Recent entries

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11601 Copy

    Questioner

    Can someone be sacrificed for both Hemalurgy and the magics of Dakhor simultaneously?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So this is going to require the soul being ripped apart, so it depends on what pieces of the soul are left and how easily you can capture them. That's a theoretical possible-- possibility... Know that most of the horrors of Dakhor are twisting a soul not stealing a soul.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11603 Copy

    Questioner

    How did Kaladin heal his shardblade wound without the power of Regrowth?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's partially a RAFO. Remember that healing in the cosmere usually has to do with how you view yourself. And as long as there is some outpouring of Investiture you are usually capable of healing. More the weird thing is not that Kaladin healed it's that Szeth couldn't.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11604 Copy

    writing

    I was wondering about , how much of your day do you spend writing? Because you have five(?) books coming out, I didn't count them all.

    No, I've only got two books this year. I do two books a year, with a third book occasionally. It just depends on how long the books are. For instance a Way of Kings book is four of these [Firefight?] in length, so when I do a Stormlight book you get less, fewer other books. When I do-- For instance I can do two of these [Reckoners?] and two Mistborn books in the same length of time. I work a normal workday usually, plus a little bit... I don't write particularly fast. I do write a large amount but mostly I'm very consistent. I just write a little bit each day and then it happens.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11606 Copy

    Questioner

    If you could live on any one of the worlds, which one would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If forced to, because I would stay here if I could 'cause internet, internet's really cool, mac & cheese, I like mac & cheese, I like instant ramen. But if I were forced I would pick Scadrial, the Mistborn world, because it's the closest to all of those things, but beyond that it would, post-Catacendre, a very good place to live...

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11607 Copy

    Questioner

    My question was, have you ever written a scene and had it published and then wanted to change one of your scenes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I have. There have been a couple of them. There's one at the end of Words of Radiance, when it came time for the paperback I reverted to a previous version of the scene. So yeah you guys will see that when the paperback comes out. One of the ending scenes-- It's a very minor tweak but I had done like four different drafts of this scene and I didn't like the one we ended up with. Even immediately after we sent it in I was like "No that's the wrong one". So we reverted.

    Questioner

    Will you post that online?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I'll post that online when the book comes out. I'll be like "By the way guys, Warning. There's a change here."

    Bystander

    The internet will freak out.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. The other thing is the ending of Elantris, the spatial-ness of it, and things, I got some of the math wrong. I didn't have Peter back then. And so now that we are doing a 10th anniversary edition I actually had Peter and Isaac, who does all the maps, get together, work out the actual math. The size of the city, the size of the continent, and all this stuff and Isaac's doing a new map and we are changing the text to now match that map. So for instance where it says something is in the original text it will actually move now that we have an actual real map, rather than my MS Paint thing that I was using 'cause you know me and maps. So yeah you nodded, there are a lot of mathematical-- just problems. We've got the new map now and it all works. So I'm glad that it all actually works, once you get the math right. But like the number of steps is way off at the end of that one for instance.

    *To Argent/Kurkistan* Have you guys figured that out? Like it makes the size of the planet stupidly big.

    Argent

    When is that coming out by the way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm not sure, we just have to see when we turn it in. I think maybe later this year. Maybe early next year. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to get it out with one of the Mistborn books, at around the same time.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11608 Copy

    Questioner

    When it comes to major, pivotal plot twists. Moments where the reader goes "WOAH" or "Oh my god". Are those something you write as starting point or ending point?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What I do is I plot my outline backward, starting with those scenes. And then I write the book forward to those scenes. The reason I can do it that way is because in the plot I don't need to know the characters' emotional state, I can just come up with "This is going to be a great scene". But I have to have been with the characters through the journey to write their reaction to the scene. So I can't actually write it early.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11609 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you ever listen to your own audiobooks?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do on occasion. I don't listen to them for long because I will find myself wanting to change things. And that's dangerous...

    Questioner

    Do you have a favorite narrator that you--

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do--

    Questioner

    Of your books and of other books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is Michael Kramer, who did the Wheel of Time books. Which is why I asked for him on my books.

    Argent

    If I may, how do you feel about Graphic Audio?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I, personally, love that they are available but I find them kind of distracting when I'm listening to them.

    Argent

    Too much--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. I'm glad-- I mean I want to sell as many of them as we can because there are some people who just love them. But I actually love straight reads, like I like Wil Wheaton's reading, where there's very minimal voices.

    Argent

    Well that's because it's Wil Wheaton.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is Wil Wheaton but I-- I do like Graphic Audio because they use women for women's parts, men for men's parts, which is really helpful. Men doing women's voices in books, and women doing men's voices as readers, a lot of them are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11610 Copy

    Questioner

    I was curious Mat and then the second-hand man Talmanes... Did you have inspiration for those-- Because I absolutely enjoyed, I laughed out loud multiple times reading those characters. And I wondered--

    Brandon Sanderson

    With Mat it was always just me trying to match Robert Jordan's style, sometimes awkwardly at first but I think I got it down. With Talmanes there was more room for interpretation because I had always-- In fandom people interpret his personality in a lot of different ways, and I was a certain theory because we'd never seen through his eyes. When I did write scenes through his eyes I used my interpretation. There are some people "No that's not how he is". There are some people "Yes I always knew he was like that". But that's how I've always viewed him, with kind of the tongue in his cheek as he's talking to Mat. And I've always loved him as a character because of that. Which is why I wanted to write him and include him. There weren't any notes to use him.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11611 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you think about reddit or the 17th shard and the Coppermind-- All the different theories going around? Do you ever find one that hits your plot line or something?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh yes. I don't change it. I'm just like "There's a smart person.' But what I learned in Wheel of Time fandom was that you can't-- There is madness that lies in trying to change things once someone figures it out. Like particularly with the way that I do my plots, there's foreshadowing so there's someone who's going to be able to figure it out. If they can't figure it out I haven't put in the foreshadowing properly. So almost everything that I've put into the books, somebody knows. Some of them are really obvious and everybody's got it, and I'm okay with that because the people who don't read the forums, a few of them will be surprised, but mostly it will be like "Yeah of course we know this Brandon. Of course we know yada yada yada" I don't--

    Argent

    Go on, go on.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't... *mutters* I think you've figured it out-- But there are things like that. But there are other little things that there are a dozen theories on, and one of them's right.

    Questioner

    You are probably going to get that when there's large populations...

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's large populations and there's proper foreshadowing, somebody is going to get it, and I think that's appropriate.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11612 Copy

    Questioner

    Can worldhoppers travel forwards and backwards in time or are they stuck going forward?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are stuck going forward. Good question.

    Questioner

    So Hoid has to move in a straight line?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He has to move in a straight line. It can squish-- stretch or squish that line but he can't go back along the line.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11613 Copy

    Questioner

    How much research do you have to do in sciences and technology and history to create a world that is more relate-able if not as believable as they are?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What it takes is a lot of general knowledge, meaning you read a lot of history books, a lot of science books, and this general knowledge that you then incorporate. It's not like I go and say "I need to know more about this thing". I'll do that for characters and some aspects of the worlds sometimes but mostly this is coming from spending 10 years learning all this stuff. Does that make sense?

    Questioner

    It makes total sense, and my 10 years of community college will help me write.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes it will.

    Questioner

    My 120 credit-hours.

    Brandon Sanderson

    120 credit-hours, that's what makes a good writer... That really turns-- You can pick out "Oh that's my linguistics class" and I'd be like "Oh that's my chemistry class. Oh that's the class I snuck into, the psychology class".

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11614 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you come up with the ideas for the powers and the names of the Epics?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The names are actually really hard because comic book heroes, there are so many names they've already used. And so I have to a lot of searching and thinking and it's usually my fifth choice. Lots of looking in the thesaurus for "Alright was a word that is like this one that has been used way too often". The powers I'm look for usually something cool that somebody has done in a movie or a book or a comic book that I don't think they extrapolated far enough. I'm like "No that's not how it would really work. This is how I think it would really work." and kind of taking my own spin on it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11615 Copy

    Questioner

    Also what is it about about the Fantasy genre in particular that lends itself to these sorts of questions about the nature of religion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well I think that there are a lot of things. One of them is that fantasy is one of these genres where we can take away a lot of the contemporary baggage. For instance, since it is hard to talk about things like the Catholic Church and the religion without getting into the social issues in our world right now, but if you create a fake religion that you can narrow down and focus on one aspect of it-- Fantasy is really good at that. Tolkien did it with racism, let's have an elf and a dwarf and have them interact, and take away all the baggage of civil rights era America or England and instead said "Let's see if these two races can get along".

    Bystander

    It's the same reason why I like Star Trek, you can kind of create a scenario and--

    Brandon Sanderson

    But I also think that because of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis having such an influence on the genre you can do Good vs Evil, which lends itself. Like Robert Jordan's works there's no religion there's just a lot of spirituality. So there is no religion because people can actively check and see if God is real, the Creator. The magic is there, it's the proof, they don't need a religion. Which is a really interesting way to approach it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11616 Copy

    Questioner

    I really enjoy the systems of religion and the religious questions that you bring up and so I was wondering-- Well first whether in your worlds there is a relationship between the efficacy of religion and the efficacy of magic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is but the relationship is not a direct one-to-one parallel. In other words the beings that are worshiped have an influence over the magic. Whether they are actually God is disputed by various people. And there are people who worship things that are not the various beings the magic is-- Does that make sense?

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11617 Copy

    Questioner

    Why would you choose Chicago as a setting?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I grew up in Nebraska, Lincoln, and Chicago was the big city we would travel to. I liked that it was-- This is kind of going to sound weird but it was a big city full of mid-westerners. Like when I went to LA everyone talked and acted different, when I went to New York everyone talked and acted different, but in Chicago it-- they were kind of like a bunch of hokey mid-westerners had somehow built a big city? *laughter* If that makes any sense. So I have always had a fondness for Chicago. It's like the big city of farmers or whatnot. I don't know there's just something about it, the being on the lake and the profile of it and things like that. And I'm a Batman fan and Gotham is Chicago. Chicago was my go-to when I was going to destroy a city in our world; I picked Chicago.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11618 Copy

    Questioner

    When do you know a book is finished and send it to an editor/agent/whatever, wherever it gets sent?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say... that my process is I write the first draft and I do a second draft where I am fixing the problems that I recognized on my first draft. Then I do a third draft where I try to clean up the prose, that's just making the writing line by line better. I try to cut 10% and I just try to take each line and make it tighter. At that point I send it off. But I generally send it-- At that point I send it to my alpha readers, which are my agent and editor for me. If you are doing it I would suggest giving it to a round of readers from friends first. Get feedback from them, then do one more draft and then send it off.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11619 Copy

    Questioner

    You have said you are an architect, so I was wondering if the plot twists at the end of the book, did you have those at the beginning?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say most of the time I have them at the beginning but sometimes during the writing I rebuild my outline to do something different. You always have to be open to that I feel as an architect, to rebuilding your plot for when the creative process takes you in a different direction.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11620 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm a physical chemist and I'm reading your book [The Way of Kings] right now and at some point you have someone studying flamespren and what they saw, that's one of the fundamental tenets of quantum mechanics--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    So you got that from quantum mechanics?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did get that from quantum mechanics.

    Questioner

    How did you come across that and decide to incorporate that into your epic fantasy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well The Way of Kings' magic systems are based on the fundamental forces. That was the original idea and the extrapolation from them. I'm fascinated by quantum mechanics and I have worked them into the way that-- Remember in my worlds, my books, the magics are a new branch of physics, in these worlds. And so they interact with our normal physics, it's not like they are ignoring them, so they obey the laws of thermodynamics, even when they appear to be breaking them, and they interact with quantum and all the stuff. It's just very natural that they are going to, to me if that makes sense? It would be weird if they didn't interact with them.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11621 Copy

    Questioner

    You know how usually you read a good book and it will change your perspective on some aspect of life, do you ever finish writing a book yourself and-- From your own writings do you ever "Ah I've never..."

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's usually the research I do. Like when I'm like "I need to get in the mindset of this type of person" and I go read about it. I see the world in a different way after I become immersed in that.

    Questioner

    So what character have you written that was the hardest to imagine or get into?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Jasnah was very hard originally, and that took a lot of research into the mindset of people who think differently from myself. In The Wheel of Time books Aviendha and Tuon are both very different cultures so getting into those.

    Questioner

    How was it writing Mat? Was it pretty easy or--

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, Mat blindsided me. Mat I thought would be easy because Perrin and Rand were and I grew up with Mat, Perrin, and Rand, right? But the thing is Mat is a really hard character to write, meaning actual-- you look at him, he says one thing, he does a second thing, but he thinks a third thing. And so there is a lot of contrast to him and I just started writing him naturally and I wasn't getting all of that contrast because I was like "Oh I know who Mat is. Mat's my--" But he was saying the things that he never said, if that makes sense? I got his actions right but I flipped what he said and what he thought. It was actually really hard to get him down.

    Questioner

    You mean how he would say that he was going to avoid trouble and then run straight into it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it's like "I'm going to avoid trouble", he runs into trouble, and he's thinking all the way about something completely separate, and then something else leaves his mouth.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11622 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm a graphic designer and I want to know how you visually communicate-- You have such great visuals in your books...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lots of practice. It really is just practice.

    Questioner

    Do you draw them all? Or do you just tell someone what you need.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I have artists. I commission concept art for my descriptions and then... That doesn't always end up in the book. In fact usually it doesn't. For the things that end up in the book I'll often do like a quick sketch and say "make this awesome" or I'll do a paragraph or two of description.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11623 Copy

    Questioner

    So what about the things you left out when you finished-- What was the one thing you wish you could have gotten in there most?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most that I wish I could have gotten into The Wheel of Time? My favorite sequence that got cut, writing-wise, was the sequence where Perrin travels in the Ways and defeats Machin Shin with the Ogier. It's a beautiful sequence, it came out really well. The problem is reading the book you don't miss it because it was a big deviation. So I'm not sure if I wish that one would have made it into the book.

    I tried to get Rand engaged, and that one I think-- I think as a whole a lot of people are confused when they come to me and wish that they could have known a little bit more about that relationship and I tried to have the three-- I tried to write a scene where the three women weave a bridal wreath together to give to him and Harriet did not like that scene because she thought it might contradict Rand later wondering if any of them would follow him, which is a scene that Robert Jordan wrote. I didn't think it contradicted but since we had that scene from Robert Jordan and since Harriet-- She's the boss, I was happy to cut it according to her wishes. I miss that one.

    Questioner

    Is there anything-- Is any of that going to be in the Encyclopedia coming up and are you doing anything with it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am not doing anything with it. It is all Harriet. In fact when Robert Jordan and she signed the contracts for it it was always going to be her project and not his.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11624 Copy

    Questioner

    So what are your thoughts on the Wheel of Time pilot?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Wheel of Time pilot? I... think... See this is kind of on the record because of the recording. I think the actors and the director are to be praised for doing so much with so little time. I don't think it should have been made and I don't think it is a good direction for The Wheel of Time to be going. But that is in part because I know Harriet was not pleased with it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11625 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering how you schedule all the books that you write. Do you have adhere to a solid schedule or is it more like you finish a book and go into one you are more excited to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, at this point in my career I have the ability to have a little more influence over that. I do try to keep to kind of a regular schedule. My publishers have learned I'll turn in what I'll turn in, and then they'll publish it. Because I am more productive if I can jump between things.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11626 Copy

    Questioner

    Did you purposely make the Church of the Survivor sort of like Christianity or not?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kelsier intentionally made it like Christianity. In kind of a false way, meaning he read about and had Sazed tell him about religions that were similar and then he built that his own way.

    Questioner

    Oh so did Sazed tell him about...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed told him about religions that were similar. I wouldn't say Christianity specifically, but their version and things. So there is a yes and a no.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11627 Copy

    Questioner

    So if you had a character in Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere, who would that be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I had a character in The Wheel of Time who was in the cosmere who would it be? Oh boy...

    Questioner

    Jain Farstrider?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What's that?

    Questioner

    Jain Farstrider?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh Jain? That's a good choice! Jain makes a lot of sense. I was going to say one of the Aelfinn or Eelfinn, 'cause they cross dimensions already. That would be the most likely. But you could totally make an argument for Jain or one of the Heroes having fallen through the portal. I intentionally didn't put any cosmere references into The Wheel of Time. It felt like hubris to do that.

    The cameo in The Wheel of Time for me is the sword that Robert Jordan's cousin gave to me out of Robert Jordan's collection, so I wrote my sword into it. So if you look, it's not too hard to find, you'll find Rand get's a new sword. That's my sword. *laughter* I got it hanging on my wall with a little plaque that says "Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time" and then Robert Jordan's name and his lifespan underneath. It's very cool. It's a katana out of his collection, it's really cool.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11628 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you ever consider going back to some of your earlier work and doing a prequel or expanding the world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Did I ever consider going back to one of my previous books and doing a prequel or expanding the world? Yes, I will be doing these things. The Cosmere Sequence. So if you are not familiar my epic fantasy books, so anything that doesn't mention Earth, they're all set in the same universe. So Elantris, and Mistborn, and Way of Kings, and they all have crossover characters that you can spot if you look really closely, that are interfering. So there will be some parallel stories that show what some of these other people were doing behind the scenes. There will be a series that starts it all off, long before the first books happen, and then there will eventually be--

    Mistborn kind of forms the core of this. I pitched Mistborn to my editor as an epic fantasy trilogy, followed by an urban fantasy trilogy, followed by a science fiction trilogy--a science fiction trilogy where they've learned to use the magic system to make space travel possible. That was my original pitch. The Alloy of Law was actually a happy accident, and so we've added a fourth one in, an early industrial era. I'm actually doing four of those, because I really fell in love with them. So you'll be getting two more of those, one in September or October and then one in January. And then the final Reckoners book should come sometime early next year like probably April or May and then the new Stormlight book will be in the fall. So yay Stormlight. *cheers*

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11629 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you consistently create compelling magic systems?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How do I consistently create compelling magic systems? Well you will maybe want to read Sanderson's Three Laws of Magic, which are basically each essays on this. The short answer is I look for something awesome and what that means is I look for something no one else is doing, or a ramification of a magic system that no one else is using and I extrapolate from it. As a reader of fantasy, who loved fantasy, and still does, for many years I got very tired of seeing the same two or three magic systems in every book that I read. It was really frustrating to me as a writer because I felt fantasy should be the most imaginative genre, it should be the most distinctive and different. And so it was bothersome to me that there weren't enough people doing interesting things with magic and so I just started doing it myself.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11630 Copy

    Questioner

    When you develop a character, like as the change over time, does it come naturally or do you have to force it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As I develop characters and they change over time, does that come naturally or do I have to force it? For me it comes very naturally. I do a lot of planning ahead of time on my plots and a lot of planning ahead of time on my settings. I do less on my characters. I cast people in roles. I start writing someone in this role and I see what becomes of them in the first few chapters and if I'm not liking that I put it aside and cast someone else in that role and write for a few chapters and then set that aside until I find a mix that I like and then it is a very natural progression as I write them. That's just the way that it works for me. It's a matter of practice making that happen.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11631 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you decide who lives and who dies? Do you know before or is it up to the characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How do I decide who lives and who dies? I just decide based on the demands that they make to me by their character arcs and the risks they want to take. I don't ever feel like I'm killing characters off, I feel like I am writing the stories that need to be written the way they have to be written. They often are planned out ahead of time, I'm an architect as a writer, I come up with an outline and then I hang my story on it. But characters have veto power over the story, if they decide they want to go somewhere else. If who they are growing is somebody the story demands-- I say they decide, it doesn't really happen that way for me. If when I'm writing the story I'm like "This character would not make this decision. I either need to put in a new character in this place or I need to rebuild my outline to match who this person is." And both of those have happened to me. Usually I'm not replacing the character except in the early parts. Usually if I like the character enough as I'm going I replace the plot.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11632 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did you get the idea for the Reckoners series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Where did I get the idea for writing the Reckoners series? I almost got in a car wreck. I was driving to a book signing and I was late and somebody cut me off in traffic. And it was like-- I had to slam on the brakes and things like that and I thought-- At that moment I'm like "You, person in front of me, are so lucky I don't have superpowers, 'cause if I did I would blow your car up right now. BOOM" It's a great Michael Bay effect, like it explodes and I drive through the smoke. It was really awesome; I remember it. And then I was immediately horrified, right? I'm like "Here I write all these books about people protecting the world with their powers and what would I do if I had them? I'd be blowing up people because they inconvenience me." *laughter* And this is where the series came from, I thought about that the entire rest of the drive, which was about another hour. And I thought "What if-- What could we do if people just started manifesting superpowers and-- You couldn't throw them in prison, or if you did they'd just break out. You couldn't defeat them with the armies. What would the society do if there were legitimately super-powered individuals?" It's kind of the same tactic that Watchmen took, if you've ever read that, but it kind of goes the other direction with "They are all evil, what do we do?" That was the origin and I wrote a whole book series about it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11633 Copy

    Argent

    Are there, or will there be, unicorns in the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Are there, or will there be, unicorns in the cosmere? I have no specific plans for unicorns currently. *laughter* But there are unicorns in The Rithmatist so if you--

    Argent

    Well--

    Brandon Sanderson

    *apologetically* They're drawings... *laughter*

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11634 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you ever write like two versions of a scene in a book and if you do how do you decide which--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I ever do two scenes in a book--

    Questioner

    Like two versions--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Two versions of the same scene. I do it quite frequently. Every book there will be a couple times. Usually what happens is I'm writing a scene and I'm not pleased with it and so I put it aside and I write it again the next day. And usually letting me subconscious work on it means I end up fixing it. About one out of ten times I start writing it and I realize "It was right the first way, why am I writing something new?" And then I just go back to the book, and it wasn't that the scene was bad it's just I had a bad day. And sometimes you do, no matter what you write you are going to think it stinks. How do I decide? It's very instinctive, I've never had one like "These are both equally good". Always I know one of them is not working. In fact the best way to get over writer's block, I find, is to write the scene anyway, have anything you can think of happen--even if it doesn't make sense in your story--so that you get the scene out, and then attack it again the next day after you have had time to think about it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11635 Copy

    Questioner

    Where there any specific fantasy books that you read as a child that inspired you to write fantasy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, excellent question. I was not a reader until I had a teacher, eighth grade teacher--this is true--Ms. Reeder. *laughter* Yes, it's really true, R-E-E-D-E-R, was my teacher in eighth grade and she gave me a fantasy novel for the first time and convinced me to read it. It took a little work on her part because I was not a reader. It was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hamley, a kind of classic standalone epic fantasy-- And it's standalone because the sequels she wrote twenty years later when she was really depressed are very different. They're worth reading but they don't feel like sequels. Dragonsbane's a fantastic book. All of Anne McCaffrey's books were next to that in the school library, like in the card catalogue, under the title so I went to them next and they had a huge influence on me. I would say those two were the biggest. And then Melanie Rawn's books were next to those, so I read all of those.

    And then the first book series I discovered on my own, when it wasn't already finished, was The Wheel of Time. Wheel of Time, the first book came out about a year after I got into reading fantasy novels and I found the big one on the shelf and was like "Oooh that's a big book. *laughter* I'm going to read that big book." And I had no idea what I was getting myself into. *laughter* Now lots of Wheel of Time fans can say that, they didn't know what they were getting into. I trump them, okay? I really didn't know what I was getting myself into in picking up that first Wheel of Time book and reading it.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11636 Copy

    Questioner

    What is the favorite character you have written?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What is the favorite character that I have written? I would say Perrin, from The Wheel of Time. Because I can't pick my own characters, because they don't feel like I'm-- They are my favorite while I'm writing them, whoever they are. But Perrin was my favorite Wheel of Time character and when I got to finish The Wheel of Time he was the character that Robert Jordan left the least amount of notes on. In fact there was one sentence, for three books-worth, about him. And so I got to take him and-- Really Perrin was the one I had the most influence on through the course of those three books and it was very special to me him being my favorite character and being able to do that.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11637 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you draw from any kind of like specific set of life experiences for your writings? Or is most of it just from your imagination?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I draw from a specific set of life experiences for my writing or is it just from my imagination? I would say my imagination is fueled by my specific life experiences. So the answer is both. Everything I see can become a part of my books, but at the same time sometimes it's just a happy accident.

    People ask about Steelheart, the bad metaphors. One of the things about the main character is he is really bad with metaphoric language, comically bad. That happened on accident, I was writing his viewpoint and I'm like "This character is dry, he needs more of a soul, he needs more life. How can I make him work?" and I accidentally wrote a bad metaphor. That happens a lot when you're writing, you know, purple prose and bad metaphors just come out when you're not looking. It's like they sneak out onto the page and you're like "That was really bad". Then I paused and thought "Well, let's go ahead and leave it in *laughter* and run with this." And it was great because it became a metaphor for David's metaphor-- kind of coincidentally or ironically or whatever-- that bad metaphors become a metaphor themselves because he became the character who tries too hard. He's really earnest and he's going to get stuff done but he's trying a little too hard. And that's where the bad metaphors come from, he over-thinks them. He tries too hard to put something together and it ends up as just a big mess. But his earnestness comes through it, and that became his character and it works really well. But that one's just an accident.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11638 Copy

    Questioner

    How does it feel to be now known as a mentor to younger writers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How does it feel to be a mentor to younger writers? Well I think the fact that I've taught a university course on How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy for ten years, I kind of had to get used to that pretty early. I took over the class because they were going to cancel it because there was no one else to teach it. The teacher who had been teaching it retired. And so I stepped in and took it over and I still teach it to this day. My requirement being that I get to post the lectures online. So if you want to read them-- err watch them, you can watch them at brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice. Or you can ask for one of these little cards that has my url on it when you come through.

    How's it feel? It feels pretty cool honestly. I like interacting with new, young writers. I like helping them out. I'm really proud of like Brian [McClellan] and Janci [Patterson] who've gotten published. *aside to the booksellers* You have Brian's book right there? It's really quite good. He's one of those ones I really can't take credit for, because he came through and he was writing awesome stuff and so I told him like the business side. Here's how you go get published. Some of the other ones, I've been able to give them pointers on their actual writing, that I think have helped out. But I think with Brian he was there already, he just needed the boost to get into the industry.

    It feels pretty cool.

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #11639 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I always like to read something that is unpublished. So that is something new that you get only by coming to my signings or going to the internet where people will have inevitably posted it online already. *laughter* It's really exclusive for like the first signing that I do and then after that everybody on the 17th Shard, which is the fan website, are like *hilarious "oooh" sound*

    Argent

    So you should read something else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No... I have to be very careful about what I read because the publisher has certain deals about exclusivity on new releases. Like for instance I can't read any more from the new Mistborn books because Apple has an exclusive release of new material on that and things like that. It's just part of the deals that we do and so-- I also have to make sure that it's not making big spoilers for other books. I have to make sure that it's not containing errors that are glaring continuity errors and things like that. So we are going to read from a novella called Perfect State. This is a novella that I wrote oh about two years ago now and I didn't really L-- get it done. Like I wrote it and then there was something wrong with it and I wasn't sure what it was. I actually finished it a couple months ago. I finally figured out what it was that was wrong.

    JordanCon 2016 ()
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    Questioner

    What color are Marewill flowers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marewill flowers I've always imagined as a kind of bluish-white. But I don't know if I ever describe that, so it's possible that Peter pushed me once and I said something else. But I'm assuming I've never done it because you don't know. So I'm imagining a bluish-white… with a green actual plant.

    JordanCon 2016 ()
    #11642 Copy

    Questioner

    Would Nightblood appear in the Cognitive Realm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nightblood will have a manifestation in the Cognitive Realm.

    Questioner

    …Would it appear as a sword, or because Nightblood appears to perceive itself as something else, would it appear as something else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, um, you will get a RAFO. *laughter* Because most things we're going to deal with we will have some scenes in the Cognitive Realm coming up, and you'll be better able to make guesses along these lines after you've read those.