Recent entries

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    How come the Drull were never completely exterminated in the times between Dark Ones, given their low numbers and the fact that their war machines required the Dark One to work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My argument would be that: number one, when the wars are done, going out and fighting some more is not really high on people’s priority list. Trying to exterminate the Drull would be like trying to get people out of Afghanistan. It would not be easy, it would be very bloody, and it would require a lot of work. And you would have to do that after a large war has been fought, and everyone is tired of fighting.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    When Caligo did the thing he did in the end, was what happened with Paul an intended or unintended consequence of that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You should assume that most things that happen involving Caligo were things that Caligo wanted to happen.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Chaos

    How much electricity stuff will we see later?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I’ve left that up to the graphic novel writer and artist. Because there’s a lot of this in the outline, and it’s a really weird Brandon world, that those are harder for people to deal with than I’ve realized. Like, making that sort of thing work is one of my personal quirks. And they came to me (and actually Joe Straczynski came to me, too), and they’re like, “This is really hard to figure out what you wanted us to do with this.” And I said, “Just go your direction on that. I understand that this is a very weird Brandon-style world and magic system. I am okay if you downplay a little bit.” So that’s gonna be up to them, honestly. It is really weird. And I am okay with people… “weird” is the wrong term. It’s very individual to me, the way that I approach this.

    And you see it in White Sand, too, unfortunately. We had this same problem with White Sand. If you read the novel of White Sand, the worldbuilding is really out there in a lot of places. People are shooting water at each other and making beetle-shell armor and doing all kinds of wacky stuff in a very Brandon-style “we’re going to use the resources, economy, and worldbuilding of this place to really influence the way they have battle, the way they live their lives.” And that’s just really hard for someone to adapt. And I misjduged how hard that would be for someone to adapt on White Sand.

    And so, with Dark One, I’m letting them have some flexibility there. I wouldn’t expect it to go too much in the graphic novel.

    Isaac Stewart

    I would say that we might see hints of that in the future, where you can look at it and say, “Oh, this was Brandon’s weird world was the seed for certain things that may happen.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Teslatopia.

    Isaac Stewart

    I’ve talked to the writers a little bit about that. I think there are plans for smaller things, but I don’t know what the extent.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You’re not gonna get a Roshar style “every aspect of the world is built around the idea of the storms” sort of thing. It is just something that comes very naturally to me that is actually much harder than I realized it was.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Was there truly no Destined One during the time of Malmahan, or did something happen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out.

    Ah, Malmahan. I’ve been waiting forever to use that name. Because it has some fun biblical things. Anyway, we’ll just go there.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Alex

    Would it be better to create a weapon with one soul from a person with a forceful personality, or one with many souls of no particular importance?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In this world, one forceful soul is generally gonna serve you better. Remember, power is a vague term. What is more powerful? I’ve joked about writing a book (I still want to do this some day, but it’s very far down the list) about the most powerful sword ever existed. It has 780 different powers. It’s full of the most powers. Almost all of them are useless. But it is technically the most power-full sword ever created.

    But you want one forceful soul. In this case, it’s gonna serve you way better. Maybe not necessarily in super raw power, but in nine out of ten times, you’re gonna want that one soul.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Argent

    How does the government of the Kingdoms of Light work? Does the Chronicle King rule them all himself? Is it a coalition? Are there vassals? And is the Dawncoast part of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, boy. I would have to go back to my… that is in my outline. I’m gonna have to speak from not having read the outline in, like, six months. I was looking at kind of a… I believe there’s this idea that when it comes to matters relating directly to the Dark One, the Narrative, and things like that, the Chronicle King becomes a kind of Speaker of the House, so to speak. A first among equals. And in other areas, they did not have to necessarily take the Chronicle King’s word. And I believe that is where we would go with that. I don’t think that got changed. But the actual details of how that work, I would have to pull out the outline and talk about it and refresh myself. That’s where I believe I went with it. The idea being: in matters of there being a threat and a Dark One and the Blasted Lands and all that, then you have to listen to the Chronicle King a little more than you normally would.

    Isaac Stewart

    I can at least answer one part of that question. At least when I was making the map and chatting with the writers, the intention was that Dawncoast is part of the Kingdoms of Light. It just happens to be around a part of the mountain range.

    Brandon Sanderson

    In versions one and two, there was a separate island that Paul was from that was not either part of the Blasted Lands or the Kingdoms of Light. And that, when he of course moved to being from Earth, vanished. But that did exist for a while.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Is the magic used in the Kingdom of Light also based on binding souls? Or does their magic work differently?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of their magic is going to be Narrative-based magic, rather than binding of souls. But they do have… let’s just say, not everyone in the Kingdoms of Light knows the stuff that Illarion is up to. And he may have access to some things that they would not be as happy, that he is using.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Paul’s desire not to be the bad guy, but bloodlines and destiny pulling him another way, reminds me of another way. Paul Atreides, from the novel Dune. Is it just a coincidence they are both named Paul? Or was there some inspiration from Dune?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There’s probably a subconscious influence. That wasn’t intentional, though.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    I believe Dark One started in the cosmere. Are there any elements in the current version that we can identify as cosmere-ish? For example, the Well of Sorrows feels like it could have been a Shardpool.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, the Well of Sorrows got added during the cosmere part. So did Nikka being a ghost, when it was in the cosmere. She was, like, just a character until I did the cosmere version. And when I pulled it out, I left that. So, basically, Nikka the Cognitive Shadow is a cosmere leftover.

    When it was cosmere, Illarion the White Wizard was going to be using cosmere magics that you don’t need any Investiture to use, in order to be pulling off some of his tricks, which I thought was an amusing application. But since we moved it out he can have actual… I mean, the whole “Destined One” is something I wrote in to the most recent. That didn’t exist up until version four, that is the version you’re reading. Before that, he’d have a fabrial and be like, “Look, what a powerful wizard I am!” And then use it to do something, and they’d be like, “Wow!” But that got written out.

    Yes, there are some cosmere stuff there.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    We might do Cosmere children’s books. The most likely thing that I would like to do is adapt Wit’s stories. Do Wandersail, do maybe Fleet. Fleet doesn’t work as well as The Girl Who Looked Up, which works really well. Stuff like that, I could see. Cosmere storybook.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    How has Isaac’s writing been coming along?

    Isaac Stewart

    I have been doing worldbuilding for Darkside.

    Brandon Sanderson

    We’re thinking, Isaac has been very interested in doing some cosmere stories. So we are going to, at some point, have Isaac write in the cosmere. We’ve talked about Mistborn stuff, we’ve talked about Threnody stuff, we’ve talked about Taldain stuff. Something along those lines, Isaac’s gonna do that.

    Isaac Stewart

    The first thing you’ll get from me, aside from the Nicki Savage story and the Allomancer Jak that you’ve already gotten, is this new prologue to White Sand. There’s some scenes in there that don’t show up in the original manuscript that were put in there for reasons, just to help the book come together as a whole, that I hope people will like. So you’ll kinda get to see what my take is on cosmere-type things on that.

    But that’s where I’m at right now. I’m really enjoying fleshing out the Darkside stuff. We’re thinking about calling it The Arcanist, relating to Khriss. This is her story. And that also gives us leeway to continue her stories under that title, The Arcanist.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Is there a plan to have Graphic Audio perform Dark One?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, not right now. There is a decent chance that I’ll do a separate audio adaptation of Dark One that is made for the audiobook world, because I really like some of the stuff we’re doing in audio right now. But if I did that, I probably wouldn’t adapt the graphic novel, because the graphic novel is written to be a visual medium. But would, instead, take that original outline and do it like a radio drama instead. Something like that. I could see doing that.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    White Sand ombinus?

    Isaac Stewart

    I’m gonna have to be careful with what I say here, because we’re working with Dynamite, and I want to give them an update.

    But I will say that that’s kind of the big thing that I’m doing around Rhythm of War artwork and Kickstarter stuff. When I have time, I’ve been making adjustments to White Sand. Continuity adjustments…

    There are some things that I can tell you. I can tell you that we are adding 38 new pages of artwork that comes at the very beginning. There may be more. This depends on discussions with Dynamite. But we have a really great artist working on that. He’s almost done with it. I want to announce who it is, but I want to talk to Dynamite first. But I just want to say that he’s doing an amazing job. We’ve got a great colorist, we’ve got a great letterer. In fact, the colorist and letterer did work on some of the stuff that’s in the original White Sand.

    It’s coming together really nicely. I think fans are gonna be really happy with the adjustments. And it’s going to place it more firmly in the cosmere than it has with the previous versions. Which were just fine; we loved working with the artist and the writer at Dynamite. I consider Rik a friend. This is just taking something that was already good and making it a little bit better. And a little bit more just continuity-wise fit in with the cosmere. We want to do more things with these characters, and so we wanted to make sure the continuity was working correctly.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Hey, Isaac. Do you think there’s time dilation going on in the graphic novel?

    Isaac Stewart

    No. Part of that is, if you take a look when you get to the climax, there’s certain things that happen there that make me think there’s not a lot of time dilation going on.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Is there a reason the denizens of Mirandus all speak English? Are other incantation rituals like the one used to travel between Earth and Mirandus that do different things?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes and yes.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    My question is in regards to the relation of time between Mirandus and our world. Is there a significant difference in the flow of time between the two? Notably, is the time passing faster in Mirandus, making multiple Dark Ones appear within a single human’s lifetime in our world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I’ve been cagey on this in the outline, allowing for it to exist. The original outline doesn’t explicitly say it. I have given this leeway to the graphic novel writers. And I honestly can’t tell you how much they’ve leaned into that yet or not. We’ll have to start seeing people bounce back and forth before we learn if there’s much time dilation. But the way that I had worked it in the outline is that it wouldn’t be required. Basically, the Narrative needed a Dark One at this point, and a Destined One. So there are reasons why it’s a little faster this time. But I didn’t really intend for there to be time dilation.

    We’ll see. I did leave room that they could use it. I don’t feel like they’re using it, but I haven’t asked them explicitly, and that’s kind of there for them if they need it. Basically, keeping all of the timelines straight on something like this can be really a big challenge. Like, you ought to ask Karen sometime, getting the timeline straight for a single Stormlight book, with all the flashbacks and things like that that are happening. Super big challenge. So writing some wiggle room into that felt like the right move for this one.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Is this going to be a softer magic system [in Dark One] than we usually see? Or do we just not have the rules yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You don’t have a ton of the rules. It’s a little softer than, say, a cosmere magic. It’s not as soft as the graphic novel makes it out to be. You don’t have all the answers yet. But it is definitely a few steps further toward the soft side than a cosmere magic would be.

    Really, for the opening sort of things this whole novel, the idea is that Paul’s powers are scary to him. They do not make sense to him, they are not something he wants. And because of that, kind of leaning into the horror and mystery of what it is he can do, made way more sense than making it a very fiddly, classical Brandon magic system. And that’s actually kind of part of the problem with some of the original attempts, is they tried to make the magic more of a Brandon fiddly magic system. And when I leaned into the more horrifying aspect of what it was to discover this kind of dark heritage and things like that, it’s when the story started working.

    Yes, the rules are there. Yes, they are softer. But no, you don’t have all of them yet. And I’m not sure how much we will lean into that as we move forward in adapting seasons two and three. I outlined a three season television show, of which this is season one, what you have.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    What made you decide to take Dark One in a darker direction?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It really just was not working otherwise. And I think the reason it had to go this way was because it was this deconstruction. And a deconstruction, by necessity, relies upon the original work. So relying on the shared experience that people have in having experienced things like this is very handy and very useful, and because I was making it a more mature work in that way, it felt very natural.

    When I pitched this to people in Hollywood, one of the things I say is that I want to do a darker version of a portal fantasy. That’s what feels right to me. I can’t really explain it other than just saying, “Yeah. It felt right.”

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    In Emperor’s Soul, there are soulstamps. If you had five, what would they do?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What would they turn me into, the soulstamps that change a person? What would I change myself into?

    It would be really fun to go back and recast myself as a visual artist and see what happened there. Recast myself as a computer programmer. Those are both very possible outcomes of my life. It would probably be nice to have one where I’m just a very different version of myself, to see what I could have been. That whole burning gold thing in Mistborn, that idea fascinates me, the other possibilities of what I could have been. I would look for things like that. Different things that I think are very plausible that I could have become, and it would be fun to live those lives for a little while.

    I don’t think they would be better than the current one, but I certainly would be interested in them.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    You said that this story was a long time in the making, that you struggled with. Compared to writing a novel, how does this sense of accomplishment differ between finally getting a working outline, compared to seeing the final work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One thing is, getting the outline and making it work for Dark One was kind of the big breakthrough for me. When that worked, that’s where I got really excited. I’m like, “This will actually work.” I could have written this as a novel. Like I said, the pacing didn’t feel right for that, but I knew I had cracked the story.

    When I started getting the artwork back that Vault did on this, and seeing just how close to my vision it was, I got very excited. It’s really cool when the best collaborations happen. This has happened to me once in Hollywood, and now it’s happened with the graphic novel. When you turn something in, and what you get back feels better than what you turned in. It feels like they got it and understood your vision and then improved it. Like, there’s a ton of dialogue in this that wasn’t in the outline that just works really well. And I was really happy to see it. This came together really well.

    So, there is quite the sense of accomplishment. It’s more along the lines of “It actually worked!” Sometimes, you get a little discouraged with collaboration, because you get back a screenplay (and this has happened to me a couple of times) where it’s obvious that the screenwriter had no interest in the original property, and wasn’t inspired by it. They just went their own direction. And that’s rough. And sometimes, despite their best efforts, you get back a screenplay which is taking the novel, and it doesn’t go the wrong way, it doesn’t change anything; but it just doesn’t adapt it, so it’s just scene-by-scene the book, and the screenplay is boring because of that. That’s also discouraging. One is discouraging because you’re like, “Wow, you didn’t even care.” And the other is kind of discouraging because you get it back and you’re like, “I could have done this as poorly as you did.” I understand it’s a tough nut to crack, an epic fantasy novel as a screenplay. But we need to do something that actually makes it into a movie. And both of those are a different kind of discouragement. And getting something back like this that’s just like, “Wow, they did it. They took it, they ran with it, they made it both their own by adding to it, but also kept the soul of what I had wanted to make. That’s really satisfying.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    You said before, when you outlined the Dark One’s story, it felt more like a comic than a novel to you. What is the difference between a novel outline and a comic outline?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I haven’t done a ton of comic outlines, so understand that I am speaking from the position of a novelist doing a comic outline.

    Because I intended this to be a television show, it was dialogue-heavy. Now, you can write dialogue-heavy books, but because it was so dialogue-heavy, it felt like a graphic novel. It was focused on a large number of characters, but also a lot of quick-moving plots, because I had designed it as a television how. It felt like it was broken into episodes, rather than parts. Granted, I didn’t plot it like a television show that’s completely episodic; it’s a continuing story. But because I had broken it into these episode chunks, it felt more like a serial form of storytelling, which graphic novels often are. Though we ended up doing it as just a single graphic novel, it could have been released as issues, if we had decided to go that route. And those are the two main things: dialogue-heavy, and sequential/serialized.

    Dark One Q&A ()
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    Questioner

    Are the graphic novels of Dark One still supposed to be prequels to the eventual television series? Or will the television series be an adaptation of the graphic novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I get my way, television series is an adaptation of the graphic novel. Let me talk you all through the long history of Dark One. I, as you might know, I really like to take sort of modernist, deconstructionist looks at the epic fantasy core idea, the Hero’s Journey you might call it, the epic fantasy of it. And in a lot of ways, you might call this my foundational myth. The idea of the young man born to a peasant family who has a noble heritage, who goes on a question, becomes a king, gets magic objects, saves the world. Like, this is the story of the David Eddings, The Wheel of Time, Memory Sorrow and Thorn, Sword of Shannara. I read a ton of these works when I was a young man, and it is kind of the core fantasy myth of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Fantasy really doesn’t do as much of that anymore, ‘cause it was done quite a bit and quite well. But I really like looking at that and deconstructing it. It’s not religious, but it’s very similar to that for me, the thing that kind of is my origin as a writer.

    So, like you see authors deconstructing, in the Middle Ages or even the Renaissance and later, the Adam and Eve story, you see me deconstructing the heroic journey in fantasy. Mistborn was doing this to an extent. And after doing Mistborn, I found that I really wanted to explore another version of this, and it started to take shape in my mind as just being called Dark One. Obviously a nod to The Wheel of Time, but also a nod to a lot of these stories that have the Dark Lord who is the antagonist of this sort of monomyth. And I really wanted to do a story about, “What if you found out that instead of being prophesied to be Harry Potter, there was a prophecy that you would become Voldemort. And how did you deal with that? And what did that do to your life?”

    Well, I tried this story multiple times until I cracked it. The first version I can remember writing was in its own complete fantasy world, and was a Young Adult/Middle Grade attempt at it. This is because Harry Potter was one of the inspirations for it, so it had a very Harry Potter-esque sort of… I was kind of using some of J.K. Rowling’s prose constructions. Not, hopefully, plagiarizing them, but looking at how she wrote and trying to do something a little more light-hearted and whimsical, like hers. And it just did not work. Just completely flopped on its face. Though, it’s the first place that Pattern, that eventually ended up in Stormlight Archive, showed up. Something like Pattern. And I set that aside and left it for a few years.

    A few years, I came back to it and said, “What if I did this as a portal fantasy?” Fantasy where you start on Earth, and then transition to the fantasy world. And I tried it again, and I got, like, two or three chapters in, and it still was not working. It felt better. I felt like it made a step forward, but I had not cracked it. It was still a Middle Grade story; young YA, old Middle Grade, kind of like where Alcatraz sits.

    I left it alone again.  Years later, this would be, like, 2014 maybe, I thought, “What if I tried setting this in the cosmere?” I moved it to the cosmere. Go three or four chapters in. And it still didn’t work. This is not unusual. I mean, this is the most unusual one for me in that it’s gone on the longest. But a lot of times, you try something and it just doesn’t feel right, doesn’t work. So I set it aside yet again.

    And when I came back to it, the big change I made in my brain is that I’m like, “I think that the problem is that this is a book for someone who grew up reading these stories, but who is not still themselves a young person who hasn’t experienced these stories.” This story works way better if you share, kind of, in this foundational myth that I love so much. So that you can understand how it’s kind of trying to deconstruct it. And I realized I needed to write this as an adult property, not a Middle Grade. Or, if YA, it had to be old YA.

    And that’s when I sat down and I wrote this treatment that really, finally, worked. When I say “treatment,” it is the plot outline, pretty detailed plot outline. And at that point, I decided it would probably work best as a television show. And I outlined it episode-by-episode. I went really into detail on all the characters and things, and it just sang to me. It worked; it really clicked. And that’s when I said, “Let’s try to get this made.”

    So I took it to Hollywood, and there was a lot of excitement immediately surrounding it. Didn’t go anywhere, didn’t go anywhere… then, some things happened with Random House, my publisher, and one of the people that worked in their film department got ahold of the treatment and was like, “Wow, this is amazing. Let’s do something with this.” And then it just started to go “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.” That is when I decided to do the graphic novel.

    So, the graphic novel is taking my original outline for the TV show, which does include chunks of dialogue and things like that, and doing it as a graphic novel format. Meanwhile, the television show started to take on a different life. This was when Joe Michael Straczynski was brought on, and he had some things to add that are very cool. But the television show really started to drift away from the original property. So we’re still kind of in talks about how much this will look like the graphic novel. But the graphic novel kind of turned into the way to express my vision for what this would be.

    I don’t know what will happen with the TV show. I honestly can’t say. Joe is great to work with. I really like Joe. I am hopeful that something very cool will come out of it. It might look completely different. And in fact, there’s a chance we will rename the project property Joe and I are working on into something else, and call it something else. Who knows. Hollywood is weird, as we probably all already know.

    Regardless, this is my vision. Graphic novel is not the prequel. Graphic novel is the actual outline that I wrote, taken and adapted really faithfully. They did a spectacular job with this. They focus a little more on Mirandus. The actual outline has more with Lin, Paul’s mom, and Mr. Caligo. And they focused their attention a little more on Mirandus. It’s not like they added anything; it’s just that there was too much there, I think. (Because it was meant to be a full season of a television show.) And so they focused their attention there. But Lin is still in it. There’s still plenty, and the scenes that are still there are all ones I had in the outline.

    If I do a novel, it would be the prequel to this. Because the prequel, not giving any spoiler stuff, would be the thing that would work in an epic fantasy novel sort of form.

    There’s the short version of the long history of Dark One.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Cheyenne Sedai

    What Order of Knights Radiant did Dalinar's plate come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will RAFO that. Let's leave that alone for now. We're not talking a lot about Plate. You deserve a nice can of Read and Find Out. We'll start talking about...

    We don't even really know where Shardplate comes from. It's all a mystery! Was Shardplate even from a Knight, ever piece of it? We don't know where it comes from!

    (The cosmerenauts all know, they've figured it out. But we're just gonna pretend that they don't know.)

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Bayin

    How much research into philosophical work do you do before each book? And what inspired to use thesein particular: Kantian deontology for the Knights Radiant, consequentialism for the Alethi and Taravangian, and secular morality for Jasnah?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Why did I choose the ones that I did? I really like when stories are not just a conflict of personality; they are a conflict between ideologies and ways of viewing the world which are all valid ways of viewing the world. When I put Taravangian and Dalinar into conflict with each other, it's because they are both looking at life in a different way. And I'm kind of reaching to different philosophical bases for those. And I will butcher it if I try to use the actual terminologies, because I am not a philosophy major.

    Why did I take what I did? They matched the characters. And they matched what I'm trying to explore, without trying to give you the answers; trying to explore theme in stories. And I just love doing that. It's what makes me excited about writing characters.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Horneaters are capable [of drinking the Horneater White]. They actually are human-singer hybrids, like the Herdazians, but in a different line. And they have a different physiology. And they actually are not 100% human and are capable of eating and ingesting things that would kill a person.

    Isaac Stewart

    Can singers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, singers can drink the Horneater White.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Questioner

    Did Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have any influence on your coming up with Syl?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I get this a lot. Here's my dirty secret: I never played Ocarina of Time. I really am embarrassed by that, because I have played a lot of Zelda games, and they're all great. A lot of people are shocked by that, because they list that as their favorite, and I never played that.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Questioner

    Do you think anything in the future would change [Isaac Stewart and Steve Argyle's] minds [on Lightweaving being the magic system they would want to have]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. I mean, there will be other magics. But we have hit all of the core cosmere magics, except for the aethers. And I don't think aethers will be enough to tempt them away. Possibly. That would be my guess. I mean, there will be other little magics, because I always have things like that that I'm writing. But there's only one major magic system that hasn't been used extensively on-screen.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Clayton

    I think you said you started with the Surges and worked from the bottom up. So what was the hardest Radiant Order to conceptualize in terms of virtual or ideal and powers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cracking how I wanted the Dustbringers to work was probably the trickiest of them all, because I knew that we were going to have (not to give spoilers) some things happening with the Dustbringers that would predispose readers toward them in a certain way that I did not want the Radiant Order to exemplify. And I wanted to be sure what I thought the distinction was and why it was possible that they could go in a different direction. (Trying to circumlocute all of these things to not spoil you.) They were the hardest, probably.

    Building up how to make the Surges work, I would say that building up how I wanted the strong force and the weak force, and turning them into fantasticalized versions that basically have very little to do. Like, I even went kind of the surface tension, and things like that. Those were the trickiest. Like, gravity was pretty obvious and ended up working pretty well. I didn't one-to-one move the fundamental forces, by the way. I just took the idea of fundamental forces. But I wanted there to be nods to most of the fundamental forces in the Surges, just because that's where the inspiration was, and because I was gonna be using gravity, quite obviously, because that's the one that made me most excited, and as you can see the Windrunners and the Skybreakers were two of the first ones that we dealt a lot with.

    YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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    Austin

    How did you go about making all of your magic systems together in the context of the wider Cosmere in a way that feels natural?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I (like a lot of things related to the cosmere) had a leg up because I had written so many books before I got published. I had written thirteen novels before I got published, and among those novels were six or seven pretty decent magic systems. And I started to notice fundamental things that I did when building a magic system that were very common to my writing. And for a while, I'm like, "I want to make sure I'm doing lots of variety, so I'll push this further."

    But I also kept noticing these connecting tissues, such as Intent being important behind the scenes to how the magic works, to the idea of the Three Realms. Realmatic theory showed up in Dragonsteel, which is the second Cosmere novel that I wrote and is based a little bit on Plato's theory of the Forms and things like that, but kind of taken my own way. And I always kind of start thinking of magic in that context.

    And because I had designed all of these things and was noticing themes, I always asked myself, "Where does the power for the magic come from?" I'm going to bend the laws of thermodynamics, but I'm not going to break them; I'm going to have a different sort of power source. That's just fundamental to how I like to do magic. Where does the energy come from? So building a common energy source to all of these was the first thing that I started to do, just very naturally. And it's part of what made me want to link the Cosmere together. I kept having these stories where I wanted to tell stories about these kind of divine forces, the powers of gods put in the hands of mortals: what does that do? That's a common theme that started showing up in the stories that I was writing before I got published. And I said, "Well, if it's a theme, it's something you're really interested in, why not build it into the entire continuity?" And that's where the idea of the Shards came from, and creating Shadesmar and all of that. It grew out of things I did naturally and saw as themes in my writing.

    And the linking then was very natural because they all were coming from the same essential power source, and they all had a few fundamental rules they were following. Mostly because that's how I build magic systems, right? If I have a problem, it's that when I try to build something that ends up not in the Cosmere, like Rithmatist, it still just basically works with Cosmere magic because that's a way that I build magic systems.

    Good question, but like a lot of things, a lot of my career's success can be traced back to the fact that I was really bad at this when I started, and I got a long time to practice before I went pro.

    Orem signing ()
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    Questioner

    Is Koloss Head-Munching Day like Weasel Stomping Day?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Someone asked me way before I was famous, back when it was five or six people who read my books, like "Are there any holidays?" and I'm like "Yeah, Koloss Head-Munching Day!" And then the fans took it and ran with it. At the next signing, they said "What is it?" and I'm like "Uh, my birthday" and then it just became a thing.

    Questioner 2

    What is it? What does it mean?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It means it's the day that the koloss go have some heads to eat.

    Questioner 2

    What I want to know is how the koloss can make a decision on their own? To munch heads? Somebody has to tell them, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The thing about koloss is that they try to imitate and recapture being human. So they wear coin pouches and things like that, so they get it wrong. They know that holidays exist.

    It's partially just a joke.

    Footnote: Koloss Head-Munching Day/Brandon's birthday is December 19th. Weasel Stomping Day is a Weird Al song.
    Orem signing ()
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    Questioner

    How do you get the Asian themes in without it being so corny?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You try to break down... Use multiple inspirations and tie them together. Try to extrapolate. Try to look at what are caricatures and stray away from that. Being influenced by the philosophy and the thinking and the culture to create things that are similar but going their own direction will help you do that sort of thing. Justifying things in-world rather than just dropping them in. Take a look at the safehand, which is based off of not -- but as an Asian culture thing, when I lived in Korea, you didn't show the bottom of your feet to people. It was considered rude. That was really interesting to me, and creating a similar taboo but with different groups and different reasons, it was... You can see my experience in how it came out. Do things like that.

    General Reddit 2020 ()
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    Faenors7

    They [the Alethi] are tan.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're not wrong for your observation, here, /u/Faenors7. When I saw them, I noted to Isaac that the skin tone for the Alethi in the cards [Stormlight Archive Playing Cards from the Way of Kings Leatherbound Kicksterter] was a touch darker than I imagined. But it was within the variance (I'll explain below) we imagine for the Alethi, so I decided here that we should leave it.

    The reason is that we've allowed a lot of leeway to artists in their depictions. If they paint everyone looking white, we speak up, and we usually show them some of our guides of models and pieces of art we think are on target for character designs.

    However, I haven't wanted to have a strict skin tone guide. Thing is, most Rosharans don't look at skin tone so much as eye color and hair color. It isn't that they ignore skin tone, but it isn't the same for them as it is for us, in part because a lot of cultures (like the Alethi and the Vedens) have a wide range of skin tones.

    It's something I think we (myself included) are a little blind to in American culture. Like, we call someone black if they (like President Obama) are of a mixed race heritage. This is partially because of our particular biases. But what makes someone black is actually pretty nebulous as a skin tone shade when you look at the wide variety of black skin tones. The same goes for what ethnicity we consider white, when a hundred and fifty years ago, the more olive-skinned European people's would have not been lumped into that group.

    I often point to India as a good example of what you might find in Alethkar--you find a ton of skin tones across the sub-continent, and they're all Indian. Same for the Alethi. And I don't spend a lot of time talking about whose skin tone is darker, and whose is lighter, within that range.

    So when we get back something like these cards--and this is how the artist views and imagines the characters--we roll with it, offering little pieces of feedback here and there. (We had her make tweaks to Adolin, for example, to get him closer to how I imagined him.) Same for the poster--which has the Alethi characters with lighter skin, closer to what we'd see on a Japanese person on Earth.

    This might be the wrong path, and I'd appreciate feedback on it. I do want to be careful not to whitewash characters (something I've had trouble with before in cover art) but I also worry if we focus too much on exactly how dark or light the skin of these characters are, we're missing the point a little. I believe in letting people who read the books imagine the characters as they would like, with me providing some guidance. It's a central theme to me in how I perceive the author-reader relationship.

    This was why I was hesitant at first to even have depictions of characters in the books. (And why I liked the first cover of the US edition so much.) As we've moved along, however, I've taken a different tactic--that of admiring, and even including, different depictions from different artists, letting variety (hopefully) let the reader imagine as they want.

    Sorry for the long post. It's a topic that keeps coming up, so I thought I should say something more definitive. Hopefully, people can keep a link to this post in their pockets whenever discussions about this pop up.

    LewsTherinTelescope

    I guess I must've misremembered a quote of you talking about them as darker. Oops.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, you're probably not remembering wrong. I've been asked before if the Alethi skin tone is darker than, say, a person from Japan might have. And I'll usually say, yes--in general they are. But I also think it's all right to paint them like a modern day Earth person from that region, as that's often what artists will use for a model or reference. So in general, if you saw an Alethi person, you'd think, "Asian person, with tanner skin than most." But that's imagining an average Alethi, with some having a darker tone, and some having a lighter one.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Questioner

    If you had to design a legendary creature for Magic: The Gathering for Szeth, what would it do? And what colors would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Szeth is maybe Mardu. Maybe Orzov. It depends on if you get that red in there. He's very passionate, but his passions don't really direct him, it's more the logic. So probably some sort of White/Black, maybe with Red. Like, Mardu is a pretty good fit for him, but the Red is definitely the weakest of those three.

    What would I have him do? I don't know. The tricky thing about designing characters as Magic cards is: the power sets in the Stormlight Archive do not match the colors of the personalities of characters. A lot of times, for the iconic Magic characters, they make their power set match their personality leanings. Szeth's powers may not really match a White/Black character very well. Having power to fly works in White/Black, so you could do that. So he would probably have some sort of thing like that. But there's also kind of an indestructibility, which also could work. Maybe some of the vampire designs recently would work for Szeth. I don't know; I'd have to think about it.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Extremepayne

    Are the shash glyph on Kal's forehead that means "dangerous" and the shash glyph for the Lightweavers related? If so, how?

    Isaac Stewart

    I don't believe that they're related. I think these are words like, in English, where we have "to," "too," and "two." There is also, I think, a shash somewhere else in one of the other books; it might have been Warbreaker. And it's just a recurring sound.

    With the two glyphs, they're not related. They're as related as the words "too" and "two" are.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Eric

    Does Syl have ADHD?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wrote Syl like I perceive my son, who has ADHD, perceiving the world. So yes, that was a touchstone when I was writing her viewpoint, was that. She would probably be diagnosed with ADHD if you had her sit down and talk to a therapist now. She's spren, so I'm not sure if I can call it true ADHD, 'cause ADHD has certain root causes in human physiology and psychology. But that's how I wrote her. I said, "What would it feel like to be Syl," and I felt like she would exhibit some of the same behaviors and same thought patterns.

    You could call that a "yes." The short answer is "yes." The long answer is, "I'm not sure if I can diagnose a spren." (And I shouldn't be diagnosing anyone, because I am not certified to do so.)

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    King of Herdaz

    Roshar is themed around the number ten. Scadrial and the cosmere as a whole is themed around the number sixteen. Are there any other planets themed around certain numbers? And if so, where and what are they? Or Read and Find Out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Read and Find Out for that, but yes, this is a thing that I wanted to do at the beginning of the Cosmere and really leaned into in a couple of them. Honestly, with Mistborn, sixteen became the thing, but I was planning to lean into four more than sixteen for that series. But then sixteen became so important to the whole cosmere, and I wasn't sure... let's just say, four is where I was gonna go with that one.

    But yes, there are others. Whether I'll actually really lean into them or not remains to be seen. But yes, I have plans.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Zman966

    You've assured readers that Kaladin is a safe name to use for a child or pet. Would you be willing to comment on Adolin in the same way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would not.

    Here's my thing. This all gives too many spoilers. You're gonna think I'm saying something about that. The reason I would not is not because of anything specific I'm planning about Adolin. Even though you're going to assume that from the way I said this, it is actually not. It is because I realized the danger in confirming that sort of thing and giving away too much of the future.

    And so, I would say that most of these names are safe in that, if they turned out to go down a dark route, you could make the argument that you named the character after them when they were on the right path. You can still name a kid Anakin; and Anakin encapsulates the good part of Anakin Skywalker. And I think you can do that and not have it be like, "You are naming your kid after a terrible space tyrant who murders children!" Well, technically, he turned into that, but...

    I am not going to tell you other names that are safe. It just potentially gives too much away. What I can promise is that I will try very hard to treat the characters well (as well as they will let me) in the arcs and journeys they decide to go on.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Vivasher Club Emo Teen (@skywardflights)

    I know people who relate a lot to Shallan's arc due to how similar her personalities are to Dissociative Identity Disorder. Did you intentionally write her to be recognizable DID?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did, but I shied away from it in the earlier books, because I knew I was going to be doing fantastical things, and I didn't want to be offering too much commentary on DID. That was kind of my worry. With Kaladin, I knew depression well enough from family members and things that I felt like I could be a very strong contributor to the conversation. But, I started with Shallan saying, "I don't know if I'm gonna go this route." But then, the further I went, the more I felt it would be irresponsible to not do this. And so, in the last books, I just bit the bullet, dug really far into the DSM-5 and into reading firsthand, primary accounts from people. We got a very helpful person with DID to be one of our beta readers for this last book. And I just did my best to present it accurately and to present the non-Hollywood version of it. And so, basically, Oathbringer and Rhythm of War lean into it a little more than the first two books do, though that was where I was going. And I do have a working knowledge of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and did even back then. I don't think I did a terrible job, but I think it would have been irresponsible for me to go forward without digging in a little further.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    King of Herdaz

    In the Stormlight books, the number ten is thematically and culturally very important. In The Way of Kings Prime, the word "tenset" is commonly used to refer to ten of something. So, when Rosharans in the published Stormlight books talk about "a dozen" of something, do they mean twelve? Or do they mean ten?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a great question. I've been using "tens" more often in Stormlight, because I've found that people will go with it. One of the problems I felt with Way of Kings Prime was that the worldbuilding, the learning curve was too steep. So when I wrote Way of Kings the new version, I scaled back a little on that. We mentioned weeks, but we don't talk about about the fact that on Roshar, a week is five days, right? We talk about hours, but we don't go into the length of time a day is. It gets all wibbly-wobbly, shall we say.

    And my explanation of this is: these are all in translation. The translator (who is me) who is interpreting it, most of the time, when they say "tens," I will write "a dozen," or something like that. But not always.

    Now, I am edging toward more "tens," because in-world they would use "tens." Peter is okay with this. Karen's like, "Eh, it makes continuity a little wonky." But I feel like, having gone as long as we have, people are okay dealing with more of that, so I'm leaning that direction. But understand, I am the translator presenting this to you. Pretend that, when Wit says something that's a pun in their language, I am finding a pun in English that is similar and writing it out, because he's not actually saying what the book is having him say.

    But this is all just something you have to put in to imagine to keep that sense of immersion for you. And whichever one works to help you. But, yeah, they would be using "tens." They'd say "tens of" this, instead of "dozens," more often.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
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    Marcus

    I'm really curious about how the Allomancy would be represented in a Mistborn adaptation. While you're writing the screenplay, have you already planned something? And is the screenplay still a project? Because your progress bar has been removed, and I got kind of confused.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I took the screenplay off of the progress bar because I'm not actively writing it right now because I have the [Dawnshard] novella to do. I thought I might be getting into it in July, but it doesn't look like I will. All the progress on the screenplay so far that you see is me writing the treatment, not the actual screenplay. And the treatment is, like, a big fancy outline for a screenplay. And in the treatment, what I have right now is that we represent Allomancy with: steelpushing and ironpulling, the thing that the Allomancer is pushing on is going to flash blue on the screen and you'll see a little line from them to the thing. You won't see all of the lines, most likely. There might be a scene where we show it all once or twice, but mostly it's like, "Allomancer, line to the blue thing, and then zip, off they go." This is gonna really depend on things like people who actually know how to do effects on film telling me if it's going to work or not, but it sounds good so far.

    Burning pewter, I'm using the same sort of blue feeling. With that, I'm sending a ripple of blue lines, almost more like little lightning or veins, up the person's arms or body, wherever they're increasing their strength, so to speak. (I mean, it does it for all of you, but visually, to draw attention like that.)

    The one that's still iffy is emotional Allomancy. Which, in the treatment right now, I say: when someone's been affected by emotional Allomancy, we show their eyes flash blue for just a second. The trick is, this can't be diegetic, it can't be something that's actually happening in-world, because it would be too much of a tell that someone is having emotional Allomancy. So I don't know if it is okay to go with something that's just a symbol for the viewer to know that it's happening, or if that is just too confusing and people will be like, "Why didn't he see that her eyes flashed blue?" or things like that.

    My plan is still to write the first draft of the screenplay, but to work with an established screenwriter thereafter to make it actually good. And this'll depend on the established screenwriter that I work with and who ends up being the director on the project, right? Like, there's a lot of people that we're talking to that would be interested. And it also depends on if it ends up live action or animated. Animation is not off the table, even though I really would like to do live action just because I think that our chances of doing Stormlight live action are much lower, and our chances of doing something animated are much higher, just because Stormlight's got so many weird things going on with the spren and the storyline being such that it is.

    A lot of things are up in the air with all of this. The only thing I've decided right now is that I'm tired of optioning it and then waiting to see what happens and then maybe getting a screenplay that's okay or maybe not getting a screenplay at all. Basically, from now on, whoever I work with has to be working more closely with me. I think that I have achieved prominence enough in my field that I can just say no to people more easily and not have to roll the dice quite so much. So we'll see if that works out or not.

    San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020 ()
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    Questioner

    You've mentioned before that Odium is scared of Harmony. Is it only because of the raw power of the two Shards? Or is he scared of what Harmony represents? (Meaning the possibility of merging two Shards.) Was he aware that this was possible?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He, on one level, was aware. But it was more of awareness of this as a possibility. It actually happening is part of what has him scared. It's the idea of the two merging Shards both being more powerful and finding a harmony. (Which Sazed is actually having way more trouble doing than Odium realizes.) Those two things really have Odium scared. Because, partially, this means he has to find a way to destroy or split Harmony without taking up a second Shard himself, because Odium knows if he takes up a second Shard, terrible things will happen. And so he doesn't want to do that. (Terrible things as he views them.) And so he's gotta find a way to split this apart, or somehow otherwise defeat.

    Now, the more he learns about Sazed's actual state, the less afraid he'll probably be. But that's an advantage that Sazed has right now.

    San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020 ()
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    Questioner

    We know that Soulcaster savants exist and Radiants are protected by the Nahel bond but not immune to becoming one. Can all Surges cause becoming a savant?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, they could.

    Questioner

    Can other fabrials, such as the one that takes away pain and the one that offers Regrowth, cause some sort of savanthood?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Those, I'll explain the distinction in Rhythm of War. I get deep into the fabrial science. There is a big distinction between those fabrials and Soulcasters that will become manifest. Let's say that what happens to Soulcasters is more likely to cause savanthood and the side effects.