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    Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
    #8251 Copy

    Questioner

    I've got a question about Hoid. Now that he is a [worldhopper], he's been in quite a few books, do you have any plans or is it possible that he may windup jumping realities into a universe that, as you write more books that are outside the cosmere, or do you just kind of plan of having him--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question. So the question is am I going to have Hoid, who has appeared in many of my books, jump between universes as I write more outside the cosmere. The answer is actually no. I have a distinct story that I'm telling in the cosmere and it's less about the fun of connecting all my works, which is fun, but it's less about that and more about the actual story. Part of the reason I'm actually doing this thing with Hoid is I like the idea-- playing with the idea, of what is an epic. An epic that spans many many years is really cool to me, so I have hidden that amongst my books, and it'll eventually come out in a much more direct way. I actually had to make this choice pretty early in my career, when I was writing The Rithmatist was the first one. You know, the Alcatraz books are just goofy and zany, so I didn't have to think about it as much with those, but with The Rithmatist I was like "what am I going to do with this?". Because it had originally been planned as a cosmere book, and then I decided I wanted to set it on Earth and I didn't want to do a lot of these sort of political things on Earth in the cosmere, I wanted it to be a far-off and distant place. And that's when I made the break, I said "no I'm not going to put him in this". And that made it easy when people were like "hey, you going to sneak him into The Wheel of Time?". Nah nah let's move along there. A lot of people were expecting me to sneak him in.

    Shadows of Self Houston signing ()
    #8252 Copy

    Questioner

    When writing, how do you work out space versus time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Space versus time, what do you mean?

    Questioner

    So I guess distance versus time. So like, you have your math and you're writing, is it more just kind of feel how the story goes, or is it "I know this amount of space is going to take the characters four months--"

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh I see what you're saying. Ok, so how do you work with, when you've got traveling characters, working out how much time things are going to take, traveling and things like this in the book, it actually really depends on the plot archetype of the book. If the book is what we call a travelogue, which is about traveling places, exploring new locations, it's kind of got that adventuresome, exploration feel to it, then the destinations you go to are the main part of the plot. For most of the books I'm writing, I don't do travelogues very often. I've done a few but not very often. So for me, that stuff in the middle is the boring stuff, and I skip it. You'll see in my books, they start in one chapter and they're like "well, we've gotta get here", and the next chapter they're like "wow, that was a ride" and then were there, and that's because the plot archetype I'm working on is usually different than that. So you've gotta kind of understand what you're writing.

    One of the big things to figure out about your story, either discovering it as you write or planning it, however you do it, is why are people turning the pages, what are the promises I'm fulfilling, what is the thing that they're going to read that book to get. It can be multiple things, but if that exploration's part of it, they don't want to miss that journey. I remember reading a book once, and this is kind of an example of why this is so important, and I'm not going to name who it is because he's a very good writer. But there's one of his books where he stops, takes a break, comes back to the characters a few years later, like in the middle of the story, and you've missed the main character falling in love and getting married and this stuff. And I was like "No!", because the book is a coming-of-age book, and so the coming-of-age book skipping falling in love really felt like a betrayal of my trust as the reader. There are other books I've read where you can skip that, and it's okay, does that makes sense? Because the book is not about that, it can be about something else. So make sure you're not skipping the stuff that people want to read. Make sure you skip the other stuff though.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8253 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    For the recording and for the sake of you, Peter and I have a big document that talks about all these mechanics [of blank identity and metalminds]. It's entirely possible that when I'm actually sitting down and building future Mistborn, like 1980s technology, that I'm like "Ahh some of this needs tweaking". So what's not expressly in the books, that I'm telling you guys, has not...I mean it's like 90% canon but it's possible that I'm like "Ahh this is just not going to work" because when we get to the actual plotting of that and future Mistborn, science fiction Mistborn, I'm going to have to look at that and decide, how is the power ratio, right, am I breaking the economy by doing these things. So things that I just have instincts on right now, I haven't worked out the economics of. 

    Questioner

    So that'll come later.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That'll come later in the series, so I'm just giving myself some wiggle room on some of these things, but that's how I have it in my head right now.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8254 Copy

    Questioner

    In Mistborn, we know if someone puts their Identity into a metalmind, they can create metalminds other people can use. Would other people be able to use that aluminummind to overwrite their own Identity, or is it still tied to the creator because it was still keyed to their Identity when they were filling it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So if you have no Identity and you fill a metalmind, that metalmind is full of Identity-less...

    Questioner

    Yeah, so anyone can use that. But can someone use your aluminummind?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ooh wait a minute, so...that you filled with your Identity. So they would have to have your Identity already. 

    Questioner

    Ok, so you can't have two people fill Identity and effectively swap aluminumminds.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you can...there are ways to make this happen but the best way to make what you're talking about happen, is to be filling your own Identity while having a blank metalmind. That is the best way, obviously. But there are other workarounds for both situations, like a blank metalmind is pretty easy to use. It's blank. But if you were blank, and using a blank, it's a little better. 

    Questioner

    Ok. Because you're both blank.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, and so I'll give you the mechanics of all this eventually, they're just trying to still figure it all out themselves. Because right now they're just doing things they've been told "do this" but they don't know the why's. But if you are blank and have a metalmind that has an Identity, right, that is not an impossible situation that you're in either.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8257 Copy

    Questioner

    So, the original Steelheart, David's father, vs David, once he gets his new steelheart powers, which one do you think would be better?

    Brandon Sanderson

    More powerful you mean?

    Questioner

    Yeah, and, like more, skill-wise and...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh definitely original Steelheart but, you know, give David some time.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8259 Copy

    Questioner

    At the end of the last Wax and Wayne book, which I love, that statue that they though was the Lord Ruler. It was Kelsier.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was Kelsier.

    Questioner

    Ok. I thought so, because the way the other thing ended with the eye, the eye thing was throwing me off and then I went and grabbed the secret thing and I was like "No that can't..."

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is Kelsier.

    Questioner

    And will we find out more in the next Wax and Wayne book or do we need to wait and find out more later?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out more in the Wax and Wayne book, really that that's going on there is foreshadowing for era 3, and for future Secret History stories if I do them. So the Wax and Wayne books are not about the return of Kelsier, but the return of Kelsier is very important for later things in the series.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8260 Copy

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah the Divine Breath is a gift of investiture directly to the...basically they are being given a large splinter of Endowment.

    Questioner

    But is it the size?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The size is important, to make that happen, yeah.

    Questioner

    To make it happen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    To make it happen, yeah. To make them come back and to do the things but...there is obviously some leakage there when they basically taking a cognitive sh...they have to create a cognitive shadow of the spirit, right. Which requires some work, and then to push that back into the body and get it to stick requires some work as well. You'll see that with Szeth it isn't sticking very well.

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah Szeth is not a cognitive shadow, he actually got stuck back in but the soul is not sticking very well to the body

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's what she's saying.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8261 Copy

    Questioner

    Can it be restored? The Splinters...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, Splinters, can they be restored to... So it is, that is a yes, but restoring them will not restore Honor, the Vessel of Honor, right. They would restore Honor the Shard if this were to happen, but a new Vessel would have to take it.

    Questioner

    Ok so, [Adonalsium] can be put back together?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Adonalsium? It is theoretically possible to put a Shard back into, you know, to meld Shards together. The fact that we have already seen someone meld powers, in Sazed. So yes, but the question is who or what was Adonalsium, and is putting it back together going to do anything? Or...

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8263 Copy

    Questioner

    Seons are Splinters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Splinters of Devotion.

    Questioner

    Um, Splintered...Honor is the *inaudible*...the stormwall...

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Stormfather?

    Questioner

    The Stormfather.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Stormfather is technically a Splinter of Honor, but it was an intentional Splinter, that Honor did himself.

    Questioner

    Does he have another Splinter?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, all of the honorspren are Splinters of Honor, but this is a different situation because he actually did this intentionally.

    Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
    #8266 Copy

    Questioner

    So you said that, specifically on Roshar, shardblades haven't been revived? And, have they been on other worlds?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, no, there are very few things you could call shardblades on other worlds.

    Questioner

    Well, I meant the spren that were...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ah ok, yeah yeah yeah. No let's just just...it hasn't ever happened before, and they, in-world, think it's impossible.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8267 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    And...I think that's it! Wow. Sorry to take weeks to answer all of these. I got to the end, however, which is progress. (The last time I did this, I didn't give a cut-off date for the questions, and got swamped quickly.)

    Thank you again, Paul, for inviting me. And also for those who spent time reading my books and discussing them. I'm going to make a final attempt to put in an appearance in the Warbreaker thread here in a bit.

    I hope to do this again. It was fun. Beyond that, I'll probably do something like this on my own forums here in the next few months. So if you've got other questions, you can save them up for then.

    Best,

    Brandon

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8268 Copy

    Czanos

    Any idea when you'll be releasing the full table of Allomantic metals and associated phonetics shown in your blog post about vinyl decals?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Very, very soon. It's at the printer right now. Should happen this month, if all things go well. We will start with the limited edition prints on the nice paper with the expensive inks, signed and numbered by myself and Isaac. Poster prints will come eventually too. And, of course, we'll also release in standard desktop sizes for free, for those who can't afford a poster.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8269 Copy

    Dreamer129

    Are there any useful exercises you could give to a writer who's trying to improve their technique? I've heard the one about four different people describing the same place, but I was wondering if you had any other good ones.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Try to describe an extended scene, with various things happening, four different times, once with a focus on visuals, once on scents, once using touch, once using sounds. See if you can evoke a different feel each time, using the same scene but different senses.

    Practice both discovery writing and outline writing. Meaning, practice writing stories where you just go off on whatever strikes you, and practice writing a story where you spend a lot of time on an outline. Try to figure out which method works best for you when trying a specific type of story, and perhaps try some hybrids. Anything that helps you write better stories more regularly is a tool to keep practicing.

    Try a dialogue scene, where you try to evoke character and setting using ONLY dialogue. No descriptions allowed. (This is best when you're focused on making the characters each distinct simply through how they talk.)

    Finally, listen to Writing Excuses. ;)

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8270 Copy

    Chaos2651

    One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elantris: Sel

    Warbreaker: Nalthis

    Mistborn: Scadrial

    Way of Kings: Roshar

    White Sand: Taldain

    Dragonsteel: Yolen

    There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8271 Copy

    MarlonRand

    Additionally, how much time would you say that you spend researching on any given work, and what are some of the things that you research?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That one's really too hard to judge.

    Research for me is on-going for any given work, and I don't track how much time I spend on it. Generally, I dig into specific topics when the need arises, then do more 'cast out the net' general reading for ideas the rest of the time. Generally, I'll only dig in deeply if a topic is important to a specific story. (Such as—for Mistborn—researching canals or the effects of being made a eunuch at various ages.)

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8272 Copy

    MarlonRand

    Just a sudden question that popped into my head: Do you like Joss Whedon's work, specifically Firefly and Dr. Horrible?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I enjoyed Firefly quite a bit; I was actually among the (apparently small) group of people who watched it during its original broadcast run. I'm impressed with Joss's writing, though I'm not an enormous fan of his on the level of many of my friends.

    I missed Dr. Horrible. Been meaning to watch that, actually...

    There. Just added it to my Netflix queue.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8273 Copy

    little_wilson

    So, Brandon. Hoid. I remember you saying at the Idaho Falls signing last year that he was in Well of Ascension. We, your dedicated fans who like scouring books searching for obscure characters who have any possibility of being the mysterious Hoid, have yet to find him. Peter sent us on a hunt for him (Hoid, not Peter...) in the deleted scenes, and we found his boot-print.

    Now, I think he broke the pottery there too—the one holding the lerasium—and since there's broken pottery in the actual version, I think he may have snuck into the cavern and broken it as well. If so, is this Hoid's part in Well of Ascension? This trace of him? I commend you if it is. It is clever, making us think it was a person, when in fact it's just something he did.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You are on the right track, but wrong on one point. Hoid does appear in the book.

    I had originally toyed with making his touch on the novel more obscure, but decided that I wanted to be consistent with the other novels by actually having him appear. Once I realized I'd probably cut the scene with the footprint, I decided I needed this actual appearance even more badly.

    Fortunately, I knew what Hoid had been up to all this time, and had placed him in a position where several characters could run into him. In Well of Ascension, Hoid believed (as Vin did) that the Well was in the North, even though it was not. He spent much of the book pursuing this idea.

    Through events, however, he discovered he was wrong. He made the realization after Vin did, but only because of a chance meeting. (This is recorded in the books. Let's just say he was listening in when someone implied that the Well was in Luthadel.)

    He hurried to Luthadel, and was in the town, skulking about in the last parts of the novel. He isn't seen here, though he does still infiltrate the Well. (Hoid is quite proficient at manipulating Shadesmar for his own ends.)

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8274 Copy

    ErrantKnave

    Any plans to tour Warbreaker or The Gathering Storm in Toronto or other Canadian cities?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll be in Montreal on Saturday the eighth! Less than a week away now. I'm hoping to get to other cities in Canada for future tours, but I'm going to start with this one visit. We'll see. We might be able to manage a several-city Canadian Tour next year.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8275 Copy

    Aldoth

    A bit left of center question. Are you a role player? I ask because on Writing Excuses I think I heard you mention it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I am a role player. Have been since I discovered the TMNT RPG back when I was a young teen, and have been doing it pretty much ever since. When I play, I’m almost always some kind of magic user (duh). When I GM, I prefer to homebrew my own system.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8276 Copy

    izyk

    You mentioned in an earlier answer that learning to revise was one of the biggest factors in making your work publishable.

    Would you give us an idea of the process you go through when you revise?

    Thanks!

    --Isaac

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thanks for the question, Isaac! (Isaac, by the way, is the person who introduced me to my wife and set us up on our first blind date.)

    I view working on a book in the same way a sculptor might view working on a block of wood. The first draft is generally focused on getting things in place so I can work on them. In essence, I cut out the crude features of the sculpture—but when it's done, there is still a lot of work to be done. Readers who see the book in this stage can tell what the basic arcs and characters will be, but the emotional impact is lessened by the crude edges and unfinished lines.

    Here's my process in a nutshell:

    Draft one: Write the book in draft form.

    Draft two: Read through the entire book, fixing the major problems. Often, I'll change character personalities halfway through the first draft as I search to figure out how I want the character to sound. I don't go back then and revise, as I need to try out this personality for a while before I decide to actually use it. Similarly, often I'll drop in new characters out of the blue, pretending that they've been there all along. In the second draft, I settle on how I want things to really look, feel, and work.

    Draft three: Language draft. Here I'm seeking to cut the book down by 10%. I write with a lot of extra words, knowing I'll need a trim. This will make the prose more vibrant, and will make the pacing work better.

    In a perfect world, this is where I writing group the piece and/or send it to my editor. (For lack of time, my writing group is getting Draft Two of The Way of Kings. Hopefully, I'll be able to do draft three by the end of the year.)

    I let readers read the book, and I take some time off of it. I begin collecting things I want to change in the book in a separate file, called "Revision notes for ***", listing the name of the book. I organize these by character and by importance and/or pervasiveness. For instance, a need to rewrite a character's motivations will be at the top. Fixing one specific scene so that it has proper foreshadowing will be near the bottom.

    Once this is all done, and I've gotten feedback and had time to think, I read through the book again with my revision notes file open beside the book file itself. I actively look for places to change, kind of like a sculptor looking over the statue and seeking places to knock off jagged chunks and smooth out the sculpture’s features.

    I'll do this process several times, usually. In-between, I'll often do line-edit drafts, like the language draft above, where I'm focused on getting rid of the passive voice and adding more concrete details.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8278 Copy

    Nikleas

    Since you established that all the worlds you created in your books are linked, any chance to see in the (very) distant future a book/series that delves into this overarching story/universe/rules more directly? Possibly with a crossover of characters from your different stories, specifically characters that became "immortal" or at least achieve a "different" state: Sazed, Kelsier, Raoden. Is that something you would even be interested in doing?

    Or will you stick to placing subtle hints in your different books/series about the overall system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    VERY distant future is correct. I will confirm that I do have stories planned that delve into what is going on behind the scenes. There will be short stories dealing with Hoid, most likely posted to my website.

    Some of these stories are novel length, and I can't say what I'll do with them. Perhaps I'll write them out in novel form and release them in bookstores, but I have a feeling that most of my readers would be completely confused by them. So perhaps these will all just be on my website only. (If they are released that way, they'll most likely be free for download and reading.)

    The subtle hints will continue until then. Mostly, I want the stories to be enjoyable and self-contained. I don't want anyone to HAVE to know any of the behind the scenes, regarding Hoid, Adonalsium, and the rest. (Yes, there is more.) Those are there for the readers who want to dig, and who want to see the greater story. But I don't want them to overshadow the stories of the books themselves. At least not yet.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8279 Copy

    Rachykaych

    Also I wondered whether you will ever publish an encyclopedia of your interlocking worlds and their relationship to each other within their cosmos?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I plan to do something like this, as things progress. It won't happen until the future, however, and will likely happen only on-line. There will eventually be short stories showing some of what is going on behind the main stories of the novels. I do have some novels planned which would deal with all of this in a more direct way, but they are decades away from being written.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8280 Copy

    Rachykaych

    I've just read Warbreaker twice now and really enjoyed it both times.

    I read that although you've planned another book in the Warbreaker world you're not certain of when you can begin writing it. As it is the only book of yours that I've read to date, I've had to skip some of your answers to other questions that contain spoilers for your other book One thing I noticed in my skimming was that the character Hoid has turned up in other books of yours.

    He's very intriguing and at one point I thought he might be Vasher in disguise. Is he a Returned or is he not constrained by the magical construct?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, he's certainly not Vasher in disguise. Keep an eye out for him in other books of mine you read. He's constrained by magic like everyone else, but he has some extra experience, so to speak.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8281 Copy

    Chaos2651

    In the days of the Final Empire, how does one acquire a Kandra Contract? It's not like they can just walk up to their hidden Homeland and ask for their services.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Same way you would go about hiring an assassin. Secretly, using contacts who have used them before. You have to be in the know and well-connected, either with the upper-class or the underground.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8283 Copy

    Chaos2651

    Hemalurgically, atium steals Allomantic Temporal Powers. But, that seems unlikely, since atium is a god metal. It wouldn't fit in with the rest of the magic system. Did Preservation, in addition to switching Cadmium and Bendalloy for Atium and Malatium, also switch atium's Feruchemical and Hemalurgic powers with Cadmium? Because it seems to me there's not a lot of atium Marsh can use to live for hundreds of years into the next Mistborn trilogy.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Preservation wanted Atium and Malatium to be of use to the people, as he recognized that it would be a very powerful tool—and that using it up could help defeat Ruin. But he also recognized that sixteen was a mythological important number, and felt it would make the best sign for his followers. So he took out the most unlikely (difficult to make and use) metals for his sign to his followers. But that doesn't have much to do with Hemalurgy's use here.

    Remember that the tables—and the ars Arcanum—are 'in world' creations. (Or, at least, in-universe.) The knowledge represented in them is as people understand it, and can always have flaws. That was the case with having atium on the table in the first place, and that was the case with people (specifically the Inquisitors) trying to figure out what atium did Hemalurgically.

    Their experiments (very expensive ones) are what determined that atium (which they thought was just one of the sixteen metals) granted the Allomantic Temporal powers. What they didn't realize is that atium (used correctly) could steal ANY of the powers. Think of it as a wild card. With the right knowledge, you could use it to mimic any other spike. It works far better than other spikes as well.

    As for Marsh, he's got a whole bag of atium (taken off of the Kandra who was going to try to sell it.) So he's all right for quite a while. A small bead used right can reverse age someone back to their childhood.

    But this was a little beyond their magical understanding at the time.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8284 Copy

    Chaos2651

    Can you tell us what the rest of the Feruchemical and Hemalurgic powers are? Since, you know, you won't be writing in the Mistborn world for many years, and those Feruchemical and Hemalurgic Tables might not even come into existence if the Allomantic Metals one doesn't sell. Pretty please?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will release this eventually. I'm still tweaking the powers—their names, and how they function—and so I'd rather hold off on revealing anything specific right now. We might include them in the RPG, though.

    Chaos2651

    When is the Table of Allomantic Metals coming out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Printer emailed me today for final confirmation. Should be very soon now.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
    #8285 Copy

    Chaos2651

    Is there a rationale to how Hemalurgic powers are distributed? I tried to look for a system, but they seem rather randomly distributed. For example, the spike which steals Allomantic powers for a particular quadrant is not always in one particular spot.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is correct, it's not always in one particular spot. None of them are. I used as my model on this magic system the concept of acupuncture and pressure points. Placing a Hemalurgic spike is a very delicate and specific art. Imagine there being a different overlay on a human body, like a new network of nerves, representing lines, points, and 'veins' of the soul's spiritual makeup.

    What is happening with Hemalurgy, essentially, is that you're driving a spike through a specific point on a person's body and ripping off a piece of their soul. It sticks to the spike on the Spiritual Realm. Then, you place that spike on someone else in a specific place (not exactly the same place, but on the right spiritual pressure point) and 'hot wire' the spirit to give it Hemalurgy or Feruchemy. It's like you're fooling the spiritual DNA, creating a work-around. Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature.

    Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this, though, so it often has monstrous effects. (Like with the koloss.) And in most cases, it leaves a kind of 'hole' in the spirit's natural defenses, which is how Ruin was able to touch the souls of Hemalurgists directly.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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    Chaos2651

    In Mistborn, you say its planet is called Scadrial. In-universe, where (or when) did the name Scadrial come to be used to be describe the Mistborn planet? Did the Lord Ruler and his obligators use that as the name of the planet, or did it come later, post-Mistborn 3? Or is "Scadrial" just what you as an author use to refer to it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is "In Universe" so to speak, though the name itself isn't known to the people on-planet. The Lord Ruler was the only one who understood the exact nature of a planet, really, though some of the obligators and noble scholars had a general idea. Astronomy was one of the scientific areas where the Lord Ruler didn't mind people doing research, so long as it kept their interest away from chemistry or a science that could lead to advances in weaponry.

    Scadrial would then have been the name that Ruin and Preservation understood for the planet, as well as certain other groups and individuals of a less directly divine nature.

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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    TaurusRW

    Which is your favorite Pratchett novel and why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Truth is my favorite. As a writer, and one who likes to explore the nature of the truth in his works, a novel that deals with someone trying to publish a newspaper in a fantasy world mixed philosophy and laughs in the way only Pratchett can. However, Guards Guards is the book where I suggest people new to Pratchett start. (I suggest avoiding the Colour of Magic as your first experience, even though it's technically the first book in the series. They are all stand alone novels, really, and Guards Guards can be seen as the beginning of the best sub-series within the series.)

    Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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    paulgoatallen

    Brandon: I'd like to ask your opinion of the current state of the fantasy genre....

    Fantasy has always been a "series-powered" genre but it seems that lately several authors (or publishers) just don't know when to suitably end a long-running saga... Drawing out a series for the sake of more installments, it seems.

    And there seems to be fewer and fewer standalone novels like Warbreaker and Elantris. (I love standalone novels, by the way, and am hoping that that "format" makes a return!)

    Any comments on this from your perspective? Thanks!

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a good question, Paul. One I've been considering, actually, for a long time. Certainly, there's an economic piece to it.

    When a stand-alone comes out, it tends to gather praise from both readers and reviewers. Then proceeds to sell far fewer copies than a series book does. The Wheel of Time didn't hit #1 on the New York Times list until book eight or nine, I believe, and I don't think Sword of Truth hit #1 until book ten. Series tend to sell better. Even as readers complain about them. And so I think publishers do push for them.

    But why do they sell better? Well, I think this is partially the learning curve factor. We like fantasy for the same reason that fantasy is hard to read: the learning curve. Starting a fantasy book can be tough because of how many new names, concepts, societies, religions, and laws of physics you have to learn and get used to. Epics, with their dozens upon dozens of characters, are even tougher in this regard. And so, after investing so much energy into becoming an expert in the world, we want to get a good payoff and be able to USE that expertise.

    Beyond that, I think that fantasy is character driven—and when we fall in love with characters, we want to read more about them. Fantasy, particularly the epic series, allows us to follow characters across sweeping, life changing events. Fantasy (like historicals) give us lots of pages and time to know these characters. So we want more from them.

    But the very thing that we love about fantasy in this regard also tends to present problems. We want lots of characters, but eventually this large cast gets overwhelms us and makes the books seem to drag. Personally, I think these complaints will be much lessened when some of these great series are done, and you don't have to wait years and years between volumes.

    Anyway, Terry Brooks talks a lot about this in his biographical work Sometimes the Magic Works. (Bet you can find it here on BN.com, and I highly suggest the book as a quick, interesting, engaging read.) He mentions how, when he left Shannara to write other things, the fans begged and begged him for more. Until finally he broke down and gave them more books in the world.

    A lot of authors I know tend to live in this state of perpetual wonder and amazement that, finally, people are actually enjoying and reading their works. (After all the years of failure trying to break in, I know that I feel this way a lot.) When someone comes to you and talks about how much they love one of your works, asking you to write more...well, we're storytellers. If people want a story, we want to give it to them. It's hard to say no. (Though so far I have.)

    I intend to keep writing stand-alone novels. But I do so knowing that 1) they will not sell as well as series books and 2) readers will ask me for more, and so each stand alone will only increase the number of requests for future books that I can't write. I'm in the fortunate place that I can write, and publish, what I want—whether it be series or stand alone—and no longer have to worry about the money.

    But, in my heart, I've got a strong desire to write a big epic. I grew up reading them. I want to see if I can do one, my way, and add something new to the genre. So maybe that's the reason. Looking through Robert Jordan's notes, reading interviews, I don't think he ever artificially inflated the length of his series because of publisher desire or money reasons. I think he loved the long-form epic, and wanted to tell the story his way, no matter how long it took. And as he added more characters, it took longer and longer.

    In a way, being free from the worry of finances gives creators a chance to really explore their vision the way they want to. And...well, we’re fantasy writers, so we can get a little long winded.

    Kind of like this response, eh? ;) Thanks for the question.

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    Nadine

    Melissa, I think we have members from another forum joining us and they have information that we don't have. Maybe even advanced book information, like we know nothing about The Way of Kings and only heard about the book recently and know nothing of its content.

    Could some of you newcomers introduce yourselves (maybe on our "Introduce Yourself" thread and not clutter up this one) and tell us where you are from? We love the information you are bringing and introducing on this thread but we are confused.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I posted on my website that I'd be doing this, and I don't often have time to interact on forums. (They are a delightful way to interact with readers, but have proven a HUGE time-sink for me in the past. As you might have noticed, I tend to write—and respond—in depth when people ask questions of me.) So I only appear on forums occasionally. Hence the involvement of those from my forums looking for some answers to questions.

    Some backstory might help you all. I began writing in earnest in 1997. During those years, I shared the books I wrote with a group of friends. This group worked with me on The Leading Edge, a science fiction fanzine/semiprozine at BYU. Eventually, once we graduated, we founded the Timewaster's Guide, partially as a forum where we could hang out. (Tage and Ookla from the TWG forums—aka Ben and Peter—are among them, and are still very good friends of mine. Another easter egg is to watch how Ben Olsen and Peter Ahlstrom are treated in the acknowledgements of many of my books.)

    The overarching story and theme of my books, what I wanted to accomplish as a writer, and how I approached the fantasy genre, all took shape during this time. These readers read many of my most important, and influential (on me as a writer) novels while in draft form. The biggest three of these during this era were White SandDragonsteel, and Elantris. (On the tail end, I wrote—but never finished—the foundations of what years later became Warbreaker.)

    The next era of my unpublished writing was when I worked on the worlds, stories, and themes that eventually became Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and a book called the Aether of Night. Many of my writing group friends have read these books, including the first draft of Kings (which is very, very different from the current draft.)

    Anyway, these unpublished books are NOT canon yet. I don't canonize a novel until I publish it. But some of the hidden themes (including Hoid and Adonalsium) of my books are present in these novels. (Dragonsteel and Aether of Night are particularly connected—though of the unpublished Shardworld books, White Sand is probably the best written.) Again, none of this is canon yet. (For instance, I've taken chunks out of Dragonsteel to use in the revision of The Way of Kings.) However, these old books do contain clues that aren't available to the average reader.

    Dragonsteel can be ordered through inter-library loan through the university library system. There are only four or five copies in existence. The BYU library has one (the book was my honor's thesis.) I believe the honors department has one. My thesis chair has one. (And maybe the committee has one, I can't remember.) I've got one in my basement. And I believe Ben's sister may have sneaked a copy out of the trash when I was cleaning out old manuscripts. (That might be White Sand.)

    I do have intentions of rewriting these books and publishing them eventually. They each have pieces of the story. (Though I may decide to shift certain themes from one series to another as I eventually write and publish them.) I've been known to email White Sand or Aether of Night to readers who email and ask. (Though it does make me cringe a little to do so. In many of these books, I was experimenting with magic, theme, and narrative style—some experiments were a success, some were failures.)

    Dragonsteel is frozen; I don't send it out any longer, as to not spoil the parts of The Way of Kings that I decided fit better in that world. So the only way to get it now is to borrow it from BYU. I've been told that Dragonsteel is the only undergraduate BYU honor's thesis ever to have been be read so often that it needed to be rebound. (A dubious honor, I'm not sure how I feel about so many people reading a book of mine that is that mediocre.)

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    Questioner

    He said, "I was reading through *inaudible* Szeth section he mentioned that 'we are all that remains'. Is he saying that the Shin are the lost Order? The one that didn't abandon the oaths? Of course the section *inaudible* alternatives-- *interrupted*

    Brandon Sanderson

    What they are doing is-- Szeth is saying, "We are all that remains that remembers what happened before." [...] And they may be-- they may not remember accurately. But they consider themselves the only ones who know. Does that make sense? [...] It is not reference to the Orders.

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    Questioner 1

    So I've spent quite a few hours trying to work out Pattern 1, you know Ceiling of the 2nd Rotation of the Diagram. *inaudible* But I wanted to ask you-- And Peter said you wanted to make us sweat, you know of course, on the 17th Shard. But I want to ask you, and hopefully you'll be able to answer this... Is Pattern 15 used in the solution? Would you tell me that at least? Please, I beg of you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The solution... Indeed, the key to the solution is somewhere in the book.

    Questioner 1

    No, that doesn't help me!

    Brandon Sanderson

    That helps you! That helps you. 

    Questioner 2

    *Questioner 1 moans* We've already got 15 pages. On the 17th Shard.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can interact with Peter, because I ran everything through him on this. Because... And so... I actually did it all myself, but then he corrected me where I was wrong. So I'm gonna send it his way, because I don't know if he's made any tweaks to it from what my original concept was.

    Questioner 1

    I know there was a change in the gamma read with some of the number.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mhm... Yes.

    Questioner 1

    You know it's pretty cool. There seems to be a ketek in there people have discovered, or a palindrome or whatever where there's numbers, patterns matching. Mirror image. Yadda yadda. *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    You should be... Yeah, see what you do.

    Questioner 1

    I've just-- It would be nice to know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've alr-- I've given you the fact that there's a key to it.

    Questioner 1

    A key to it... *inaudible* *Questioner 2 gasps* Alright...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. In the book, there is a key to it.

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    little_wilson

    If the gang from Writing Excuses were put in a horror film, obviously Dan would be the killer. But what order do you think everyone would die in? And how would they die? (The victim list includes: you, Howard, Jordan, Pemberly, Stacy, and Peter.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha! Well, let's see. If Dan were the killer, I think he'd try to take out Howard first, since Howard is obviously the most dangerous of us all. Though he sees me more often, so he might try to get to me first. I'd put it in this order:

    HowardMeJordoPeterPemberly (he'd leave the women for last because he's a very gentlemanly killer.)

    And then Stacy would take Dan down in a surprise ending. She'd edit him out of the script or something.

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    little_wilson

    Peter said if we did enough begging, we could see some Nightblood replicas. Can you give us more details? And exactly HOW much more begging would be necessary (Mi'chelle says keep it below $100...I say below $50, but I suppose if you must go higher, I might be able to compensate...)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've had an offer from a swordsmith who was at JordanCon. These would be more expensive replicas, though, as they be hand-made by the swordsmith himself. He does very good work, but the price he mentioned was $200, I believe.

    I've put Peter in charge of looking into this and seeing how viable it is. The cost might be too high for the readers to want to buy them. What we'd do is take pre-orders, and then do a limited edition run of maybe ten or twenty swords, hand-made by the swordsmith. If we had ten or so preorders, we'd be able to do it.

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    little_wilson

    She (and I) would also like to know more details of the Mistborn movie. The last she heard, you'd rejected it being a TV series. So, yeah. Any more details?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Did a big post on this just above. I think that will answer the request for details.

    Note that I rejected the tv series not because of the idea of doing a tv series itself, but because I wasn't confident in the production studio who was making the offer. More details will come once contracts are signed.

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    little_wilson

    Mi'chelle is wanting to know for a fanfic she's wanting to write if when you cut/break an object that has been Awakened if the object then "dies", or if the pieces will try to carry out the command. Also, either way, can the breaths be recovered from it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The object does not die, and will try to continue its purpose. The level of damage will determine just how well it can continue. The Breaths are recoverable. (Though there could be some loss of Breaths, depending on how the item is destroyed.) There's a scene near the end where Vasher Awakens some clothing, then it gets cut down and he recovers the Breath.

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    Questioner

    So do you come up with those [glyph designs] or is there an Artist that does that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know what?  All of those have been done by Isaac.  I came up with a sequence of them for the original right in 2002.  And they just weren't up to my current artistic standards, and so I let Isaac do it.  I'm a big believer in letting people who are experts in things do what they're good at doing, to the point that when I needed a creepy lullaby in this I hired a musician to write it rather than writing it myself just so that we would have  the extra *inaudible*.  

    Questioner

    Is that the?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The backstory one.