Recent entries

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    Are there any scenes (or just things in general) you wish you could have included art for that for whatever reason could not make it into the publications?

    Isaac Stewart

    This is often the case. Like a kid filling their plate way too full at a buffet dinner, I often have too many pieces of art I'd like to do compared to how much space or time we have to realize those pieces of art. Sometimes the hard part comes when an artist sends you too many amazing pieces and you have to just pick which ones work best for the context. For example, Dan dos Santos gave us several options for the Warbreaker leatherbound endpapers. And every one of them was beautiful! It was an extremely difficult decision to make since we could only have two endpapers, front and back. We wound up picking the art that worked best as endpapers, even though some of the options he presented us with would've made even better works of art to hang on the wall. Dan always makes the decisions difficult because he's one of the best artists working today and is just so storming good.


    Well, that just begs the question:

    When are we going to get an "Art of the Cosmere" book that has all these left out pieces in it? Hahah

    Isaac Stewart

    We want to do an artbook! It'll probably happen at some point after Stormlight 5.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    How's the Nicki Savage story going?

    Isaac Stewart

    Thanks for asking about this! The Nicki Savage story has been plotted and planned and is almost ready to be written. It was derailed for the time being, however, by Taldain needing a little love.


    Are you going to tie that to the events of any of the existing Mistborn (or Cosmere?) stories, or will it be like the Allomancer Jak ones, where it exists in isolation?

    Isaac Stewart

    The Nicki Savage story I've got currently planned deals with Nicki in the real world as opposed to her serialized persona. While it's not in the main sequence of novels, it is not as isolated as the Allomancer Jak stories.

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    Has Brandon ever wanted an image of something that you had to tell him wasn’t possible to do for whatever reason?

    Isaac Stewart

    There's a map we've been discussing since Words of Radiance that we want to put in the books at some point, and it almost made it into Book 2 and Book 3, and it's looking unlikely for Book 4. But we just don't have the information yet to make the map work, so that's really the closest experience to what you're mentioning.

    Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Every Newsletter, I like to sit down and write something for you that will be a little different. Something that gives a window into what I’ve been doing lately, or things I’ve been thinking about.

    Today, because of the White Sand release, I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between Brandon the writer from the late 90’s (when the book was written) and today. I was 19 when I wrote the first draft of White Sand, and 24 when I wrote the second version (the one that was turned into the graphic novel.) Looking through it again, there is a lot about me and my writing that has changed.

    The magic system is one. White Sand has a very cool magic system, where people control sand with their mind. The magic is powered by the water inside the person’s body, which is a neat system. You need to drink a lot in order to have power over the sand--but it’s on a tidally locked planet, where the sun never sets on that side of the world. (In fact, the sun recharges the sand’s power.) So everything is connected in a cool way. Sunlight recharges the sand, a person gives water to the sand (it’s actually a microscopic lichen-like substance living on the sand, and giving it its white color, that creates the magic. The Sand Master gives water to the lichen, fueling its magical life cycle, which in turn releases power that allows the Sand Master to control the sand.) But the sunlight also makes you more likely to dehydrate, which in turn stops you from being able to power the magic.

    And then, it has the oddball--Sand Masters ALSO have the power to turn sand into water. I did this because it was cool to my then-writer brain. What if people who lived in a giant desert could make water? Wouldn’t that be useful? I use this to great effect in the story, and yet, it doesn’t fit the narrative. The modern me would never have added this power. It doesn’t fit into the entire system in a cohesive way. The rest makes logical sense; this (though I tried to justify it with worldbuilding behind the scenes) just doesn’t.

    But in some ways, the old me was more willing to take chances. This is important to realize as well--I can't become so certain I know the way that things SHOULD be done, that I fall into doing the same thing over and over. I don't think the power to turn sand into water, ultimately, works in the novel. (Let me know what you think, if you read it.) But the fact that I was willing to add screwy, out-of-the-box powers to magic systems back then is a reminder that not everything in life is neat, able to be tied up with a bow. As much as I like playing video games, I don't want my books to feel like a video game--and that's a danger when every piece of the book, magic, and setting fits together to the point that it loses any sense of feeling organic.

    A good lesson to learn from my old self.

    I find a lot of the things I do in my writing now were there in these older books like White Sand, they just weren’t fully formed yet. I can also see my early self striving very hard not to fall into cliches, or to do just what was safe or expected. One of the book's two main protagonists, for example, is a black woman. I was trying hard to make sure my books weren’t only about white dudes. And yet, I was still young in my understanding of how to make a book feel real and vibrant, full of people who see the world in unique and different ways. For example, while I have a strong female protagonist, in the first draft she was basically the only only major female character. I did this a lot in the past--focused so hard on doing one thing well that I forgot to expand it to the greater story. (As a note, we changed one of the characters in the graphic novel version to be female, to help balance this out. It worked very well, and she's now one of my favorite characters in the whole book.)

    It's hard to see past your biases in books though--and this is still something I fight against. I think great fiction somehow expresses the way the world truly is, the way the writer sees the world, and the way that people NOT the writer see the world, all at once. In this book, one of the main protagonists is dark skinned,. And yet, if you read the book, you’ll find that some of the villain groups are stereotypical, faceless, dark-skinned savages. While that same culture has some main characters who have real depth and characterization (thankfully) that didn’t stop me from relying on tropes for some of the broad brush strokes of the story.

    Writing is a constant struggle of managing clichés and tropes, and figuring out when they serve you, and when they don’t. And the more you write, the more you become aware of things you lean upon--not just tropes like the ones I mentioned above, but things that are individual. I’ve been wondering a lot about these things with my own writing. At what point does, "Inventive magic system, religious politics, and people faced with difficult moral decisions" become a cliche to me any my writing? How can I push in new areas, doing new things, while preserving what people love about my writing?

    Well, I'm still thinking about all these things. I'm very fond of White Sand, and when I was going back through it, I often found myself smiling. remember with great fondness the time I had back then to just write. There were no tours, no interviews, and nothing to distract me. I wouldn’t go back for anything, (I like actually having people read my books!) but there was something pure about that time, when I wasn't writing to deadline, I was just writing whatever I felt like at the moment. That's another thing I try to preserve today, the freedom to do odd projects now and then. Without it, I think I'd get very boring, very quickly.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy White Sand! This book needed far less revision to bring into graphic novel form than I thought it would. The dialogue was snappy, even after all these years, and the world was one of my more inventive. 20-years-ago-me wasn’t nearly as bad a writer as I sometimes pretend he was!

    Isaac Stewart r/Stormlight_Archive AMA ()
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    What writing system are the squiggles around the circumference of Oathbringer's Oathgate map? Do they have any relation to glyph components?

    Isaac Stewart

    The squiggles are related to Dawnchant. Probably several generations later as the script started to evolve. And yes, they have a strong relation to the glyph components that we start seeing through cultures later on.


    What do they actually say? Silver Kingdom names?

    Isaac Stewart

    I think someone somewhere has figured out what they say exactly, but you're on the right track.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    I sorta wanna find out what a hemalurgic bindpoint would be and get it tattoo'd there... I asked Brandon once and he vaguely pointed to spots, but it didn't seem like he really considered it canon.

    Ben McSweeney

    it's one of those things kept purposefully obscure. There's no real benefit in being specific about it. Was a whole discussion we had internally when we did this illustration for the tapletop game. Even there we're being obtuse through style.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    What time period do you think the Mistborn series is most reminiscent of? I get a feeling of 1800s England but more brutal in their politicking.

    Ben McSweeney

    Industrial-era France, with some variables based on TLR's rigid control of technological development. Skaa on plantations look more pre-industrial, Nobles in the city are more post-industrial, and so forth.

    That's the era Brandon instructed me to look towards for visual reference while designing for the MAG, so that's what I stick with. Mind you, the visual culture of Luthadel is different from that of the other Dominances.

    Second Era is specifically equivalent to about 1910 U.S.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

    Ben McSweeney

    Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

    Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

    There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    [Seeing an uncoverd safehand is] more like seeing a woman with her hair uncovered. Intimate, but not by nature sexual. I mean, sure, everyone's got a thing, but Vorin society as a whole does not view the safehand as a sexual thing so much as a propriety thing.

    SOURCE: I asked Brandon about this way back at the beginning.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    The art displayed above [the Arcanum Unbounded scene for Emperor's Soul] looks similar to Pattern

    Ben McSweeney

    They're unrelated (at least in terms of the fiction), this was just my take on the mural that Shai creates on one wall of her cell.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    Also that [Rithmatist] Earth is (I think) half the size of our own? Or possibly less? Brandon says it has a denser core to make up the difference.

    Brandon and I discussed it when we put together the map of the United Isles... there was some hand-wavery in terms of total numbers, but the scale on the map legend is more-or-less accurate. As you can see, that puts the Isles themselves at about 1500 miles (give or take a few hundred, I'm eyeballing it) from the cliffs of the western California Archipelago to the eastern shores of New Guernsey.

    In comparison, the continental United States is about 3000 miles across from shore to shore. So, loosely speaking, it's a half-sized planet with a core of something denser than iron to make the mass mostly the same. Perhaps gold?

    Aside from the map, which I'm not surprised if it was overlooked, we also get some clues in the travel times and distances described during Joel and Fitch's trip.

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    One of the developments of the [Mistborn] RPG is that we're already seeing some "B-Canon" being produced as a derivative of the game mechanics (for example, the game develops the Koloss a lot further), where Brandon has tentatively approved the content but retains the right to modify or nullify it as his interests dictate. Same idea as Lucas and the EU, and in that you can see the framework for developing creative content through third parties. Beyond that, characters like Allomancer Jak and Nicki Savage are tailor-made for "Legends" material, with their narratives being framed as "stories within the story".

    General Reddit 2015 ()
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    I had always pictured the Shardplate a little more "flow-y", almost unrealistic in its elegance of interlocking plates. These [Words of Radiance illustrations] seem much more classic to me, with the small plates only at tight corners. Why was it taken in this direction?

    Also why the skirts? Did the cod pieces just never quite look right?

    Ben McSweeney

    1) Partly because of my own aesthetics, and partly for practical purposes. My goals when designing for Brandon are generally twofold: follow the text to the letter (getting creative where ambiguity allows) and think about long-term developments for the Stormlight IP.

    While the structure of Shardplate as described necessitates some magical properties, I wanted to encourage a design that could be practically adapted outside of a CGI render. The designs we went with are meant to bridge a space between historical accuracy (most of which is driven by function) and complete dreamspace (where form can take precedent).

    That being said, when I imagine it in motion I envision a lot of parts that move in ways you wouldn't expect from classic armor, because the plates are layered, providing areas of overlap rather than interlock.

    If this were made of actual metal it would be far too heavy and have way too many loose parts to work... even for cosplay or live adaptation, someone's gonna have to make adjustments.

    2) Interestingly enough, there is a design in the production notes for what's beneath the skirt... it's meant to be a part of the extended faulds and belt, worn over the cuisses, which do connect to the codpiece beneath. The armor over the upper legs and groin is effectively doubled-up. I even did a little doodle for the... "cleaning access" function, because that part was in the early drafts and it made me laugh out loud. We don't see this in the published illustration because Shallan didn't ask Adolin to show her his butt on the training field, yet in retrospect I probably should have figured out a way to slip something into the margins.

    We plan to collect of those visual notes and errata in book of their own (The Art of Stormlight sorta thing), but probably not until we're closer to the mid-point.

    General Reddit 2014 ()
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    Possibility of a Stormlight Encyclopedia?

    Just wondering when/if you think one of these will be made?I'm already just so...mentally torn apart trying to keep all the tiny details and nuances in my head, not just about cosmere stuff, but specific functions of spren, heralds and their secrets, voidbringers, parshendi culture, and all the other secrets, hints, tiny details, etc. So, maybe after the first 5 are finished or at least by the publication of the 10th we could get an encyclopedia of terms, maps, etc? Or maybe even just a Sanderson Encylopedia? Thoughts?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hopefully I'm not speaking out of school, but this is a topic close to my heart, and occasionally someone asks about it at conventions or online.

    A companion book will almost certainly happen at some point, because there's a wealth of unpublished content that's collecting as the series is produced, and a companion book seems like the best way to make use of that additional material beyond it's actual purpose (serving as constructive steps on the way to the published work).

    It will almost certainly not happen before the mid-point break. May not happen until the end, but based on the first two books I feel confident that we'll have plenty of material to make a good companion by the halfway mark... it will depend on the market demand when we reach that point, and various factors that can't be predicted until we're near that time will determine it's shape and content.

    I would like to see it happen concurrently with Book V (last book of the current arc), to capitalize on market presence at the time of publication, but we'll see what happens in a few years. In the meantime, the archive continues to grow.

    General Reddit 2014 ()
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    Stormlight Archive was made for a Dynasty Warriors-style combat system.

    Ben McSweeney

    Stormlight has Dynasty Warriors SDNA.

    No joke, it's in my list of stuff Brandon had me look at when designing Plate. He's talked about watching Jordo play it for hours back in the late 90's.

    General Reddit 2014 ()
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    Anymore Shardblade designs available by chance?

    Ben McSweeney

    Not at this time, I'm sorry to say... the thing about Blades is that it's hard to go too wrong, they come in a wide variety of shapes and most any you imagine are probably more correct than not. They're always basically swords, he's rejected my designs in the past when they get too wacky in the shapes of the blades.

    Not as crazy loose with the term "sword" as something like the various zanpakuto of Bleach, but certainly as unusual as the less extreme parts of the Final Fantasy sword catalog.

    There's even some that look quite normal, if a bit on the large side. They don't have to be Big Damn Swords (see Szeth's), and they don't have to all ripple or twist or have wacky hilts and etchings. Elhokar's looks nearly normal.

    So you have a lot of freedom in designing Shardblades, it's hard to go really wrong.

    There is a proper design for Dalinar's Oathbringer, but he gave that sword up. I don't think anyone's taken a shot at illustrating his current blade, myself included.

    General Reddit 2014 ()
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    Ben McSweeney

    This is not a design I've done for the books, but it's a question that comes up quite often. So I thought I'd nail this down in my own head, at least.

    When I think about bridges, they look something like this:

    What do you think? How would you handle it differently?

    -EDIT- In light of some suggestions from both fans and the Dragonsteel team, I've revised the design slightly; removed the vertical posts, extended the horizontals out enough for two men, and increased the total height by half.

    -EDIT 2- The side-carry! MILD SPOILERS for The Way of Kings.

    General Reddit 2013 ()
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    I'm on my second read and as interested as I am in the big questions the little ones catch me just as much. Shallan questions how do skyeels stay in the air? They arent spren and dont have obvious wings. So, how do they stay up there? BS has created a trap of describing ecology a lot and now I think Im going to want to know about the natural world as much as the people in it.

    Ben McSweeney

    You guys have mostly figured it out; lighter than air gas, gliding fin/wings, undulating action combined with expulsion for propulsion/ballast. The "luckspren" that follow them around aren't inconsequential, however.

    Though in retrospect, it probably takes more than an hour or two to fill up the sacs once again.

    We try to think of semi-reasonable pseudoscientific reasons for as much of the flora and fauna as possible, if only to hold the internal logic together. So there are reasons for how/why Chulls grow big boulders on their backs, reasons for how and why plants interact with storms to spread their seeds or migrate to better ground, reasons for why the axehound's head is shaped as it is, and so forth. There's very little Brandon creates that doesn't come with some logical basis behind it, even if it's never made explicit in the text.

    Brandon's Blog 2019 ()
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    My commute to work has given me the opportunity to make my way through your youtube lessons and I’m now listening to the writing excuses podcast, so I consider you my favorite professor. I apologies if you have covered this in some form, I may not have listened to that yet.

    My question is about flashback scenes. When thinking about where I’m going in my story, I imagine needing to use flashbacks, although I haven’t yet. My question is – what method do you use instead of a flashback? How do you give a sense of what happened and previous info without using a flashback?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hey! Good luck with your writing.

    That’s a great question, because often you don’t want to use a flashback. You have to be very careful with them, for while they can do some interesting things with narrative, they can also kill story momentum dead.

    My favorite way to indicate things that have previously happened without using flashbacks is to make certain your characters act like they have established history together. They will have inside jokes, will make references to the past, and otherwise indicate that they’ve known each other for years. (Where appropriate.)

    Likewise, things that happened in the past that you don’t intend to show in a flashback can have a huge effect on society. Think about the 9/11 disaster in America, which many are talking about this month. Could you convey in your story that similar disaster happened, but without going into too much exposition or a flashback? Practice trying it with real-world events, making your characters talk about it naturally. (Without straying into them telling each other information that they’d both obviously know. Like I didn’t need to say to you, “Well, almost twenty years ago there was this terrorist attack on the United States…”)

    Practice subtlety like that, and often you won’t need flashbacks. (And it will perhaps teach you when a flashback is more powerful or useful for you to use.)

    Brandon's Blog 2019 ()
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    P. Lavy

    As a beginner, I would like to ask your advice on how to narrow that gap between my storytelling and story writing. (I have watched your online lectures on fantasy and sci-fi writing).

    Brandon Sanderson

    You phrase this in a great way, as the writing and the storytelling are two distinct skills that often intertwine.

    Reading into your question, I think that what you’re asking is how to make the things in your head (the storytelling) work on the page (the story writing). I have to warn you, however, that a lot of times there’s a little more going on than I might have mentioned in my lectures.

    The metaphor I often use in the lecture is how, as an early trumpet player, I could hear some music I wanted to play in my head (specifically when doing improvised jazz) but didn’t yet have the skill to make those sounds come out the front of the horn. This is a good metaphor, but it leaves something unsaid.

    A lot of writers can imagine a perfect story, but then have trouble writing it down. My experience tells me, however, that much of the time, that story isn’t actually perfect in our heads. We pretend it is because we can’t see the problems with it when we’re imagining it—we gloss over the difficulties, the issues that are quite real but invisible until we actually try to put the thing together on the page.

    So you have two potential problems. One is that the story in your head isn’t, and never was, as flawless as you imagined. The second is that your skill in writing isn’t up to telling the things that ARE working in your head. Both are eventually resolved through practice.

    To finally get around to some practical advice like you wanted, however, there are a couple of ways to bridge this gap. One is to practice outlining. Now, I’ve often been clear that there is no one right way to write a story, and non-outlining methods are valid. However, if you really want to start looking at the structure of your story critically, forcing yourself to outline it first can really help. Plus, one big advantage of a solid outline is that you’re able to keep less in your head while working for the day. You can look at the outline, know what story beats need to be accomplished, and focus your mental energy on things like showing instead of telling and really nailing character voice/motivations instead of worrying if this plot point will end up working or not.

    These fundamentals are another really great way to bridge that gap. Few new writers fail because they lack vision, originality, or ambition. They fail because it is difficult to write a character that is compelling. Or they fail because it’s tough to evoke a sense of wonder in exploring a new world while at the same time not bog the story down with unnecessary details. Practicing things like voice, showing instead of telling, and evoking setting through character can let you make the page-by-page writing interesting and compelling, which then serves to make your story work long enough for you to get to the grand ideas.

    Brandon's Blog 2019 ()
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    A. Martinez

    You talked about the prologue and the promise. I am a discovery writer by the way, but sometimes I like to walk outside while listening to epic music to get inspired. The thing is that I don´t really feel comfortable doing a prologue because that could spoil a little bit the story. However, I am concerned about the readers. If I don´t make a prologue and I start with chapter one… well, of course, it will not be that interesting as the magical battle or evil growing on the prologue.

    So what should I do? Spoil a little bit? Or just start showing my character from 0. I’ve had this dilemma for a while. I can assure you, Mr. Sanderson, that my story is going to be epic and different from the conventional. Just mindblowing. Transcendental. It will have a lot of scaling so I have to start from 0. But how can I lure my readers on the first pages without spoilers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, I’m proud to have been able to chat with you before you make it big! I like how you talk and how you think. Stay confident, but also to be willing to listen to feedback and criticism. If you want to become the great writer you dream of being, you do so (in my experience) by listening.

    As for prologues, I should say that you certainly do not need them. In fact, many authors use them as a crutch. It is perfectly acceptable (even recommended by some editors I know) to skip the prologue and go right into your story. (Though it’s not something I often do myself, so perhaps this is a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of situation.)

    The important part is not what you call your opening, but in making certain your opening is making the right kinds of promises. You say you want to start at zero and ramp up–that’s great, and you can totally do that. But try to devise an opening to your story that is engaging, and gives foreshadowing of the type of story you want to tell. Figure out how to start small, but make big promises. Some stories do this with a prologue. But other stories start with the protagonist trying something bold and beyond their skill, to show that they are challenging themselves–and this can be something as simple as running a foot race, or boldly speaking when others remain silent. It doesn’t have to actually include something epic to imply epic turns are coming.

    Best of luck to you! I suggest just starting where it makes the most sense, then writing your story. Once you are done, you can look back at that opening and see if there are revisions you could make to better align it with the story you ended up wanting to tell.

    General Twitter 2019 ()
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    Yohan Rivera

    How did Lopen suck Stormlight in WoK? I assumed that as a squire he needed Kaladin to be around in order to practice his abilities.

    Brandon Sanderson

    We're playing a little loose and free w/timeline there. Peter asked me about this, and we determined Kaladin was close enough by the point this happened--though I can't remember if that was because Kaladin was on his way back, or if the distance was just naturally close enough.

    General Twitter 2019 ()
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    Ben Gowens

    In terms of Feruchemy, wouldn't storing Investiture reduces one's ability to store Investiture? Since Feruchemy is a type of Investiture, wouldn't storing that Investiture reduce one's ability to use Feruchemy? It's basically using Investiture to store said Investiture.

    And if so, how exactly can a Feruchemist store Investiture? Wouldn't storing Investiture create a kind of paradox?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I promise to explain eventually. This one is meant to be a little confusing.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Cephandrius is ONE of [Hoid's] oldest names, but not his actual name.

    I’ll fully admit that I can’t say for certain that Midius is his actual name either; it’s just where my guess is at the moment. Shoot, it could still just be a slightly earlier alias than Cephandrius. :)

    Peter Ahlstrom

    I know what his actual name was at one time. But it might not be that anymore.


    Is this knowledge something you’re at liberty to share?

    Peter Ahlstrom


    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    If /u/mistborn doesn't write a short story based on [Peter and Karen Ahlstrom] at some point i'm going to be extremely upset. Glad it worked out well!

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Hah, I think it would be a really different genre from Brandon’s usual. Though, the characters named after us in the Stormlight books, Peet and Ka, did get married.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Peter Ahlstrom

    It's more likely now that Dragonsteel will end up as 3 books.


    Ah, cool! That's what I get for placing too much trust in random images people sent me a year ago

    Peter Ahlstrom

    7 books was true a few years ago.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Just out of general curiosity - what do you do? Like... How many assistants/whatever do authors generally have?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Most authors don't have an assistant. Those who do are generally very successful, but what writer assistants do varies wildly. I would guess that I'm the assistant who does the most with the actual text of the books (except for whatever goes on with James Patterson).

    I act as go-between for Brandon and the editors, and I approve the editors' changes when I think Brandon would, and also make my own edits before sending a book back to Brandon for another draft. Once a book gets to the copyediting stage, Brandon doesn't touch it and I handle everything after that, only going to Brandon for spot fixes where I need his input.

    The point of every assistant is to give the author more time to write.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    That WoB left me confused. If there was intermingling between Humans and Listeners "long ago", meaning before the shattering, does this mean we had Humans in Roshar before the destruction of Ashyn?

    The end of OB makes it seem like there weren't any humans in Roshar before, doesn't it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The way I phrased this is confusing, I'm afraid. I'm pretty sure I was trying to explain that "humans and parshmen" predate the shattering. Horneaters and the herdazians do not. I certainly could have been more clear.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Can there be a perpendicularity of Odium in Roshar? Or can it only be in Braize? ?

    I think the perpendicularity has to be in Braize, but my doubt is in the fact that Odium influences Roshar. If it is not necessary to be "physically" on the planet, shouldn't there be one of Trell also in Scadrial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Rafo is the answer here, I'm afraid.


    Would Odium be pleased if an unsheathed Nightblood was thrown/left in his perpendicularity?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No he would not.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    I don’t suppose this [medieval scribes scribbling complaints in the margins of books] is where you got the idea for the unspoken commentary in women’s script?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This was actually talked about a lot in one of the books on the history of reading and literature I read during my senior course in folklore in college. So it was certainly in the back of my mind when designing the under text.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    In TWOK, Shallan is abruptly introduced to Shadesmar, the Cognitive Realm, when she accidentally Soulcasts for the first time.

    In Words of Radiance, Jasnah explains that Shadesmar is always around us, but we just can't perceive it while in the Physical Realm.

    I think the "safehand" is hand is a beautiful metaphor for this duality of existance (or is it a triality? can anyone access the Spiritual Realm?).

    Safehands are mentioned many times throughout TWOK and Sanderson never really gets into why there is a safehand (IIRC). But so much talk about safehands in the book sets up this idea, in the background, that we aren't allowed to see everything - and that even though we can't see something, doesn't mean it's not there. Just because a hand is covered in a sleeve, doesn't mean we can't see it. Just because we can't see Shadesmar, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Was using safehands as a metaphor/foreshadowing of Sahdesmar a thing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am very aware of duality, opposites, and symmetry as themes on Roshar--but I was not thinking specifically of this with safehands. That said, I think OP is discovering real themes in the series, and I like this discussion.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2589 Copy


    Elend and Dalinar's storylines kinda remind me of the book The Prince by Machiavelli, with their struggles of being a good rulers/leaders. And generally, I think that his books are dealing with the question, what it takes to keep power vs. being a good ruler.

    I read somewhere that Sanderson somewhat has a background in philosophy, so does anyone actually know if his books are indeed partially influenced by The Prince?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have read it, and yes, you will find it sprinkled all over. (As well as contrasting and complimentary philosophies.)


    Thank you for answering! Would be interesting to know what other philosophies are in your books. I'm generally very interested in philosophy but unfortunately, there was only a beginners calls at my university.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a lot of them that pop up here and there, some I've read about, others I've merged, some little ones here and there that didn't come from one place--but instead grew out of the worldbuilding. But one that people tend to not have read a lot about, but which I've always found interesting, is Pantheism/Panentheism (two different, but related ideas.) You'll find elements of both in the cosmere. That might be a fun one to do some reading upon, if you're looking for a place to go. And, of course, there's the phaedrus--though you're probably already familiar with that. Kant and Descartes show up...but then, basically everybody does here and there.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2590 Copy


    As a follow-up: I've been curious for a while (since discovering The Truth about Taimandred, really) about how often RAFO means "This is a mystery I'm unwilling to divulge before the book is out" versus "I haven't decided yet" versus "I've decided, but I might change my mind", in rough proportions?

    Also, any other categories of RAFO that you feel does not at all fit into the above?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hm. I'd say that category number one is the largest. Category three is also very common. There aren't a lot of category twos, but it does happen. I think that for RJ, those weightings were different, as he was more of a discovery writer than I am. (As I consider...the #3 you mention might be bigger than #1.)

    One very big one for me is that I often don't want to roll out things I have decided because that will lead people to ask questions about things I am still making up my mind on. Or it will lead them to figure out things that I'd still rather use as a major plot point in a future book.


    Do you ever worry that you might run across a fan extrapolation on a theory that sounds really good, so you might be tempted to either borrow it, or maybe force yourself to go in a different direction?

    I could see it causing the same problems that giving prescriptive advice to a discovery writer halfway through the book might.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It isn't something I worry about terribly, for the reason you point out. That said, GRRM (who is more of a discovery writer) has talked about how he doesn't worry about it too much either.

    I think in both cases, it's about trusting your instincts as a writer--but also, being flexible. Sometimes, I DO let myself be influenced by things my readers say. This is part of the alpha and beta reading process, as often times, you'll be seeding things by instinct into a story that you don't fully solidify until someone comments on it.

    So I don't worry about this; I just try to tell the best story I can.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2591 Copy


    Is Odium using the same means (or closely related) to [Splinter] Shards that was used on Adonalsium?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm afraid I have to RAFO this, as I don't want to talk too much about the Shattering until I write that book. (Sorry.)

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2592 Copy


    So I goddamn loved Shadows of Self, to me it was the best in the series and showed what Mistborn could achieve when you combine what makes it unique with a different genre.

    But part of the synopsis on the back in retrospect really bothered me, namely: "All the clues suggest the killer is a rogue kandra - a secretive, almost mythical figure who acts from the shadows - called Bleeder..."

    Now yeah it's not that big compared to the reveal at the end of the book, but the reveal that the main suspect is a kandra called Bleeder, doesn't occur until over 100 pages into the book. So by knowing this ahead of time, it removes a lot of the intrigue of the early chapters.

    Did this bother anyone else when they read Shadows of Self? I've advised people reading the series in future not to read the synopsis

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I had my way, all of the summaries we got would be in world documents like the prologue to Elantris or the things the Sleepless write for the Stormlight books. Marketing material is almost always terrible in this way--the one for Hero of Ages I recall spoiling a big twist.

    They don't let me write these, usually, and complain/change them if I do write something to go there. Or they reluctantly put it on the hardcover on the back, but still write their own "flap copy" summaries. Then they leave what I wrote off the paperbacks. It's frustrating.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2593 Copy


    Since kandra (mostly) stopped eating human bodies after era 1, does that mean they all have a subtle tell, since the only human bodies they learned to copy were the ones the Lord Ruler modded to be able to breathe ash?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know what, I think you'd be right.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2594 Copy


    Does your son know that he has a namesake, Dalinar, in Stormlight books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He does know it. Though he thinks Dalinar is said Dallin R, as in he has a middle name that starts with R. He asks a lot what Dallin R is like, as he finds it quite amusing that there's a person with his name in a book.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2595 Copy


    Brandon, if you don't mind, I always wanted to ask this:

    If Dalinar knew the story of Adonalsium (well, I hope he will, eventually) would he be like -- Yes, this is the true God I'm looking for, or more like -- if Adonalsium died then he was never a God (same what he thinks about Honor)?

    I, like others, also root for Dalinar gaining knowledge about the greater cosmere. Our man deserves it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    To answer this, I'd probably have to give more Dragonsteel spoilers than I want to give.


    That's fair. Thank you, Brandon.

    I have not read Dragonsteel (if we are talking about that old version of the book). Hope you will dig into these things in the future novels, especially with Dalinar :)

    Brandon Sanderson

    I promise that answers to questions like these are very much on my mind, and are things I do plan to eventually address in one way or another.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2596 Copy


    So it is said that the Lord Ruler created the nobility out of the people who supported him in his rise to power, making them taller, stronger etc.

    But how does that make sense? Wasn’t his rise to power after he ascended and used up the power at the Well of Ascension, so how exactly did he change human physiology after the fact?

    Unless I’ve gotten it wrong and I’m misunderstanding what happened, this timeline doesn’t fit.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a lot of myths about things the Lord Ruler did that aren't accurate. Most of what is said about the skaa and nobility by characters should be taken with a grain of salt.


    Ah gotcha, thanks for the reply! I guess I gave it more weight because Sazed speaks about the difference as fact in the HoA epigraphs.

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Brandon Sanderson

    The LR did distribute beads to some people, essentially creating major noble families with access to Allomancy. So there is truth behind what people are saying. They have just taken it too far.


    Just to clarify, this is the sazed thing he's talking about

    The Balance. Is it real? We've almost forgotten this little bit of lore. Skaa used to talk about it, before the Collapse. Philosophers discussed it a great deal in the third and fourth centuries, but by Kelsier's time, it was mostly a forgotten topic. But it was real. There was a physiological difference between skaa and nobility. When the Lord Ruler altered mankind to make them more capable of dealing with ash, he changed other things as well. Some groups of people—the noblemen—were created to be less fertile, but taller, stronger, and more intelligent. Others—the skaa—were made to be shorter, hardier, and to have many children. The changes were slight, however, and after a thousand years of interbreeding, the differences had largely been erased.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sorry, I don't think I read the topic closely enough. The issue here is that OP is, I believe, conflating the people the LR changed and the ones he gave beads to. The changes are real, but not nearly as important as people in world theorized about over the years. (At least when one talks about northern continent people.) What Sazed says here, however, is factual. (Though he doesn't know the LR's intentions, only what he did.)


    To clarify, I meant to ask how did he decide who to make nobles and who to make skaa? From what I remember he made his supporters the nobility, which would imply that he made the changes in the balance after he had already used up the power. Right? Or am I misunderstanding and the nobility have nothing to do with who his supporters were?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He didn't have supporters at that point, not really. He did have people he liked, and groups of people he wanted to advantage--and other goals as well. But he was mostly a guy from the backwaters who didn't know a ton about world politics.

    The people he liked later on were the ones he made Allomancers, and they became the most important noble houses. It's possible I didn't make this very clear in the text, though. It was a bit tricky to decide what I wanted to make clear and what I didn't.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2597 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have never said I don't let my religion influence my writing. That would be madness.

    What I say is that I am looking to create a great story--I'm not seeking to put in a specific moral through fiction, though I don't think it's wrong to do so. (I respect both Lewis and Pullman who made different choices.)

    My religion deeply influences who I am, and that will absolutely reflect in the story. However, these are the sorts of things that are generally easier to pick out from the outside, as for me, I'm not seeing them a lot of times--as I'm focused on character, plot, setting.


    I've noticed you sometimes include criticism of religion in your works, whether through characters dialog/beliefs or through actions of religious organizations, are most of these deliberate or do they grow naturally out of world building (or both)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are an effect of me trying to get into the character's head and legitimately put forth a criticism I think they would make. As a religious person, though, I personally think that the miss-use of religion can be an absolutely terrible thing. I think it's something the atheists and I would agree on 100%.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #2598 Copy


    From what I understand, Sanderson (a long-time MtG fan) wrote the novel entirely of his own volition, using only the pieces of MtG lore he deemed necessary, with entirely new characters he created, and then approached WotC and said "Hey, I wrote this, do you want to publish it?"

    That sounds unbelievable. Very few people just do work like that for free. I think something about that story is exaggerated.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It...well, it actually did happen. Kind of like /u/StrictlyFilthyCasual said (though not quite) and it is a kind of weird thing that I did that was terrible in a business sense. I wanted to do it anyway.

    Basically, for years I've thought, "If I were going to write a MTG story, what would it be?" The answer was what became Children of the Nameless. I basically had it, and the characters, plotted in my head. When Wizards came to me, they wanted to hire me to write one of their stories.

    I knew, right out, they wouldn't be able to afford what it would actually cost me to write a story for them. In fact, I suspected it would be orders of magnitude different. So, I counter offered and said, "Look, I have this cool story I want to write. It's in one of your worlds. I'll do it for free, as a gift to MTG and the community, but you have to let me do my own thing."

    They were on board. I realize, doing something for free for a huge corporation is...well, kind of dumb. But I didn't decide to become a writer because I have good business sense... I just wanted to do my thing, and have it be a real part of MTG lore and get to have a card designed based on my character.


    I knew, right out, they wouldn't be able to afford what it would actually cost me to write a story for them. In fact, I suspected it would be orders of magnitude different.

    Does this mean its unlikely we'll see you write full length magic novels? :( Children was so good.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's unlikely, I'm afraid. There's a chance I'll do another story about Dav, but it wouldn't be longer than what I've done already--and it wouldn't be anytime soon. One difficult reality is that I have promised a lot of things to those following my cosmere novels, and anything I write that isn't on one of those projects needs to be looked at skeptically on my part, if only for the purpose of keeping my promises. So it's less a matter of money, and more a matter of time.

    DragonCon 2019 ()
    #2599 Copy


    How are you able to create so many worlds without them getting repetitive?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, I worry about that a lot. Repeating yourself is like an author's greatest fear. I don't know that there is anything specific I do to keep... other than being aware that that is a danger. I really like creating worlds and I really try to use a little bit of a different inspiration each time, and sometimes my outlines look a little too similar, so I just kinda don't write that book, if that makes sense. Really, what you're seeing is "I'll build four or five different planets or worlds or ideas and only write one of them" these days. Yeah, it is a real concern - it's not something that I even know if I have fixed yet.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
    #2600 Copy


    You said, there will be a timeskip between two parts of Stormlight. But will we have more timeskips between five books of each part? For example, between book 3 and book 4, or 4 and 5. Or between 6 and 7? I ask this, because in first Mistborn trilogy we had year long timeskips between each book. Wonder, will we have it in SA?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Plan is for book four to take place a year after book three, so there will be some smaller timeskips too--but the biggest is between five and six.