Recent entries

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11051 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 ()
    #11052 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 ()
    #11054 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 ()
    #11055 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 ()
    #11056 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 ()
    #11057 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 ()
    #11058 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 ()
    #11059 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 ()
    #11060 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 ()
    #11061 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 ()
    #11062 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 ()
    #11063 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 ()
    #11064 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 ()
    #11065 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 ()
    #11066 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 ()
    #11067 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 ()
    #11068 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 ()
    #11069 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 ()
    #11070 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 ()
    #11071 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 ()
    #11072 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 ()
    #11073 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 ()
    #11075 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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #11076 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Two

    Allomantic fights are fun.

    I'll admit it. I LIKE to write things that are fun. I'm an entertainer–and that is what my stories try to do. I think there's great value in that.

    That said, I think this might be my least favorite fight in the book. You may remember that I said the same thing about the first battle in book one (that's the fight where Kelsier takes on the Hazekillers in Keep Venture.) Getting the mechanics of Allomancy down, showing things step by step, takes longer, and lacks a bit of finesse. I hope this fight was still enjoyable, but it was far too step-by-step to be really great, in my opinion.

    The fights I really like are the ones where there is a beauty–a sense of grace and poetry–to the fight itself. The one at Keep Hasting later in this book is a much better example off that.

    Arcanum Unbounded Fort Collins signing ()
    #11088 Copy

    Xyrd (paraphrased)

    Was Leras bonded to a being in the Cognitive Realm?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    You mean like a Nahel bond?

    Xyrd (paraphrased)

    Yes, or a similar mechanism.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Well, you have to remember that Shards interact with the realms in a different way, so...

    Xyrd (paraphrased)

    Well, I more mean before Leras became a Vessel.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Anything before then is RAFO.