship leaving the port. In the later drafts, I added him remembering more in this chapter—the city on fire, the flames causing a red reflection on the ocean.

    This actually wasn't a change to the dream. That's what I'd intended him to have dreamed; I just originally had him forgetting. I didn't start getting into the violent dreams until much later in the book, one chapter in particular. But because of Joshua's requests, I moved the sense of danger up from those later chapters to here to begin foreshadowing earlier.

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    Originally, I had Vasher make an oblique comment about Bebid's daughter as a way to get him to talk. However, I shied away from this in later drafts, moving to more nebulous indiscretions instead. I felt that a comment about a daughter might sound too much like kidnapping on Vasher's part, even though I was thinking that his daughter had done something embarrassing that, if revealed, would get the priest into trouble.

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    Vasher Meets Bebid the Priest for Food

    Restaurants. They didn't really exist in a lot of medieval cultures. Now, most of my books don't take place in medieval times—they're more preindustrial uchronias, late renaissance if you will. Warbreaker is no exception.

    T'Telir seems the kind of place that would have restaurants. Places to sit idly, eating and chatting. It is a successful port city with a lot of trade and a great deal of wealth. There's even something of a middle class, another concept that didn't exist during a lot of periods in time.

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    Nightblood Origins

    I've been wanting to do a book with a talking sword for some time. Sentient objects are a favorite theme of mine from fantasy books I've read, and I think you'll probably see more of them in future books from me.

    The magic sword is its own archetype in fantasy, even if there haven't been any good magic sword books among the big fantasy novels of recent years. Perhaps that's because Saberhagen and Moorcock did such a good job with their books in the past. I'm not sure. (I don't count appearances of magic swords like Callandor in the Wheel of Time. I mean books with major parts played by swords.)

    Anyway, that's a tangent, and I'm certain that half the people reading this can think of examples and exceptions to what I just said. Either way, this is a theme I wanted to tackle, and the magic system of this world lent me the opportunity.

    Nightblood is another favorite character of the readers. I think his personality works the best out of any non-viewpoint character I've ever written. He doesn't get that much dialogue in the book, but it is so distinctive that it just works.