Recent entries

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10601 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever considered doing graphic novels?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have! Good question... So, yes I have. We're working on one of my unpublished novels, that is one of those thirteen. I think it is a good book, but not good enough to publish. But I think if we can rewrite it as a graphic novel I can cut out stuff that was bad. Because what was bad about it was like 100 thousand words of plot smashed across 200 thousand words of story. I think condensing is going to work really well. So we are going to do that. We actually got pages from that and things, and it's looking very nice. So we should have a graphic novel, and it is cosmere. It is part of the main continuity. So hopefully people will enjoy that.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10602 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you feel there's anything different when writing for a video game?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing for a video game? You know I haven't truly written for a video game yet. What I've done is I've written novellas that bridge between video games, and that's kind of the single thing that I've done. So I can't really say yet. You'll have to track down some people who have actually written for video games.

    I expect that it's lots of dialogue, and you have to understand that people might skip part of the story so you have to have a lot of refreshing on plot.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10603 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have any other [video game] favorites right now?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, favorite video games. The Dark Souls series, I started on Demon Souls when it was actually hard, *laughter* but I like them all. I like the level design, I like that they're not coddling you, things like that. I've always loved the Civilization games, I play those quite extensively. In fact when I was in college I spent many a long night in my friend's room, because I didn't have a computer, playing Civilization, until he was like "Go to bed". Let's see, what else have I liked. I just played Skyrim, I tend to wait on those Bethesda games until they've been out a few years so I can get mods and things like l like. I thought Skyrim was the best of the Elder Scrolls games, I've played them all since Daggerfall-- Never played Arena, I played Daggerfall all the way through, and they fixed a lot of the problems like the leveling was always bad and some of the dungeon designs were so repetitive.  This one they fixed all that and I had a blast with Skyrim.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10604 Copy

    Questioner

    Did you like to write as a child?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Did I like to write as a child? Actually no, I did not like to write when I was a child. I'm one of the few people that's a writer that was not a kid writer. I didn't like books when I was young. It was a teacher who taught me to like books when I was in eighth grade, Ms. Reader, that's her real name. *laughter* She just emailed me a few weeks back, I'm still in touch with her. Ms. Reader, she's now a professor taught me to love fantasy books, she gave me the book Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly and I became a reader

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10605 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you care if all we read is audiobooks? Do you mind if people are like [???]

    Brandon Sanderson

    No I don't mind. Whatever format you want to read in. I would love for them to-- Whatever you like to read in is the best. People sometimes say to me "Well do you make money if I do this or this?" And the true answer is "Both" but-- *laughter* The honest answer is I don't mind. Check them out from the library, buy a copy here, borrow it from a friend. If you read my fiction, more people will be talking about it, and more people will be interested in it. And that is going to generate momentum for me. So pick your favorite format and your favorite place to get it, whether it is Cousin Billy or whether it is buying it from UBooks, and read the books. I'm just glad people are reading my fiction.

    I mean I spent-- I wrote thirteen books before I sold one guys. That's how much I like doing this. I wrote over a dozen of them when no one was paying me to do it, right? And now that people actually are, it's just like so cool to be able to have things like the cosmere come together and everybody really be in on this thing. If you don't know a lot of my books are connected. There are characters from different books showing up in each other's books and fiddling with things and stuff.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10606 Copy

    Questioner

    Can you talk a little about your editing process? After you get through the first draft-- You go through it, you look at the acknowledgements in a lot of your books, and other books, there's this huge team of people that have been pouring over this thing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, so editing for me. Here's my drafting process. First draft I just write-- I write it straight through. I don't stop, I try not to let myself stop. If there is something major I need to change I just change it in the chapter and keep going forward. And then I can change it back later, like two chapters later if I think "No that was the wrong thing". So there will be a new character sometimes in my book that will just pop up for three chapters and everyone acts like they've always been there and then they vanish and no one talks about them not being there anymore. That's just so I can keep momentum and see what works. Draft number 2 I fix all of those things.  Draft number 3, polishing draft. Line by line trying to cut 10%, get rid of the passive voice, make descriptions more active, and make sure that I'm finding the right words and things like that. Really Draft 4 is where it turns into true drafting, and by that point I've given it to my editor and my alpha readers which are basically my assistants, my good friends, my wife, people like that. They read it, they come back with comments for me and I've been thinking about the book, working in my writing group with it and I make a goal-based document, where it's like "Here are the major issues. Here are the medium level issues.  Here are the little things I need to fix." And I start on page one, read through with this open on the screen next to the book when I'm working on it and I try to like-- It's almost like a bug report for programming, I'm trying to clear things off the list. Major things I have to re-write the whole way through so I can't clear them off until the end. Medium issues are things I can put in two or three times to fix through a couple of chapters where they are wrong and then clear it. Little things are just fix this one little thing and it's easy to clear off the list. I do that, I don't get to everything. I move around things on this list, like I maybe [???] I move it down the list.

    Then I send the book out to beta readers, who are gathered by my assistant, he handles this, Peter Ahlstrom. Then they do a thing with us on a Google Doc, where it's chapter by chapter there is a document for each chapter and they all put their comments and interact with each other. It's like having a very large focus group, with like 15 people who are all reading the book at the same time and working on it. Once that is done and I've heard back from my editor on the new draft I will then make another draft.  I will do this as many times as necessary to make the book good. Last draft is proofreading and those people are also drawn from fandom, usually, my assistant picks them off forums and things like that and people we've used before. And they are just looking for-- At that point we can't change anything really bigger than a line or two. They are looking for continuity and things like that. But my process is that goal-based "I want to fix this let's see if I can do a draft where I fix this." And I'll do a couple more polishing drafts as I go along.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10608 Copy

    Questioner

    You talked a little about short fiction, what do you think about flash fiction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Flash fiction I think is awesome, and microfiction. I'm terrible at it. I've tried a couple times.

    I've got a good friend... Eric James Stone, he's won a Nebula Award, and his business cards have a story on the back. That's the coolest thing ever isn't it?  I want to steal that and do that but every one I come up with is junk. I mean it takes like eight pages to write my name, so…

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10610 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you actually know what's wrong with Stephen Leeds?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I know what's wrong with Stephen Leeds? I do know what's wrong with Stephen Leeds. Thank you for promoting that one. Legion's another of these novellas I did. It's got a fun story behind it.

    So I was in a writing group with mutual friend Dan Wells, he writes twisted books about people who are messed up, and he was doing a book about schizophrenia.  He was deep into a schizophrenic’s mind, Dan does a lot of research hits these things really well and meanwhile I'm over here being me and I’m like “Oh this would make a great magic system” *laughter* I'm like “No, no, no, really if you had a schizophrenic and what if they heard voices and saw hallucinations, but the hallucinations helped them.  Like their superpower was seeing hallucinations." He's like "That's weird." I'm like "No, you should write this” and I tried to convince him to write it and I tried to convince him to write and finally he said “Brandon, write the dumb book, it’s not my book it’s yours” So I wrote it, it’s called Legion.

    It is indeed about a guy who is a genius and he can become an expert in any topic but that knowledge manifests as a hallucination that he sees, which can than talk him through things. Like if he studies, say, computer programming, he can't program computers, but a hallucination could walk him through programming a computer...

    I'm going to warn you, they only do limited editions of the hardcovers on most of these. So they're expensive. But if you buy that I will send you the ebook for free. The only thing I can do that on are my novellas, that and Emperor's Soul, but it is also online for a couple bucks as an ebook. Or you can buy the very nice edition by Subterranean Press.

    Questioner

    So he gets worse...

    Brandon Sanderson

    *hesitates* Over the course of the series he is getting worse and worse, despite what he says.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10611 Copy

    Questioner

    I really enjoy things like Alloy of Law and Emperor's Soul, do you see yourself doing any more of those in-universe novellas? Maybe more tightly cobbled to the stories they're from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes I do see myself doing many more novellas. I enjoy the process, it helps me get stories out of my brain that are itching at me without having to start another 7 book series or whatever. What I'll be reading to you tonight is from a novella though it is not cosmere. Though I do have several more cosmere novellas going. If you haven't read the ones I've released, there's one called Sixth of the Dusk which is ebook original and in the Writing Excuses anthology, and then I have another that is in George R.R. Martin's Dangerous Women anthology... called Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. And that is the other weird place you can get one of those. I'm planning to do many more, I really enjoy it.  I think short fiction is fun and exciting and I'm-- short for me

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10612 Copy

    Questioner

    In The Stormlight Archive, you have your interludes. As you said they are short stories. Are some of those characters going to be making reappearances?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Will some of the characters from the interludes in The Stormlight Archive make recurring appearances. Yes some of them will, I am seeding characters who are main characters for later in the series by what I'm doing in that book, in those interludes. Not all of them will be. I have ten characters that are forming the spine for this series-- and some of them-- Lift is one of the ones who is going to be in the back five books which will take place-- After Book 5 of Stormlight we will have a break, in-world, for about fifteen years. Not out of the world, not in our world, but we will have a break and when we come back fifteen years or so will have passed and we will start on the back five characters.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10613 Copy

    Questioner

    So I know your kids are probably too young to have actually read your books but are they familiar with your characters and if so do they have favorites?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're not familiar with my characters. They-- Seven, five, and two.  The seven-year-old is starting to get old enough where I could maybe read him books, but I don't want to read him my books first. *laughter* I want to read him stuff like Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen and things like this.  We'll let him read my books if he wants to.

    I remember I was reading an interview with Tad Williams once and he said "People ask, you're a famous author, how do you stay humble" and he said "Well the other day we all went out to dinner as a family because I finished a book.  And my son said 'What's the celebration?' and he said 'Well I finished my book' and his son said 'That's a good job, finishing reading a book.'" *laughter*

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10614 Copy

    Questioner

    What's your favorite magic system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Favorite magic system? I'm-- ...If I could pick anything I would probably be an Allomancer, just because there is so much metal around us in our daily lives that I think it would be a lot of fun. That may not be the smart choice but it is the choice I would make.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10615 Copy

    Questioner

    So when you are doing a kind of in-depth and very long story-- like The Stormlight Archive... Can you-- Do you tackle that, like, in short-- For like an outline?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh good question.

    Questioner

    Do you outline the entire thing? Do you outline one at a time, or two at a time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    …So outlining. You picked the hardest one to outline, by far.  Normally the outlining process for me is-- it goes like this, I sit down and I write Plot, Setting, Character in a new sheet. I put them in outline level one. And then I put all the things that I have been thinking in my head for a while, that I've been brainstorming with friends or-- Every book that I write I spent a long time planning it out, it's when ideas connect together that you know you have a great book.  One idea is not a book, multiple ideas that influence each other in cool ways is a book, to me.  So I write all this down and then I start looking for the structure and what are people's plots.  The way I outline is I outline goal-based.  Say I want to have an interesting relationship dynamic between these two characters, how can I achieve that? What's my goal at the end and what are my steps to get there? That is part of my outline. And I don't like-- And then I do another one. Okay, someone's got to learn to use the magic, what's my end goal, what are my steps to get there, what are cool scenes out of this? Those are all separate in my outline, it's not like in my outline there's "Chapter one: this, this, this, and this". It's Goal, with how to achieve. Goal, how to achieve it. Goal, how to achieve it. That's my normal outline process.

    Now The Stormlight Archive is a strange beast, because it is plotted as ten books, each focusing around a character. And for that what I did was I sat down and wrote out my outline more in prose form, my vision for the whole series and then I wrote a paragraph about each book.  Then what I just told you, I did for the first book, then I wrote the first book.  Then I went back and created a much bigger and more detailed outline for the rest of the series. So it's kind of this process. The really weird thing about the Stormlight books is that I actually plot each one like I plot a trilogy.  So for instance, Words of Radiance you can find-- people have noticed them-- breakpoints between quote-unquote books, that this volume is actually written as three books with a short story collection as the interludes woven between.  That's how I approach those books.

    My publisher has a love/hate relationship with The Stormlight Archive because they feel they could publish them as four volumes and make four times as much money but I won't let them.  But they don't want me to write other things because they really want more Stormlight because Stormlight is the one that sells the best out of everything.  So they are like "Write more Stormlight, but can we split it please?" and I say "No, you can't split it" and they're like "arghhh" So they release them as these big volumes, as I told them to, even though they know they are each like these three volumes-- And anyway...

    That's kind of the shorter version of it. If you guys are... writers, and you want some help, I have two resources. Ask when you come through the line. I have a podcast, with a bookmark that says where it is. Fifteen minutes of writing advice every week. It's called Writing Excuses. I also lecture at Brigham Young University, and part of my requirement for lecturing for them-- I don't take salary-- is that they have to let me put my lectures online for people to see. So my lectures, for the last few years, of my university course, are posted online.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10616 Copy

    Questioner

    We hear a lot in The Final Empire about various titles and such from the Steel Ministry. Can you give us very little as to their actual structure and what they do...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah I can talk about this.

    Questioner

    They only thing you can't is the ranks.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So the Steel Ministry, in the Mistborn books. The interesting thing I considered when I was writing them was "What is the purpose of the priesthood when god is there in the palace and everyone knows it? And if you disobey you just get your head cut off." So what do you do? I made the Steel Ministry more government, like the post office is run by priests. And a lot of what priests do is witness official business, take your money for doing so and give you a stamp that "Yes I witnessed this" and things like this, but they also run all the public works. It's not like they're cleaning the sewers themselves but overseeing the sewers, overseeing engineers, most of the engineers who built the city plans would be obligators.

    Which by the way you named didn’t you? There he is, Nate Hatfield was in my writing group for many years. We were driving to writing group once and I wanted a cool word for a priest, because I was just using priests in the original version of Mistborn.  I'm like "I need a great word" and he-- How did you even come up with that word?

    Nate Hatfield

    You really want to know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Nate Hatfield

    Thesaurus. *laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...There's Nate. You can congratulate Nate on coming up with obligator. And was it you that came up with the Conventicle, or was that Peter? Conventicle was Peter.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10617 Copy

    Questioner

    I want to know what process you follow through building your vocabulary. Also, do you use a thesaurus?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What process do I use for developing my vocabulary, and do I use a thesaurus. My vocabulary development comes through reading other people's books and seeing the cool words they use and writing them down. And I can often pinpoint who I learned which word from. Like miasma I learned from Anne McCaffrey. Things like this-- Just seeing the words they use and looking them up when I don't know them. That's my favorite way. Do I use a thesaurus? I do use a thesaurus but only to come up with a word I know I should be using. There's two times I use it. One, when I come to a word I know there's a word there but I don't know what it is yet. The other time I use a thesaurus, which is really useful, is when I'm naming something. Like when I was naming the Reckoners, I need a cool word for this team. One that Marvel or DC hasn't used yet *laughter* They used everything. So I may use a thesaurus, but using a thesaurus is dangerous. It's a good tool but it's a dangerous tool for a writer. Because you don't want to use a word because it sounds cool, usually you want to use the right word. That can be difficult to balance.

    Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
    #10618 Copy

    Questioner

    ...I'm actually a video game designer.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh cool.

    Questioner

    And the one thing that I kept thinking as I was reading The Stormlight Archive was "Oh my god. I want to play that" Is there any, kind of, y'know-- Do you see those moving in to some other media besides just books, or video games or...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question. So, other media. I like video games a lot. I remember-- You're going to get a lot of stories tonight, this is what happens, I'm a storyteller-- I was 11 years old, my father shipped me off to visit my uncle for the first time on my own. Got on the airplane and everything, went to Utah from Nebraska. And my dad gave me two hundreds, two one hundred dollar bills, he said "Pay for your food" and things like this... *laughter* You're laughing you know what happens. I just let my uncle pay for everything and at the end of it my conscience had gotten to me and I said "Uncle [Don?] my dad gave me money, I should give this to you to pay for the food". And he just laughed at it, like "No you're not going to do that. We're going to the mall right now. We're going to spend that money because if you don't your dad will take it back" And I went and I bought a Nintendo, original NES, with my two hundred dollars at KB Toys. And I came back with it and my dad was like "Where did you get that?"

    I love video games and I want to be involved-- Which is why, some of you have watched, I did the novellas for Infinity Blade, which is a video game. Which you can read online but if you havenit played the games they won’t make any sense. I'm just going to warn you right there. I am involved-- We have sold the rights to Mistborn as a video game, but we have entered some development problems, the video game industry is almost as bad as the movie industry when it comes to delays and things like this. You have studios fall through, get divided, all sorts of things. I'm still hoping but the deal was I got to write the story and all the dialogue for the video game. It's going to be-- We are going to do it-- an action RPG, the model I told them I wanted to use was Infamous, which was one of my favorites from lately, in the Mistborn world. If we can get that working then I bet I can get a Stormlight book turned into a video game.

    As movies go, movies are even harder. I was on the phone with movie producers right before I came here. I got a phone call, and we're doing a lot of that, talking with them, we've sold a lot of rights, we've seen a lot of scripts, but nothing's ever been made. So right now we have Legion, Emperor's Soul, Mistborn, and Steelheart all have significant motion but far from actually done. And The Wheel of Time is kind of off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again with adaptations. I think television show is what they are currently working towards.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10628 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    What is the definition of a focus (in [The Way of Kings]'s Ars Arcanum)?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Foci, though linked to the magic system, are more like artifacts of the philosophy surrounding the magic system. A focus is a philosophical concept, rather than a hardfast rule related to the magic system. A man-made, artificial way of explaining the magic system. Like the periodic table.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10630 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Ruin and Preservation were often represented in the Mistborn trilogy in terms of black and white. Is this imagery limited to that series, or do other Shards also have an associated hue?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    This (Ruin & Preservation's colors) was because of the specific world and their perception of the world and themselves. Essentially, because of the dynamics of the interplay between Ruin and Preservation, they "chose" to view themselves as black and white respectively, so that's how they were represented. Also, because the only two Shards on Scadrial, and their natures were opposites, after the long period of time they spent on the same planet, they kind of "polarized." If similar thing happened on another world, similar coloring effect could happen.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10632 Copy

    Maximus (paraphrased)

    None of the Heralds mention or address the Almighty in the opening scene of [The Way of Kings]; it's a little strange, considering they are his champions. Have they seen or spoken to the Almighty?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes, the Heralds have spoken with the Almighty. They also feel that what has been done to them is partially his fault. They are all broken in some way and aren't really honorable anymore.

    Maximus (paraphrased)

    Was that how and why the deal with Odium showed up?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    RAFO.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10637 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Ashe says to Sarene "your god". Do seons (and skaze) have a religion/god?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    They have an inkling of the nature of their original Shards, which they would consider their gods.

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Kind of like a first, a prime, a parent?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes. They kind of know what happened that created them, and they also know this is not the god being worshiped (by Sarene), so...

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10638 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    What command would you have to give to an Awakened object like Nightblood in order for it to not go insane?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I am going to RAFO that about Nightblood, but - is Nightblood insane? It just has no concept of... It was commanded to do something it was not equipped to judge. I would not call Nightblood insane. I would say that you have commanded something with no concept of morality to make moral decisions, and that's very confusing to him.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10639 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Will Llarimar become Susebron's high priest?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I would not be surprised if the events took him there.

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Do you think he would be unhappy with the position?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No. Susebron is going to make at least, if not a good God King, then at least an earnest one, and Llarimar would approve of that.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10642 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Did David get Steelheart's absolutely correct, or was it just close enough to allow him to destroy Steelheart?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    It was absolutely correct. This is something David and Reckoners will actually discuss in Firefight. The second book will reveal much more about the Epics' weaknesses, and you will find out that there is actually a pattern to them, even though everyone thinks it's random.

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Are weaknesses somehow related to things, events, or phenomena the Epics feared, or hated, or disliked before they turned Epic?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    RAFO, second book. This is the exact question people - and David - are asking in the second book. Good question though.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10645 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Is Cultivation's Shardholder still alive.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Good question, what do you think?

    Argent (paraphrased)

    I want to say, but that's based on my knowledge before I read Lift's interlude from Words of Radiance. Now I am leaning towards no. Based on that interlude, it looks like spren have essence from both Honor and Cultivation. It's almost like they exist in a spectrum, on one end of which is Honor, and on the other - Cultivation; so there are spren that are, for the lack of better example, 90% Honor and 10% Cultivation, and there are spren that are 15% Honor and 85% Cultivation.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    That's a very astute observation!

    Argent (paraphrased)

    And since we know that Honor is Splintered, then it might be the case that Cultivation is also Splintered, and their Splinters form the spren.

    Steelheart Chicago signing ()
    #10646 Copy

    Argent (paraphrased)

    Is there any other canonical way to refer to a set of Shardplate and a Shardblade other than Shards, so as to not confuse them with the Shards of Adonalsium?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    They call them just Shard(s). It is a little confusing, because there are other Shards, but they don't know about them. I call them a set, but there is no canonical way to refer to them.