Recent entries

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2102 Copy

    Himenss

    Do you choose cover arts for your books yourself or you give your artist to choose. As for Oathbringer, why that particular moment with Jasnah was chosen? I like the cover, but I guess I wanted the see Dalinar , who would be more appropriate for this book.

    Brandon Sanderson

    With most books these days, I suggest scenes and take a more hands-on approach. Michael Whelan, however, is one of those that I generally step back from and let him do his thing and try not to meddle too much. I DID note to him, though, that we've so far not matched the book to the character. (Kaladin's book got Dalinar and Eshonai on the cover, while Shallan's book got Kaladin.) So it made sense, actually, to have Jasnah here.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2103 Copy

    Himenss

    How do you choose flashback character for each Stormlight book? Do you rather build present day narrative around someone's flashback sequence or just choose whose flashbacks better fit with already existing main narrative? As an example, when you moved Dalinar's flashbacks from book 5 to book 3, did you re-outlined book 3 narrative to make it a better match, or you already had both Dalinar's narratives for books 3 and 5 present day and merely decided where flashbacks play the best counterpoint to what Dalinar is doing in the main timeline?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Moving Dalinar's flashbacks was based on the instinct I had from where book three's narrative was going to go. (After finishing the first two.) Though I have outlines for all of the books, a lot of my outlining process involves starting with a big event, then working backward from it. Sometimes, the steps toward a big event are themselves pretty big events.

    People imagine, I think, an outline that is like the traditional "Heading A" "Subheading a" format. But it's not that, it's a big list of things I am pointing toward--and the most interesting steps to get there. So the process of building a novel is more about looking at that timeline, figuring out what steps make their own powerful moments, and constructing a narrative around them that makes sense. I will often be doing this with a dozen or more different sub-plots at once.

    So when I "move things" from one book to another, it's often a matter of me building a book (say book two) and realizing that the break point for Kaladin's story makes way more sense if it stretches all the way to include the falling into the chasms sequence. From there, I realize I might not move as far along on Dalinar's plot as i might have thought, and I turn book three to focus more on that plot. Etc.

    The flashbacks are the most flexible of these, in some ways, as they are compliments to a story--but don't need to come at any specific chronological point in the series itself. So I look for the places where they will simply fit the best and match the tone of the story the best, either by contrast or compliment

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2104 Copy

    Portugal_Stronk

    If Adonalsium was based and shattered on the cosmere galaxy, what of the rest of the universe? Does it also have Investiture or is Investiture something strictly bound to the cosmere galaxy? Are there even other galaxies on that universe? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've been RAFOing that particular question--though it only just started popping up, at least with people asking it to me. :)

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2105 Copy

    Flack17

    Is there any new information on Dark One? As a lover of your books, graphic novels, and podcasts, I'm very excited for this!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dark One is proceeding nicely behind the scenes, and we're about ready to go take it around the town for pitches. I'd be doing that this week, actually, if I didn't have a book release coming up that I have to prepare for.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2107 Copy

    meramipopper

    What is a song that you really love that a lot of people who know you would never expect?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hm. Most people don't expect me to be enjoy Metallica as much as I do--but that tended to be more in the past, when Metallica was considered somewhat edgy before it became classic rock.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2108 Copy

    PM_ME_WRITER_ADVICE

    I love writing and it is what I feel I am the best at. When I finish this life, I want to leave behind a positive legacy through writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. Particularly, I would like to write in a way that will lead to greater depth of thought regarding paradigm shifting philosophical questions. I honestly believe that some of the worlds biggest problems are rooted in the rapidly increasing superficiality of thought among societies.

    The problems that I encounter the most when I try to write are self-doubt and depression. I find it difficult to actually sit down and begin writing, as I have a bad habit of immediately beginning to over-analyze and over-criticize every word that ends up on the page. Have you ever dealt with similar issues, and if so, how were you able to overcome them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I always love to get a writing question mixed into these, so thank you! This is actually an extremely common problem for new writers--perhaps the most common. (Though the second most common is the one I had, which is the reverse--that of never wanting to do revision.)

    What's happening here is that your ability to recognize good writing has outstripped your actual skill at making it. This can be super frustrating, because you know stories--and you can physically do the act of writing. You've been learning that since grade school. Yet, the story you write doesn't quite live up to it.

    Mixed with that is likely an over-critical eye, treating your work like it is worse than it actually is.

    I often use this metaphor: I played trumpet in high school. I'd played since fourth grade. Senior year, I took jazz band, and fount it extremely frustrating. I knew how to play trumpet, and I could hear the improv jazz riffs in my head--so why couldn't I make them come out of the horn? Everything I actually managed to produce felt pedestrian at best.

    The answer is both mental and procedural. The mental side this this: Recognize that what you're doing right now (by writing) is NOT producing your grand masterwork. It's the equivalent of sitting down in your garage with the trumpet and stumbling through riffs until you start to get that important connection between brain and instrument that lets the vision in your head actually flow unimpeded.

    Don't think of this writing as something you're going to sell, any more than you'd tape and record your practice music sessions. Don't think of what you're writing as "wasting" an idea or "failing" at a story--you can and will re-use these story ideas in the future after you figure out your process. Remove the performance anxiety, the need to be great from the get-go, and the expectation that your first draft needs to look like your favorite authors' final, published draft.

    As for procedure, try some strategies that work to limit self-revision while writing. Try writing stories longhand, both to separate yourself form computer distractions and to make it harder to revise. Try going to a specific place to write, like an office or library, and treating your hour or two there like work time--a destination for writing. Make good habits, be consistent, and note the things that work on some days to make you achieve your goals.

    Good luck!

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2109 Copy

    Pagerunner

    Four clues you've given over the years about unknown Shards: 1) One that wants to hide and survive. 2) One that's not on a planet, but not Ambition 3) One that Hoid would have taken 4) One that would have been used for Rithmatist

    I'm not looking for a new clue. I'm wondering if there's any overlap between the clues. Are these four separate Shards? If not, which hints apply to the same Shard?

    Also, since clue #3 was from before Ambition was revealed, was Hoid going to take Ambition? He certainly is an ambitious individual.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll tell you this--those aren't necessarily four different shards. But I do have to RAFO which one Hoid might have taken.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2110 Copy

    thegatorgirl00

    You've changed so many lives, including mine, with your stories, and so is there anything we as a community can do for you in return?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As for what you can do for me in return, I'm not sure. I mean...I already get to write books for a living, which is the thing I wanted most in life.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2111 Copy

    thegatorgirl00

    What made you decide to release chapters in advance for Skyward and Oathbringer? I personally don't like reading books in this format and haven't for either novel since it's harder for me to get sucked into and lose myself in the story when it's split up, so I'm wondering what gave you the idea for it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've always disliked doing summaries of my books--I feel that I'm not nearly as good at it as I am at just writing them. My instinct going back to when I began trying to break in was that if I could skip the summary and just get someone reading the story, it would be more efficient.

    The releases done this way are, hopefully, to get people talking about the book. I realize that a lot of readers who like my work are just going to wait and read the book when it comes out, but (particularly with Oathbringer) releasing chapters like this was a good way to get some conversations about it started.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2114 Copy

    Aurimus_

    And lastly, a cosmere point of contention. You've said before the Moon Scepter works as a Rosetta stone? Is this literal, as in translating one Aon to it's MaiPon counterpart, or more metaphorical, IE allowing use of a Selish magic outside of its country?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Moon Scepter does not "unlock" regional use of Selish magic, but those who wanted it believed it was a vital step in figuring this out. It's more the first, but has implications for the second.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2115 Copy

    Aurimus_

    From a writing/world building perspective, - how much of the maths/science do you do in the background? US hardback copies of Oathbringer had a map with an inworld long/lat system, for example, and Shagomir and Jofwu worked out (with help from Peter) the amount of land on Roshar, and how much of the planet that the continent takes up. What inspired you to go to this depth? Is there anything you decided /not/ to do the maths for and just went with hand waving it away?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a thing I do more and more of as I gain access to the resources for it. (I have a few very large-scale mathematical issues I'm using people smarter than myself to solve.) I did a lot more hand-waving before I had these resources. I'm not horrible at math, but didn't go beyond college calculus, and just don't have the time to get everything right on my own.

    It's something I do want to be right, however. It's more of a personal desire than anything else--but I think it's going to be important the further we move toward a science fiction cosmere.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2117 Copy

    Phantine

    Irich had that degenerative disease. If the Set still had Miles available, could he have cured Irich's disease by giving him Compounded health with a primer cube?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This requires more steps than it would appear, but this is the sort of thing people will trying very hard to figure out in coming novels.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2118 Copy

    Phantine

    If I stab someone with a steel spike to steal their physical Allomancy, what determines which power I steal? Where the spike is stabbed into, my Intent, or some other factor?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Intent is at play once you get to the finer points of Hemalurgy, but that can get wonky, as evidenced by some certain events with Spook and even Vin.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2119 Copy

    Phantine

    Skyward question: What actually IS the proper procedure if you think a vat of algae might have been contaminated by a coworker?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha. That's one I didn't think I'd get. You'd get your superior, prevent any blending between the vats, and record in a form exactly what the contamination would be. They're not worried too much about sabotage. This is focused on sanitary food-preparation ideas.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2120 Copy

    R'Shara

    I was wondering if we can take the Death Rattles as written? So night is night, not knight. Reigns is reigns and not rains or reins, etc? Since they're written down by someone who is listening to someone else speaking, there could be confusion there. Then again, they're speaking Alethi, or the local tongue, and being translated to English, so their homonyms would be different. Also, are they always about the future, or can they be about the past?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is a tricky one. I was tempted to go into it during the reigns/rains one--but since there is a follow up, let me see if I can explain it.

    You note the mechanism I've said before that I rely upon, that of the idea that the books are done "in translation" from their original tongues. This is to give us another layer of plausibility in the linguistics--but it does introduce a kind of wildcard here in the interpreter. (Who is me.)

    I am not against using word usages similar to homonyms as plot points, so long as the characters themselves are capable of making the misunderstanding. (The ending of the Mistborn trilogy involves some of these types of word and definition related issues.)

    So you're not wrong to asking questions like this. I use them very sparingly, but I do use them. In that specific case, however, I was not intending there to be confusion.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2121 Copy

    Argent

    These recent AMAs have made me wonder about something. With the kind of public presence and interaction you have with your fans, you create a imbalanced sense of familiarity between yourself and us, your fans - we often feel like we know you well (or at least know much about you), while you, for the most part, don't know us beyond the few words we exchange at events. With this in mind, have you had to change the way you interact with people, online and off - and if so, how?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I recently watched a video essay on the idea of parasocial relationships, which is a topic getting some attention on things like Youtube right now. And, while I thought the essay was interesting, I have to say...I kind of disagreed with everything they were saying. (Not the data, but the conclusions--which generally centered around the idea that these relationships were somehow false or dangerous.)

    Yes, the relationship is imbalanced like you say. But the video essay was making these relationships as some kind of scary or false thing--and I just don't see it. I do think you know me by reading my work and by interacting with me here. I don't think you see a false version of me, and I think you probably do know me pretty well, all things considered. And part of the reason I read book (and why I write them) is because it lets us get inside of the mind of someone different from ourselves.

    If there were big things I wanted to change, I'd talk about them. Honestly, most of what I see from the fans seems pretty healthy to me. We in sf/f can take things pretty seriously, but we do it because it's fun and we like to obsess about things--but most everyone can step back when we need to and deal with real life too.

    So...don't know if that answers your question or not, Argent. But I think you're used to that kind of thing from me by now... :)

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2123 Copy

    MS-07B-3

    We know Scadrial is speeding on its way to modern, Earth-like technology, including computers. So what is the internet like in the Cognitive Realm? Is it connected to Scadrial's Cognitive aspect? Does it form into its own standalone location? Do memes become spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is going to be really fun to write some day. But RAFO until then.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2124 Copy

    MS-07B-3

    It's noted in Oathbringer that Taln was the only Herald who was not supposed to have been one, and that he was not a king, general, scholar, or anyone "special" as it were. So what occupation did he hold before becoming a Herald?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He was a soldier and bodyguard.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2125 Copy

    MS-07B-3

    Skyward question! The light line is mentioned as using two fingers to shoot it out. Are they the middle two fingers, and was this inspired by any jovial community arachnid folk?

    Brandon Sanderson

    First draft didn't have specific controls to shoot it out, and during revisions, I thought, "Oh, what the heck. It's not a big part of the story anyway." So yes. :)

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2131 Copy

    Snipexe

    Is there one true Shardblade form for a spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    "True" in this sense is mutable and it can change, based on perception. I would say yes, but it is not a kind of platonic truth, it is a momentary truth.

    Snipexe

    Will dead Shardblades change, when an owner has them for a long time will they slowly change or will they stay the same?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shardblades have changed before that were considered dead.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2133 Copy

    OrangeJedi

    If all the practitioners of the Dor but one just died, for whatever reason, would that remaining practitioner have access to more power?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. Good question. There is magic systems that work that way but it is not the Dor-based magics. I've got an unpublished book that works exactly that way called Mythwalker. The magic system of that was called the Septs, and your family divided the power of the magic, but it was not a one-to-one ratio. If you had a total power, if one person had it was at a 1, but if two people have it each of them were at like a .8, and so suddenly it became this thing of, how many people in your family do you want to have power and things like that. It was really interesting. But the rest of the book was terrible.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2136 Copy

    Questioner

    Soul Forging. Emperor's Soul. If one created the stamp properly, could you, using it, say, Windrunner you stamp, rewrote past to be Lightweaver. Possible?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is possible and a little easier than a lot of other things. It's gonna run into problems... in that the Oaths are gonna be hard to align.

    Questioner

    Probably require some very fine crafting on the stamp.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Very fine crafting on the stamp. And there are certain people that they're just gonna have a hard time fitting into certain Orders. This is a lot easier though than just taking a random person and making them into one, because you're gonna already have Investiture that they've got.

    Questioner

    And have the basis of the First Oath.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. So this is not as hard as it might at first sound. It's the sort of thing that people in the cosmere are looking at. Like, being able to transfer magics between-- and things like that is one of very much interest in the cosmere.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2139 Copy

    Questioner

    lWhat if you mixed-- ike in Alcatraz, what if you mixed like a Windbringer's Lens with like a Fire--forgot the name.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh man that would be terrible. You'd have a big black firestorm. It'd be awesome. Someone should do that.

    Questioner

    So they are allowed to mix?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They can. It's very hard.

    Footnote: The questioner was probably referring to Windstormer's Lenses and Firebringer's Lenses.
    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2140 Copy

    Questioner

    So I'm wondering, how omniscient are the Vessels?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a difficult question to answer because they don't know everything, but they could theoretically. And so, the actual Vessel needs to apply the power and learn things. And they don't know the future exactly. Particularly, you'll notice some hints of this in Oathbringer. There are certain things that really foul with their ability to see the future. It's whenever we kind of get the equivalence of an atium shadow right? Reflection that reflects that someone sees the future, and then suddenly you end up with this kind of difficult chain to follow.

    Questioner

    Can you tell me who might be the most all-knowing out of all of them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will say the older they are the more they generally know.

    Questioner

    So probably not Harmony then?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not Harmony.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2141 Copy

    Questioner

    In Mistborn 3, when Ruin is controlling Inquisitors. Before, they said that Inquisitors were bald. When Ruin is controlling them, does he still have them shave and stuff like that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They still kind of go through their daily life. It's not like he's-- His control can get stronger, and weaker at times. And so they mostly kind of just do what they would normally be doing, until he moves that one right there at that moment where he seizes them, if that make sense. So yes, but it's less like he's like "I am now going to puppet-control them to go to the bathroom," right? He just lets them do that, and when he needs them he seizes control.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
    #2144 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did the idea for the light bands come from? I think they are pretty neat!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started with my desire to have starfighters changing directions quickly by using energy ropes to spear asteroids - and worked backward to have something that could foreshadow this.

    The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
    #2150 Copy

    Questioner

    In the second series of Stormlight Archive, are they going to be about the same characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's an excellent question. So when I sat down to build The Stormlight Archive, there were a couple of things that I learned from The Wheel of Time. One was that the further an epic fantasy series goes, the more important it is that you have a structure to the series. It's very easy for the books to start blending into one another, and it's also very easy to let side characters take over books. This is very natural for us as writers, particularly in a big epic fantasy, and I felt that when I approached The Stormlight Archive there are a couple of things I did. One is that I said "All right, I'm going to confine all my side characters to these things called interludes, where I can just go crazy and do whatever I want, but they have to be like, isolated in their own containment unit called the interludes to prevent me from turning from the books just going in all directions at once."

    The other thing I said is, "Each book is going to be about an order of Knights Radiant, and it's going to have a flashback sequence directly tied to that order." So that when you say "All right, which book is book three," you're like, "Oh, that's Dalinar's book, that's the Bondsmith book." All of the characters are in all of the books, but each book has kind of its own soul and theme that helps me as a writer structure where I'm going to release information, and what it's going to be about. And so when I set down this, I said said "I'm going to pick 10 characters, 10 orders (and they are not always going to be exactly what you expect), but I'm going to build each book to have a theme based around those things."

    The first five were Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai and Szeth. So those are the five books you are going to get in the first arc. And the second arc is Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln and Jasnah, right. Now, all the characters from the first five will be in all those books, and some of them will still be main characters. You can expect it, like it is one series. All the ones that survive *crowd groans* no spoilers. But you can expect in the back five, people that you are expecting that are main characters now will still be main characters, and you will have a lot of space dedicated to them still, but the flashback sequences, and the themes of the book, will focus on those five. And so it hopefully will help it all have a structure and a feeling. 

    Between book 5 and book 6, in-world, there will be a time jump of about 10 years, so just be expecting that. But I can't say anything more without getting into spoilers, so I won't. But that's what you can expect.