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    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2101 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Movie/Television Updates

    So, let's talk about movies.

    People tend to get really excited about news of my books being adapted—and rightly so. I'd be very excited to someday see one of my properties turn into a film, and I think it's inevitable that some day, we'll see it happen. However, the process of a book becoming a film or television show is a long one, involving the input of a lot of people. And fans tend to get very excited when something is being developed, but often don't realize that the stages of development can often take a long time.

    I thought it might be helpful here to go over what some of those steps are, so you can get a better idea of how far along my various properties are. Understand that this is a rough guide, and individual properties might follow a different route. This is also kind of an outsider's take on it all, as I don't consider myself an expert in Hollywood. Those who know more about the ins and outs of the business would probably consider this a gross over-simplification.

    Step One: Producers Option a Story

    In Hollywood terms an "option" is kind of like a rental agreement. The most common way a story starts on its path to an adaptation is with an option. (Sometimes, there's even a step before this called a Shopping Agreement.) Basically, someone (usually a producer, but sometimes a studio) comes in and offers to pay an author every year to "option" their work, meaning the producer/studio gets exclusive rights to make a film on that work. They don't buy the rights completely, however. Usually, they set a buyout price, then pay 5/10% of that price every year or so to keep the option locked up. This gives them time to put all the other pieces together for a film without needing to commit to paying the full buyout price until they're certain the film is going to happen.

    My agent once told me that about 1 out of 30 of the properties he saw get optioned eventually got made into a film or show. An option is absolutely an important step, but a lot of times fans see an option agreement in place and start expecting a film any day—when really, this is just the first exploratory step in the process. Sometimes, producers even option rights they never intend on making into films. (I once had a producer brag to me that he—in order to make sure nobody in town was trying to sell something similar to his property—had bought up all rights to similar books for cheap, with the intention of sitting on them for five years to make sure he didn't have any competition. I was not impressed, to say the least.)

    Step Two: Screenplay

    Usually, after the option agreement is signed, a screenplay is commissioned for a film. For a television show, it will either be a screenplay for a pilot, or some kind of series bible or "treatment," a kind of outline that talks about the process the group would use in adapting the property.

    This screenplay, treatment, or bible is what the producers will take around town to try to get studios, directors, and actors interested in a property. A book being successful is interesting to Hollywood, but what they rightly want to see is if that book can be made into a workable screenplay. Often, this process takes years, as a screenplay/teleplay will be commissioned—then go through several rewrites. Sometimes, the producers will decide to hire a second or even third screenwriter to do a pass on the script, if they decide it needs another take or specific revisions.

    Step Three: Studio Interest

    With screenplay in hand, the producers will approach the studios or larger production companies. (Or sometimes content distributors, like Netflix.) The goal here is to get interest from parties with deep pockets and the power to actually make a film. This step can occasionally be skipped if a studio was involved from the beginning. (This has happened with several of my properties.) Sometimes, the studio might be interested—but send the producers back to step three to do more revisions before offering any kind of official deal or promise of distribution. Sometimes, the producers will need to secure promises from multiple parties—like, for instance, they might get a smaller studio in the US interested, then have to get a foreign partner interested to provide funding for overseas distribution promises.

    Step Four: Attaching Talent

    With a screenplay in hand and the backing of a studio or similar group, the producers can now try to get a director or actor on board with the film. This crucial step will have a big influence on how/if the film will get made. Obviously, if you get a major director interested, that makes the studios sit up and take notice. Likewise if a major actor attaches to the project. For television, this often involves getting an established show runner attached. (In my experience, with television, sometimes this sort of thing happens in Step Two instead—with the showrunner being involved in the pitch documents. In that case, Step Three is the big one: getting someone big in the business to fund a pilot.)

    Step Five: Actual Green Light

    Finally, if all the pieces come together, you get what is called a green light. The film is scheduled for shooting, the studio commits a large chunk of money to the project, and people start getting hired. This is when the option actually gets exercised, and the author gets the payment for the contract they likely signed years and years ago. Once in a while, a group of producers will decide that the property they hold is big enough that (once their option period runs out) they decide to pay the buyout price to get more time to try to get the film made. Sometimes, instead, they'll just agree with the author to extend the option period for another payment.

    Step Six: Film Gets Made

    I've never gotten here, but I hear it's a lovely experience.

    So, with that in mind, I can tell you where each of my properties are. Unfortunately, I won't be able to name a lot of names. For instance, if a director is interested but hasn't signed on officially, it's not my place to announce them as being involved. Likewise, if some producers have offered to option something, but we don't have signed paperwork, it's generally best if I stay quiet about the details so that they can do publicity on the deal in the way they would like.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Minor Projects

    Potential Cosmere Stories

    Keep the following on your radar, as they may happen someday. However, as I'll be knee-deep in Stormlight in 2019, don't expect anything to happen on any of them until it is done. The list includes: Dragonsteel/Liar of Partinel, Sixth of the Dusk sequel, Silverlight novella, Threnody novel, Aether of Night, Silence Divine.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Minor Projects

    The Reckoners, Legion

    These are both finished, and I don't foresee any future updates anytime soon. Do note, however, that the Reckoners board game has been shipping, and it turned out great. You should soon have a chance to buy copies if you missed the Kickstarter, and I suspect there will be expansions in the future.

    Status: Completed

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects

    Elantris, Warbreaker, Rithmatist

    No updates from last year, I'm afraid. There was no intention to make progress on these this year. Once Alcatraz is wrapped up, I'll turn my attention back to The Rithmatist as the last looming series that needs a wrap-up that hasn't gotten one. Elantris and Warbreaker sequels aren't to be expected until Stormlight Five and Wax and Wayne Four are done.

    Status: Keep waiting. (Sorry again.)

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects

    Dark One

    My outline for this drew a lot of buzz around both Hollywood and New York. The story, if you aren't familiar with it, is about a young man in our world who discovers that a fantasy world has declared him to be the Dark One, and starts sending hit squads into our world to assassinate him. Pitched as "Harry Potter from Voldemort's viewpoint," the story follows this young man as he is forced to confront the possibility that he might do what the prophecies say.

    We have a graphic novel in the works, and I've been doing pitches in Hollywood for a potential television show. So movement is certainly happening here.

    Status: Going well. Might have art to show soon from the graphic novel.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2108 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects

    White Sand

    Graphic Novel Two came out this year, and was very well received. (Save for the forced artist change, something I hated to have to do. That said, the new artist is doing a fantastic job.) Graphic Novel Three is the end of this sequence, and is well on its way to being completed.

    The prose version is still available if you sign up for my mailing list. Though remember, we've made numerous updates to the story during the adaptation process.

    I have no immediate plans to do sequels to this in graphic novel form, though you can expect stories set on Taldain to happen in the future.

    Status: Final graphic novel is well under way. Release in 2019 or early 2020 likely.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2109 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects


    I've been tweaking Alcatraz Six. I did a partial draft a few years ago that went off the rails, and this year, I trimmed that back with some help from a friend into the parts that worked. From there, we've been trying to figure out how to get Bastille's character voice right. It's moving. Slowly, but it's moving. Book Six, written from Bastille's viewpoint, will be the end of the series.

    Now that Legion is done, the next series I want to make sure gets tied up is Alcatraz. It shouldn't be too much longer.

    Status: Book Six made some small progress this year.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2110 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects

    The Apocalypse Guard

    I do someday want to do something with this book. I've given it to Dan Wells, my long-time friend and sometimes partner in crime. He's come back with some suggestions on how I could fix it, along with some brainstorming on where it could go as a series.

    I'm going to give you fair warning, though. Every time Dan and I brainstorm together, weird things happen. Legion was the result of one of those sessions, as was Dan's book I Am Not a Serial Killer. (Which you should all go read, if you haven't.) The two of us are odd enough on our own, but together we're downright strange. (You should see the two of us in role-playing sessions, where we constantly try to out-bizarre one another with our character concepts.)

    I fully expect something to come out of The Apocalypse Guard sessions I'm doing with Dan, but…well, don't expect it to be normal by any stretch of the word.

    Status: In revisions, getting weirder.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Secondary Projects

    The Original

    I'm moving this novella (which I don't think I've mentioned before in a State of the Sanderson) into the Secondary Projects section. A while ago I had an idea for a story about a world where, if you committed a crime and went on the run for it, the government could create a clone of you (with your memories and personality) to hunt you down. After all, who better to hunt a criminal than a copy of that criminal? The copy would have strict controls in place so they could be killed by the government with the press of a button, but would be given the promise that they could take their Original's place if they succeeded in hunting them down and killing them.

    Earlier this year, the idea developed into a full-fledged outline, which I wrote out during time when I needed a break from other things. It worked out well, and so you might see progress on this in future years. Right now, I like the idea of doing it as an audio original, perhaps with a coauthor who is more experienced in audio or voice acting. So watch for updates here.

    Status: Outlined.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2112 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Main Projects

    Death (Without Pizza)

    A major bombshell update here: we have finished a first draft of this book! I'm moving this up to major projects, as I anticipate a release of this novel in the coming two years. It is a Dresden Files-esque urban fantasy series set in London, starring a necromancer. (With a very Sanderson-style take on necromancy.)

    Many of you have been following along with this project, which I've mentioned for many years in the State of the Sanderson posts. I wrote a rough draft of a big chunk of this book back some years ago now, but didn't like how it was going, so I shelved it. The idea stuck with me though—and I really wanted to give it another chance. Over the years, one part I didn't like was actually the pizza aspect. The original pitch was for a pizza delivery man who became a necromancer.

    Well, over the years, I found I wanted a stronger character for the protagonist. Starting with the title Death by Pizza had pushed me to make the story more jokey than I wanted, and had led me to cut corners on the worldbuilding in ways I didn't like. So when I went back to the drawing board, I started going in different directions with the storytelling. A more intricate, interesting magic system. And a character with more heart. Where I eventually ended up going was studying metal music culture.

    The subculture of heavy metal music is fascinating to me. I really like how passionate the fans are about it, and how often outsiders are wrong about those inside it. (Do a little reading on the topic, and you might find that a lot of your stereotypes of metal fans are wrong—like mine were. The more I read about and talked to metal fans, the more fascinated I became by the subculture.) It seemed to me that a metalhead who finds out he's a necromancer could be a cool hook.

    Well, around the time I was really getting into this, I was chatting with Peter Orullian, a novelist who is a friend of mine. He's mostly known for his epic fantasy series The Vault of Heaven, but he also happens to be a metalhead and a musician. (He's toured internationally fronting metal bands, and recently composed an entire rock opera in the style of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He's even written a book with the band Dream Theater, in conjunction with one of their concept albums.)

    Well, the match seemed perfect. He could bring the expertise on metal music, and I could provide the worldbuilding. So we jumped into a collaboration. I wrote out a lengthy world guide and outline, and Peter did a lot of experimenting to find the right voice for our character. We worked on the first volume all during the summer and fall, and the resulting book is quite promising. It's the story of an American metal singer living in London whose day goes from bad to worse as he gets kicked out of his band, then makes his way to his favorite pub to lick his wounds—only to end up getting shot in the head during an apparent robbery. And after that, things start to go really badly for him.

    Peter finished the first draft in November, and I've been spending my December doing a second draft. After that, I'll kick it back to him for a third draft so that we can make sure our different voices are smoothed out. We'll see where it goes from there! In any case, though, Death Without Pizza will not be the final title for the story. We'll pick something a little less silly; I'm a little worried people will expect something over-the-top metal like Brütal Legend—which was great, but not the direction this story ended up going. Anyway, I'll post updates as we go along!

    Status: Being revised. After that, we'll look for a publisher.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2113 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Main Projects


    Book Two, Starsight, is done, and I'll be noodling on revisions for it in the early part of next year while I write the Stormlight Four and Five outlines. It's scheduled for October of next year.

    Stormlight Four taking all of my 2019 will likely mean that Skyward Three won't be written until 2020, for a spring 2021 release. (At least, that would be my best guess at this point.) So you'll have a larger-than-usual wait between Books Two and Three, unless something happens to let me squeeze Book Three in early. As I mentioned above, it's a four-book series, and when I get back to it, I anticipate doing Book Four soon after Book Three. (Like I did in writing Books One and Two very close to one another.)

    Status: Book Two ready to go in 2019. Book Three likely in 2021, Book Four likely in 2022.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2114 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Main Projects


    My big failure in 2018 was not getting to Wax and Wayne Four. But all is not lost! I am going to do whatever I can to squeeze this in next year. I'm feeling I might need a break in the middle of Stormlight Four, as I sometimes do. If so, I might squeeze this in there. But it will depend on a many factors. So, we'll have to take a wait-and-see attitude.

    I'm going to try to hold myself back from doing any other side projects, like Children of the Nameless or The Original from this year, until Wax and Wayne is finished. Book Four will be the conclusion of their story, and the wrap-up of era two of Mistborn. (And I have big things planned for Era Three, which I am planning to write between Stormlight Five and Stormlight Six.)

    Status: Pushed off for now, but to be written very soon. No release date yet.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2115 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Updates on Main Projects


    As you just read about above, I am on track for starting this book on January first. I'll begin with a reread of the first three books, as I find I need a periodic refresher, even on my own novels. This will also be important for helping me really nail down the outlines for books four and five.

    As I've worked on the Stormlight series, I've shifted a lot of things around in the outlines. Famously, I swapped Dalinar's book and Szeth's book (making Book Three have Dalinar's flashbacks instead of Szeth's). But along the same lines, I moved a chunk of Book Three into Book Two, and then moved around smaller arcs for Three, Four, and Five.

    The Stormlight series has a very odd structure. Each novel is outlined as a trilogy plus a short story collection (the interludes) and is the length of four regular books. This lets me play with narrative in some interesting ways—but it also makes each volume a beast to write. The other superstructure to the series is the spotlight on the ten orders of Radiants, with each book highlighting one of them while also having a flashback sequences for a character tied to one of those orders. If that weren't complicated enough, the series is organized in two major five-book arcs.

    What this means is that I need to do some extra work on books four and five, as they together tie off an arc. There are some small plot lines I've been pushing back from book to book as I nail down what each volume will include—but I can't do that with Book Five, as it will be the capstone of this sequence. So I need the outlines to be tight to make certain I get everything into them that needs to be there.

    Anyway, that's a long way to say, essentially, I'll start posting updates to the Stormlight subreddit in January, and you can follow along there or on the progress bar we'll post here on my website on January first. I've commissioned a special piece of artwork to be used in Stormlight Four blog posts, which we should be able to reveal next year. (I'm pretty excited about it.) So you have that to look forward to as well!

    Note that while I'm optimistic about this being my fall 2020 release, delays could happen if the book doesn't come out smoothly on the first draft. I'll keep you updated with regular posts. A lot will depend on how long the revisions take.

    Status: Book Four is my main project for 2019, for an anticipated 2020/2021 release.

    State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
    #2116 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My Year

    January-March: Skyward and Legion Revisions

    I kicked off the year quickly doing a second draft of Skyward. Pulling The Apocalypse Guard from the publisher, then promising them Skyward to publish in the fall of 2018, meant that I had to scramble. It wouldn't do to pull a book I judged to be of inferior quality, only to replace it with a book that I didn't have time to revise up to my standards. So you'll see a number of months dedicated to Skyward. (Which, if you somehow missed it, did come out—and is still sitting quite happily on the New York Times bestseller list many weeks later, so thank you all very much!)

    Another thing I'd been putting off for months was the necessary revisions of the third Legion story. Tor was quite patient with me on this one, considering the Legion collection was scheduled for publication in the fall as well. But during these three months, I did multiple revisions of both books, eventually getting Legion into a polished state. (There was one more draft of Skyward still to do.) Legion Three, Lies of the Beholder, can be found in the Legion collection that was published earlier this year.

    Finally, somewhere in here, I squeezed in an outline and world guide for Death Without Pizza. (Yes, that's a name change—no it's not the final name, but just a placeholder.) More on that later.

    April: Children of the Nameless

    Sometime around March of last year, Wizards of the Coast sent me an exploratory email. It being the 25th anniversary of their card game, they were wondering if I'd be interested in doing a story with them. As most of you know, I'm quite the fan of Magic: The Gathering. It's my primary hobby, and I have way too many cards. (Which still aren't enough, of course.) I was enthusiastic, and you can read more about the process I used to approach the story in this blog post.

    I knew that by doing so, and by writing the story as long as it ended up, it would make getting to some of my other projects later in the year more difficult. (Namely, the fourth Wax and Wayne book, which I'll talk about shortly.) But this was kind of something I had to do, so I ask your forgiveness in taking this detour to Innistrad. I'm exceptionally pleased with the story and the response it has gotten, so if you haven't read it, I present it to you here! Reading it requires no prior knowledge of the card came or the lore surrounding it.

    May: Skyward Final Draft

    How long it takes to write a story depends on a lot of factors, but in general, three months gets me around 100k words. Shorter stories, with fewer viewpoints, tend to be faster—while longer stories with more intricate plotlines (like Stormlight) tend to take longer. But that's just for the rough draft. Generally, doing all the other drafts takes an equivalent amount of time to the first draft. (So, if the first draft takes three months, the second through fourth drafts will together take another three months.) You can see this at play in Skyward, which took about three months to write in the end of 2017, then took three additional months of revision to polish up.

    I did sneak in a little time to do an outline for a piece called The Original in here as well, which took about a week. I'll update you on that in the secondary projects section.

    June–August: Starsight First Draft

    And, speaking of three month first drafts, here we get me buckling down and doing the sequel to Skyward. It's finished in its first draft form, and dominated my summer. In here, I also did detailed outlines for the third and fourth books of the series. (And this is where I determined for certain that the series would need to be four books instead of three.)

    September–October: Odds and Ends

    In these months I had some travel to record episodes of Writing Excuses, I did a quick second draft of Starsight to send to my publisher, and I did some revisions to Children of the Nameless. I also did more work on The Original, Death Without Pizza, and Alcatraz Six (AKA Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians, or Alcatraz vs. His Own Dumb Self). Finally, I slipped in some brainstorming with Dan Wells on how to fix The Apocalypse Guard.

    Basically, I knew that November would be mostly lost to touring, and I was scrambling to get some work done on small projects to clear my plate for 2019, which will be dedicated to working on Stormlight Four.

    November: Skyward Tour

    I spent most of November on tour for Skyward, and quickly finishing up final revisions on Children of the Nameless. I got to see a lot of you while touring for the book, and had a blast—but these tours get more and more difficult as the lines get longer and longer. The tour for Stormlight Four in 2020 might require me to do some things I've been dreading, such as limit the lines to a certain number of tickets. It makes me sad to contemplate, but I'll keep you all in the loop about what we decide to do.

    December: Death Without Pizza

    I needed a break from all the other things I've been doing, so in classic Brandon style, I worked on something fresh and new to give myself a breather. This was where I was going to do Wax and Wayne Four, but doing Children of the Nameless meant that instead of three months extra space at the end of the year, I only had one month. (As CotN had taken one month to write, and one month to revise.) I had the choice of pushing back the start of Stormlight Four, or doing something else for this month and trying to sneak in W&W 4 sometime next year. I chose the latter. It's important to me that I let myself do side projects to refresh myself—but I also think it's important to keep to my Stormlight schedule. It would be too easy to keep putting off the big books until they stretch to years in the making. I told myself I was going to divide my time in half between Stormlight and other projects.

    The truth is, I'm getting really anxious about getting back to Stormlight. That's a very good sign, as once I finish a Stormlight book, I'm usually feeling quite burned out on the setting, and need a number of months to recover.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    When will we get the sequel [to Children of the Nameless]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm putting this question on here because, dear readers, I know you very well. But let's not put the cart before the horse. I would not be opposed to doing something more with these characters in the future, if Wizards is amenable, but I've also got a lot on my plate. I suspect that if I were to do something more with Magic in the future, it wouldn't be for several years. (I have Stormlight 4 to write, after all.)

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Introduction: The Longer Version

    Back in January this year, Wizards of the Coast approached me. Knowing of my love for their game, Magic: The Gathering, they were wondering if I would be willing to write a tie-in story for them. They mentioned since it was the 25th birthday of Magic, they wanted to do something special—and might be able to splurge on a Brandon Sanderson story.

    I was, of course, interested—but went back to Wizards with a proposal that I think surprised them. You see, I knew they'd been doing some very interesting things with their stories in recent months. (The multi-part Dominaria sequence by Martha Wells is a good example, if you are interested.) I liked how they were using free stories on their website to both enhance the lore and give some work to talented writers.

    Way back in the beginning of my career, one of the things I liked to do was periodically release free stories. Defending Elysium, Firstborn, and even Warbreaker are examples. Over the years, though, I've gotten busy enough that I haven't found a good opportunity to do this again. I liked the idea of doing a story for Wizards in part for this reason.

    So I went back to them with a proposal: I didn't actually want payment for this story. I just wanted them to put it up for free on their website, and then if (later down the road) it generated any money by being in a collection or in print on its own, I wanted my portion of that donated to charity. In exchange for doing it for free, I wanted to be allowed to write the story my way. That meant me picking one of their settings, then developing my own characters and plot to happen there. (As opposed to writing the story for one of their official releases, as most of the other writers they hired were doing.)

    It wasn't that I had anything against writing one of the main-line-setting stories. I just felt that in this case, I wanted greater flexibility. Beyond that, for several years now, I've had a story brewing in my head that I felt was a perfect match for one of their settings—a story I couldn't make work in the Cosmere, but which I really wanted to write.

    Wizards was on board immediately—and so, "Secret Project" was born.

    Regarding the Story

    Wizards has a lot of great settings for the card game, so I had plenty of options. The story I'd been brewing was specifically inspired by their Innistrad set—a gothic horror setting with some magepunk elements underpinning it. It has had a very interesting evolution over the years, and was the setting for one of the best Magic sets of all time. Ever since writing Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, I've wanted to do another horror/fantasy hybrid, and so I dove into what became Children of the Nameless.

    I don't know exactly what Wizards was expecting of me, but I suspect a 250-page behemoth of a story wasn't it. (At 50k words, the story is roughly half the size of something like Skyward.) I have to say, though, working with them was an absolute pleasure. They jumped on board with the main character pitch I made, integrating him right away into the larger Magic story. They even went so far as to loop me in on conference calls, where I could explain my character concepts so they could develop art. I'd thought they might be worried about letting me go off on my own like this, but they were instead enthusiastic and supportive.

    So, it is with great pleasure I present Children of the Nameless. Consider it a Christmas present from me and from Wizards of the Coast to you. I hope you enjoy it!

    General Twitter 2019 ()
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    Hey, now that the Hemalurgic Table is out in the world, can we get a normal image of it on the website so we don't have to rely on photos from people's books? :)

    Isaac Stewart

    Eventually. I'm working on the actual final version that will wind up as the art print. I don't want to release a digital version until it's the final one.

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    I am interested to know the concept behind the cosmere symbol in [Arcanum Unbounded].

    Isaac Stewart

    This came about after about a dozen or two other sketches, some more complex, some less. Some more laden with meaning; some less. We wanted something simple and evocative of the cosmology. There IS some symbolism here; see the 16 points on the inner star....


    The thoughts are the 16 points are Adonalsium, the 3 shapes around are the 3 realms. The other is that the symbol is meant to represent the movement of the shards throughout the cosmere.

    Isaac Stewart

    Each point you mention is something I considered when designing the symbol and intentionally built into it. Glad people are seeing it!

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    Are the boosters airbreathing or rocket boosters? If rocket, what fuel do they use?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    This might be explained in book 2. But I think it's something very sci-fi rather than propellant-based. They're not airbreathing, for sure.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    I've been checking the site almost every day for years to complete the signed art print collection of the other 2 framed on my wall. Please tell me this [Hemalurgy table] will be produced same as the other 2? I've got very low numbers for the other table prints, and it's hard to understate how much I've been looking forward to completing this collection after years.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will be available as a print, probably with more details in the boxes. I don’t know the timetable though.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Is this hemalurgy table also a speculative in-universe document (like how the RPG had atium spikes only stealing temporal, because that's what the steelies believed)?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    It is an in-world chart according to the knowledge of some people at a certain stage in the history of Scadrial. [Edit: not Roshar, sorry. Also it’s not Khriss.]

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Yeah, it’s dangerous to leave him unsupervised for extended periods of time, as a random novella might suddenly appear.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The latest one is a story I really want to write about one of Hoid's apprentices, set in the future of the cosmere (between era 3 and 4) stranded on a minor shardword and trying to figure out their kite-based magic system...

    (No time right now, though. Stay on target...)


    That sounds very much like the first story you wrote about Hoid, doesn't it? About him landing on a new planet and trying to figure out the local magic system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it would be the spiritual successor of that story. I don't think it would work any more for him, the way he has developed, but I think it could play out very well with one of his many apprentices across the worlds. (Particularly if he's a little more organized about this in the space-age era.)

    Someday, I really need to send my old discs from the early 90s out for data recovery, to see if anything is on them. It would be a hoot to read these old stories and really see how much of the Cosmere existed in embryo back when I was a teenager.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Wait, don't you also have a teaching job?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a good question, and though others have answered, I should post to explain for those who might be interested in teaching creative writing.

    It is very difficult to get a teaching job in creative writing without an MFA or a PhD. I applied to many of those programs, submitting Elantris as my writing sample, but I was rejected from all of them. I managed to get into BYU on my second year of applying to programs--but only their MA program, which was a stop gap because it wasn't an MFA, and therefore wouldn't be enough to let me teach.

    In the first week of that program, the graduate chair explained the work we would need to do to if we wanted to get into a PhD program that would give us a shot at teaching for a living. I distinctly remember realizing I could never do all of that and still write my novels. So I made the call and turned toward my fiction instead of academics.

    I applied to teach as a graduate instructor, but didn't get the job. I applied a semester later, though, and was given a few freshman composition classes to teach--but it was a graduate teaching position, meaning a job I couldn't keep once graduating.

    I only got my creative writing class after I sold a novel. Even then, it was sketchy. The professor before me had been let go for not having enough academic credentials. I love teaching my class, but it is only one course which I only got after publishing. So this is not a route I could have taken if I hadn't sold a book. This tends to be a big conundrum in teaching the arts. You can't get a job without being successful--but being successful usually takes so much time, you don't have time left to be an academic.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    So originally book 3 was Szeth and book 5 was Dalinar? Good that it changed...I cannot imagine book 3 without Dalinar's flaskbacks. The story wouldn't be so powerful.

    Now I am curious, did Dalinar get his memories back in the original planning for book 3?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As others have theorized, this wouldn't have worked quite the same way.

    Oathbringer's ending would still have been its ending--but we wouldn't have had the flashbacks and some of the revelations about Dalinar's character. It quickly became obvious to me, however, that the confrontation with the thrill, the reveal regarding the ancient Radiants, and the solidification of the new Radiants as a unified(?) group needed to all happen alongside Dalinar's flashbacks (and his recovered memories) instead alongside Szeth's flashbacks and his plot, a big chunk of which was moved to book five.

    Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Happy New Year, everyone! Brandon here, with my first in a series of updates about your next book.

    As mentioned in my State of the Sanderson post last month, my 2019 is dedicated to writing the fourth Stormlight book. It's a long process, likely to take around eighteen months or longer (depending on how big it gets this time...) As always, one of my goals is to be up front and forward with you about how it's going. The writing process can be a tangled one, even for simple books. And these books are anything but simple.

    So, where do we stand? Well, right now, the outline is a bit of a mess. While I started with outlines for all five Stormlight books in this sequence (and some notes for each of the back five books as well) even a heavy outliner like myself changes a lot about a book during the drafting process. Each change has a ripple effect through the later outlines, which I commonly don't fix other than to note sections that will need to be change or be tweaked.

    In the case of Stormlight, sequences were frequently moved between books as I decided on better places for them. (Like Dalinar and Szeth's flashback sequences in book three and five being swapped--or like Kaladin's sequence from the outline of Book Three being moved to Book Two instead.)

    The further I get, then, the more messy the remaining outlines become. So the first thing I need to do is spend some time digging into the outlines of Books Four and Five, sharpening them and making them work. I need to do this now, because I don't want to get to Book Five and find it in serious trouble.

    Imagine I have a big pile of legos, and I'm building five cool castles from them. I have to be careful as I use more and more of the pieces that the ones left over make a cool fifth castle--rather than just a jumble of leftovers. There are some very important and powerful sequences still to come (you all know how I like endings) but the outlines need extra special attention this time around.

    My goal starting tomorrow (well, today once I wake up) is to get those outlines into shape. I anticipate this taking a month or maybe event two. I need to dig back into books one and two and make sure there aren't plot threads I'm ignoring, examine the themes of this book's flashback sequence (from Eshonai's viewpoint) and map them alongside the main themes of the major plots, then choose break points for the five parts of the story. (Along with decide who the viewpoint characters for each part will be.)

    For those who don't know, I plot each Stormlight book as a trilogy written as a single novel (though in five parts) with a short story collection spliced into it. That "trilogy" then connects to the five book mini arc (in this case, the first five books) which in turn ties into ten book mega arc of the series. So, I've got a great deal of work ahead of me. Fortunately, we have an entire year for me to do it! (Though I will need to spend some of that time the next few weeks signing four thousand copies of the Hero of Ages Leatherbound, which FINALLY arrived.)

    So, off I go! I'll be back here sometime February or March with another update, perhaps including a (spoiler free) visual representation of the outline like I did last time. Until then, thanks for the support! The Way of Kings passed a million copies sold in the US last year, which isn't even mentioning its significant sales around the world. I'm humbled and pleased to see so many people embracing this series, the one I started assuming it would be too long and too strange to ever sell.

    I'll leave you with a random tidbit to theorize about. I'm pretty sure that at my signing last week in Idaho Falls, I was unintentionally misleading about some of the things I said about Dalinar's powers (regarding infusing of spheres.) I was trying to talk around spoilers for book four...

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    How is [Rithmatist] not a VR game yet.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have tried for years to get one made, and would love to do it. I also am fine with (not for profit) fan creations in most instances.

    The problem has always been that people who are interested in making a Rithmatist game don't have enough experience in the industry to really make me think they could do a good job with it. (I have had a lot of offers from first-time game makers, for example.) However, the sales of the book--while good--are not enough to interest big game makers. (Where we've had trouble even getting something like a Mistborn game made, a series with several multiples more fans than the Rithmatist.)

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    A few weeks ago, you mentioned you were writing The Original with a friend, but in the SotS it looks like you haven't found anybody yet? Are those different people or is the SotS outdated?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't have contracts or permission to mention anyone's name. It's early enough along that I feel it's best to stay quiet for now.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    A lot of collaborations coming up: Alcatraz 6, Death (Without Pizza), Apocalypse Guard, The Original. How many of these are you expecting to be officially coauthored?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I release a book that someone else worked on with me, it will be co-authored. So I'd say all them--but like a lot of projects I have cooking, it's possible that any or all of them might not come together.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    I know you can't comment [on Nakomi] that's what the wish was for :). Just hoping for some day in the future is all. I'm actually more concerned with this forsaken/aMoL secret we are apparently all missing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am sure someone has figured it out; I just don't watch the theory threads for WoT as well as I used to. Either way, I'll be able to reveal it on the 10th anniversary of the book being out.


    I'm sure you're a busy man. That's good to know about the tenth anniversary, would you confirm it if it was directly asked to you? There's one theory I've seen but I don't want to push my luck :).

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wouldn't be able to confirm it or deny it.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    I'm not sure how familiar you are with superhero comics, but if Marvel/DC offered you a similar opportunity, are there any characters that you would want to write for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marvel did actually offer me this chance, and at the end of the day, I decided I didn't have the time at that point. I'm not closing the door entirely on doing something with them, but this project was different for several reasons.

    First, I could create my own characters and situation--but know they were going to be important and relevant in the future of the narrative done by others.

    Second, I could write it as a novella, to fit better into the time I had to give it.

    Third, I could have it released for free, as a present to the fans.

    I'm quite a big fan of what Marvel has been doing with its stories, but I didn't feel like it was the right time for me to become involved.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    As somebody who has little to no knowledge about Magic: The Gathering beyond the fact that it is a card game, could somebody explain how novellas like this fit into everything?

    Question for Branderson: How does writing for an already established IP feel compared to writing in your own universes? Do you feel limited?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a good kind of limitation--it helps me think with restrictions, and is good for me in making certain my own pieces remain consistent and rigid in their magical approach. So yes, it's limiting--but so far, with all three tie-ins I've done, I've been given enough freedom that it's been a good kind of limitation.

    As for your first question, since nobody else is answering, Magic story these days is told via novellas like this. The creative team works closely with the game team to design the setting and story for a given set, then the creative team commissions or writes stories to post on the website for the fans who want to follow the story as they play the game. (The cards themselves evoke story nicely, but their focus isn't on the narrative, but on the mechanics of the game.)

    My novella is a little odd in that I designed it working from worldbuilding materials sent to me, but without requiring it to follow a specific storyline for a set.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Speaking of writing process, how does it feel to work with your own series and with already existing (Magic, WoT)? Is there some differences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's actually a lot of fun to take established rules and see how I can play with them. It makes working on something like MTG different in an interesting way for me. I don't have absolute control of everything, and have to work within certain narrative restraints--which gives me a chance to do something new and different.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Is the writing process for writing a novella different from writing a novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is, but they are similar arts. I think of novellas like short novels, rather than long short stories--so I tend to plot and pace them in similar ways to novels. That said, I tend to narrow my focus to one day, and don't muck around as much with flashbacks. I try to keep the narrative tight on one sequence of events.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    If the characters were cards, what abilities would you like them to have?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd like Davriel to steal cards out of people's hands and then play them. I don't know about Tacenda, though. I've been drawing a blank so far.


    What of Davriel had a unique mechanic that read something like; When an opponent casts an instant or sorcery spell, -X loyalty where X is the spell's CMC and exile it with a theft counter (activate any time you could cast an instant), and another that was +2 and return a card exiled with a theft counter to its owner's [hand/graveyard], you may cast a copy of that spell using any coloured mana?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That would be cool, and I would like to see planeswalker cards with odd mechanics. But I think it would be a lot of complicated wording to do something that would, in essence, be very similar to:

    Minus loyalty: Look at target player's hand an exile a non-land card from it.

    Zero Loyalty: You may play cards exiled with Davriel, and may use black mana as mana of any color to cast those cards.


    Maybe Tacenda would have a tap target creatures effect?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a pretty good idea.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    It's clear that Davriel is a Dimir aligned character but I find Tacenda a little bit harder to read (my closest assumption it's Boros). If she would be printed in a future which color combinations would she have?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd make Tacenda G-W-R. Green for her belief in fate, and for the power of the Entity. Red for her passion and music. White for her belief in, and protection of, her community.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    A (tangential) Dream Theater mention in a SotS? I can only take so much. I'm really looking forward to the new pizza-less Death set.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The book is looking good, though it still has a lot of work left to do. Peter has really brought the right musician's touch to the story, though, and a powerful sense of authenticity.


    Question(s), if you will. What types of metal are you including (please don't say atium)? Is one of them djent? Are you only going to be doing big (older) bands (Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeath, etc.)? Or are you going to be including newer bands? Niche bands? Metalheads love pretentious niche bands.

    Are you aware of the role of post hardcore as a gateway into screaming music for many people? For example, look up the Spotify plays for bands like A Day To Remember, Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, and Of Mice & Men. Another big player is nu metal like Linkin Park. Almost every metalhead in the 20-35 age bracket grew up listening to them.

    Are you in tune with the fickleness of metal fans? How every time a band drops a new album, all the old fans line up around the block to hate on it. This is often because bands tend to soften their sound with each album (the word sellouts is not unheard in these contexts).

    Are you going to include any references to popular metal YouTubers? I.e. Jared Dines (and his 18 string guitar), Kmac2021, Rob Scallon, etc.

    Sorry for the barrage. Long time metal listener. Guess I'm just anxious so see it represented right!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm well aware that metal fans rather love their many distinct sub-genres. That's one of the main reasons I knew I needed to have someone working with me. I myself am very mainstream as a music fan. I love Metallica, but that's like telling people you love fantasy because you watched the LotR films. It's absolutely true, but doesn't exactly show off your breath of interest.

    While I like a wide variety of musical styles, I wouldn't by any means call myself a metalhead--I just don't know the culture, as much as I like to read about it. But you can be assured that Peter knows his stuff. My job is worldbuilding and plot; his job is voice and authentic representation of the culture.

    That said, I fully expect to get some pushback from fans because...well, you know. I'm sure we'll have plenty of metalheads in the beta reads, though.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    I see a lot of people commenting and suggesting that Davriel is straight up UB (as represented in this story). Would you agree that this is the case? And if a different side of Davriel were to be represented on a card (say, his days as a conquerer) what do you think his colour alignment have been then? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think Davriel is most easily explained as UB, and the creative team agreed with that.

    However, I think there's a strong argument for mono black for him. His power is a mix of a thoughtsieze and the power seen often on mono black cards (like Gonti.) Granted, it's also seen on blue cards, but it can exist in mono-black.

    He does have an academic side to him, but mostly for studying demonology--a very black pursuit. His past is that of a very pragmatic economist, approached from a very black-aligned view. So mono-black makes a lot of sense for him.

    He could also be seen as Esper. He believes in order, and the importance of social institutions--particularly as a means of controlling the masses.

    The past version of him is very in alignment with this. He never approached his conquests in a red or green way--always in U/B/W ways.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Were the Whisperers inspired by the card Permeating Mass? Their green color and the way they turn everyone they touch into more of themselves seems too similar to be coincidental.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Whisperers were actually more inspired by the card Strangleroot Geist. (Though I can't discount the fact that other cards, like Permeating Mass, might have been unconscious influences.)

    I knew going into the story that I want green-aligned villains, and so was trying to ask myself what would inspire a group of green geists--and what would motivate them. We've seen green villains in MTG before (the Kami and the Phyrexians both did a good job of this.) I wanted to see if I could approach the color from another direction, and was trying to think of what green would want. It seemed to me that completion, the pieces being gathered to the whole, could be very green--as could the idea of survival of the fittest. (In the form of the Entity putting itself into two souls, and figuring the stronger of the two would eventually consume the other and become its host.)

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    As someone who has studied Asian cultures and history and mythology, would you consider writing a story in the Kamigawa plane? It's one of my favorites but it seems to be a bit underloved, and I'd love to see some more development of it in a story.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm a big fan of Kamigawa, and would call Toshiro Umezawa an inspiration for doing a black-aligned hero in this story. So it is something I'd consider.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Are there any easter eggs that you either got to add or wished to add to the story that reference something Magic-related that's close to you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm. I toyed with writing in cameos for some people I know, but decided against it, as I know Wizards isn't fond of that sort of thing in their card art, and figured it would be a bad idea in fiction.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    While we're on the subject of you and MtG, do you have a spreadsheet or a document somewhere with the color identities of all your characters? Some of them are obvious, like Kelsier being red with maybe a splash of white, but others I can't make a solid decision on, like Vin.

    Brandon Sanderson

    See, I think Kelsier is blue black--though you're right, he probably has some red to him in his rebellious nature and focus on friendship and emotion. But no, I don't keep track of this. I enjoy talking about it with people, but it isn't an important part of how I design characters.


    Really? Blue black? I see where the blue comes from, and the black as well, but he was always felt like primarily red to me. Namely, his rebelliousness, desire for revenge, and general dislike of society’s structure feel like strong red traits to me. I suppose then, that might make him Grixis?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I could see Grixis.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    What has been the hardest book for you to write? And the easiest? Was this particular book difficult to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hardest was by far A Memory of Light. Easiest was probably Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, which I discovery wrote and did half as a writing exercise to keep me from burning out while working on the Mistborn trilogy.

    This one was middle of the road. Most of it was easy, but the ending in the first draft didn't work and required a lot of beating my head against the wall until I was able to get things to click together.