Recent entries

    Firefight Chicago signing ()
    #14901 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 ()
    #14902 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 ()
    #14903 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 ()
    #14904 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 ()
    #14905 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 ()
    #14906 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 ()
    #14907 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 ()
    #14908 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 ()
    #14909 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 ()
    #14910 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 ()
    #14912 Copy

    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 ()
    #14913 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.