Recent entries

    YouTube Livestream 8 ()
    #651 Copy

    Questioner

    Can you talk a little bit about why you changed Khriss's personality so much between the White Sand prose and the White Sand graphic novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I felt that the biggest weakness to a lot of my early writing (this encompasses White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Elantris) is that my worldbuilding was really working, my magic systems were really coming together, and my characters were flat and kind of boring. And this early work of mine, I look at and there's a lot of external conflict to characters.

    And it works in Elantris. Raoden is a bit boring, compared to some of my other characters. But he has an enormous external conflict to deal with, and that actually kind of works. There are lots of movies, I mentioned Mission Impossible earlier. Like Tom Cruise's character in those: not the most interesting character. But he doesn't have to be, because in fact it would probably make the movies worse if you spent a lot of time on that. That's not what those movies are about. So if you have lots of tension and lots of external conflict, then you can have a character who doesn't change as much, who doesn't go through big character arcs and things. And it's not just fine; it's a selling point of the story. It's just a different type of story.

    But the problem with mine is, they were all kind of the same person. They're all kind of the same level of boring in a lot of my early works. And so, when we approached the graphic novel version, one of the things I wanted to do was see if I can liven up the characters a little, if I can make them more like I would write them now. And that's what happened with basically all the changes in White Sand were attempts to do that: make the story more like I write right now. And I'm pleased with those changes.

    The only thing I don't like about White Sand is, as we were new into doing this, we did not get the worldbuilding across in a visual medium the way we wanted to. I don't think that the worldbuilding made the leap. And we're trying to fix that with future things that we're doing. We're hoping that we can play to the strengths of graphic novels and not have them lose some of the coolness. Some of the things that were working in the White Sand prose didn't make the jump to the graphic novel as well as we wanted them to.

    YouTube Livestream 8 ()
    #652 Copy

    Ken Fagan

    You mentioned in a previous stream that you envision the three Era 1 books as a movie, TV series, and another movie, respectively. Do you have an idea for what subsequent eras would look like in another medium?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wax and Wayne is a television show. Straight-up, that's how I envisioned it. I've only started to think of Era 1 as movie/television show/movie as I've worked on the screenplay and seen that the second book, pacing-wise, works so much better as a television show. So that's how I started to envision that. I've always envisioned Wax and Wayne as a television show.

    Era 3. I have to write. I have to see how Era 3 turns out. As I've told you before, I envisioned them as Mistborn spy thrillers. Mistborn Tom Clancy, Mistborn Mission Impossible kind of mashup sort of things. So, they're probably going to be paced and plotted more cinematically, which would mean features.

    I know a lot of people talk about animation, and that's totally on our radar for some of these things. There's cool things happening in animation right now. I actually was talking with my people and saying, "Do you think we can get anyone on board for the idea of a Reckoners animated show?" Because I think that would be awesome. So, it's totally on our radar. It's things we're thinking about doing. And I imagine it will happen for some of our properties going forward.

    A lot of people ask me about video games. We tried for years on Mistborn with a really great group of people who I still really like, Little Orbit and Matt Scott. Just top-notch folks. They treated me great, they treated the property great. But it just didn't come together. Video games are such a hard world.

    YouTube Livestream 8 ()
    #653 Copy

    Tony Irene

    Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration of Wayne, and if that was perhaps based off someone you know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The fun story about Wayne, the beginnings of Alloy of Law were a short story that I wrote where Wayne was the protagonist, and MeLaan was his trusty steed in a horse's body. It was a guy who put on different hats to change personalities, riding into a small town in the Roughs, talking to his horse. Who, then, at the end of the first scene, talked back to him. It was a fun scene. It was way too weird. After I finished that scene, I'm like, "This guy is great. But this guy needs someone else to play off of. And it can't be his talking horse, because this story is just too out there."

    Why did I start writing that story? The initial idea is a person who changes personalities based on hats. You put on a hat, and it lets you kind of have a focus for your acting, to get into a role and become someone. That was really fun to me. In fact, in the original story, he was a hatmaker. He was a haberdasher. And he understood people by the headgear that they like.

    Which, if gonna be honest and trace it back, probably goes back to Thrawn. I love Thrawn, from the original Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn. And Thrawn was somebody who would look at the art that a culture produces and use that to come to understand them in ways that he could then use to conquer them. Which was just always so cool to me. Like, that's one of the coolest villain concepts, is this art appreciation villain who really gets to know a culture by studying their art, and then crushes them and dominates them. Just wonderful.  I'm always kind of looking for characters who see the world in an interesting way. That's probably it. I don't think I was thinking that when I came up with Wayne.

    But then, Wayne needed someone to bounce off against. Wayne needed a straight man, so to speak. And he just wasn't working. So that's when I started plotting Alloy of Law, the actual novel. The short story did not become the novel. The short story taught me that there was enough there that I was interested in that I really wanted to tell a story in this era. And it told me that there's something about this character that's gonna work if I can find the right vehicle to include them in a story.

    That's our origins of Wayne. I think I can probably also look at the Sherlock Holmes dynamic, Sherlock and Watson. Any time I'm building a mystery duo or team, there's a bit of Sherlock and Watson going around in the back of my head.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #654 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did the inspiration for the delvers in Starsight come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Came from me wanting to do interdimensional eldritch horror, basically. It was a mashup I was looking to do. I'd always like space Cthulhu, space cosmic horror. Cosmic horror is a fun sort of storytelling attribute that I like. And it felt right to have these kind of interdimensional beings. I wanted something that did not see our reality and understand it. And something that was, in many ways, unknowable or couldn't be understood because of that. I wanted a true clash between something alien, and the way that we see the world. Because I knew I was going to have aliens in the books. But the aliens in the books were going to be weird, but relatable. I wanted to try to build something that was much harder to relate to.

    So, cosmic horror. Interdimensional cosmic horror.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #655 Copy

    BelugaCavity

    Have you had a favorite theory a fan presented to you that was wrong?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Man, I read a lot of these. I don't remember a lot of them. They happen on Reddit, where I'm like, "That's really cool. It does not fit with the worldbuilding I am building at all." Most of the ones that are really cool are ones that just couldn't work because of the fundamental underpinnings of the cosmere.

    People who theorize about my books... I like to feel that I put enough foreshadowing in my books that it makes, for those who are really paying attention... it does mean you can guess it. So the surprises are not as dramatic. But I like that. And so a lot of theories I read are right. Because I've signposted them. And you guys have three years between books in the Stormlight Archive to guess on these things.

    I read a lot more right theories than you might expect. But I do read a lot of wrong ones, as well.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #656 Copy

    Questioner

    What would happen if Sadeas, Dilaf, The Lord Ruler, Ruin, and Rayse got together for a drink? Would they talk civilly, or fight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The standout there is Dilaf. Dilaf just does not get along with people. Ever, really. I feel like the others could have a really good conversation. And The Lord Ruler would eventually storm out, insisting he doesn't belong in this conversation. The rest of them... depends on when you get Ruin. Rayse and Sadeas get along really well. That's a team-up you don't want.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #658 Copy

    Spencer Walther

    Lopen clearly states he doesn't consider himself a broken character, like all the other Knights. Do you consider him a broken character?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do not. And, again, "broken" is a term with a lot of baggage, let's point that out. I would rather use the terminology that a given person is comfortable with, and let them put definitions on that themselves. Because the way I view it, I don't really view most people as "broken," even if they may use that terminology. What they might have is, they might have certain mental health issues that they haven't yet figured out how to work with that are integral to who they are. But not broken, just still practicing. And that's how I would define a lot of people, but I don't get to define it for those people, if that makes sense.

    And one of the things I like to do is to have a variety of viewpoints in my stories, to make sure I'm kind of running the gamut on this, and I think some of the characters in my stories would say, "Yeah. Something in me's broken. You can talk about all the funny business you want, Brandon, about just needing to practice. Something in me's broken, and I need to learn to deal with that. Either fix it, or learn to not let it ruin me." And there are people that I've talked to, that that's how they've described it.

    I've talked to other people who say, "No, I'm not broken. 'Broken' implies I'm a less valuable person, because of that phrasing." That is something that I never want to imply. And so it is a dangerous word to use. I let people in fiction use it, because people in real life use it. But just wanted you to be aware of that.

    So, the idea that a person needs to be "broken" to be a Knight Radiant is a part of the world that a lot of people talk about. I actually intend Lopen to be a counterargument to that. But people in-world would disagree with me. They'd say, "No no no, he's got some of these things." But if Lopen has them, we all have them. So there are no not-broken people, which also makes the word "broken" just completely wrong phrase to use, if that makes sense.

    So, that is how I view it. But I admit that some of my characters would disagree with me.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #659 Copy

    Rafael DePaulo

    What Knights Radiant orders would Rand, Mat, and Perrin belong to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I built the Knights Radiant orders so that people could naturally fit into multiples. And so, for instance, you could very easily see Mat as a Lightweaver. I just totally think that that is a natural and nice fit for Mat. But it's not the only thing that will work for Mat. But it is definitely where I would place him most naturally.

    Where would I put Rand? Rand, if you look at kind of his powerset and his theme in the stories, is probably Bondsmith. That's probably a very good match for Rand's narrative theme. He is probably very Windrunner in his characterization through a lot of it. There are lots of arguments.

    And Perrin's kind of naturally going to either be another Lightweaver, because of the art aspect to Perrin, making and creating. But probably is gonna be a Stoneward or Willshaper instead. In fact, Willshaper fits him really well for various thematic reasons. So I'd probably stick Perrin in Willshaper. Working with the stone, plus moving and traveling to Shadesmar, or being able to see into Shadesmar, just kind of fits him really well.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #660 Copy

    Jarett Braden

    With a huge interconnected work like the Cosmere, do you ever worry when introducing a new concept in a book? How it may affect past and future novels?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do. This is the biggest challenge of having a large, interconnected universe like this. And the farther you write, the more difficult and dangerous this becomes. And this is why I need to have a large team, and some really solid beta readers. Because every writer, when writing a book, can get a little myopically focused on that book only. Which can be a good thing; most writers, it doesn't matter, because that book is going to be that book. But because the interconnectedness and the continuity of the Cosmere is so important to me, it's really handy to have a lot of people looking over my shoulder saying, "Are you sure you want to do that? Because it has this ramification here." We're not gonna catch all of them. But I do like that protection, and it is something that I think about quite a bit.

    It is one of the reasons why I tried to build the underpinnings of the cosmere to be adaptable to a lot of different of the types of magic systems I type to write. This is why these fundamentals of Fortune and Identity and Connection are really what kind of drive creating the magic systems. You're often going to see me wanting to create magic systems that do similar things. And having these sort of magic system underpinnings that both drive me to ask "what new could I do with this?" but also have an intended connectivity between them is really helpful in a lot of different ways.

    But it is dangerous, yes. And if I were going to give advice on that, it would be that make sure your fundamentals 1) naturally fit the type of systems that you would want to build, and 2) have enough versatility that they can be adapted to a variety of different styles of system. And stay away from some of the big problems, like time travel. Very early on, I'm like, "Cosmere can time travel into the future. You can speed things up for yourself, you can slow things down, your movement through space. But you cannot go backward." And having a few rules like that... there are not alternate dimensions in the cosmere. There are different planes of existence. But there are not alternate realities. We are not going to have the sort of things. (That I played with in Steelheart, because I knew I didn't have it in the cosmere. The Wheel of Time loves to play with alternate continuities as one of its themes of magic, and I love it. But it was built in and baked in from the beginning and used very well well. I didn't want to go down that rabbit hole.)

    Make a few rules like that, and I think that's helpful from writing yourself out of problems with solutions that break everything. And let's just say that it is very hard to not do that, as evidenced by many film series which have a lot of different people working on them who can make their films work, but often will break the rest of the continuity in order to do so. And we can't afford to do that in the Cosmere. That's not something that I want to do.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #661 Copy

    Christopher Gearheart

    I was wondering what your approach was for building magic systems? Do you start with broad strokes and themes and develop powers from there? Or do you start with the powers themselves? Also, how much do you change the system through your revisions process?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Generally, magic system is one of those things that I lock in pretty solidly and then stick to, except for that one big revision point. (Which, for a series, is generally after the first book.) Why that works so well for me is, a lot of times a magic system, I'm not gonna know how much flexibility it has for storytelling, how visually it works, and all of these sorts of things until I've written with it.

    Whether I start with the powers or the themes, it's basically been even, 50/50. Mistborn, I started with the powers, and then built the themes out of it. Basically, I started with some cool visuals on manipulating the metals. I then built the heist story. (Those who know the history of Mistborn know that I wrote an entire book that was not a heist story before I wrote Mistborn that used the magic. We'll release that someday. I call it Mistborn Prime. So I had those powers in hand.) Then I built the rest of them kind of out of what would I want for a thieving crew.

    And with Stormlight, I started with themes. The theme being: I want something that evokes the idea of the fundamental forces. (Though, of course, changed to Rosharan.) I kind of built the religion and the world, and then developed powers naturally out of that to see what would work.

    So I've gone both directions for the two of my major fantasy series. And I found both very effective.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #662 Copy

    Kandra Cosplay

    If you were a kandra in a true body, what would you make your skeleton out of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would want some stone skeleton, of like, marble or obsidian or something like that. You can see from the things I do, I love the colors of stone. It's where Stormlight Archive kind of came from. I just love the grain and the feel of rock. So that's what I would go with.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #663 Copy

    Questioner

    When planning multiple eras in Mistborn, did you know, for example, all the metals and magic when you published The Final Empire? Or did you leave open areas that you hinted at so that you could later explore and fill in the magic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Final Empire is an excellent example, because it established what my model became. I wrote Final Empire, having an idea, but not have the entire nin-book sequence plotted. Not even the three-book sequence. I wrote that one and said, "Let's just write the book and see if it works." This is generally what I like to, rather than planning out the whole series. The exception to this was Stormlight, which needed the entire series planned out first. But with Mistborn, I was able to write the first book having ideas of what I wanted to do, but just make that book right. And then I sat down and said, "All right. The first book worked. I have the characters where they work. Now let's build the series." And when I did that, I went into a lot more depth on the metals.

    But I did still leave... I knew, basically, what the other metals were gonna do, but I didn't have the mechanics down. Because I wasn't sure if it was gonna work. Playing with time, and all the stuff in Feruchemy where I'm playing with Connection and things like that, these were all kind of fundamentals of the cosmere that I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to play out. So I basically kinda did the "best of both worlds." I left those holes knowing what they were probably going to be. But I was very careful not to give too much about them in the original trilogy, just in case what I wanted to do didn't end up working.

    And that's worked out pretty well. I did manage to finish writing books two and three of Mistborn before I released the first one, so I could make sure that the continuity on the narrative really worked. Still, there are some things that I would change. I was much younger as a writer back then. I think some of the stuff in the third book, though it clicks together, it doesn't click together quite as well as I wanted to. Ending of the first book, I've talked about before. But I'm pleased with that process. Though every author has to use a different method, I do suggest trying that one. It's worked very well both for Mistborn and for Skyward. Worked a little worse in Reckoners, to be honest. Because the first book, I did not deal with any multi-dimension stuff, but I built it in after. Wrote the first book, went back, made sure the first book worked, then I wrote book two and three. And I was never quite satisfied with how the interdimensionality worked in that series. I think the magic system ended up cutting a few too many corners. So, in that case, doing it from the get-go from book one, instead of writing book one and then building it, might have worked better. Book one remains the strongest of the Steelheart series, I feel, because of that reason.

    Regardless, it's been an effective method. It worked very worked Mistborn. It worked very well for Mistborn Era 2. And it has worked really well in Skyward so far.

    YouTube Livestream 7 ()
    #664 Copy

    Jane Sagan

    Is diabetes prominent in Vorin women? Or is there physiology and that of the sweeteners different enough that the diet affects their bodies differently?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, I would say no. For a couple of reasons. One is, it's not like they're eating candy. They do eat candy, but I would say, glycemically and things like this, their average meal is not going to be as high as our average meal, even, modern-day, because their grains are not refined. Yes, they're adding sweeteners to things, but a lot of them are fruit sweeteners. And they're getting probably less of a load than a person eating a bowl of white rice in our culture. So, no.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #665 Copy

    Michael Walton

    Which of the villains from your books would you vote for as President of the United States

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ummm... Hrathen, probably. Hrathen is probably your best shot at someone who, at the end of the day, you would be okay with them having been President. Do not let Taravangian anywhere near the Presidency. Lord Ruler, better than Taravangian; still a pretty bad choice. Let's just go with that, Hrathen.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #666 Copy

    Matthew

    One big thing in epic fantasy books that I find too hard to swallow: nobody has the same name.

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is for convenience's sake. I've actually done it where I used the same name before. It gets so confusing to readers. So confusing. In fact, when I do it on purpose, my editors usually change it, because it is so confusing.

    Like, in Stormlight, what I'll end up doing, is I'll say, there are core names. Kaladin's name is based off Kalak, the Herald. You've got two characters basically with the same name, where one is based off the other. Kaladin's name is the Rosharan's version of, like Matthew. There is this saint: this Herald. But the way I do it so that we don't get too confused is I change each one a little bit. Kaladin is their version of Matthew. Shallan is their version of Mary. She's named after Shallash. So you'll see a lot of Shalla- names and Kala- names. And, as we had earlier, we have Ishikk, who's named after Ishi. You'll have a lot of Ishi- names. This is my acknowledgement to you that, in a real fantasy world, more of them would probably have a lot of duplicate names, like we have now.

    Granted, there are cultures where there are much fewer duplicate names than exist in, say, English and Chinese and things, where a lot of duplicate names are used. But you are noticing a correct thing, and I just have to say, for writing convenience, this is one of those things where fiction has to be stranger than truth. Because otherwise it just gets so confusing.

    But I bet you could write a book where you did it, it was a plot feature, that a lot of people have the same name, that you could make it work.

    You've requested a couple of characters in Stormlight that have the same name. Well, I've done that... kind of. That's about as close as we'll get. I do have some minor characters that I'll use the same name for. But like I said, my continuity editor really, really, really likes it when I don't do that, and asks me to change them.

    It is fun that you noticed this, because this is one of those things ('cause I love linguistics) that I notice a lot. And I'm like, "Is there a way around this?" And I try to find ways that work both for the convenience of telling stories, but also work for worldbuilding realism. Maybe I'll put two characters of the same name in just for you in the future. We'll see.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #667 Copy

    Questioner

    As a writer, what are your feelings of altering characters' race and gender when adapted for TV or movies.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am generally going to be against this. Because normally what's happening is, they're whitewashing the characters. Normally, they are taking books that are more diverse and they are making them not as diverse, and there is a problem with Hollywood with... even when we've talked about doing Stormlight, they are really resistant to casting Asian characters in the main roles in Hollywood. This has just been a hard thing to get across to them. I think there are situations where it is appropriate, depending on the property. This is probably a bad example, because it's a terrible movie, but I know a lot of people were up in arms about Aang being cast as a caucasian character. But then a lot of the fandom said, "No, he's kind of supposed to be. This is who he is." But then they also recast, what, Katara and her brother as white characters? When they weren't supposed to be, and are very clearly not. That is just insulting.

    I am totally fine with it in the instance of the Wheel of Time. The reason is specifically, with the Wheel of Time, what's going on is, Robert Jordan really wanted to build a society that indicated that our world is this same world, many thousands of years in the future. And he wanted to have metropolitan cities have become rural areas again over time. Sort of this regression from giant city into rural countryside. He also has a main theme in the Wheel of Time that culture is more important than race in the Wheel of Time world. They are very, very biased toward one another based on nationalism. Nationalism is a huge thing. But not based on skin color. And so because of this, the changes to, say, make the Two Rivers have black people in it works really well with Robert Jordan's worldbuilding and with the theme of the story he's trying to do.

    Plus, I am generally in favor of diversifying stories, rather than the other way. That is a political leaning of mine; I understand that people have arguments against this. And I can understand those arguments. I can understand the argument of "You should not have changed the races of the characters in the Wheel of Time; this is going contrary to..." The best arguments against say, "If you're looking for diverse stories to tell, find diverse stories that were written that way and adapt those." Which is a pretty good argument. I can't fault people for saying, "Why buy the Wheel of Time and then do this? Why not buy a story that already is like this?" I think in the instance of the Wheel of Time, it makes perfect sense. And having met the actors, they are perfectly cast to the characters. And so kind of having a race-blind casting process in that case just really worked out. But, like I said, I can see arguments on that.

    The place that it's hit me is that I have written some stories that star mostly what we would call on Earth white characters. And I'm totally fine with those stories being adapted with that cast. They all come from the same country; that makes sense. But Stormlight Archive? Getting such resistance on that really bugged me. They're like, "What if we cast this character?" I'm like, "That's great, but that character's not Dalinar, because that's not how Dalinar looks."

    You hit a nerve there, let's just say.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #668 Copy

    Questioner

    Will Kaladin and Kelsier ever meet? Will they get along if they did meet? Even if they don't meet, I am fascinated by the possibilities a Mistborn and a Windrunner could create by working together.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Whether they'll actually meet or not is a RAFO. I do not think they would get along very well. It takes a very special kind of person to get along well with Kelsier. Though you will, I promise, see Windrunners and Allomancers interact. (Technically, you already have, because Hoid is an Allomancer, but that's not what you're asking about.) You will see large clashes between various different magic systems in the future of the cosmere.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #670 Copy

    Questioner

    We know carpentry is a masculine is a masculine activity, and art is feminine. Where does something like carving fall? Would it be a form of art? Or more like carpentry?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most cases, it's gonna go carpentry, it's gonna go craft, it's gonna go masculine. Most crafts, however, in Vorin culture can kind of go each direction. And you will find a lot of husband/wife teams, where who does what gets very tricky based on their own feelings socially, and things like that. So a pen like this, I can see a team making. I can see either gender making it on Roshar. It's gonna depend on devotion, how conservative your personal culture is, and all of those sorts of things.

    YouTube Livestream 6 ()
    #671 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever considered writing one of your books primarily from the villain's point of view?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I have considered it. I do think that that is an interesting and fun thing to do, particularly if you play with "What does it mean to be a villain? What does it mean to be antagonist?" And "What does it mean to be protagonist?" The classic example being Infinity War, in which Thanos is both the villain and the protagonist of the movie at the same time. Which is really cool to see. There's also this sort of... people are the bad guys, but they're also the hero and the protagonist. This is the thieving crew, sort of thing, which is not what you're asking.

    The short answer answer is yes. I'm more likely to do a novella from that viewpoint, most likely, because of various things. But there's a decent chance I will sometimes do an actual full novel from the villain's viewpoint.

    General Reddit 2020 ()
    #672 Copy

    Swanson188

    Would you say that the genetic investitures are the result of a specific gene only available in their system of origin, or are they a trait that CAN exist in other systems (but lack the shard's key to access it)?

    The best example I can think of is could a feruchemist be born on Roshar, but not know it because preservation is not present there in the physical realm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the way I have it right now, that couldn't happen. Your spiritual DNA, so to speak, has to do with your connection to certain Shards--and for a genetic component to occur, certain location-dependent things need to happen. It's a good question, though, and not impossible in the future of the cosmere as certain events proceed.

    YouTube Livestream 11 ()
    #673 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will finish Stormlight Four this week, is the goal. At the very latest, over the weekend. The last draft, sending it on to production.

    And then from there, I think my next job is to spend one week doing a revision on Songs of the Dead, is what we put in the schedule next. This is the new name of Death By Pizza. Heavy metal music influenced necromancer urban fantasy that I'm coauthoring with Peter Orullian who is a heavy metal singer. I'm gonna do a draft on that.

    And then it is writing the [Stormlight] novella for about the next month. So we'll start posting updates on that as I do that. And I think I know what the title's going to be. So we might announce that in the upcoming days. You'll be very excited by the title, I suspect.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #674 Copy

    Stephanie Akroyd

    What critical steps would you take to facilitate a believable descent-into-madness type character arc?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on how accurate you want to be with your psychology. This is one of those areas that I have made a special area of expertise, where I would say I'm still not an expert, but I'm better than the 10% knowledge I am in a lot of other things. And one of the things about psychology, you even heard me earlier saying Taln was wondering whether he was a crazy man or not: we talk about psychology in ways that can be very harmful or hurtful to people who are dealing with it. And you can just go read about people with Dissociative Identity Disorder and how they feel about how they're represented in media. (I'll give you a hint. It makes them really depressed how some of things things are represented in media.) And those of us who write novels, we are definitely fueling this, right?

    And you can see, if you've read the Stormlight Archive, I go both directions. I have what I hope are very accurate and realistic depictions of mental health, and I have the Fused and the Heralds, who are using more a magical sort of pop culture version of: their minds are just degrading. They don't actually have a legitimate psychological psychosis or anything like that.

    And you're gonna have to ask yourself: which direction do you want to go? I'm not gonna sit here and sit on a high horse and tell you you're just being harmful if you're just showing a descent into madness, because that can be really fun. The Shining is a great movie. And I don't think The Shining is necessarily harmful; it was done really well. But if you do things poorly, it can be very harmful. So I would say to you, number one, take some concern for that, and kind of ask yourself how you're going to approach that.

    Otherwise, one of the things I would keep in mind is that the best books that do this for me are ones where I don't catch on at first, either. And that's part of the fun of this type of story. Whether it be a Lovecraft story, or whether it be The Shining. As you are going through, you are through this character's eyes. You are experiencing the world as they experience. And you are going to believe what's written on the page is true, and that the character is trustworthy, until it becomes evident it isn't. And that moment can be really cool. And keep in mind that that's one of the big reveals that you're gonna have for your story. And try to decide where that breaking point is gonna be. And make sure that that one works. If you can make that one work and then earn it, you're gonna have, I think, a stronger story.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #675 Copy

    Augustine Soto

    When one of your books gets a live-action adaptation, will you make a cameo? If so, which character would you like to be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My goal is to cameo in all of my adaptations as a person who dies in a different way in each movie. Or something terrible happens to them. I love this idea because I kill characters in the books, so this is, like, revenge of a sort. Basically, I get to be the Kenny for all the Cosmere films. You'll have to be watching out and see. When you see Brandon, and then a wall will fall on me. Or a koloss will throw me to be feasted upon by the others. Or I'll get tossed off a wall. Or anything like that, that's what we want to do.

    Peter Jackson did that to himself, right? In Return of the King. He gets shot with an arrow.

    I want you to be able to spot me. And then watch me die.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #676 Copy

    Questioner

    Could you describe outlining with examples?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have posted my outline for Skyward on my website. https://www.brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice/

    This is the actual outline that I sent to my editor, and that I used to write the book. We also have on that same place the two first chapters I tried before I settled on the third one, which is the one that ended up in the book. I threw away two beginnings to that book before I settled on the one that I liked.

    The outlining process for me is usually very goal-based and goal-driven, like I talk about in my class. Where I start with what I want to have happen, and then I write bullet points underneath it in order to get to that place. In the outline for Skyward you will read (I mention this at the top of the outline), I have already taken those bullet points and shuffled them together into chapters or scenes. This is because I wanted my editor to be able to understand, and it was a single-viewpoint novel. (That actually ended up being a double-viewpoint novel, but it was originally started as a single-viewpoint novel.)  So I could do that. My Stormlight ones, generally don't have the whole outline. It's still broken up by viewpoint, and kind-of goal.

    But give that a look, and see how it works for you, if that makes any sense to you. Basically, I'm trying to earn my ending. That's what an outline is about. Coming up with my ending, and finding the things that will let me earn it.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #677 Copy

    Benjamin Shaw

    You've mentioned exploring alternative ways to tell the cosmere story due to time constraints. Besides books and films, what other mediums are you considering?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Graphic novels, obviously, since White Sand is our first foray into graphic novels. We intend to do more graphic novels. We've learned a ton. We appreciate everybody who supported White Sand in its graphic novel form. And we think we're gonna just be way better as we move forward. And so we're excited to try that out and see what you guys think of that.

    What else would we do? Video games will not be easier. They will take more time. While I do want to do that, they are not a time-saving method. And indeed, film is not a time-saving method, if I have to write all the screenplays myself. Which, hopefully, I won't have to; but we shall see. So far I've not loved any of the Mistborn screenplays that have come in, which is why I'm doing it myself. We'll see if I can do one that works.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #678 Copy

    Nick Cantrell

    One thing I've always struggled with in writing is creating meaningful quotes or pieces of art in-universe. Poems, philosophers, etc. How do you go about doing this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The best way is, for me, to steep myself a lot in somebody's style after the book is done. So I finish the book... I do this sometimes with other things, too. For instance, Taravangian's viewpoint where he's very smart in Oathbringer. I wanted this to feel very different. Another one I did it for in Oathbringer was the ardent who's reading the romance novel. And once I finish the book, I go read a ton of someone else's style, and I kind of try to do a Weird Al version. You know how Weird Al will do style parodies, where he's doing a song in the style of someone else? Or you might learn how to paint using some great master's style, and then try a different great master's style? I try to evoke that style in what I'm writing. For instance, with Taravangian, I used Faukner. Went and read a bunch of Faulkner. Very steeped myself in Faulkner, tried to get some of the big, meaty Faulkner-esque paragraphs and complex sentences and things like that. Just so that when you read Taravangian, even if you're not like "Oh, he's doing Faulkner," you'd be like "Something's odd. It's almost like Brandon had someone else write this chapter." That works really well for poetry, also, for songs in-world and things like that.

    If that doesn't work, something else you can do is do what I did. My father-in-law is a musician who is a singer/songwriter. (Matt Bushman on Spotify.) He has since retired from that, but he's a very good songwriter. And I had him write a couple of my songs for Words of Radiance. I had him wright all the epigraphs of the song. I just hired him. And I had him write Shallan's lullaby for that book. And that worked out really well. 'Cause again, I wanted something that felt like I hadn't written it. So I had someone else write it.

    So those are two different ways you can kind of shake up your style. (One by not actually doing anything in your style, but you know what I mean.)

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #679 Copy

    Nicole Joy White

    Will you ever revisit the Emperor's Soul world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. I've got another story about Shai I want to write, actually. Whether I'll get to it or not...

    I had inspiration strike for a story I think will be really cool if I can find the time to write it. (That's always the thing, right?) But because I am moving more and more to coauthoring things that are not Cosmere, goal is that hopefully that'll leave me a little more time for Cosmere stuff, moving forward. So, we will see.

    I wouldn't be surprised, for instance, if Skyward is the last non-Cosmere series I do that is not coauthored. So that I can divide some of my time off with another author. The experience of working with Mary Robinette on The Original has been so good. And the experience... even though he didn't fix it, Dan's improvements to Apocalypse Guard are so incredible, I'm actually gonna try and fix that this summer. I think we might do more of that. It's gonna depend on what people think of The Original, and theoretically the Apocalypse Guard when we release it.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #680 Copy

    Reflex Jack

    Do you have a favorite line out of all your novels?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm bad at quoting my own books. They have been a sentiment in my head for years before I write the actual words. (This is one of the reasons why I have problems when people say "can you give me one of the Oaths of the Orders of Knights Radiant that you haven't given yet?" I'm like, "No." I know what the sentiment is. But I don't know the wording of it.)

    But I'm quite fond of the scene in Mistborn where Kelsier explains that Mistborn don't need to make sense because they're mysterious and cool. That's a fun line. I enjoy that line.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #681 Copy

    Mark Lindberg

    What is the status of the audio novella you're working on with Mary Robinette?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We got the final version of it last week. So right now, it's just a matter of going to the publisher (which I believe is Recorded Books, on that one) and finding a release date for it. It turned out really well. I am super excited for you guys to read this, because it's taking what I think I do best and what Mary Robinette does best and combining them, and playing to both of our strengths. The narration came out really well. Max, who was the publisher on it, went and got some music done with it, and things like that, so it's scored. (And I think he worked with someone who works at Skywalker Sound, for that.) It's been a great experience. Mary Robinette's contribution to it was killer, so I'm really excited for you guys to hear this thing. And I think it will be out within a month. I can't say for sure, but should be pretty soon.

    It's called The Original, for those who don't know.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #682 Copy

    Joshua Gibson

    Has becoming an Eagle Scout affected your career?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's hard to say, because it's hard to say who I would be if I hadn't done things that I did back when I was a teenager. I do think that getting me outside, rather than always being inside, was good for me. Being a scout, and going on camp outs, and being familiar with that let me, when my friend Micah (who Captain Demoux is named after, Micah DeMoux) asked me in college if I wanted to go with him on photography trips (he's a fine art photographer), and he wanted someone to just go along with him and hold his equipment and stuff like that. And it involved camping, and things like that. And I was able to say "Yeah, sure. I can do that. I've done that." And it was just not outside the ordinary for me. And that is where I went to slot canyons and Goblin Valley in southern Utah and Zion's National Park. And the ecology of Roshar is deeply influenced by all those trips to southern Utah I took visiting all of the amazing landscape that we have here in Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon and Little Wild Horse and all of that stuff.

    That's one thing I can point to, that maybe I would have said "no" if I just hadn't camped a bunch as a teenager.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #683 Copy

    Questioner

    Characters in your own books that are the hardest to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't really even approach that way; it's hard for me to answer. Because characters are not on a difficulty level for me as characters. Some sequences with given characters are difficult to write. Sazed in Book Three of Mistborn is a great example, because what Sazed is going through is a difficult thing to make interesting on the page, and that was a big challenge. Dalinar in Way of Kings was difficult to write, for the same reasons. What he's going through was a tough sort of thing to convey in a way that is engaging for readers. So, some things can have a challenge.

    Lately, Shallan tends to be the toughest, just balancing all of her different alters and things like that. It is a challenge.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #684 Copy

    David Gelber

    Is there any story which you would want to reimagine if you had the time to write it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The one I am most likely to want to reimagine is Mistborn, because I am doing the screenplay. As you can see, we now have the progress bar up on that. And it's been very fun to reimagine it, kind of doing some of the things that over the years I'd wished I'd done. No spoilers, but the ending of Mistborn has a bit of a deus ex machina to it, that I would rather find a way to not have happen. I'd like a little of the pacing and plotting to be more elegant. A bunch of stuff with the skaa rebellion and things just never quite came together in the book the way I wanted it to. So that's the one of mine I'm most likely to actually reimagine.

    There's a decent chance if I decide to adapt Emperor's Soul to the screen, that I would have to do a reimagining of that, as well, to make it work as a film, rather than happening in one room.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #685 Copy

    Questioner

    So far, the Stormlight Archive's book titles have the abbreviations: WoK, WoR, O, and RoW. Will Book Five's abbreviation be KoW, making the complete ketek?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Great question. Way back when I started working on the Stormlight Archive, I wanted to do this. And then I just didn't think it would work out, for various reasons, and I backed away from it, coming up with my kind of working titles that were not a ketek. After I changed Book Two to Words of Radiance, I realized I might have a chance to do this, and it started to kind of get in my head, that maybe I do it, maybe I wouldn't. I waited to see if Book Three would work as a single-word title, which it did. And so I am intending to do this.

    The question we have internally is where we put the "T." Because Way of Kings actually has a "the" in it, where Words of Radiance and Oathbringer do not, and neither does Rhythm of War. So, is it going to have a T at the end, or not? That is subject to debate, even internally, right now.

    Towers of Midnight Cambridge signing ()
    #686 Copy

    Quantumplation (paraphrased)

    I haven't read Way of Kings yet, but I've read Warbreaker and Mistborn, and the thing I like most about them is the Magic systems.  Will Way of Kings have multiple magic systems?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Depending on how you count it, Stormlight Archive will have 3 or 30 different magic systems.

    Towers of Midnight Cambridge signing ()
    #687 Copy

    Quantumplation (paraphrased)

    I just started NaNoWriMo this year.  Have you ever written something for NaNoWriMo?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I had an idea for a story that I wanted to write for NaNoWriMo, but I don't know if I'll have time.  It's basically a superhero story, but where only villains get super powers, and the heroes are normal.

    Footnote: NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month; This obviously became Steelheart, but I can't remember if he mentioned the name at the time.
    Direct submission by Quantumplation
    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #689 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you decide which stories need to be told when as you work your way through the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mostly which stories need to tell when in the cosmere is affected by what I'm most excited to write right now. The cosmere so far has been separated enough that I can look at what I'm really passionate about and write it, and there's been no reason so far to put those very out of order chronologically. The further we go, the more that'll have to be. Like, the Wax and Wayne books happen chronologically after Stormlight 1 through 5. So it's already begun a little bit, but for the most part it was "What am I passionate about writing? What do I feel like is the best book for me to write?" And then I make sure it fits into the chronology rather than otherwise. Again, the further we go, the more these things lock into place. Like White Sand is jumping backward in time, and when I do Dragonsteel, it's going to jump even further, so this will happen more and more as we go, but right now? I write what I'm passionate about.

    YouTube Livestream 5 ()
    #690 Copy

    Questioner

    How can you control the ramping of power levels from human to godlike?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Knowing how long your series is gonna be, or at least how long you would like it to be at the start, is definitely going to be a help here. Also, understanding how to make character conflicts that both fall into the character's skill wheelhouse and those that don't, meaning finding a challenge for a character... I often talk to my boss about the idea that stories happen around the things that the character or the magic can't do, generally. This is just kind of storytelling basics. If you've got a character that is an excellent, excellent boxer, then you tell a story about either someone who is a stronger boxer than them that they have to face, or you tell a story about boxing being a side story to the rest of the character's story. And this is just so that there's tension and conflict. And getting good at balancing those is going to be very helpful for you. Because you don't want to just have things happen that the character's skill means nothing to. If your character's a boxer, you need boxing matches to be happening in your story in almost all varieties of stories you're going to be writing. And if your boxer's the best boxer in the world, you still are going to be expected to have boxing matches, you're going to have to find a way to make it still tense. But you can do this in a lot of different ways. It can be someone is better than them. It can be that they get injured. It can be they get older, and their skill isn't what it once was. Or they can be at the height of their skill, but there's some sort of marathon they have to go through, where they're going to have to defeat a bunch of opponents in a row. Just understanding how you can ramp up those kinds of conflicts and then how you can balance them with character conflicts, internal conflicts, and conflicts about what the character cannot do, and you will find that it works. Superman still works as a character -- I know that there are a lot of stories that don't work with him, but there are a lot of stories that still do, and he's near deific in power. Rand al'Thor in the Wheel of Time is basically a demigod by the time I took over the books, and he was a blast to write. I never felt worried about power level concerns in the three books I was writing, because I was able to balance these sorts of things because Robert Jordan had left me the seeds or the half-done story threads to be able to do this. So, practice those things.

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #691 Copy

    The Dusty Wheel

    I still have some left over resentment about Dalinar. It's not that I don't see redemptive arcs as very powerful, it's not that I don't recognize that there is some notion of redemption there for him. But it's not like he's out there like, "I am this redeemed person, and I am so much better." I like that there's still kind of an honesty and an awareness on his part. But I still do struggle with him, and I know he's kind of a favorite of others. How often do you kind of run into this reaction to him among fandom? Is this something that a lot of people are expressing to you? Or do you just kind of generally get, like, "Dalinar is the best"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, everybody has characters they connect with better than others. And I would say that it's a fairly even split between Shallan, Dalinar, and Kaladin. Depends on the forum you visit. If you go to a predominantly, like... Reddit has a certain demographic. They do tend to like Dalinar more. But from fan mail I get, and things like this, I'd say it's about an even split who they like. And almost always, someone's gonna have one they just don't connect with. But they're fine reading about. But it doesn't click for them. It's just not their thing.

    And it's totally legit, by the way. Dalinar burned the city down! You can have a redemption arc, right. But that's always bothered me. I love Star Wars, but Darth Vader blew up a planet. There's redemption arcs, and then there's "You blew up a planet!" And Dalinar's experience is even a little more personal, even though less catastrophic, because you see him do it in the books. And that's not the sort of thing that I want you to feel like you have to forgive him for. This guy was a warlord. And part of it is me kind of dealing with the fact that a lot of our famous people from history that we laud, a lot of our greatest moments in history, have these dark sides to them, right? We talk about America in World War II, and it's like, the Greatest Generation. And I don't want to downplay the contributions of those people. My wife's grandfather served on a ship in World War II and almost sank, his ship got torpedoed the day after he got off for sick leave. But at the same time, we did nuke two cities full of civilians. And that's the most dramatic, but not the worst atrocity that we committed. And that's something that you can't just ignore.

    Dalinar has several distinct flaws, even still. He's bad at delegating. He is set in his ways and he is a monarchist. He believes in the kind of "Great Man Theory" is what they would call it. This is what the guy who does Hardcore History, Dan Carlin, talks about, this idea that "Great Men change the world." And a lot of historians say this is kind of a fallacy. Dalinar believes in that. He believes that a strong king is required for a government to work. Which is very at odds with our modern philosophy, and I agree with our modern philosophy. I do not agree with Dalinar. I do not agree that a king is better than a ruler with more limits. I'm glad we have a president, and not a king. But Dalinar, he's all on board with this idea of "Great Men have to change the world." And he would say "men," when we would be like, "Are you sure it has to be men, Dalinar?" He is a person, is what I want to write him as being. And some of those things are gonna rub you the wrong way. And I hope that my characters learn and grow in lots of ways, but there are some things that are aspects of their personality that are just who they are.

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #692 Copy

    The Dusty Wheel

    When it comes to trying to do an adaptation. How would you perceive that with the Stormlight Archive? Have you thought through adapting them? And if you have, how would you proceed with it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We've got three main options. The most obvious and easiest is an animated program. The level of special effects you need to have to show the spren and the strange world is so high that an animated show makes a lot of sense. And I'm monitoring very closely the fact that adult animation is becoming more and more a thing as the years progress.

    Option number two is straight-up television show, streaming service high-budget television show like Witcher or something like that. Which is totally in the cards. Totally viable, not outside reason at all. Getting back a 300-page-plus screenplay that someone tried to do of The Way of Kings, it is pretty obvious that it's gonna be a tough adaptation.

    If you're gonna do a movie, you do a film, I feel like the Cosmere would already have to have been established with other films that are successful, so that we could get away with a longer, higher-budget (even than the others) film. And I think there's probably a film adaptation that could work. One that focuses mostly on Kaladin, and one that probably moves Shallan's plotline to the Shattered Plains right from the get-go, in order to have her be a viewpoint of Dalinar, that you can get to know Dalinar through her being Jasnah's ward, and things like that. Which doesn't require as much time spent on Dalinar. The big problem with The Way of Kings is that it's really hard to cut any of the three major plot sequences and have it still work. Because Dalinar needs to exist in order for the ending of the book to work. And Shallan needs to exist so that you're not always at war. So that there's something else to this story to give a B story that you can cut away from to occasionally show other things happening. I think it's vital to what makes The Way of Kings work as a book, is that you get to have these cutaways.

    So, yeah, I think something like that could theoretically work. But the high-budget television show is probably the best option. And that's one reason why I'm pushing so hard for a Mistborn adaptation right now. I do think Mistborn working really well lets us do a lot more with Stormlight, either with a television show or with a film, whichever direction we go. And Mistborn is the book of mine that could be a film the easiest. Right now, what we're actually looking at for Mistborn would be: Book One as a film. Book Two and a few things we cut from Book One becoming a television show that bridges to Book Three being a film.

    The Dusty Wheel

    Have you had any offers along those lines?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, but I'm being very cagey about who they're from and whether I'm accepting them or not. Basically, I don't want to sell the rights to Mistborn or the Cosmere again. I would be interested in partnering with people, where I'm a producer and very much involved. And I don't know how reasonable that is for me to expect that it can happen, because I've not done a ton with Hollywood. But I've read all these scripts that people have set in, and I legitimately think that my outline for a script is stronger than any of the Mistborn scripts I've seen. I don't know if my screenwriting will be as good. But if I can get down the script, the outline I've written, and then have someone else polish it up so it actually works, then I think we'll be in good shape.

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #693 Copy

    The Dusty Wheel

    If the Eye of the World were in the cosmere, which Shard's perpendicularity would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, that's a cool question. I wonder if that, in the back of my head, is where I even got Shardpools? I never thought about that before. It's totally possible, right? I read the book enough times.

    Who would it be? I can see it being a Shard that doesn't exist, a Shard of kind of Prophecy, sort of thing. Like, Fortune, or something like that. Which, in the cosmere, there's not a Shard called Fortune; Fortune is kind of a property. But I could totally see that being the case. This idea of this representing Rand's destiny, and the coming destiny and being bound to the Wheel. Those are such themes in The Wheel of Time and in some of the other '80s fantasy that I read that I kind of intentionally pulled away from that in the cosmere in dealing with destiny and prophecy, except to subvert them in various cases. But, yeah, I can see it being something like that.

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #694 Copy

    The Dusty Wheel

    You've said many times [Dalinar] is the first character you ever wrote for the first book you tried to write when you were a teenager. Can you tell me more about that original version of Dalinar, how he evolved through all these years, and what is the difference between past and current version?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is really hard to remember. This is a book I wrote when I was seventeen. And the basic premise was that the king got assassinated, and no one knew what to do, and his brother kind of took over as regent for the king's son, who was too young to become king. And this character was the genesis of Dalinar. The book wasn't really about him. The book was about somebody else. It was about a kid named Jerick, who was half dragon and half elf. (This was the book you write when you're seventeen, right?) And it was about the court wizard, who was a proto-Hoid. And it was kind of their story. And the Dalinar character had a completely different name. The only thing that stayed through the years is this idea of, what is your responsibility to your brother versus your kingdom. So I came back to it and in 2002 wrote Way of Kings Prime. (Which is what we call the proto-Way of Kings, which I will be releasing for people this summer for people to read. And you'll be able to see Dalinar from that book, and by then you can start to see who Dalinar has become.) My remembrance of that book is that he's just a good and upright king who's never done anything wrong, and the nuance of a lot of the characters for the Stormlight Archive came over years of working with them and trying different things and trying to find characters who were more nuanced. But I haven't read The Way of Kings Prime in seventeen years, now, so who knows what you'll find when you read that one!

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #696 Copy

    The Dusty Wheel

    What one character from The Wheel of Time series would you choose to be a worldhopper, who could then make an appearance in The Stormlight Archive, if you could?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thom. Thom Merrilin is my type of character. You find a Thom Merrilin type in all of my books, and I just love him. He could appreciate it. He could appreciate going to different worlds and collecting different stories, and stuff like that.

    The Dusty Wheel Interview ()
    #697 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    At the end of the day, when I've been looking for my own adaptations (this is just kind of a personal philosophy), I'm not looking for someone who's gonna film my book scene-by-scene. Working on my own adaptation now for Mistborn, the treatment, I basically had to throw out the whole book and start over with the same premise, and build up the story again in a way that works for the movie medium. And that's when we finally got a treatment that works.

    LTUE 2020 ()
    #698 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    We will find a time to eventually release this book [Apocalypse Guard]. It's interesting; when you add us together, oftentimes things just get weirder. They get better, but they get weirder. You can actually go listen to my version of that chapter read at some point in the past, and you will find it's actually much worse. Adding us together really does enhance. But the problem is: we go off the rails real fast in books, the same way we go off the rails in panels. So now, Dan's pitched it back to me to fix the structure, is what we need. The magic system is part of that, but it's really the structure, because the climax doesn't work anymore. It never worked; it still doesn't work. The character was broken in the original draft, and Dan fixed that. Because character is Dan's thing. Now, I've gotta figure out how to make the structure actually work. Which will be a project of mine coming up eventually.

    Dan Wells

    What I love about it, though (and if you go and find his original thing, then obviously you'll be able to compare and contrast them and do your whole English essay on it), reading that, I can't really tell what is me and what is Brandon, because I think we managed to combine our two styles pretty well.

    Brandon Sanderson

    My voice for this book was already... Emma was a little goofy. And Dan just picked right up on that, and it was instant. The voice was a little off, in the first one. It was trying a little too hard to both be dynamic and funny. And it turns out just nudging it a little more self-effacing funny made the whole thing worked. And the character just snapped together. So the kind of just slightly off sense of the characterization ended up really working. But I had known that the magic was broken when I gave it to Dan, and I'm like, "Will you fix this?" And then Dan came back and said, "This isn't the sort of thing I fix. This is the sort of thing you fix." So we will find a time for that, eventually.

    LTUE 2020 ()
    #699 Copy

    Dan Wells

    The Apocalypse Guard

    Part One: The Plural of Apocalypse

    Chapter One

    Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book:

    1) Start with something exciting, to get the reader's attention.

    2) Don't start with a blog post. Like this one.

    3) Crap. Let me start over.

    Smoke in the air, a red sky, huddling alone in the ruins of a dying world. (See, that's better already.) My name is Emma, by the way. Yes, that Emma, from Emma's Instructions. But unless you're one of the six people who follows me on Snapgram, that probably doesn't mean anything to you. So, let me introduce myself. I'm eighteen years old. I'm from <Idaho>, sort of. And I just realized that I got totally off track again. What happened to the red sky and the dying world? Well, let me tell you.

    Remember how I'm only sort of from <Idaho>? I've lived there since I was two, but I was born in a place called <Ard>, which is basically like a different version of <Idaho>, but in an alternate reality? And if you're reading this, you need to know about alternate realities. There's Earth. And then there's an infinite number of different worlds that are kind of like Earth, but also different. Sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. Like there's one called <Hona> that's mostly the same as the world you know, except instead of continents it's all islands. Even <Idaho> is an island in a giant North American archipelago. Crazy, huh? So there's <Hona>, and there's Terra, and there's <Erodan> and <Pangaea>, and a bunch of others. And there used to be an <Ard>, but it's gone now. Because I called it a dying world before, but that was sixteen years ago. Today, it is all the way dead. Burned to a crisp. And I almost burned with it, except that the Apocalypse Guard swooped in and saved me.

    Holy crap, the Apocalypse Guard! Why didn't I start with them?

    Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book Correctly:

    1) Start with something exciting to get the reader's attention.

    2) Like, for example, if your story includes a group of amazing heroes who travel the multiverse saving entire worlds from destruction, maybe lead with that.

    3) I mean, come on.

    The Apocalypse Guard are based on Earth, but they hop around from world to world stopping Apocalypses. Apocalypsi? Apocaleeps? That word doesn't even have a plural, because why would you ever need to talk about more than one Apocalypse? Most people just get one, and then boom, you're done. That's what an Apocalypse is. But the Apocalypse Guard can actually stop Apocalypses, and they've already stopped a bunch of them and now we're in <Erodan> to stop a giant asteroid and it's AMAZING.

    Important Note: did you see how I casually dropped that "we" in there? Now "we're" in <Erodan>? That's because I'M TOTALLY A MEMBER OF THE APOCALYPSE GUARD AND I CAME HERE TO STOP AN ASTEROID! (I know it's kind of lame to type in caps lock like that, but seriously, if you were in the Apocalypse Guard traveling to a different dimension to stop a giant asteroid, you'd totally put it in your Snapgram, too, and I would not say anything about your excited over-use of caps lock because I am a good friend.

    Which is also why I am going to stop talking about myself and start telling you the story about how we saved <Erodan>.

    Starting right now.

    I was standing in the Apocalypse Guard command center, looking up at the screens that showed the giant asteroid hurtling down toward the planet when Commander Visco signalled that it was time for me to do my part.

    "Emma," she said, and waved her coffee mug toward me. "I'm empty again."

    Okay, so my part is very small.

    "Yes, sir!" I seized the Commander's mug and hurried over to the small kitchen beside the command center. I mean, I was only eighteen, and fresh out of high school; it's not like I was gonna be out there flying around in a power rig, draining kinetic energy from an extinction-level space rock. I was a cadet! And this was still very early in my training, so coffee was all they let me do.

    One pot of coffee was already brewing on the counter, but we had about forty people in the command center, each with their own station and responsibility. So I got a second pot going, just in case. To tell you the truth, I was a coffee-making genius. Which is weird, because I don't drink coffee. I'm not just from <Idaho>; I'm from <Iona, Idaho>. Population 1,803, approximately 1,802 of whom are in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including me. So I don't drink coffee, but you know what I can do? I can follow instructions. It's practically a superpower. Though, I guess if you followed me on Snapgram, you already knew that.

    Emma's Instructions for Perfect Coffee:

    1) Follow the freaking recipe.

    2) Serve it way hotter than you think it should be.

    3) Never talk about how bad it smells.

    I know a lot of people love the smell of coffee, but they're wrong. You call it an acquired taste; I call it Stockholm Syndrome.

    "You don't have to read the recipe every single time you brew a pot," said Sophie, jogging up with a few empty mugs of her own. She was a cadet, like me, and was mostly just a coffee girl, like me. "Trust me," she said, "I've been drinking coffee for years and I..."

    She caught a whiff of the pot I had just filled, and her eyes closed in aromatic pleasure. "Wow, that smells amazing!"

    "Thank you," I said and smiled. What did I tell you? Coffee. Making. Genius. When you read the manual and follow the rules and measure things exactly, it will always turn out better than if you just do something by instinct. Always.

    I gave Sophie a fist-bump of cadet solidarity, filled Commander Visco's mug, and rushed back into the command center. I said before that we were on <Erodan>, but that's "we" in the communal sense. We, the Apocalypse Guard, had a presence in <Erodan>. When most think of the Apocalypse Guard, they think of the Power Riggers, and their fantastical abilities. And yes, a bunch of those people were on <Erodan> and up in orbit around it, fighting the asteroid. The rest of us, the operators, scientists, engineers, medics, Commanders, janitors, accountants, and cadets were back on Earth using something called a dimensional tunneler to communicate with the Riggers.

    We were doing it from an orbital space station, though, which is still pretty friggin' rad, huh? I love this job.

    I gave Commander Visco her steaming mug of coffee and took the opportunity to look over her shoulder at the room's main screen, currently showing a view of the asteroid. One of our technicians had named the asteroid "Droppy." Which was why we didn't usually let our technicians name things.

    LTUE 2020 ()
    #700 Copy

    Dan Wells

    Who here is a big Brandon Sanderson fan? We've talked about doing weird collaborations forever. We actually did one. And if you are a big Brandon fan, you have probably heard about a book called The Apocalypse Guard. Which is one that he's been working on for a while, and he eventually came to me and is like, "This is broken! Help me fix it!" So I came in, and I fixed some of it. And we went back and forth and we did a few revisions, and we got to the point where everything's working except the magic system. And I'm not the a-hole that's gonna change a Brandon Sanderson magic system. So it's on the back shelf until we get a chance to go through and have him do another pass. But I'm gonna read a little bit of the first chapter to you right now.