Recent entries

    Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
    #12601 Copy

    Questioner

    I want to know how Hoid travels between worlds. Or, if you're not going to tell me right now, will we ever find out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid has travelled between the worlds by getting in one Shardpool in Shadesmar and coming out a different one. *pause* Okay? So that is one method he has used to travel between the worlds. The worlds are connected through Shadesmar. Um, things that people don't think about as much reflect very minorly in Shadesmar, so when you-- all the-- most of the space between planets is cut out, and there's some weird, twisted geography going on there. So that's basically how he does it, Cognitive Realm.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    life_b4_death

    I would love to know how Mr. Sanderson comes up with such wonderful names.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I use a bunch of different methods. Some involve creating a language, or parts of it, and building names out of that. Usually, though, I'm looking in those for something with the right sounds. I'll usually "audition" a name for a while by trying it in a book and seeing how I like it.

    I also look for certain linguistic markers that can signify a character's country of origin. Symmetrical names for some people from Alethkar, for example.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Phantine

    Is there any noble house in Elendel that plays up their relationship to Kelsier and Marsh?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They tend to leave Kelsier/Marsh alone and focus on the other crew members. Getting authority from Kelsier is kind of presumed, a little like the Catholic church using Peter as its line of authority, rather than Christ--because the Christ part is assumed.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    havoc_mayhem

    Would an Alethi be turned on by the sight of a woman's right hand reflected in a mirror? I wonder if [Brandon] would care to elaborate.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Attraction is a mental thing that provokes a physiological response. So I guess it's going to depend on the person.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    faragorn

    Hey Brandon, you mentioned you like A Fire Upon the Deep. So if we could get an artifact, what would happen to a resident Shard if we could create a local Slow Zone? Or better yet, an Unthinking Deeps (although that might be bad for the mortals nearby).

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha. You know, I'd never considered this? I guess it depends. I'd say these zones change Cognitive Realm issues--so wouldn't stop the Shards themselves, as they exist in a place of perfect thought and speed. (Spiritual Realm.) It might change how things get between Spiritual and Physical, though.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    gingermancer

    How are the main characters like with regards to homosexuality? I imagine the likes of Sazed wouldn't care, but it'd be interesting to see how much of a deviant the characters we've come to know are, when compared to their world's societies.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Again, you're going to see a wide variety of attitudes and impressions here. Some are very deviant from society, while others are good expressions of it.

    One thing I do downplay in the books is how often characters are terribly biased. Basically all the protagonists in the Stormlight books are, for example, HORRIBLE racists. I bring it up now and then to make sure the text, at least, knows this fact--but it's also something that, if I did with a dose more realism, would be very offputting. So I try to walk a line where it's an ugly thing that rears its head now and then, but it is still possible to like the characters, acknowledging they are products of a very different society from our own.

    Views on homosexuality are the same. You'll see, for instance, that Sigzil has a problem with Drehy in Bridge Four. Similarly, some characters have more progressive views than their society, as I think would be realistic for the types of people they are. So you don't see as much from the text as there might otherwise be. Ranette's relationship is not quite as accepted in Scadrian society as Wax and Marasi's viewpoints would lead you to believe, for example.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    TimAnEnchanter

    How is homosexuality regarded across the cosmere?

    I know one member of Bridge 4, though I forget who, is gay, but I'm asking more in the sense of legality, societal view, etc.

    Barleyjuicer

    It would probably depend on the planet and culture involved. Roshar has many varied cultures and probably has multiple different acceptance levels. Scadrial is much more progressive and really only has two cultures so it's more likely that most if not all of the world accepts it. Maybe this is something you could ask [Brandon] at a signing or during an AMA.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, this varies widely based on the planet, and even culture, TimAnEnchanter.

    Roshar, for instance, has a lot of different perspectives on homosexuality. In Iri, the more religious segment (who believe that life is about new experiences) would approve, while the more rigid modern, secular society has outlawed it.

    In Azir, you'd find something like existed in middle-ages India. (Some societies there had this curious system where a gay man would be given "social reassignment" so that he was treated like a woman, dressed like one, and had relations with men--even if he wasn't actually transsexual.)

    Vorin culture is concerned with oaths. Extra-marital sexuality is strictly forbidden, but homosexuality is regarded the same by most as heterosexual relationships. If the proper oaths are spoken, then the Almighty approves. (This usually means marriage, but there are certain official forms of other relationships that would allow it also.)

    There are actually a couple of scenes in Book Three talking about it, for those who are interested, as the family and romantic relationships of the bridgemen are becoming a larger part of the story. (Still a small part, I should note, for space limitations.)

    On Scadrial, it's going to fall between Pathian lines (each individual decides for themselves) and Survivorist lines (you follow church hierarchy, which forbids it.)

    Don't even get me started on Bavadin's religions.

    fbstj

    What reasons do Survivorists use to rationalize heterosexuality? Thank you so much for these tidbits it's really interesting to hear more about this stuff from you. It would be great to see some of this canonized, maybe in an interlude, or random background discussion somewhere. Thank you again for your books! Also very interested in hearing why secular Iriali have decided to 'regress' on that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Survivorism calls it unnatural, and not conducive to the survival of the species. More than that, though, Survivorism has become very conservative and slow to change. What early thinkers had to say is regarded very strictly in the religion. Back during the early days of the new era, repopulating the basin was of prime concern, and this became a big part of what led to moral codes in Survivorism.

    General Twitter 2017 ()
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    Yata

    Hi, the community has a [question], we have two WoBs: Shardblades can cut aluminum and Shardblades can't cut it. Which one is true?

    Brandon Sanderson (Part 1/Part 2/Part 3)

    Hm. Yes, I wondered last night if I'd ever answered this before. Truth is, the answer is contentious at Team Sanderson.

    I've been pushing for one answer, but Peter (whom I trust) is pushing back. We will see what ends up in the books as canon.

    Problem with magic like I do is sometimes you have to wait for the scientific consensus... :) Err on "no" for now.

    Peter Ahlstrom (Part 1/Part 2/Part 3)

    Oh, I think aluminum would stop Shardblades from magical cutting. But if it's too thin like foil, a sword...

    ...would cut it anyway. What I'm arguing is that something else that Shardblades don't cut doesn't need...

    ...to necessarily be made of aluminum, for various reasons.

    Yata

    For example Invested objects (metalmind,spike,etc) or polestones (from some SA's Quote) ?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    RAFO

    General Twitter 2017 ()
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    Zachery Farner

    I tweeted Brandon and Peter last week about you writing a cosmere novel. Can you give an idea about what it would be about?

    Isaac Stewart (Part 1/Part 2)

    Hi! The book is already plotted, though it will have major changes before writing begins. Let me ask Brandon what I can say.

    FYI, this might never happen. Even after the writing, the book will have to be very good before we'd ever release it.

    Zachery Farner

    Alright! Well we love your work and I for one can't wait to see more of it, whether it be drawn or otherwise!

    Isaac Stewart

    Thank you! I've thought some on this, and I think we're too early on to release details. When there is news to share, I will!

    Idaho Falls signing ()
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    Valhalla (paraphrased)

    Did Odium Splinter all the Shards for the same reason?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No. Some Shards he Splintered because he feared the Shard itself, and some Shards he targeted because he feared the Vessel. He was working his way down his list in order of the Shards and Vessels he felt would be most dangerous to his plans until he got stuck on Roshar.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
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    Valhalla (paraphrased)

    Other than Vessels, how many beings have lived from before the Shattering until the time of The Way of Kings?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    More than you would think. Longevity is not hard to come by in the cosmere. That much longevity would be a little uncommon. But certain species are particularly long lived, and certain magic systems enable longevity.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
    #12621 Copy

    Kogiopsis

    Finally, what point, usually, is society at when a Desolation comes? Because Taln was prepared to introduce them to bronze...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Kogiopsis

    ...and Alethi society is so far beyond that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Historically a lot of the-- What would happen with the Desolations would destroy all civilization and then the Heralds would leave, and leave people basically in the Stone Age again. And they came back numerous times and found humankind still in the Stone Age, after having left. And so they are prepared-- Sometimes they would come back and they would already be in the Bronze Age or-- and things like that and get them beyond that but frequently they had to be ready, the Heralds learned they had to be ready to try and bring humankind forward several thousand years worth of technology in a year.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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    Swamp-Spirit

    Shallan's Memory ability to capture an image doesn't seem to be working exactly like an eidetic memory...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Swamp-Spirit

    ...because she can erase it by drawing. Is that tied directly to the magic of Lightweaving? And if so would other creative Lightweavers have similar abilities.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you look at the epigraphs there is a big hint on this, where it talks about it and yes... I have problems with eidetic memory, just because scientifically most scientists say this is not a real thing. So I would say that whenever-- Because of my knowledge of the science of it understand that you would need some sort of magical enhancement to be able to do what she does.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
    #12628 Copy

    Swamp-Spirit

    How do you-- Like both Shallan and Kaladin obviously haven't had good lives, but like-- How do you write these really tragic backstories without them feeling kind of gratuitous or forced?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question... This is really about the whole idea of making sure you are avoiding melodrama... And melodrama-- the defining aspect of a melodrama is a story in which each character only exhibits only one emotional state. A great example of this done poorly is--despite me liking a lot about it--there was a show called Lost... So there's a character whose son gets kidnapped, and from that moment on the only thing he cares about or talks about is the loss of his son. And it's a very tragic thing for him. Losing your son, I can imagine how tragic that would be, and yet this character became so defined by that one attribute that it turned into melodrama for him. The rest of the characters will be standing around saying "Alright we need to do this thing, these guys are over there with guns, they are going to take us down. What do we do?" And they're like "We should do this." "We should do this." and this guy is like "My son!" They're like "We know you want your son back but--" "My son!" "What do you want for dinner?" "My son is gone! How can I eat dinner?!?". And so having a character exhibit only one emotional state is always going to feel like you just set-- It's going to ruin the character, whatever that is.

    So a tragic backstory-- People joke about Batman. When Batman is written poorly it's always about "My father's d-- My parents are dead" and when he's working well that's an aspect that influence things he does but it's not the only thing about him. And so that would be my warning to you. You can do all of these sorts of things but make the character's not about-- You know we are in part defined by things like this but as real people we are not about the bad things that have happened to us, we are about so much more. And make that the case, alright?

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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    Swamp-Spirit

    When you're writing YA do you ever feel-- Because I was feeling this while reading the Alcatraz novels-- Do you ever feel like you're limited in what you can explore by not wanting to go too dark or too complex for a certain audience? Or when you are writing that sort of story does that not really...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Complexity does not enter into it, for me, except for the fact that I generally focus on one character. And so there is a complexity issue there, in that, you know, it's like I'm doing one, maybe two, viewpoints. And I think it's basically coming because when I'm choosing a story I'm matching a story to an age, I'm not matching an age to a story, does that make sense? So when I say "this is a YA story" that's because it exhibits the sorts of things I want to tell-- exhibits the sort of things that work for that market. I don't tend to write down but I do tend to keep the number of viewpoints more limited, just to keep the books a little less thick. So yeah, yes but not really.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
    #12630 Copy

    Swamp-Spirit

    We have a lot of Renarin questions just because he is a character we both care a lot about, just another what could you-- give us a tidbit about Renarin's relationship with Bridge Four?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can tell you this, here's a good tidbit. You know the books are about ten characters. Renarin's one of them. But Renarin, you know the first five, he's not one of. So Renarin is one of the main characters for the back five, which are focused more on the Heralds, and he is one of the characters with the flashbacks there. So Renarin, you are not going to get everything you want about him until the back five books. So just keep that in mind.

    Swamp-Spirit

    I can live with that.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
    #12631 Copy

    Airred

    You said that you liked video games. What would you say is one of your favorites?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of my favorites, I like the Dark Souls games quite a bit. And I've been playing those since they were called King's Field, it's the same company. So I've played all of them since way back when. And I really like the Infamous games, and I really like Civilization, all of those, I've played every single one of those.

    Airred

    You said you played Infamous, have you played Prototype?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Y'know I've been tempted a lot, but what I've read from Prototype is that-- Like I played Infamous because I knew you had the choice to not be the bad guy, and I've heard that Prototype you basically don't really have that choice.

    Airred

    Yeah...

    Swamp-Spirit

    Dishonored gives that choice *talking over each other*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, my brother's been suggesting Dishonored, but I'm not-- When I play video games I like to play people that I would admire, you know what I mean? Like I am-- If I have a moral choice system my character is a boy scout. I don't...

    Komekoro

    Paragon to the max.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, those little walking pixels, I'm not going to, y'know I'm going to mourn if I accidentally run over one of them.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
    #12634 Copy

    Kogiopsis

    How did koloss-blooded people happen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Koloss-blooded people-- A koloss-blooded is the result of two koloss having a child. A full koloss is only made once you accept the spikes and are mutated into the final form. And so a koloss-blooded-- The koloss can breed true now but that's what you get. And so they actually have a ritual at coming-of-age where you can accept the spikes or you can leave. And so all koloss in the wastes-- in the Roughs that are in the koloss tribes are-- have chosen that and outsiders can choose it too.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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    Kogiopsis

    What would Zane have been like without Ruin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Zane without Ruin would have been-- It's so hard to say, is it Zane without Ruin but still having the terrible family life that he has?

    Swamp-Spirit

    Probably yeah.

    Kogiopsis

    Still has Straff.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Then still have Straff but he would probably be more of a Straff heir type thing. Like he would be less crazy, maybe more ruthless and... I mean he would still be his father's son.

    Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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    Kogiopsis

    Since Returned come back as kind of an idealized form of themselves, if somebody was transgender in their original life would they Return as the sex they had been assigned the first time or the gender they identified as?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would think that a transgendered person could definitely come back as how they identify. Perception is very important in these sorts of things. It would really depend on the person, but yes.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
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    Questioner

    The entire time I was reading through The Rithmatist I couldn't help but think it was inspired by Fullmetal Alchemist and Tor recently posted something on Facebook comparing a lot of your works to Final Fantasy, so I was just wondering how much video games and anime you *audio obscured*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question, I've played all of the Final Fantasies, I have never watched Fullmetal Alchemist *crowd goes woah* ...I know... *crowd laughs* Peter, he worked for TokyoPop, he was a manga editor and so he is very proficient in his anime and manga and he's told me Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is my must-watch sort of thing. I've never seen it, but it sounds like they are doing the sort of stuff I like, so I need to make sure I do that. But I have played all the Final Fantasies. I mean, I've been a gamer for forever. My fun story about this, and we might have to end here is, when I was 11 my dad sent me out on an airplane to visit my uncle for the first time I've been away from my family on my own, I was so excited. He handed me two hundred dollars, like "Pay for your food, don't let them pay for anything. This is so you can pay for your keep." And so then every time we went out for food or something my uncle insisted on paying for everything, he wouldn't take my money. I'm a little eleven-year-old I can't get him to take the money. So at the end I'm like "My dad is going to kill me. What do I do with this two hundred dollars?" He took me to the mall and said, "Alright! Find something to do with your two hundred dollars." *laughter* That's where I got my Nintendo. *more laughter* This was, what '86? Or something like that. I got my original Nintendo Entertainment System which when I-- No, I sold that and bought a Super Nintendo, my brother sold that and bought himself a Playstation. We sold each system to pay for the next one, so in my brother's PS4 there's a little bit of my original Nintendo.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
    #12644 Copy

    Questioner

    At the end of Steelheart, when they're fighting Nightwielder. His weakness was supposedly UV rays and he had Newcago in perpetual darkness. Except the sun produces UV rays.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah when I was building the magic system for this one of the things I realized is large-scale applications of Epic powers could not be subject to their weaknesses otherwise their weakness would become easily manifest. You can see this when Steelheart turns the city to steel, if his fear was manifest far from him every person who-- I'm not going to tell you what his weakness is in case you read the book, it's the big secret-- but anyone who manifested his weakness would have a pocket around them. It would take you about ten minutes to find out what his weakness was. And every large-scale application of power that I was imagining had that big same problem. So what I decided, if it's not immediate to you, if it's not you seeing it and being right there-- That it's your actual-- Something about you that causes the weakness that causes it then it was not going to be manifest. Does that make sense? And in the third book, because enough people asked about this I had David go into a little explanation, he's very technical. But really the reason for coming up with this rule in the first place was because I thought "There's no way you can have this work the way I want to unless there is a loophole there. Unless there's an exception here." So the reason is he's distant from it, large-scale applications it doesn't happen.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
    #12645 Copy

    Wetlander (paraphrased)

    One question I did ask Brandon, though, was whether Ym was an Edgedancer.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    We both acknowledged that with the healing thing, he had to be either an Edgedancer or a Truthwatcher, of course. He pointed out that Ym's spren doesn't look at all like Wyndle.

    Wetlander (paraphrased)

    Which I countered by saying that I thought the Ym's spren manifested the way Wyndle would if you couldn't see the Cognitive Realm.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He just smiled... and said something like, "I'm going to RAFO that. You're very wise, and I put the description in for a reason, but I'm going to RAFO for now."

    Sasquan 2015 ()
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    Questioner

    For The Reckoners series, it's my understanding that the Epics appear after they've had some sort of life threatening experience to gain their powers is that correct?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, not always.

    Questioner

    That's what I thought after Firefight.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not necessarily.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
    #12647 Copy

    Questioner

    So for big, big books like Stormlight, what is the ratio of time spent on the first draft versus on revisions, and has that changed over the course of your career?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh wow. They take more time in revision. They take more time at every step of the way than the shorter books. So a book like Calamity I can write pretty solidly, I can write 2 to 3 thousand words a day on that rough draft, and I spend two weeks on an outline and whatever that turns into it's only a couple months of writing. A Stormlight book, the plotting is so intricate it often takes me a year before I'm comfortable with the outline I'm working on-- so I will writing other stuff while working on this outline-- 'till I catch what the soul of that book is going to be, but then all of the interludes, and all of the things, and boy, every book we've had big portions we need to knock out and re-write. It just takes a long time. I would say 50% of the time I spend on-- You take the time I spend writing the first draft, cut it in half and that is the time I spend revising on your average book. But it really depends. Like Stormlight I started the outline last year, or a year ago in June, and started my first exploratory scenes--I posted a few of those online--then went back to the outline, and outlined for a year and then I felt good writing it. So I started that in June. I will write this all the way until March and then we will probably be revising it until six weeks before the book comes out, because that is the absolute deadline that Tor needs before they can print and distribute it *camera pans to Peter making a wryly amused expression* So that's about how long it will take to do this book. It's a lot of work. You know I like doing this because I like having multiple things going, right? Like I don't think I can write a Stormlight book every year, in fact I couldn't, that process I just outlined is a two and a half year process. So, it's just not something I could do. But during that two and a half years I can do some shorter books, some novellas, and just experimenting with different types of writing.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
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    Megalodon

    So are you planning to do anything like the Rysn interlude where you record and post videos again?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I would like to do that. For those who haven't seen them, I did record myself typing one of the interludes and then I posted it on Youtube. And I will try to do another one of those. I think it's fun. I sometimes get jealous of Dan-- err Howard I mean, who can sit and draw while he's talking with people and do a demonstration. A demonstration of writing is *pantomimes writing/crowd laughs* But this can be put on and sped up, so you can watch it in speed and with cool music in the background and stuff. I'll try to do another one of those.

    Sasquan 2015 ()
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    Questioner

    How did you get started with Writing Excuses?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So Writing Excuses. My dopey brother, who barely reads any fantasy or science fiction or anything-- he's a computer programmer, I love him, but he is not a big reader. Who now has a Hugo award *laughter* He came and said "You know I'm taking a podcasting class, these are getting really popular. You should do one of these. You and Dan should get together and do an old-school radio drama and I'll record it." And I was not interested because "This is just like writing my books. I'm not interested." But I thought about that for several months and thought "You know--" I started listening to a lot of podcasts and thought "You know there isn't a really good writing podcast" I couldn't find one. Now since then I've found others who are good. But I wasn't able to find one, particularly one that had the quick and efficient style that I wanted. A lot of podcasts, I love them but they ramble. They just go on. You just listen for hours and hours and they sometimes get to the point. I wanted something focused. So I called up Jordan and I said "What about a writing podcast? People ask me for writing advice a lot. I have this degree, I've been trained as a teacher but I don't teach very much. What can I do to help people with writing?" And so I pitched it to Dan, got Jordan to do all of the editing and producing, and then went and grabbed Howard, who we didn't know that well at that time but I had seen him speak and knew he was clever and fun and I'm more of the dry professorly type. So I could play straight man and having Howard kind of be-- he calls it "I'm the bonehead I don't know anything" but he does know what's going on, he's just good at playing that role. And then we added Mary after we realized we were three white, Mormon dudes *laughter* with kind of the same view on life. Now granted Howard and Dan are insane so that's different *laughter* So we brought in Mary, who we fly in, or we fly to her, we don't like the Skyping podcasting thing so we do them in person. Just to make sure we were adding more variety to the podcast. Plus she had been the best guest we had had on, her puppeteering episode was great. So that's kind of the evolution of it.

    This year is the year we decided to give it a different sort of structure. "Okay we've done this now for nine seasons, let's try something new with each subsequent season."

    Sasquan 2015 ()
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    Questioner

    So I know you talk a lot about the length of the Stormlight books before and how Tor has had some interesting worries there.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh yeah. They were more worried about it-- They would like me to write shorter, but they were much more worried before they became the explosive smash hit that they are. *laughter* Now they're just like-- They've learned. "Do what you want Brandon" *laughter*

    Questioner

    How do you balance, you know, wanting to extend a scene or wanting to do more flashbacks, or do more characters, while still making sure you get the plot and turn out an incredible book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right, right. So epic fantasy does have this issue of spending so much time dallying with side stories that you lose, sometimes, focus of the main plot. So I've tried to do this thing with the Stormlight books where I consciously made two decisions. One was I would do a flashback sequence in each book that kind of focused on one character that hopefully gave a kind of soul to that book that allowed you to remember "Oh whose flashbacks was that book. Oh that was this one." and that one lead you to understanding the theme of that entire book. Hopefully that will help keep that. The other is that I try to confine my time to the side characters to the interludes, which are slice-of-life glimpses of Roshar. And if I can confine myself to little stories there, then I have a set amount of room-- It's like giving yourself this ground to play in that is bounded, so you finish when you're done with that. I get three interludes between each part, so I can write a bunch of little short stories to explore side characters. But I have to be very careful, you know, "I don't want to do this character yet because I've got this new character" I've got to balance that. And those two things together, hopefully, will help me. Now the issue is most books that-- the series that have had trouble with this in the past don't have it until books 3 or 4, so we won't know if I'll be successful until we get through books 3 or 4, where it starts to appear. So watch me for the next couple years and we'll see if it manifests.