Recent entries

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11151 Copy

    Questioner

    I would like to make two questions for you. The first one is, when were you really aware that that was the book, or that was the style that could find a public, an audience?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, let me answer this one first. My first five books were very experimental. I wrote two epic fantasies, one comedy, one cyberpunk, and one space opera. I did this so that I could be very sure that what I wanted to do was epic fantasy. I heard a metaphor when I was young for dating which said, "Don't always just date the same flavor of ice cream. Even if you're very sure you love strawberry, date some chocolate, some rocky road, some variety of different ice cream flavors so that you can be sure." I say the same thing about writing. One of my best friends, Dan, first tried only writing epic fantasy, and was having a very hard time being a writer, and then he wrote a horror novel that was super, super creepy, and now he is a famous horror writer because he found his love in that genre. After doing this for five novels, I was sure that epic fantasy was what I wanted to do, and it is no coincidence that book number six was Elantris, the first book of the Cosmere written, and the first book that eventually sold.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11152 Copy

    Questioner

    We have to wrap up, I think, so everyone here is going to kill me if I don't ask you about DMG which acquired the rights to your Cosmere. I wanted to ask how are you feeling about this, do you know at this stage how involved are you going to be? I heard you mentioned that the best adaptations are those that are done by people, just by leaving them do their thing, but I was also asking myself, in regards to this, if you're planning on any other cross-media stories? We have White Sand, we have whatever happened to Mistborn: Birthright. I wanted to ask about that too, because...

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, we'll start with Mistborn: Birthright. Unfortunately, it is dead, sorry. This was a video game we worked on for many years, and it just is not going to happen. As for other cross-media stories, I am very open to doing more. It will depend on how White Sand is received, and whether I can do other video game projects that look like they will work. As for the film, I spent a long time interviewing a lot of different people before we decided to go with DMG. I chose them primarily because I feel they understand the Cosmere, and are willing to approach it as a whole, as opposed to little pieces of something not connected. How much I'll be involved really remains to be seen. They've promised to let me be involved, they gave me a fancy title, we will see once the film's actually in production. I have every reason to believe that they will involve me, and so far they have done so, but I don't want to be the one directing or writing these films, because I am not a director or a screenwriter.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11153 Copy

    Questioner

    Also about The Reckoners, just out of curiosity, David's metaphors, so amazing, did you write them all? Was there a time when you had friends come over and say, "I have a crazy great metaphor, you have to use it for the book"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    For those who don't know, The Reckoners are told first person viewpoint from the viewpoint of a man named David, and though he tries hard, his metaphors and similes are awful. He says things like, "She was as perky as a sack full of caffeinated puppies." And the reason for this is, number one, the material itself is kind of dark. A world with no heroes could be a very, very dark place, so I knew I wanted a hero who was optimistic despite this, but David's main personality attribute is that he is a little too earnest. He tries a little too hard, and doesn't always think before he does something. So, I wanted a personality trait that quickly and easily reflected and indicated this to the reader, and the way that his metaphors don't quite work, but almost do, was the perfect method of conveying this. When he says things like, "You are a potato in a minefield," it doesn't make sense until he explains what it means. That, for instance, he was walking through a minefield, stepped on something he thought was going to kill him, and it turned out to be a potato instead. And then it's like, "Hey, free potato!" When we do this, it allows you to see that he is just speaking a little too fast, that his heart is right, and somewhere between his heart and his brain and his mouth, the wrong thing comes out. So, I guess what I'm saying is, the bad metaphors are actually a good metaphor for David's personality.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11154 Copy

    Questioner

    I think you're going to get asked a lot about the Cosmere today, so I wanted to make a question about the Reckoners saga, because, while I was reading it, there was one recurring thought in my mind, and it was, "Gosh, I wish I could have read this as a teenager," and it's equally enjoyable as a adult, but that kept running in my mind, and I was wondering if when you wrote it, you wrote it with these audiences in mind, or it's simply that David is so real and so like us when we were fifteen or fourteen that it came out that way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm very curious that you noticed this, because in the United States, this is actually published as a young adult novel. In the UK and Spain, and France, it is published as an adult novel. And I very much left it up to my publishers to decide what was best for their market, because David is nineteen, which puts it on the border between is this a young adult or an adult novel. However, when I was writing it, my target reader in my head was me at age fourteen, because, when I was young, it wasn't that nobody gave me books--people did give me books, they tried to make me into a reader--but the books were all boring, and I think the great power of science fiction and fantasy is that we are able to mix deep thought and exciting narrative. Every morning, my wife makes a smoothie for my children with ice cream. They love ice cream, my three little boys, so they're very excited, and every morning she adds a handful of spinach to it, because they love the color green and they think it's cool to drink a green drink. Of course, she adds it because the spinach is very healthy, and I feel like science fiction and fantasy is very good at this blend for books. All of our books are green, because we deal with very important issues, but we mix them with wonder, exploration, adventure, and human experience.

    The Reckoners is about power corrupting. I started the first book after driving on the road and nearly getting in a car wreck because someone pulled in front of me too quickly, and I was very annoyed with this person, and in that moment I imagined myself blowing the car up. I thought, "You are so lucky I don't have superpowers." It was a very cool explosion, too. Yeah, I have a good imagination. After this, I was immediately horrified, because I write books about people, generally, who get incredible powers, and then go on to protect others, but in that moment, I had the worry that I could not be trusted, myself, with those powers. So, The Reckoners is about what happens if people start gaining superpowers, but only evil people get them. It's Marvel's universe with no Avengers.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11155 Copy

    Questioner

    Something I really enjoyed, also, about, particularly the Mistborn saga, and I'm--very briefly, because I don't know if this is intentional or not, and that's the question--is that characters tend to talk a lot about events that have happened for the reader, things that the reader already knows, but even so, characters quite widely discuss these events, and this is something that I rarely find in TV and books. It's like most writers just know that "Okay, this is something the reader already knows, we don't have to bring it up," but I feel like it gives a really natural tone and voice to your novels, and I just simply, briefly wanted to know if it's intentional or if it's simply the way you write.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's been said that there are very few plots for books, and that most books fit into a set number of plots, though nobody seems to be able to agree on what that number is. That said, a lot of stories' beats or story points follow very similar patterns. This will relate, I promise. What is interesting to us is how the characters we're reading about interact with those events. You could say, on the large scale, many of our lives probably follow the same patterns. Going to school, our first love, probably going to college or trade school, our first time abroad, these sorts of things happen to us in patterns most of the time. And yet, the details are what fascinates us and what makes us individual. So I don't perceive my books being as much about the events as the effect those events have on the people we're reading about. So I try to avoid skipping chances for my characters to offer a different perspective on what they have seen from what another character may think they saw. You have to be careful, because you don't want the book to feel repetitive, and so this is a balancing act that I think I've gotten better at the more that I've written.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11156 Copy

    Questioner

    Something I found really interesting and refreshing--it's sad it is that way, but it is--about your books are female characters, and I recently read that for a while you were kind of mortified because, talking about feedback, someone told you that you were writing really plain female characters. Now, seeing Vin or Megan, I barely can believe that, and I think as fans sometimes maybe get a bit too caught up in how amazing your worldbuilding is, and your magic systems, and we sort of disregard something that really works as well, and that's characters. I really like that your characters have, even if they are kind of secondary, they have purpose, they have motive, they have a backstory, they are not just there as background, really. So, could you describe how is character building for you and how has it changed since then?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, this is an interesting thing to think about, as a fan of science fiction and fantasy, because the thing that draws us all to sci-fi/fantasy, the reason we're here, is because of the setting. And yet, the setting is in some ways the least important part, because, if you have a bad setting, but great characters, you usually can still have a good book, but if you have terrible characters and and interesting setting, usually that book is still going to be boring.

    This was a problem early in my writing, as you have brought up, particularly my female characters. I can still remember sharing one of my first books with someone, and being very excited for their feedback, and hearing how much they loved the magic system, and then getting to the criticism and saying, "It's unfortunate that the female lead is so wooden," and this was something that I needed to work on. No writer starts out good at everything. I was fortunate in finding early on some of these things that I needed to work on.

    For me, one of the big breakthroughs came when I started to look at each character as the protagonist of their own story. In some of these early books, characters were fit into a definition by my brain. This is the love interest, this is the sidekick, this is the mentor. But that's not how we are in our lives. Every one of us is a romantic interest at times, a mentor at times, a sidekick at times, but throughout the course of all of it, the only perspective we have of it is our own, and we are always the protagonist in that story. So when I started asking myself for each character, no matter how insignificant to the plot, who are they, what are they passionate about, what would they be doing today if the world weren't ending, and how are they the hero of their story.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11157 Copy

    Questioner

    You've come a really long way since Elantris was first published. How has your process of writing changed ever since, in the sense that then you had the feedback from the publishing house maybe, now you have the feedback from the fans, from the critics, and also I can imagine, very much tighter deadlines. How can you reflect on Elantris from now?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, first let me say, I love you, but I had so much time back then! Now, it is a real challenge. Everybody left me alone. I wouldn't go back, because everyone left me alone at book signings, too. My books sat lonely on the shelves by themselves. But the great challenge of this phase of my career is finding enough time to do all the things I need to do. When I turned in Elantris to the publisher, they published it two years and three months later. When I turned in Words of Radiance, three months later. My books pay for the publisher to keep publishing, and they very much like to publish my books, and so it is difficult. I travel a lot, my signings are wonderful but long, and my deadlines are very tight, and everyone is stressed about me turning the books in. I'm just glad I spent all those years writing, with nobody knowing who I was, because that's when I built all of my habits. If you would've asked me, during that time, if it was nice that I hadn't published any books yet, I would've said, "No, I want to publish books," but that era was essential for turning me into the writer I am today. For those who don't know, I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one of them.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11158 Copy

    Questioner

    So you've mentioned, and you've said this many times before, that you don't have to feel overwhelmed by the Cosmere if you are just a casual reader that wants to read a trilogy and that's it, you don't have to get too much into it, but do you fear this might taint a bit for readers as you keep developing the Cosmere and making it more prominent and relevant to the story itself?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maybe I should be more scared than I am, but currently I am not very frightened of this idea, for a couple of reasons. When I do stories that are very deeply involved in the Cosmere and the connections, I will be very upfront with it, and give warnings, so the readers will probably not end up in those books unless they are wanting to. The readers I'm most worried about are the ones who haven't started any of my books yet feeling overwhelmed, or feeling they have to read them in a specific order. As long as they don't start with books like Secret History, that says at the beginning, "Don't start with this book," they'll be fine.

    I think one of the strengths of science fiction and fantasy is that the genre does not coddle its readers. Even books in this genre for younger readers are very challenging with their worldbuilding and a lot of the events that happen in them, and I think that the fans are ready and willing to accept this. And the reason our genres tend to have books that become long-term classics is because of this depth. If you go back to the era when Dune was written, you will find Dune and many other science fiction and fantasy books of that era, like Anne McCaffrey's work and Ursula LeGuin's work, that is still being read, and is still considered very important, but if you read in some genres that did not try that depth and complexity, those authors did not last as long, and so I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't add this depth where I can.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11159 Copy

    Questioner

    You sort of have to be productive to write the Cosmere, because it's really complex. Did you have it planned in advance when you first started, did you really have a very, very clear idea of what you wanted, or was it just the structure?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, for those who don't know, it has been referenced, my epic fantasies are connected behind the scenes with a lot of secret characters who are moving between the different stories. If you haven't read my books, don't get intimidated by that. It is mostly to be found if you dig for it, but not intended to be distracting from the main story of each book.

    And it did start from the beginning, at least from the beginning of Elantris, which was actually the sixth book that I wrote. It wasn't there in the first few books, but by the time I wrote Elantris it was there. I can trace the idea to a couple of places. From a very young age, when I would read books, I can remember doing this for Anne McCaffrey, it was always very fun to me to imagine a character that was hiding behind the scenes in the story that she wrote that I had inserted, that the other characters didn't know this character's secret motive, and they would appear in the various books that I read. I would say, "Oh, that's him. Ooh, that's him in this other book," written by different authors. That is the origin of the character Hoid, most likely.

    I can also point toward Isaac Asimov as an inspiration. In the late 80's, early 90's, when I was first becoming a big fan of fantasy and science fiction, I read Foundation, and then read the robot books, and then read his connecting the two of them together, which was one of those moments that broke my brain, and as I've read other people's works, I've found other authors who did similar things. Michael Moorcock is one, even the Marvel and DC comics did a lot of this. Famously, Stephen King did it with the Dark Tower books.

    One theme I've noticed is that many of them feel like they decided to add this as a feature after having finished several books, and thought, "What a cool idea, I will connect them," and having seen them do this, and like it, I ask the question, "What if someone started from the get-go, from the first book, setting up a hidden epic behind the scenes?" Like most writers, I owe a great deal to those who came before and provided inspiration for the things that I do.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11160 Copy

    Questioner

    In that regard, you've been called like a million times a prolific writer, and you are, but many people tend to believe that you have some sort of superpower. You don't, you just said many times that your secret is persistent and consistent writing, and I was wondering if this ever lets you disconnect from your worlds, or even put them on standby, if it's easier having that sort of structure and saying, "Okay, now I'm going to write, and now I'm going to not write"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a very astute question, because one thing that is very hard for writers is to write when we're supposed to. And this goes both ways, meaning, sometimes, for writers, when it's time to sit down and write, writing doesn't happen, but sometimes when we are supposed to be spending out time with our family then our brain is not there and we are somewhere else, and I would say that's the main source of conflict, often, in writers' interpersonal lives.

    Though if I do have a superpower, I owe it to my mother. My mother is an accountant, and she is very, very logical, one of the most logical people that I know, and she trained me from childhood to do the things that I'm supposed to do--to do my homework, to do my chores, all of these things. I had a paper route, as a kid, delivering newspapers from age twelve, and I always remember whenever my money came in, my mother would sit me down, and she would hold the money, and say, "Okay, now how much do you put in this savings account?" And I would have to guess numbers until I got to what she thought was right, and she would put that in, and then the next savings account, and then the next savings account, and then I would get handed a dollar. But I was the one of my friends who had a Super Nintendo because of those savings accounts. She trained me very well, and I often say my biggest advantage, as a writer, is that I am an artist with the training of an accountant. And so, when it's time to do my writing, I'm very good, practiced. It took time, many years, but I am practiced, and I am able to be very productive on most days. It's art, so some days, it still doesn't work, but most days I am productive, and equally important, when it is time to spend time with my family, I can turn that off, go be a dad and a husband, and then turn it back on after they go to bed.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11161 Copy

    Questioner

    As it happens with any great character I think background is really important, so briefly, because I know you've talked about this a million times, how did you first become interested in fantasy and when did you realized, okay I want to do this for a living?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, unlike a lot of writers, I didn't enjoy books when I was young. I had a teacher, eighth grade, her name was Ms. Reader, this is true, and she knew that I was goofing off a little too much in my literature class. So, she took me to the back of her room, where there were a whole bunch of old books, paperbacks, that a hundred students had read, and she said, "You need to read one of these and report back to me, because I know you're not doing your readings for class." So I browsed through these reluctantly, and I eventually settled on one that looked pretty cool. It was Dragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly, with this gorgeous Michael Whelan cover. It had a dragon. It had a cool looking guy. It had a pretty girl; that was more important. I thought I'd give it a try. I was fourteen, so... I loved this book.

    This book changed everything. I fell in love with the fantasy genre. From this, I discovered Anne McCaffrey, who was the other fantasy author my school library had, and over that summer after my eighth grade year, I read everything I could get my hands on--Terry Brooks, David Eddings, a lot of Melanie Rawn--and just absolutely fell in love. And these books meant something to me, there was a powerful emotion to them, and I thought, "I have to learn how to do this."

    Questioner

    And about when you sort of decided you wanted to do this, it was around that age as well?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say it was maybe a year later that I started writing my own book, my first one. It was terribly, absolutely terrible. It was a bad combination of Dragonlance and Tad Williams, but I loved the process of writing it. And I was a teenager, so I didn't know it was bad, I just loved doing it.

    I actually went to college my first year as a chemist, which you can see maybe coming out in my books a little bit if you've read some of them and seen the magic, but I did not like the busy work of chemistry, right? While I loved the thoughts and ideas, the actual sitting down and figuring how many atoms are in a table or whatever, I hated, and I always contrasted that with the writing where I loved the busy work. I could sit down and work on a story, and forget that four or five hours had passed. That was a really good sign to me for writing, and a really bad sign for chemistry.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #11162 Copy

    Lord_Natimus08

    So basically a Thunderclast is a rock giant. I thought it was a rock monster. Same difference I guess?

    JorusC

    I got the sense in the prologue of Way of Kings that the dead Thunderclast there was quadrupedal. So maybe it's more the class of monster, with different shapes?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    This.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11163 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Seolin is an interesting character to me. Not because he really does anything distinctive–but because of how he developed. His name was "Saorn" in the original draft, by the way. I think I changed this because it was too close to "Daorn." People also confused it with Shaod. I'm not certain if the new one fixes that problem, but it does feel a little more distinctive to me.

    Regardless, Seolin is one of those characters who grew out of nothing to have a strangely large part in the plot. Again, I realize that he's not all that original as a character. However, his dedication–and the way Raoden came to rely on him–wasn't something I intended when planning the book. While I don't believe in the whole "Books surprise their authors" concept, I do enjoy the discovery of writing. Seolin is one of the characters "discovered" in this way, and I am very pleased with him.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11164 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Those of you who've read the book before should recognize the case study Raoden mentions in this chapter. The woman who was miss-healed by the Elantrian is none other than Dilaf's wife–he speaks of her near the end of the book. This event–the madness and death of the woman he loved–is what drives his hatred of Elantris, and therefore Arelon and Teod.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11165 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a rather long chapter. Longer, actually, than I probably would have put in a regular story. However, the triad system kind of forced me to lump all of these events together. It was important that I show the danger of Shaor's gang, as well as the way New Elantris was progressing despite its problems. At the same time, we needed to find out more about Galladon eventually. So, when I did the "find the pool" chapter, I had to include these other items before it.

    I kind of wish that I'd been able to include the "Once so very beautiful. . . ." in this chapter somewhere. If you've been watching, you'll know that I do mention the man several other places, often when Raoden is near the Hoed. This is one of the more clever little twists of foreshadowing in the book, if I do say so myself.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11166 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Five

    I couldn't resist having Sarene intentionally mis-interpret the demands from Raoden's team. Not only did it make for a fun scene with them discovering how she twisted their requests, it also let me characterize Sarene in-abscentia. To her, politics is a game. Any time she can twist her opponent's words and do something unexpected, like send a pile of nails instead of sheets of steel, she feels a thrill of victory.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11167 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    As I've mentioned before, the Hrathen chapters tend to be shorter than the other two. As Raoden and Sarene's chapters pick up, I was left struggling just a bit to find things to do in the complimentary Hrathen chapters. I probably could have sped up his plot through these middle chapters just a bit. However, the triad system means that I had to give him a viewpoint every third chapter. That is probably why he got so many contemplative sections–and, possibly, is what in turn made him into such an interesting character personality wise. It's kind of hard to dissect these kinds of things now that the book has been done for five years.

    Anyway, I did need this chapter to give Hrathen a chance to do some more foreshadowing on Dilaf. The emergence of Dilaf in these chapters is, I think, one of the more interesting and surprising elements from the middle Hrathen chapters. When Dilaf is originally presented in the book, I expected people to see him as a simple sidekick to Hrathen, much in the same way that I established Galladon and Ashe to be counterparts to Raoden and Sarene. With this parallelism in servant characters, I hoped to pull of a subtle surprise with Dilaf when he started to make trouble for Hrathen, as he is doing in these chapters.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11168 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Four

    As you can probably deduce from what I've said before, this Telrii scene is a late addition. It's not one of my favorites between Hrathen and Telrii--re-reading it, it makes me feel like Telrii is simply there to be persuaded. While the intention of these scenes is, indeed, to show Hrathen as a stronger character, their secondary purpose is simply to let him voice out loud some of the thoughts he's been mulling over. If you have trouble characterizing or motivating one of your characters in a book you're writing, try giving them someone--either friend or foe--to talk to.

    Anyway, this particular scene is a little weak, and I suppose I could cut it without too much loss. It is a good idea to keep people thinking about Telrii, however, since he will be important later in the story.

    Also, there is his warning to Hrathen about not being a pawn, which is some good foreshadowing for what happens later, when he casts Hrathen off and tries to become a Gyorn himself.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11169 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, in this chapter we get the first real Sarene-Raoden interaction. I worked very hard on this relationship, trying to find a way to make it work naturally, yet still have the drama necessary for good storytelling. I assume that readers–at least the more romantic lot of you–have been waiting for the time when Sarene and Raoden would meet. Not only are they the male and female leads, but they also happen to be married.

    One of the things all writers struggle with is making their plots not seem contrived. Moshe and I tried very hard to make certain that everyone's motivations worked, and this is a good test chapter. Does it make sense to you that Raoden wouldn't show Sarene and the others his true self? I think that his desire to keep himself, and New Elantris, quiet makes sense. However, I could see how some readers might find it contrived. I hope my explanations make sense.

    One of the biggest complexities in this book is the way Raoden keeps his true self secret. I hope that the way he does this doesn't seem unbelievable. To him, his old life is gone. Though he is curious about his old friends, and especially about Sarene, he can't afford to let himself grow too interested in or attached to the outside world. He knows that doing so would only bring pain, both for himself, and for others.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11170 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Three

    Sarene=Chaos

    If you want to read more on this topic, read the critical afterword to Elantris I wrote for inclusion with my Master's Thesis. The short of it, however, is that Sarene is a force of change and chaos. Raoden, as mentioned above, is a master at working with what he is given. He manipulates his confines to the point that they are no longer binding.

    Sarene, however, just ignores what she is "supposed" to do. She is chaos. Not the "evil" chaos usually used in fantasy novels--Sarene is simply unpredictable, a force that can't be measured as easily as others. One manifestation of this comes in the nature of this chapter. If you read closely, you'll notice that--for the first time in the book--I offer two viewpoints in the same chapter. We jump from Sarene to Raoden, then back to Sarene again. It's a little thing, perhaps–a silly thing, even, for me to put in. However, it is representative of the fact that the first time Sarene enters Raoden's world, she brings with her an uncanny ability to mess up his plans.

    FAQFriday 2017 ()
    #11172 Copy

    Questioner

    If a fantasy book had an unhappy ending, would that affect how it was received by publishers and readers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is an interesting question to be asking! I'm going to preface this by saying a couple things.

    First, there is a difference between UNHAPPY and UNSATISFYING. These are two completely different things. For example: many classic tragedies are enitre stories with momentum pushing toward the tragic. A modern fantasy example would be some of George R. R. martin's work, where the books often have tragic endings, with the protagonists losing or dying. (Granted, his series isn't done yet, so there's no way to know yet if the final ending will be tragic or triumphant.)

    These books are still satisfying, however. The tone of these stories implies that tragic events will occur--and sadness is a powerful emotion. Stories exist, in part, to explore emotion. If the Story is built well, and handled expertly, the reader will be SATISFIED with the ending even if it's tragic. You will feel, "This is where the story was supposed to go. Even if I don't like what happened, it's beautiful in its tragic nature."

    Many long form stories also tend to have a balance bittersweet ending. Some things are accomplished, some things are lost. As one might say on Roshar, it's not about the last page--it's about whether the journey there was worthwhile.

    In response to your question, then, my instinct says that the sadness of the ending doesn't have a direct correlation with sales, goodreads rating, etc. Quality and deft ahndling of the material will certainly affect these things--but not specifically if the ending is happy or not. Publishers would certainly publish one with a sad ending. Note that if you take the bodies of work by some creators (Including both Shakespeare and Star Wars) the most popular and most successful installments WERE the ones with the sad endings.

    (Note that I DO think certain readers are going to dislike an ending that is sad, while others are going to dislike an ending that is too neat and happy. Individual certainly will have opinions. I just think the balance, at the end, will probably be around the same.)

    That said, you do focus on a "Bad" ending, equating it with sad. So in the interest of discussion, I'll call this a sad ending to an otherwise upbeat book--a twist of tone that happens right at the end, unexpectedly, leaving the reader frustrated. This would be an ending that completely defies genre conventions. The heroic adventure story where the hero unexpectedly dies at the end, or the Jane Austen style romance that ends with the love interest running off with some other woman.

    There would be a subset of people who would just love this, but I think if the book doesn't give the proper tone promises at the start, it would create a less commercially viable work. I don't think this is a reason not to try something like that as a writer, but I do think you might have more trouble finding an audience.

    Ad Astra 2017 ()
    #11173 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you make a conscious effort to incorporate *inaudible* morals? Like not...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, yeah...

    Questioner

    I mean, more sexually.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right, so, I personally don't like reading things that kind of are explicit themselves. I feel like I shouldn't force all of my characters to keep the same moral code, because that's not accurately representing the world. It's-- But at the same time, what I think is moral influences things. So it's like very conscious that--

    Questioner

    More like how you describe it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. And also, you know, you go to some-- a place like Roshar, where it's based on oaths and things like this. That's playing into part of what I think is moral, right? So, yeah. But the same time we have people like Wayne, whose just like-- you know Wayne is not going to-- yeah, he's got very loose morals-- that's who he is. And if I didn't put people like that in my books there would be something wrong. But I don't feel like I have to be explicit, is the thing.

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    Questioner 1

    What's the title of the sixth book gonna be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right now it is named-- it says "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" with the "Alcatraz" crossed out, and says "Bastille". And it says, underneath, "Versus His Own Dumb Self"-- is the title I'm going with right now, but it might change. But it's called Alcatraz Versus His Own Dumb Self.

    Questioner 2

    ...How long does it take to do the first run?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How long does it take to do what?

    Questioner 2

    The first run.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The first draft, of an Alcatraz book, usually takes about two months. They can be a lot faster than my other books, but yeah.

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    Questioner

    Does the Lord Ruler have children?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I've been dodgy about this before, but the answer is yes, the Lord Ruler did have children. I don't think I've-- I've strongly hinted at it, and so I think people basically know. But yes, he did... But it is children.

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    Questioner

    What does your writing desk look like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't have a desk. I set in an easy chair. I sit, lean back, and relax.

    Questioner

    So maybe it's comfy when you're leaning back and relaxed.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep. And I do-- I go, like, walk on the treadmill or run on the elliptical-- I don't know what you call it on an elliptical, half-run or whatever-- and plan out my writing of the day. And then I go sit in my easy chair, and I-- it's by the hearth-- and I just work.

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    Questioner

    Is there any other magic types on the Warbreaker world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are different manipulations and manifestations of Breath.

    Questioner

    Okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are gonna be much closer than, like, the Selish magic systems and things like that.

    Questioner

    Okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the deviation is much smaller, but it does manifest in slightly different ways-- Kind of a thing.

    TheHunter

    Have we seen any?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ahh! RAFO!

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    Questioner

    And question: what is your favorite and least favorite thing about Hoid?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite thing about him is that he just doesn't care about, you know, like-- what-- he is able to have the right amount of caring what people think about him, right? He's able to kind of control perception. My least favorite thing about him is he can be a very not nice person.

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    Questioner

    What do you do when you have writer's block?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, the easiest way I've found to get rid of writer's block is to write anyway, and have it turn out badly. And then my brain will work on the scene, having written it poorly, the next day my brain almost always figures out how to just fix it. And so, I have to write the scene badly, and often I just have whatever happen. You know, just crazy things. And then set it aside knowing it's not going to go in the book... It's a little bit hard to write something you know isn't going to end up in the book and is wrong. But training yourself to do that so your subconscious can fix the problem is really handy.

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    Questioner

    What's your favorite word?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite word? Rutabaga.

    Questioner

    Mega? Mega?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Rutabaga.

    Questioner

    Rutabaga?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep. It's in the Alcatraz books, so...

    Questioner

    Okay, yeah. I haven't gotten to those yet, but I will.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I just like the way rutabaga sounds.

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    Questioner

    Question for you, regarding Nalthis.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    Do priests use-- to extract the divine Breath and hoard.. Do they use a sharp object to get the divine Breath and hoard from the God King?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The divine Breath what?

    Questioner

    Divine Breath and hoard. Can you get it away from him by using a sharp pointy object?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, the-- like you're asking like--

    Questioner

    Hemalurgy as an option.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is not, but that's a good question. That is a really good question. I'm surprised no one's asked me that before.

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    Questioner

    Rysn has come up a lot in interludes in both books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep.

    Questioner

    Will she continue to be in the--

    Brandon Sanderson

    She does have an interlude in the third book. She is kind of, like-- so far I have wanted to use one of my interludes on her each time. I only get, you know, I get like only like eight or so per book, but I've used one of those on her every book. And I probably will going forward, but I can't promise.

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    Questioner

    Jasnah's name. What was the origin for it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Jasnah's name predates most of the language work that I did. It comes from ancient, kind of Semetic languages-- playing around with those. And then her name became one of the ones that I built the language around. Because after I had named her, and written the whole book, I had named her and Dalinar. Kaladin's name changed once I had rebuilt the linguistics. Shallan's name changed once I rebuilt the linguistics. But Dalinar and Jasnah kind of became the origins. But it's ancient-- you know, a blend of Arabic and Hebrew. It's kind of-- yeah.

    Questioner

    Because I have an interesting tidbit--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh

    Questioner

    "Jasna" in Polish actually means "bright."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I've been told that! Just-- I went to Poland, like, last-- like a couple of months ago, and they're like, "Did you know this?" I had no idea.

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    Questioner

    So I know that you read The Wheel of Time.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmhmm.

    Questioner

    How was it-- the process of this when you found out that you were going to be part of the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, so I would-- did not apply. It just-- they called me on the phone one day. Harriet did...

    So, yeah, they just called me on the phone and said, "We know you're a fan. Would you be willing to do this?" And I was just dumbfounded. I hadn't planned on it. I hadn't applied for it. So what I did is, I went and reread the whole series again, because I had read it before. But I had his notes in hand when I did it, and I built an outline out of notes he'd left and scenes that he'd finished, and built a massive outline. I presented that to Harriet and her assistants, and they said go for it. And I just started writing.

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    Questioner

    When you compound copper? What does that do?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is-- *hands RAFO card* --the first one tonight. The first one I brought. I'm leaving a lot of the compounding questions for me to explore in later books and show you. And part of the reason is because I like the-- I like letting the readers discover new things and saving things back. And partially it's because I do change it as I go. Once in a while I'll write the book and be like, "No, this thing just doesn't work." Or, "Oh this other thing worked way better." So... That's kind of a double RAFO for those reasons.

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    Spoolofwhool

    What does it mean for an object to be considered "Invested"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, that is a matter of some discussion among scientists. Usually it means, to most of them, like a-- so, let me see if I can explain this-- So all things are built from Investiture.

    Spoolofwhool

    Right.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right? Um, when they're using "Invested" they're talking about kind of like saturating a solution, in that-- yes, it's built out of this material, but you are-- there is more in it than-- like, it's a little bit like supersaturation, but not quite. Because it can s-- yeah, anyway.

    Spoolofwhool

    So getting, like, more Investiture in the spiritweb or in Cognitive than normal?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, more than just the creation of it. Like there is lingering Investiture that could be drawn out. Or more stuffed in. It's--

    Spoolofwhool

    But there are limits, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are limits. We kind of run into that in Feruchemy a little bit, and things like that. But yes.

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    Questioner

    I'm not sure if you're allowed to answer, or you've probably been asked a million times-- the idea of channeling-- the fact-- in the last book of The Wheel of Time--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    You know what I'm talking about.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The One Power?

    Questioner

    The One Power, yeah. So Rand loses his ability to channel the One Power. But then--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh the True Power. Er, yeah yeah, the One Power, yeah yeah.

    Questioner

    Yeah, yeah. But he can channel-- Um, basically when he, you know, when he takes over Ishamael's body he can--Where did that idea come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's Robert Jordan. He wrote the whole epilogue except for Perrin scenes.

    Questioner

    Oh, really?

    Brandon Sanderson

    And he wrote them as is and just left them and didn't explain to us.

    Questioner

    So the Perrin scenes were from you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Perrin scenes were from me. He didn't leave very much on Perrin--

    Questioner

    Oh that's amazing. Well done, cause I think the Perrin picked up right at the end too, so--

    Brandon Sanderson

    But the epilogue. He wrote that whole epilogue, from where Rand stumbles out of the... But when Rand stumbles out of the cavern, that's all Robert Jordan and--

    Questioner

    Wow, that's amazing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He did not explain to us, how it... We just left it as is.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Some people have noted to me that it seems strange to them that Elantris only fell ten years before the start of the book. It seems to them that the legends make it seem older, more removed. This is actually intentional. I wanted it to be difficult to remember, at times, that it has only been ten years since the majestic city fell.

    Just like Elantris is crumbling far more quickly than should have been possible, it is passing into legend far faster than people might have thought. Part of this is due to the power of rumors and stories in a land without the ability to provide archival visual records (i.e., film.) Part of it, however, is the Elantris "mystery." Something very bad happened, and nobody understands it. In a way, the entire country has been left with a hole inside of its soul, now that Elantris is gone.

    By the way. Yes, the line "Its sprit has fled" was intended as another little pun off of the then title of the book "The Spirit of Elantris."

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Two

    Raoden is an expert at manipulating his surroundings. This doesn't make him "manipulative," in my mind. (You can read about a real manipulator in my next book.) Raoden simply knows how to take what he is given and make the best from them. In a way, this is the soul of creativity. Raoden is like a master composer or an artist–except, where they take images or sounds and combine them to suit their needs, he takes the situation and adapts it to create something useful. Outside of Elantris, he took his father's edicts and turn them against the man. However, thrown into a terrible situation like the pit of Elantris, Raoden really has an opportunity to shine.

    He's kind of like a magic unto himself. I've known people a little like him in this world–people who can defy convention and reality, and just make things work. Somehow, Raoden can make three out of two. He can take the pieces and combine them in new ways, creating something greater than most people thought possible.

    In short, he's the perfect hero for this kind of book. When I was writing Elantris in the winter of 1999 and spring of 2000, I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at BYU. The book I'd written before it was called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora–undoubtedly the strangest, most-un-Brandon-like book I've ever constructed. Pandora was a SFstory about a man made immortal though careful–and expensive–application of nanotechnology. The process slowly drove him mad.

    Pandora was a dark, grisly book. The man character could withstand alarming injuries without dying. One prime theme of the novel was dealing with the psyche of a man who could slaughter thousands of people while being shot to pieces, then find himself reconstructed a short time later. It was a rather violent book–probably the most disturbing I've ever written.

    When I got done with that book, I reacted against it by wanting to devise a plot that didn't depend at all on violence. Elantris was the result. I wanted to tell a story about a hero who could succeed without having to beat up on the people who opposed him. I took away his physical abilities and his royal resources, leaving him with only his wits and his determination.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

     I'm very fond of this last scene for two reasons. First is the fact that I get to show Hrathen being charitable. He really does care. When characterizing him in my mind, this scene always jumps out as showing something very important about him.

    Contrasted with that moment, however, is Omin's lucid presentation of Hrathen a hypocrite. All this time, Hrathen has worked against Shu-Korath, trying to stamp it out. Yet, in one brief moment, Omin scores a personal hit that is more painful than anything Hrathen could do in return.

    Notice how Hrathen keeps trying to pull the discussion away from discussing truth in this scene. He knows that he can dominate if he can get the conversation to center around logic. However, truth is something that is hard to define, and something even harder to argue against. Despite his priestly mantle, he finds truth outside of his authority and experience.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    I mention the Outer Cities here with the beggars. Actually, the main reason I put them in was to give myself another excuse to mention the Outer Cities. Throughout the books progress, I've been worried that people wouldn't understand the ending climax. In order to get what is going on with Aon Rao, they need to understand the geography of the cities around Elantris. Hopefully, I describe it well enough that it comes off.

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    Questioner

    So, pre-collapse Final Empire. The random Allomancer house guards. Were-- are they house members, or--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, yeah usually it's uh-- So if you've got an Allomancer it's because the family's gotten large and there are lots of cousins, and distant cousins, and things like that. And the Allomancy shows up in some of them, and they kind of get brought up in getting a retainer. They're kind of like knights, right? Like, you get money from the house and things like that, but in return you have to protect the -- use your Allomancy for them.

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    Questioner

    I asked you the Legion question, so I've been reading. I've been working my way through that series, so I'm excited to hear there's a third one coming up.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep. The goal is to write it for that anthology, so that I at least can start wrapping some things up.

    Questioner

    Well there's a lot to wrap up, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Questioner

    There's a pretty high demand, for sure, right? But it's cool, it was interesting to see, "Oh, maybe this is your break, a little bit, of trying to get away from it." A little bit.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, right. Most of those- the short fiction I write, is to take a break.

    Questioner

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Just to do something different.

    Questioner

    And get the creative juices flowing in a little different area.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

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    Questioner

    Did serving your mission in Korea help you in, like, worldbuilding? Kind of give you-- get you out of your own mindset?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Getting out of an-- into another culture is the number one thing for helping me world build. And I still-- the linguistics of things I create are often influenced by Korea.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-One

    Some of the most fulfilling experiences in writing this book came from the Hrathen chapters. Though Joshua still occasionally complains that he finds Hrathen's internal monologues to be slow and ponderous, I find them essential to the plot. Chapters like this—chapters where we really get to see how Hrathen thinks—are what makes this book more than just a nice adventure story.

    The section where Hrathen tries to appoint a new Head Arteth is a more recent addition to the book. I wanted to show the power Dilaf was beginning to have over Hrathen's work in the city, and thought that this made another nice little sub-conflict for Hrathen to deal with.

    The chapter used to begin with Hrathen trying to send Dilaf away. Though I added some new information at the beginning, that particular scene is pretty much intact from the first draft. I do worry that some of Hrathen and Dilaf's posturings don't come across as well as they could. This exchange is a wonderful example—I haven't had time in the book to do as much explaining about the Derethi religion as I would like. Because of this, I have to explain Dilaf's move as he tries to perform it. This is always a weaker narrative structure than if the move itself is an obvious outflow from the dynamics of the world. If readers had understood just what an Odiv and a Krondet were, then all Dilaf would have to do is mention that he'd sworn a bunch of Odivs, and the reader would know what he was doing.

    Even still, I like what happens here. For the first time, the book expressly shows that Dilaf is planning and working against Hrathen. Before, he's always been able to fall behind his excuse of, I was caught up in the moment. This, however, is an obviously planned maneuver intended to give him power over Hrathen.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sarene's half-breakdown in this chapter was intended as both a simple reminder of the stress she's under as well as further characterization of her. She's far more volatile than Raoden and Hrathen, and I think that is part of what makes her my favorite character in the book. She doesn't always keep it all in–nor is she perfect. Occasionally, she makes mistakes, and things well up inside her. In this way, she's very real to me.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sarene used to tap her cheek a lot more than she does in this draft. It was a quirk I designed for her at the beginning–a nervous habit I thought indicative of her personality. However, a lot of people found it distracting. They seemed to think that tapping the cheek was an odd behavior. (Just as a note, when she taps her cheek, I'm thinking of her folding her arms, with one hand raised contemplative, index finger resting on her cheek. I've been known to sit that way some times.)

    Anyway, I took out many of the references. As Moshe said, "There's just too much tapping going on!"

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    If you read over this scene in the garden, you might notice something odd. I didn't see it until I was doing the copy edit, and by then it was too late to change. Lukel and Kiin aren't there for the meeting. They're never mentioned, and I never explain why they aren't there. I think that I just forgot to put them in, since the scene isn't set in the customary location of Kiin's kitchen.

    I don't know if readers notice it or not–or even if they care–but I get tired of writing scenes in the same locations. I know it's common in storytelling to do this. Most sitcoms, for instance, always take place in the same locations over and over again. However, I enjoy describing new settings, even if the change is as simple as putting the meeting outside instead of in the kitchen. Maybe it's an unnecessary complication, but it makes the writing more interesting for me.