Recent entries

    Dark Talent release party ()
    #11051 Copy

    Sunchicken (paraphrased)

    I asked Brandon if it was any coincidence that Sadeas's name sounds suspiciously similar to the word sadist.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    In essence his answer was no, it's not a coincidence, but he didn't consciously choose the name for that specific reason. More like his brain decided it sounded good for that character because his subconscious heard the similarity.

    Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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    Mr Sanderson, I think it speaks volumes for your character and dedication to the final product that you began this update with "I'm back for another update on how your book is going."


    Funny, my response to that was "Brandon Sanderson is not my bitch." I'm glad he knows how invested we are in his novels but I've seen too many entitled idiots (most often Martin and Rothfuss fans) who really think the authors owe them something, and get irate if they don't get what they want in a timely manner.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't agree with your downvotes, Gunner. This is a legitimate position to take. (And for those not aware, that is a quote from Gaiman.) And I don't agree with the harassment some authors get. Everyone has different writing methods and speeds. And despite being known as "quick," I haven't been much better than Rothfuss at getting to book three of my big series.

    That said, I do believe that a series is an implicit contract with the reader. When I put "book one" on a cover, particularly as prominently as with the Way of Kings, I do feel it is a promise. That's different from something like Warbreaker, where I say I'm planning a sequel, but didn't publicize the book as a series.

    I use "your" in this context because I believe that storytelling is a participatory art--that it doesn't live without an audience to imagine it. Beyond that, I believe in the patronage theory of art. I am able to do what I do, as an artist, because of the support of the greater community.

    That said, I am sympathetic to the Gaiman approach you quote, and think it would be good for fans to read that essay and consider it.


    Thanks Brandon. I fully agree with and appreciate the feeling of duty to the audience when you say that this is book one. But you don't promise how long it will take to get to book two, and you don't take surveys from readers to find out what should happen. In my mind, it's not our book, it's yours, and we are here ready to enjoy it when it's finished.

    Maybe my perspective is different because I'm a writer (of songs, not books) and it has taken me years of far less success than yours to come to terms with the fact that my art is mine to make or not make as I see fit. It's great to have fans who are so deeply invested in what we do but they are not the ones who have to do the creating and be satisfied with the results (which includes not only the work but also that permanent change in one's life and career after each new release).

    I follow your career very closely, and I know quite a bit about your history and how you got here. These are very much your stories. You create them because they are part of you and to not create them would not do justice to who you are. You would write them if nobody read them, which is more than I can say for my own writing. So as much as I appreciate the connection you cultivate with your readers when you call them our books, I personally just don't see it that way.

    Fortunately you are the most prolific author of our generation so we never really have to wait long, and yes, you are much better than Rothfuss when it comes to book three. But he's not my bitch either. So anyway, thanks for defending me a bit, I don't care about the down votes but I didn't mean to say anything too controversial to begin with!

    Hope i can finally take you out for pizza next time you're in Chicago. Had a chance to do it for Michael J. Sullivan so he can tell you whether I'm mental or not. :)

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll take you up on that pizza. I see you enough on-line that I'm pretty sure you're not mental. (No more so than the rest of us.)

    I get what you're saying, and I agree with it. No, I'm not going to take polls on what to do with the books--this was actually a real danger when working on the Wheel of Time books. As I came out of fandom, I found it a real temptation (that I had to squish quickly) to put in tons of in-jokes and references.

    There was a time, before I published, where I tried to write more of what I thought the market wanted, instead of what I felt I really wanted to write. It was a disaster, and the Stormlight Archive was my method of escaping that--my reaction to it, by writing only for me, in the way I most wanted to write.

    So yes, you are correct. At the same time, I do consider the fandom at large my "boss" so to speak. The contract we have is that I will create art for them--not that I will let them control it, but that I WILL write it. I also have the philosophical belief that when a piece of art is released into the wild, so to speak, the author has to relinquish some ownership of it, for its own good. (And for the good of the community.)

    Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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    How do you manage your time to keep writing productively, during all that time on the road? Do you find yourself thinking about the WIP while signing book after book after book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's hard, and I'm not that productive, honestly. That's why I generally work on some new project, like a novella, instead of the main project. It's tiring enough on the road to write; writing something that is intense and requires a lot of working with other pieces in the story is even harder.

    I can't think about the WIP while signing--otherwise I'll miss questions people ask. The last thing I want is for someone to wait four hours to meet me, then feel like they got brushed off. If I'm going to do the signings, I need to be mentally there for the signings.

    I do get a lot of thinking done in the mornings before flying out to my next location for the day.

    Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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    So, if a bonded human were to decide for whatever reason that he/she wanted to retire from being a Radiant, is it possible to do that or is the Nahel bond a lifetime gig?

    For example, say Kaladin felt he could no longer uphold the requirements of being bonded to Syl, or eventually he just got old or worn out.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Retiring from the bond is possible under mechanics I haven't talked about yet in the series.

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
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    Frank Kwiatkowski

    I like that you are very involved with the fans. I want to start reading your books. What's the first one to start with?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you want more action, Mistborn. If you want a slower, more thoughtful pace, Elantris. Thanks!

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
    #11060 Copy

    Rachell Russell

    How does your approach differ in writing science fiction and then fantasy? Both stylistically and conceptually.

    Brandon Sanderson

    For SF I take many more things for granted, meaning I focus more on story and less on worldbuilding.

    In SF, I will also generally focus on a handful of ideas instead of a whole ton of them.

    This usually makes my sf shorter than my fantasy.

    Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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    Are we gonna get more hints or insight about Harmony's involvement (the dudes he sent) or other non-Roshar shards involvement in the next book ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There will continue to be hints in the books.


    Ah thanks ! I wasn't expecting for you to reply . Good to know, i always found it interesting how many world hoppers are there in Stormlight so i figured there might be shards like at least watching Roshar events.

    Might i ask if there are one or more non-Roshar shards that would be poking around?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm going to have to RAFO this. Watch and see what you find! :)

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
    #11062 Copy

    Benjamin Rawlins

    how old were you when you first started writing? any advice for young writers, given economy at the moment?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started at age 15 or 16, but didn't finish a novel until in my 20s. As for new writers, don't worry about the money.

    It will probably take a few years to get published, or to be making money, so focus on the craft first.

    Think of becoming a writer like becoming a doctor. It can take 6-8 yrs. Who knows what the economy will be like?

    Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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    In a blog you recommended Rothfuss and after reading his books I have decide you are truely a god of the written word, oh great God, recommend other good reads, I will happily pay the required sacrifice of one greedily consumed chocolate cake.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha. Well, it depends on what you like.

    Guy Gavrial Kay is very, very good. Read his newer work, or his classic stand-alones (like Tigana or the Lions of Al Rassan.) Don't start with his first few novels.

    He's a little more literary than myself or Pat, but he sure can turn a beautiful phrase, and is one of those authors that seems to be able to do it all--storytelling, prose, character, humor, drama. N.K. Jemisin is another author who has been doing very beautiful writing lately, with solid plots, who could give Pat a run for his money.

    For things that skew a little more adventure, I love Robin Hobb's work, and if you liked Mistborn, I think you'll like her books. Start with Assassin's Apprentice. Same goes for Brian McClellan and Brent Weeks.

    I really liked Naomi Novik's Uprooted, which is a Hugo nominee this year. But it's very different from the ones I just listed. A dark fairy tale with historical roots.

    Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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    Why are so many of your primary female characters named with "s" and "v"? Sarene, Siri, Shai, Shallan, Vin, Vivenna? Is there a reason?

    (I ask because you're obviously able to find cool female-names with other letters too, Jasnah, Danlan, Navani and so on.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    No reason. I've noticed that trend myself; probably something to do with innate "this sounds right" things on my part. I think Vin/Vivenna is a coincidence. (Vin did start in a rough first draft as male, after all.) But there are also some other V names, a disproportionate number. So...just the way my ears work, and something I need to be aware of, I guess. Thanks for the question!

    Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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    This is incredible. If you don't mind me asking a more technical question, how long did it take to develop your method of laying all this out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This right here isn't actually how my outline looks. It's far more in-depth, and a lot more crazy. This is a quick visualization I imagined when trying to explain it all to people.

    My method, in more detail, has to do with character motivations, sub-plots, and promises. I talk about it in depth in my youtube writing lecture videos.

    Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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    Something I've been wondering: are you intentionally alternating between male and female main characters through the whole series? Because I believe I remember reading that Eshonai will be book 4 and Szeth will be book 5.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I'm alternating intentionally. It's a pattern I don't feel slavish toward, so if the next book doesn't work for Eshonai but works for Szeth, I'll break the pattern. But the originally outline alternated through all ten.


    What happens if you write the next book for one, but then Book 5 doesn't work with the person you have left? Will you change the book so the flashbacks suit it or will you change the flashbacks to suit the book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll deal with that when (if) it happens. I suspect either is possible, though I could also just decide to do a different character, if I feel it makes the story work the best.

    Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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    In general, you steer clear of offensive language in your books. All well and good, but then in Words of Radiance Adolin uses the verb "shat". What exactly is it that makes the past tense less offensive?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nothing in particular. I don't find the word offensive myself, but I avoid it because it just often doesn't feel right for more stories. But in context, sometimes, the right word is just the right word. It felt right to use it there, as the term Adolin would use.

    Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
    #11074 Copy


    Can I ask what defines a "trilogy's worth of arcs"? I always thought that roughly corresponded to wordcount, but your wordcount-per-trilogy has halved from ~650k (Elantris, Mistborn 1, Warbreaker) to ~325k (Mistborn 1.5, Stormlight-without-interludes, Reckoners) so I must have that wrong... but I'm not sure why that's wrong.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I plot these like a trilogy each. The entire [Reckoners] trilogy, for example, is shorter than the way of kings. I plot a book of Stormlight using similar (though not exactly the same) methods as I use in building a series of other books.


    What does "like a trilogy" mean? Or is there somewhere you'd recommend I go to learn more? From my uneducated perspective, "like a trilogy" means "long, lots of stuff happens, three books".

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, what makes a book for me is usually an arc for a character mixed with a plot arc. Often multiple plot arcs and character arcs. It is less "stuff happens" and more "stuff happens for a reason, building to pivotal moments or discoveries." My YouTube writing lectures might help explain better. Look for the ones on plotting.


    I think I understand...maybe...

    • "Arc" is point-to-point, be it for a character or a plot. Length-in-wordcount isn't relevant, difference between points is.
    • The difference in wordcount isn't a matter of "arcs" being shorter, it's a matter of there being fewer not-tightly-arc-related words, similar to how stand-up comics tighten up routines.

    Do I have that right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yup. You've got it. Though often, the difference in a longer book is the number of arcs. For example, in Mistborn, Vin has multiple arcs. (Learning to be part of a crew, training to use the magic, practicing to join high society, falling in love, and learning to trust again.) Those are mixed with a large number of plot arcs. A shorter book might have a character with a more straightforward, single or double arc.


    My first encounter with the term "story arc" was from J Michael Straczynski talking about Babylon 5 in explaining how it was plotted.

    The term to me invokes a visual of tracing an arc across the sky from left to right, symbolizing the journey of an overarching plot or narrative to its conclusion.

    Brandon was using trilogy with respect to the Mistborn series until Shadows of Self got away from him and became two books bumping the total to four :-).

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's almost right. I wrote Alloy of Law as a stand alone test of the new era. I liked it, so I plotted a trilogy to go alongside it. I ended up writing Bands of Mourning before Shadows of Self for various reasons, but it isn't that Shadows of Self got turned into two books. Those were always two very different books in the outline.

    The point where things expanded was after I tried out Alloy of Law, liked it, and decided to do more books with the characters.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    I'm only maybe 1/4 of the way through WOA (the second book of the first series) and something has kind of been nagging at me for a while. I figured out what it is, finally, and it's that there are no women in this story. I mean, obviously there's Vin as the main character, but she has a lot of overtly masculine qualities and quite frankly a suppressed fondness for dresses and perfume just isn't enough for me. All of the feminine characters are bad, jealous, stupid, flippant and/or unimportant. The only other positive female characters I've met so far are either dead (Mare) or "other"/foreign (Tindwyl).

    And the series, so far, clearly fails the Bechdel test. The only conversations Vin has had with other women have been about men (particularly Elend).

    Does it get any better than this? I mean, it's honestly really starting to bother me. This series is almost like a reverse-harem trope with all the males surrounding the main character.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the world and the story otherwise (except for Elend's chapters that drone on and on about his ideal political structure which don't have any place in a society like this one IMO), but the complete lack of any female interaction is starting to bother me, TBH.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've always considered this a legitimate criticism of Mistborn. In my plotting and planning, I was so focused on doing a good job with a dynamic female lead that I fell into a trap that is common for newer writers--to be less intentional about other characters, and default to male.

    I think I once counted, and was able to find interactions in each book between Vin and women that were not related to men, and so the series does strictly pass the test--but the test has always been intended as a bare minimum. You can pass the test and still lack any real and meaningful representations of people different from yourself, and you can actually fail the test while not having this be a problem at all.

    In the case of Mistborn, I consider it a legitimate weakness of the stories. I'm sorry it is distracting to you.


    It is only a minor distraction, Brandon. And I think perhaps I am spoiled, because I read Stormlight 1 and 2 first and am only now just starting Mistborn, and your female characters in Stormlight are outstanding. The relationship between Shallan and Jasnah is amazing so I know that you are perfectly capable of writing complex and varied female characters. I think that's why I found it so striking that it seems to be missing in Mistborn.

    Regardless... I am still enthralled with the books. I am enjoying the plot and I do love the characters. I can't wait to find out what the Deepness is or if Vin truly is the Hero of Ages (knowing the title of the third book probably spoils that one for me though, haha).

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, Brandon! You are so good to your fans I really appreciate it! Can't wait to finish reading this series!

    Brandon Sanderson

    My pleasure.

    It wasn't long after finishing the series that I started to think about this aspect. I really wish I'd made Ham a woman, for example. I think the character would have gone interesting places--and would have done good things for the lore of the world if women Thugs were heavily recruited to be soldiers.

    Reflecting on Mistborn has been very useful to me as a writer, however, as it's part of what helped me personally understand that you can do something like have a strong, and interesting, female lead but still have a series that overall displays a weakness in regards to female characters. This has greater implications for writing, not just in regards to female characters, and is something I don't think I could have learned without this series. (Where I worked so very hard on Vin that I thought I had this aspect down.)

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    "There are four individuals," VenDell said, "who, to our knowledge, have held the power of Ascension. Rashek, the Survivor, the Ascendant Warrior, and Lord Harmony Himself.

    [Brandon], I noticed the list doesn't include 'Terr'. Anything interesting about how modern kandra see Terr/Leras?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good catch. There are things to be inferred from this.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
    #11077 Copy


    Are there any black people in Scadrial? Or any other races? I couldn't find an answer online, but the descriptions in the book all seem like white/European people.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Terris had a lot more skin color diversity than the people of the central dominance. A large number of those preserved had darker skin, so in the W&W era, you are starting to see skin color become associated with them. During the Final Empire, skin color was basically ignored.

    Note that for even people in the Elendel Basin, darker skin won't get nearly as dark as what you will find on Roshar or Taldain.

    EDIT: Now that I'm on my computer instead of my tablet, I can dig into this a little more. What other posters have been saying is true--the region of the Final Empire we see in the first trilogy is very small, and the Final Empire itself isn't terribly big. There's not a lot of racial diversity at all.

    That said, the Terris are a distinct ethnic group. I carefully didn't describe people in the original books with regard to a lot of racially identifying features. One of the Lord Ruler's goals over the years was to stamp these things out, to create a single unified people. While he couldn't change genetics, his work here did make people start to look at things like class and clothing more than accents or racial identifiers. In addition, it was important that the Terris be diverse enough that, while some looked Terris from just a glance, with others, you could meet them and (for obvious reasons that are spoilers) not know they were actually Terris.

    That isn't to say they aren't there--they actually are. Elend and Straff would have a bit of an accent, and Cett a fairly strong one. Sazed would look racially distinct from Vin.

    As we get further from the Final Empire, we see these things becoming more of a marker. The Terris work to preserve their cultural heritage, and this distinctiveness highlights other aspects about them, including the dark skin that many of them brought through the end of the world. The next trilogy (1980's era) is planned to star a Terriswoman right now, and she would likely resemble someone ethnically black to many of us on Earth.


    How far off your impression of Sazed was I in imagining him looking like Teferi from MTG?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I often give him a Teferi-like-look in my own head, but in actuality his skin tone is probably more akin to someone like Keegan-Michael Key.


    >While he couldn't change genetics, his work here did make people start to look at things like class and clothing more than accents or racial identifiers.

    How did the 'skaa/noble' class genetic tinkering work out, anyway? Did the leadership of every nation just wake up the next morning and find themselves taller, more intelligent, and less fertile?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most genetic differences between skaa and noble were exaggerated, even fabricated, by noble culture as justification for their perceived superiority. Height differences due to nutrition, 'intelligence' due to education and societal expectations, fertility due to common factors in urbanization. The LR did try some minor tinkering, to be played out over time through genetics, but in the end these changes weren't very successful.


    This is actually good to know. I've seen your other responses to similar questions, where the inference was that there was indeed a significant difference.

    The main changes were for dealing with the atmosphere, correct? And they were reverted by Sazed/Harmony?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There were also some general hardiness changes for the skaa and some fertility changes, but as I said, by the time of the books those were basically gone. And yes, Sazed reverted the ones designed to help survival in the ash.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    Who would win in a game of chance: Mat, a chromium compounder, or Hoid?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In these kinds of questions, more and more I give "points" to the character with the most established narrative, set of powers, and momentum. So Mat wins hands down. In twenty years, maybe not. But right now Mat.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    I always wondered what would happen if someone burning atium fought a ta'veren like Matrim Cauthon. Would it look like he was burning atium as well? Would his atium shadow be concealed by a haze of probability?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd say that Mat's aura would interfere with atium, but you could easily rule the other way--you could say atium works something like Min's visions of the future, letting one "read the Pattern" so to speak. And Min's visions do work on ta'veren.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    By the way, if "Awakeners" were something different back then, what did you call Vasher? Or was he just "some guy from another world, I'll explain his magic later".

    Brandon Sanderson

    The latter. There are hints he has a mysterious past, but not much more.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    By the way, the chapters from Way of Kings Prime were pretty interesting when I read them in the [Altered Perceptions] anthology. I assume the rest of the book at the moment is still pretty spoilery... about where in The Stormlight Archive series would you consider it 'caught up' enough to do something with the rest of WoK'?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Unfortunately, one of the ways I made the series work was by splitting the character into two groupings, and doing half in the first five and half in the second. This means that WoK Prime doesn't spoil anything for Dalinar/Kaladin/Shallan. But it has huge spoilers for books six and seven, with Jasnah and Taln. So it will be a while.

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
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    Gabriel Rumbaut

    How "bad" are your first drafts? Many authors say their first draft of a novel is always terrible.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're pretty bad. In a first draft, I focus on character arcs and laying down dialogue.

    So the descriptions are sparse, and often they're overly wordy to a huge fault. Drafts streamline.

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
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    Eric Peters

    What exactly is a dueling cane anyhow?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Depends. Some are flexible, like sparring swords, and are used for duels where blood is not needed.

    Others are basically a big length of wood for hitting people, like a tonfa without the grip.

    Eric Peters

    Do canes have a hilt like a sparring sword then? I always picture something like pic being used

    Brandon Sanderson

    Many have a hilt. However for most, there is no crossguard or the like.

    And most don't taper like that one. They are often of a uniform diameter all the way down.

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
    #11089 Copy

    Thomas Ford

    Do you have plans to continue stories in the Elantris (hope I spelled that right) world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. I hope to write a sequel for the 10th anniversary of the book's release, which would be 2015.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    *posting a thread in the "WhoWouldWin" subreddit titled "Randland vs Scadrial"*

    Round 1: Zen Rand (after revelation, before last battle) vs Mist Vin (Feeding on infinite metal sources) - Both at their top tiers, they should, by my estimation, be matched because of the rays of power vs seeing the future.

    Round 2: The armies of Randland vs The armies of Scadrial - Aes Sedai, Asha'man, dragons/cannons, vs koloss, mistings, mistborns.

    Bonus round: The Lord Ruler and his armies have to take on the Dark One, and his armies. How well do they fare?

    Other rounds would be cool if you come up with more.

    EDIT: Since people seem to think that RandLand would stomp, how would Vin and crew, with/without the Lord Ruler, fare if they had full knowledge of Rand's abilities and 6 months to prepare?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that while Vin in the state you mention might be able to give a good fight to Rand, overall, Randland winds. Channelers are more powerful and versatile than most metalborn. Randland has far better generals; everyone on Scadrial is basically still winging it. I hand this one to Randland, unless Kelsier can pull off some improbable assassinations before the whole thing begins.


    Would the time reversing properties of balefire remove the ability [of atium] to see the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Boy, this one is a tough call. Mixing cosmologies is tough. If we're IN Randland, then atium would work by reading the pattern--but in the cosmere, it looks into the Spiritual Realm--where all times, locations, and possibilities conflate. Either way, I'd say Balefire could counteract atium--but it would be tricky to use correctly, as you'd basically have to balefire some object that the atium burner was factoring into their plans very soon, tripping them up and catching them unable to adjust to the new futures quickly enough.


    Not too long ago you told us atium works in the Cognitive - to quote you in reference to how stronger atium burns, "However, there's a certain breaking point where you kind of crack the whole system, peer straight into the cognitive realm, and kind of have a "It's full of stars" moment."

    Are the two replies still compatible?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I meant Spiritual there. Sorry. I deal with the cognitive so much in the books, and Spiritual so infrequently, I often have a silver/tin moment when my fingers just type the thing I'm used to typing.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    I thought the spheres of different denominations were also different sizes.


    Someone mentioned this, too. Now with a second person it seems to make even more sense. Was it mentioned in the books?

    Garnet and ruby are still right next to each other in value, but with all the other differences... it's probably just enough information to differentiate them.



    Huh. I'd always assumed that the glass portion of a sphere was the same size for each gem type, but I can't find solid proof one way or another in the books. It's clear that within a gem type the glass size is constant while gem size grows from chip to mark to broam, but otherwise? I'd have to do a careful reread to try and find any evidence one way or another, and it might not be there at all.

    This seems like the kind of question [Brandon Sanderson] or [Ben McSweeney] can give a definitive answer to: would a diamond chip's glass be the same size as an emerald broam's?

    Ben McSweeney

    [Peter Ahlstrom] ought to know for sure.

    I want to say they're all the same size sphere, with larger or smaller gems? But now I'm blanking on what that sphere size is... like, about the size of a marble? Half-inch or so in diameter?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The spheres are all the same size, about as big around as a man's thumbnail. Only the gems inside the spheres differ in size.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    I'm not terribly fond of puns in fantasy unless the author expects us to believe that the characters are either speaking English or that the language that they are speaking has exactly the same puns.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's neither one. Generally, the authors you're reading are pretending their books are in translation--and are generally providing an appropriate English pun to convey the tone of the scene. It happens in the real world, too. My books are all in English originally. When my translator for the Taiwanese editions, for example, runs across a pun, she often constructs a pun that works in the context in her language. The actual words are different, but the idea of "This character is making a wordplay quip" remains.


    Thanks for the reply. One of my favourite things about this subreddit is the interaction with authors.How do you extend this to foreign languages within the world, then? For example, Tolkien's various languages, or the Old Tongue in Wheel of Time. Do we assume that the imaginary translator decided not to translate those phrases? If so, why?Made-up example:

    "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," Tom muttered under his breath.

    As, perhaps, opposed to:

    "This is a truly stupendous event," Tom muttered under his breath, in Poppinish.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The idea is that the imaginary translator (who is basically the author) is trying to preserve the proper tone. Any time one of those phrases is written, the author COULD have just written the translated version. Why didn't they? There are a ton of reasons, but the most likely is to preserve the feeling the characters have in interacting with something they don't understand. This extends to which words we choose to translate even from the world. In Stormlight, I use the word 'havah' for a Vorin dress. Yet I call a coat simply a coat. There's a balance between not overloading the reader and providing setting immersion, and also a distinction between an article of clothing that is meaningful culturally and one that is less so. Being able to make these kinds of decisions is like adding a pinch of exotic spice to your broth, making it a unique and savory experience, and is part of what I love about fantasy over other genres.

    Tor Twitter Chat ()
    #11095 Copy

    Pierre Cadieux

    Did you ever study a martial art yourself? Did studying a foreign language change the way you write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My only martial arts study comes from reading and watching, with the occasional 'one shot' go learn some basics.

    Studying a foreign language was extremely helpful in opening my eyes to other cultures, and my own language.

    Footnote: Brandon learned Korean in college for his LDS mission
    Sources: Twitter, Twitter
    General Reddit 2015 ()
    #11096 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is an interesting topic, and though I saw this early, I wanted to wait to post anything because I prefer to let discussions like this happen without author intervention, at least not immediately.

    I do I like talking about topics like this, though. Humor is such a curiously subjective thing. There are people who just don't get Pratchett, whom I find the funniest thing ever. Conversely, I don't generally like stand up comedians, and actively dislike some of the comedies that people on reddit love. There are people who tell me that my Mat scenes in WoT are the funniest they've read in the series; there are others who consider them absolute duds.

    Humor is more subjective than what we find heroic, tragic, or even beautiful. It also depends a great deal on audience buy-in and mood. This makes comedy one of the trickiest things to do in a book, because some people are just going to hate what you do. My approach has generally been a kind of shotgun blast--I try to include multiple different kinds of humor, stylized to the individual character. That way, if you don't find the humor itself funny, you at least learn what the character finds funny--and learn something about them.

    In Stormlight, my personal favorite is the bridge crew humor, as it is distinctly character driven. Syl's humor is a different flavor, based on innocence mixed with sarcasm. Wit is another style entirely, though I usually only let him really go when he meets someone he dislikes strongly. I have to be careful, as he's one of the few characters I allow to stray into the vulgar, and letting him go too far risks letting such things overshadow the rest of the book.

    Shallan's humor is based upon regency "women sit in a circle and trade witty comments" humor, of which Jane Austen was a master. Much of what the OP said in his post is correct--Shallan's fault is that she over-extends. She uses the humor as a coping mechanism, and to her, it doesn't matter if it's actually funny so long as she's stretching toward something more lighthearted than her terrible past. She tries very hard to prove herself. And she fails. Often.

    However, her type of "wit" is to exemplify what Vorin lighteyed women consider to be amusing or diverting. And there are people who genuinely find that kind of thing to be a blast--though Shallan isn't exactly the best at it yet. (She's not terrible either, mind you. If you don't smile at some of the things she says, it's likely this isn't your type of humor, which is just fine. Hopefully, there will be other things in the books that make you smile.)

    Though, that said, I'd love to read passages from other fantasy novels that people on reddit find to be actually laugh-out-loud funny. I know which ones I personally like, but it would be useful for me to see what you're liking. Feel free to PM them to me or to post them here.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
    #11097 Copy


    During Adolin's exploration of Urithiru (right before he murders Sadeas) he comes across a painting

    A fanciful picture with animals from mythology. He recognized a few from children's stories, like the enormous mink like creature with the mane of hair that burst out around and behind its head. What was it called again?

    Let's answer Adolin's question. Is that a lion. Does this mean that normal animals once inhabited Roshar but became extinct or were forced to adapt after the arrival of Odium or the Highstorms. Or maybe these were artist illustrations from stories brought over to Roshar by worldhoppers? What do you think?


    With shardpools being a thing and worldhoppers like Hoid being a thing as well it's entirely possible that people brought stories of the fauna of their world with them when they came to Roshar. After all, we know (via Word of Brandon) that the Horneater lakes are shardpools so they could have knowledge of lions via travelers, seeing them in the pools or some other way (worldsingers?)

    Edit-- just noticed you mentioned worldhoppers. I think that's what it is, but it could also be stories from the original inhabitants if (big if) the original inhabitants came from elsewhere in the Cosmere.

    Edit again -- They might have gone extinct after the arrival of Odium. If the rest of the world was akin to Shinovar prior to Odium then it's entirely possible for their to have been lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!).

    Unless someone asks (or has asked) Brandon then I have no clue.

    [Brandon]can you aid us in our questions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it seems like you're asking the right ones.


    Can you aid us in getting answers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've done so already, by providing two in-depth discussions of the nature of Roshar. They're called The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
    #11098 Copy


    Have you currently got a series planned for after the Wax and Wayne books? I really enjoyed the first book, although I do miss the full-on Mistborn / Feruchemists.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The next series I'm planning is what was originally going to be the second Mistborn trilogy (right now I'm just calling it Era Three.) It is a 1980s era spy thriller urban fantasy, and I think it will be awesome.


    I have a question that I assume is going to be RAFO, but ... 1980s era spy thriller implies something like a Cold War to me. Does this mean United States: Elendelians :: Russia : Southern Peoples?

    (I'm not sure what the proper demonyms would be.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a pretty big RAFO.