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    JordanCon 2016 ()
    #11004 Copy

    Kaymyth (paraphrased)

    I asked him about what the board refers to as "reverse" compounding - i.e., using Feruchemy to enhance Allomancy, rather than the other way around. I wanted to make sure that it was really a thing that exists.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He said that it was.

    Kaymyth (paraphrased)

    Is this what the Southern Scadrians have been doing?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    It's similar, but not exactly the same.

    Utah Humanities Book Festival ()
    #11008 Copy

    dougpgc (paraphrased)

    I asked him if a feruchemist were to visit Earth and tap Duralumin, could they do something as involved as talk local sports with someone?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No -- when you trick your spirit into thinking it's from where you're currently tapping, it's not a full transformation, like Sel-ish magic making a copy.. It doesn't just fill your head with things from the place you're visiting.

    Lisbon signing ()
    #11018 Copy

    dgenio8 (paraphrased)

    You mention that, before the shattering, there was a force opposing Adonalsium. Was it an entity like Adonalsium?

    He explain that they gave him to much wiggle room when the anti-Adonalsium question was made, explaining that is answer could mean that a group of people was against Adonalsium. But, for this question, we had to RAFO.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11021 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Part One Wrap-up

    Well, reading that section of the book again, I'm now very pleased with how it turned out. It introduces what I wanted it to, keeps things moving, and sets up the conflict for the book.

    It's hard, however, to look at it objectively. It's been through so many drafts, with so many beginning chapters, that I can't quite see it the way that I once would have—and certainly can't see it like a reader might.

    As we move into part two, things stabilize back to the original order and plot I'd planned and outlined for the book. (Though, there is another major upheaval at the ending.)

    It's strange how a book, for a writer, can bring back memories. You know how scents can trigger memories in your head? Well, sometimes chapters can do that. You work on a project like this for so much of your life that it becomes part of you.

    I submitted one of the revisions to chapter one (the Vin fight on the streets) to my college class in which I met Heather, the girl I dated for much of the year last year. I was beginning to imagine the ending of Mistborn 3 when I went on vacation last summer, and was missing Emily, whom I eventually married. I was imagining Mistborn 1 as I got the phone call that eventually landed me a book deal.

    This series is a big part of my life, and I will be living it for years yet. That's kind of a comfortable, yet interesting, thing for me to imagine for some reason. I can't even begin to understand how it must be for authors who write series longer than trilogies!

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11022 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kandra are a race that will also get a lot of development as the series progresses. During the development of this book, I tried to resist using the "there's a spy among us" plot, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. The pieces were all there, and I wanted to play with the concepts of trust and reliability.

    In the first book, Vin learned to trust. She learned that it was better to trust and be betrayed than to suspect everyone. The nice twist on that in book one was that there WAS no traitor in the book. Everyone stayed true to Kelsier and his vision.

    So, in this book, I had to sew seeds of distrust. I wanted Vin to have to deal with those problems again, and really have to confront her suspicions and paranoia. The only way to do that was to have her begin suspecting members of the crew.

    Besides, you don't just put in a race of shapeshifters then ignore the tension of people wondering if someone they know has been replaced. That would just be irresponsible.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11024 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Here we get the return of Breeze, a perennial favorite of the Mistborn world. He gets far more screen time–and depth of characterization–than Ham, Clubs, or Dockson do. You just can't develop everyone. (Especially if you're not George R. R. Martin.) I did my best with the side characters, and Breeze and Spook turned out the best, in my opinion. You'll see more of both of them, and learn more about them, as the series moves along.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11025 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eleven

    A few things to watch out for. There might be an extra "Silver" or "Silvereye" stuck in the books somewhere.

    If you read the annotations in the last book, you’ll know that I changed the Allomantic metal of silver into tin at the last minute. I couldn't find a good alloy of silver, and though I liked "Silvereye" as a word much better than "Tineye" I decided to go with the choice that was more logical for worldbuilding, rather than the one that sounded better.

    There could still be a spare silver or two hanging around in this book, since it was written before I made the swap. (I just found one in Book Three and got it changed right in time.)

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11026 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Obligators. This is the first time you see them in the book. It isn't the last time you'll see them, but it's nearly so. They just don't have much of a part in the story now.

    I toyed with making them villains in the novel, involving them a lot more in politics, but discarded that concept. I decided that 1) The Lord Ruler's power was broken, and that fighting against remnants of it would be a little anti-climactic. 2) There just wasn't any more space in the book for more villains.

    The armies invading Luthadel, and their leaders, are bad enough. Part of my rational is that the warlords–not the priests–are going to be the real danger in this new world. The priests were a force for stability. Now that everything has been overthrown, they simply won't have any power to be of a threat.

    Though, I will note that a major force in the third book is, indeed, an obligator who has taken control of a section of the empire.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11027 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    On a more serious note, this section contains some of the more lengthy additions to the rewrite. Elend's speech, and the arguments against it, were all added in the very last draft. As I said before, the first draft had Elend giving a much different proposal, as the army hadn't arrived yet.

    This works TONS better. I worry that Elend comes off a little too strong–or, well, not weak enough–in this scene. I originally included it to show some of his faults as a leader. However, other readers have indicated that they thought he came off as too weak. Even if this is a book about Elend becoming a leader (or, at least, that’s a big chunk of the novel) he doesn't have to quite as hopeless as I originally painted him.

    So, perhaps we've got a good balance going on here.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11029 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    You may be interested to know that I planned a prologue for this book, originally, with Sazed seeing the mists during the day. He was going to ride past a valley, see it creeping along inside, then rush down and find it gone by the time he arrived. That's when he was to hear the rumors of people killed by it, then rush off, and eventually get lucky enough to find a person killed just a day before.

    I never wrote that prologue. I just didn't feel that I needed it, and didn't want to start with that scene–I wanted something more active, rather than something mysterious, for the opening. As I revised the book and tried to focus the reader more and more on the politics and warfare, rather than the mists (particularly at the beginning) I decided that a prologue that dealt with the mists would be out of place.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11030 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nine

    A very short Sazed chapter. Mostly, this was just here because I had to remind the readers that Sazed was doing things. Getting to the Conventical is going to take enough time that, if I hadn't thrown in a small chapter like this, you would have gone a long time without seeing Sazed.

    The things he mulls over here, then, are reinforcement of his character and his conflicts. It's also helping establish Marsh. Not because of what is said, but simply because you see them both again, and are therefore reminded of the things I talked about last time I was with him.

    I wrote Mistborn One mostly chronologically, regardless of viewpoint. I did that with this book for the most part too, but I did write a lot of these Sazed chapters together, in bulk, so that I could keep the tone and voice right. I knew how many chapters from his viewpoint I needed, and I knew where they had to go, so I divided up what needed to happen and went from there.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11031 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Metal vials. People may wonder why Allomancers use them. Why ingest only small bits of metal, which could run out on you? There are a couple of reasons for this.

    First off, you don't want to eat too much metal because, simply put, it's poisonous. Kelsier talks a little bit about this in book one, and it's given token nods from characters throughout the series. I don't do a whole lot with it–dying from metal poisoning isn't the type of extended disease you tend to deal with in a novel that only covers a few months time, like this one.

    The second reason for metal vials is more simple. Allomancers with the right powers can Push or Pull on sources of metal–the larger the metal source, the harder the Allomancer can Push on it. So, little flakes of metal make a terrible Anchor, and so if you're caught wearing your vials, you aren't giving much of an advantage to your enemies.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11032 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eight

    So, Moshe and I BOTH worried about the fact that we've got two shadow mysterious figures showing up at the beginning of this book. Part of the problem is the rewrite, which mashed things together at the beginning of the novel, increasing the speed–but then melding things together as well. Originally, the mist spirit showed up before the Watcher. Now they both are introduced in the same chapter, which happens to be the second chapter.

    That makes me worry about overlap and confusion, but we decided there was nothing to be done about it. As the story progresses, hopefully they'll be differentiated enough in the reader's head to keep them straight. (It doesn't help that I have creatures in this world known as mistwraiths, which are different from either the Watcher or the mist spirit. Sigh.)

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11033 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Conventical is Moshe's word, by the way. I’d originally called it the Covenant of Seran. However, not only did the Halo games decide to make good use of the word Covenant, but my editor found it somewhat inaccurate. So, he suggested Conventical–which I liked immediately. It's a real word, though I think I spell it differently, which refers to a meeting of high level church officials. The term fits with the Steel Ministry, which doesn't have priests, but instead has Obligators and doesn't have a Priesthood, but instead a Ministry. Everything's pseudo-religious, instead of being directly "on" religious.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11034 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marsh was a tricky one to write in this book. Everybody loves him, for some reason, and they were really happy I didn't make him a bad guy at the end of book one. The more I put him into book two, the more readers tended to like him there as well.

    However, I've got enough characters in this book that I couldn't really focus on Marsh as much as I would have needed to, so I backed off on him. You'll see some of him in the next few chapters, but then he fades into the background. Simple reasoning is that the book was long enough, even in the planning stages, that I knew I couldn't tackle Marsh and what was going on with him. Not yet, at least.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11035 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seven

    Here's where we start to get some of our first real hints of the dominating plotline that will overshadow these two books: The Lord Ruler is dead. What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?

    As I mentioned in the previous Sazed annotation, I really like his scenes for the conflict represented in them. He is a rebel, but he feels so bad for it. It's always nice when you can make a character feel some very real turmoil for doing the RIGHT thing.

    We will go a lot more into Sazed's character, and how he is regarded by the other Terrismen, in future chapters.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11036 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This fight scene is, in my opinion, a lot more fun that the previous one. It's what I want–quick, dramatic, and shows off character by the way that the various people approach the fight.

    I probably should have cut this scene, honestly. The book is a little too long. It's 250,000 words, where both Elantris and Mistborn 1 are around 200,000. I worried about this, particularly since the original Well of Ascension was only around 235,000, but we added 15,000 through editing to make the pacing work.

    Regardless, when this beast got in, the people at Tor (the typesetters and the like) immediately raised a warning flag. However, some of the things they said surprised us. They said that the hardback for Mistborn 2, by their counts, was going to be over 700 pages long! Well, I knew that the book was a bit longer, but Mistborn 1 was under 500, so they were claiming it was around 40% bigger–and unpublishable.

    My editor went to bat, claiming that 1) It was only really about 20% bigger and 2) That didn't matter, because the book was the right length–it worked well, and was paced well, and that he didn't want to cut it. We caused a big mess of various people arguing, and then finally the people down in production called up and said they'd done a re-assessment, and that the book would be around 560 pages or so. Very doable.

    I don't know where those extra 140 pages went. If you find them, let me know. . .

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11037 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Six

    So, here's a little of the jovial friendship that I mentioned in the last annotation. One of the things I like about these books IS the way that the characters can get along and relax. It's a bit tougher to pull off in this book–with Kelsier gone, and with everything falling apart–but it's still there, where I can squeeze it in.

    Spook is a character I groomed through the first book to do more than you might originally expected from him. He doesn't really come to his own for some time yet, but you should be able to see changes start to appear in him–subtly, of course. You'll see a lot more from him later on in the series.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11038 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I worry just a tad about the light-hearted feel of the end of the chapter here. Originally, this scene was in the book BEFORE the army showed up to attack. In the original draft I showed Elend and company living (and fighting off assassins) without knowing that an army was bearing down on them. Moving the army so that it began the book on the horizon was the major pacing change I made that sped up the book, and increased the tension.

    However, we missed a few of the more light scenes–like the upcoming sparring–and I didn't want to cut them because they were so indicative of character. I decided to leave them in. Kelsier's crew is accustomed to dealing with stress and remaining jovial. The only change I really had to make was in the Elend viewpoints, which you will see in the next chapter. Still, I hope the tone isn't off–that's a real worry when you transplant scenes from a previous draft, as opposed to writing them new when you change as much as I did at the beginning here.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11039 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.

    A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.

    He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character–and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble–as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc–while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.

    Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11040 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you paid any sort of attention during the last book, you were probably expecting a new metal or two to show up in this book. I dropped a lot of hints that there were other metals.

    It was a little bit of a stretch to let there be metals that, despite the thousand-year history of Allomancy, weren't known. However, I rely on the fact that the Lord Ruler had informational control over the society. There are A LOT of things that he knew that aren't known to a lot of people.

    Duralumin is a real alloy from our world, commonly made from aluminum. Actually, a lot of things we call aluminum–particularly industrial aluminum–is actually duralumin. Aluminum, pre-electrolysis, was really tough to get. It's said that Napoleon had a set of aluminum plates that were more valuable than his gold or platinum ones.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11041 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Five

    One of my writing groups had an intense reaction against Vin killing the dog in this scene. I'm not sure, still, WHY they got so upset–but they really didn't like it that she killed a dog "in cold blood" as they put it.

    So, her little "I'm sorry about this" in her head is there for them. At least now they know she kind of wishes she didn't have to do it.

    That dog had it coming, though.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11042 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite plotting mechanic of the Sazed chapters, particularly these early ones, is the fact that the peasants don't really care about what he wants to teach them. The Keepers were a very important element from the first book–people who had worked so hard to memorize the things of the past and keep them safe for the day when the Lord Ruler died. This is, in part, a nod to Fahrenheit 451.

    However, there's also a bit of an arrogance to that organization. They have the truth, they keep the truth for everyone else, and they are the ones who will bring it gloriously back to the people. Supposedly.

    I wanted, in this book, that glorious return to be underwhelming for the Keepers. A group of scholars wouldn't, I think, even have considered that nobody would CARE about the things they researched and memorized. Their battle is far from over. I think that convincing the people to learn is much more difficult a task than memorizing the information in the first place.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11043 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Four

    Sazed was many people's favorite character in the first book. I knew pretty early on in the writing process of that book that Sazed would become a major force in the novel. In fact, he was one of the very first characters I outlined and built in my head. Who he is, and what he stands for, is quite integral to the plot arc of the entire series.

    So, knowing that, you probably aren't surprised to see him become a major viewpoint character in this book. I loved writing his chapters. The way he sees the world–always trying to look from other people's viewpoints, always trying to understand others and give them the benefit of the doubt–makes him very dear to me. He is pleasant to write about, and his inner turmoil (we'll talk more about that later) is so much more painful because of how basically a nice person he is.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11044 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I just really like Elend and Vin's relationship. It's one that really shouldn't work, but for some reason, they just get along so well in my head. I doubt that they could explain it either–but the two fit together in a very strange, "opposites meet" kind of way. They actually have a lot more chemistry, for me, than Sarene and Raoden–though those two are far better matched for each other. Maybe that's because the frustration and confusion Elend feels seems very realistic to me. He never really does know what Vin is feeling, even though her emotions are so blunt and simple when we're in her viewpoint.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11045 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The second half of this chapter, where Vin and Elend are chatting, is where the book finally starts to feel "good" to me. I'm mostly past the exposition reminding you of what happened in Book One, and I can get into more "showing" of character rather than reminding of past events.

    I could have, perhaps, done something different with these reminders. I could have told you less, and let you remember on your own. Or, I could have worked the reminders in more delicately. However, the former would have left some people confused, and the later would have taken many more pages. I eventually took the easier, and time-tested, route of reminder exposition. We'll see if people like this or not, but it really did seem like the best way in this novel. (Interestingly, there's a thread about this on my forums right now.)

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11046 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    There were a couple of interesting edits that I made to this chapter. First off, Elend's proposal to the Assembly. It was a major point of revision in the book.

    One of the biggest problems the novel had in the first draft was that readers weren't getting the right idea for the theme and plot of the novel. In early drafts, Vin's worries about the Deepness and the Lord Ruler's final words came before Straff's army arrived. So, readers were surprised when the middle of the novel spent so much time on politics and war. They wanted to learn more about the Well of Ascension. (Which IS important, but not as present–particularly at the beginning–as the rest of the plot.)

    So, the revisions. I wanted to make the army a much more PRESENT in the narrative. Originally, Elend's proposal to the Assembly was about something unrelated. (Disaster relief for farmers.) I wanted to show him caring for his people. However, in revision, I realized I needed to focus more. So, now that proposal deals with the army, and is a thread that continues through the next few chapters.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11047 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Three

    Well, there you go. That chapter (with a big chunk of two) was originally the first chapter of the book. Oddly, moving it back made the book move more quickly, for me at least. It's strange how you can sometimes speed up a novel by ADDING material.

    Speed in books, however, has little to do with how long the book actually is, and everything to do with how captivated the reader is.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11048 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Also, thanks to my writing group for the Soundsticks suggestion. They probably don't remember it–it's been years since one of them suggested it (I think Nate H. was the one who actually said it) and I thought it was a great idea. This is a perfect way to deal with a Mistborn–they're going to have enhanced senses, so you play off of that and make them pay. I love this, since I talk so much about balance and use of force in Allomancy. Actions and reactions. I wanted this magic to feel very Newtonian.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11050 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is what I wanted to have in chapter one (see the last annotation.) Reading it again, I can see–yet again–why that was a bad instinct. It's much better here, in chapter two. I still feel that it's a tad long. I cut it down significantly (if you can believe that.) I worry that pacing wise, we spend too long in a fight for this early in the book. However, some of the things I get across in this battle are invaluable for the rest of the story. I introduce the Watcher, and I get rid of Vin's atium–thereby compounding the large danger of the kingdom being at war with the more personal danger of Vin being stalked while she's exposed without any atium.

    We'll get to a third level of danger–that of something threatening the entire world–later on.