Is there going to be any Szeth in the book? I mean as far as main characters go his screen time seems to me to have been ridiculously short until now.
I guess this is intentional on your part, to retain the mystery surrounding him and set him up somehow for book 5.
Afraid there's not a TON of Szeth. He does have a viewpoint, but it's an interlude. Other than that, he appears in several chapters and does a some very relevant things to the plot, but always through other viewpoints. You'll have to wait for Book Five for a larger chunk of Szeth, I'm afraid.
You're right, I've intentionally been holding him back. I worried that too much Szeth too soon would undermine his flashbacks. I think it was wise; you'll see in this book that though the Venli flashbacks are still interesting, they're not as compelling as ones like Dalinar's, since you basically know Venli's entire backstory by this point. Just not the details. There's not a lot to explore or reveal that I can't do just as easily in her mainline viewpoints.
I was careful in the outlines to front-load the flashbacks for the characters I knew would have a lot of screen time. Szeth has always been intended to get the fewest viewpoints of the main five characters.
So Szeth won't be the one most prominently featured character in the main timeline in book 5, right?
He will have a larger part than he's had in most previous books.
I am curious...how Szeth's role in book 3 could have played out if he were the focus character. Would his role increase or stay the same?
Or Dalinar's role in book 5. Will those big chunks of his story still happen in book 5 or they were moved into book 3?
If Szeth had been the focus, we would have had all the stuff with his homeland in three--and then had to wait until 5 to get Dalinar's flashbacks. It COULD have worked, and by doing it this way, I had to kind of keep Szeth off the center stage in book four. But I am confident it was the right choice, as delaying longer on Dalinar would have felt like a worse stretch.
Oh. So book 5 main timeline narrative for Dalinar will still happen because you moved only flashbacks?
Yes, the main storyline stayed basically the same. You will see in Book Five why my initial feelings were that Dalinar's flashbacks would work there. Szeth's joining the Skybreakers would also have meshed well with his flashbacks, but I have instead enhanced the trip back to Shinovar to be longer instead.
Note, however, that a LOT of things move around during writing. The Book Two Kaladin climax was originally outlined to happen at Urithiru, for example.
Just curious, if you think that Venli doesn't have as much potential for the flashbacks as the others then why did you choose to focus an entire book on her?
In the original outlines, I hadn't intended to go into as much depth as I ended up doing with Eshonai/Venli in books two and three. I realized quickly into writing the series that I couldn't wait that long to humanize the Parshendi. So I put a lot of the mystery of their culture and their motives into books two and three.
That led me to deciding in this book to split the flashbacks between them, as I felt it added more variety to the flashbacks--as I had sacrificed some of the novelty that was originally going to distinguished the flashbacks for this book.