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    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 ()
    #254 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have a term for a group of spren? Like a gaggle of geese, or something like that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have not come up with one. That's a great question; I have never considered it before. I would be taking suggestions.

    YouTube Livestream 13 ()
    #255 Copy

    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 ()
    #256 Copy

    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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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    Questioner

    Did the Ones Above seek out First of the Sun specifically? Or did they stumble upon it mostly by chance?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, here's the thing. You can see in Shadesmar where planets with intelligent life on them are. So, on one hand, you can stumble across them. But on the other hand, you're gonna know which planets, which systems, and where the intelligent life is. Specifically, First of the Sun has this weird thing where it's got kind of a Shardpool but no Shard in attendance. Getting there, they knew it was there, but couldn't get through; and so visited it in the Physical Realm intentionally. So they didn't stumble upon it, but it was originally stumbled upon in Shadesmar, if that makes sense.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #263 Copy

    Questioner

    If Vasher and Shashara had Awakened a non-weapon in exactly the same way as Nightblood (say a shield), would the object exhibit the same properties as Nightblood?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, if you said "destroy evil" to a shield... no, it wouldn't be exactly the same. The Command is the most important part of all of this, but the shape, how the weapon perceives itself, how you perceive it, is all gonna play into this. They're playing with some real dangerous stuff when they made Nightblood. And it didn't go as intended.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #264 Copy

    Questioner

    The Heralds seem to be insane in the ways of their Divine Attributes, at least somewhat. Is this because they're Heralds? As Cognitive Shadows, they're subject to people's perception, like how spren are?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a very astute question, and yes, that is influencing them quite a bit. I'm doing something here with the Heralds. Like, I want the Heralds "madnesses," as we call them, to be magical diseases. And the contrast of something like Kaladin's depression, which I'm trying to treat very real-world. I'm trying to treat them as these things that couldn't exist in our world. They're fantastical mental diseases, like we have fantastic physical diseases in Elantris. So I did make them thematic, and I would say part of the reason for that is people's perception of them and their mental state reacting against that. And that should be a theme among all of the Heralds.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #265 Copy

    Questioner

    Shardblades burn out the eyes of the victims, and deadeyes have their eyes scratched out in Shadesmar. Is the connection here purely thematic? Or are there actual Realmatic mechanics behind it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are, but they're pretty slight. I would lean more on the idea of the thematic, this more being a Roshar thing, with the eye color, the eyes being scratched out, Shardblades burning out the eyes. There are some Realmatic things behind this, but mostly it's me trying to connect a theme in this magic system.

    As you might know (maybe, maybe not), Shardblades originally did cut flesh. I wrote the entire prologue with Szeth and them cutting flesh and... ooh, boy, was that bloody! These are books about war, but man, it was just so gory that I'm like, "I'm gonna back off on this. Let's have it burn out the eyes instead." And I liked it way better that way.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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    Questioner

    Did the Sunmaker see visions of the Stormfather, too?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He did not. The Sunmaker was basically my version of an Alexander the Great, or maybe a better example would be Genghis Khan or somebody like that. One of the great warlords in the past. He did not see the visions of the Stormfather.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #269 Copy

    Stormlightning

    How the heck is Nale's spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nale's spren is alive. The highspren... I would say "wacky" is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the highspren. Obviously, it's partially being a Herald and all the things he's gone through, but they're all on board for this. So read that as you will.

    Well, "all." The ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You'll get to see Szeth interact with his just a little bit. There's not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you've got a few chapters. At least one, for sure. And he gets to interact with his spren, and you'll get a better picture of the highspren from that moment.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #270 Copy

    Questioner

    Shardblades cut organic and inorganic matter differently. How would they interact with an animated construct like an Awakened straw man? What about a Lifeless?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I walk kind of a fine line here. Something that's animated as a construct, like an Awakened straw man, is likely going to block the Shardblade to some extent, as powerful Investiture would. A Lifeless is probably just gonna act like it was a living being.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #271 Copy

    StarburstWrapperTie

    What is it like at the poles of Roshar, where the highstorms are circling around?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We've thought about this a lot, and I'm going to RAFO this for now. Because I need some meteorological help on some of these things. And so I'm not gonna speak until I'm sure that I know... Like, the meteorology of Roshar is bizarre anyway, the storms are magical, they're dropping crem. So it doesn't mean we have to keep to it exactly. But this is one that I don't quite want to answer yet.

    San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
    #272 Copy

    StarburstWrapperTie

    What kind of spren is Oathbringer, the Shardblade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oathbringer is not technically a spren. Why I call these things the Honorblades, kind of where the whole Shardblade concept fits in, is that these are literally pieces of Honor's soul that he Splintered off and formed weapons out of for the Heralds. These didn't actually have sentience, in the same way that the spren forming most of the Shardblades are. They're literally a piece of the god who ruled this world turned into weapons. And the spren, who are also pieces of the same divinity, saw what was happening, and this kind of became a model by which Shardblades came about.

    So Oathbringer doesn't have a spren. If you wanted to call it something, call it a sliver of Honor that has been manifested in physical form. That does mean the blade would actually be made of Tanavast's god metal, so tanavastium, if you want to call it that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, that's just me hearing what I wanted to hear, not what was actually asked. It happens more often than I'd like; I get into this groove of answering questions, and start answering what I'm thinking about rather than what actually gets asked. A lot of times, I'm expecting a question (often because it's one that gets asked a lot, like what are Shardblades made out of) and my brain defaults to the answer I've prepared. I think it might be because I've trained myself to answer questions while doing other things.

    Oathbringer's not an Honorblade. It was a Stoneward's blade a long time ago, with the corresponding spren.

    Miscellaneous 2017 ()
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    Dan Wells

    This is actually an idea we came up with on the cruise last year was to do an episode about all the things that we have tried to make work and couldn't; the novels that we abandoned halfway through or the short stories that just never came together. And we thought it would be a really fun way to end this year in kind of a backhanded, inspirational way to say, look, we're all successful at this and we still screw up all the time.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. And it's not just what we do when we were trying to break in, not those old trunk novels. It still happens every year. Let's take each, our biggest one, like the thing we got the most involved in, or the one that was most tragic to us that we couldn't make work and talk about it. And I'll just go ahead and start.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I - right before I got the call for the Wheel of Time, which changed my life dramatically - I had finished the Mistborn series, I'd finished Warbreaker and Elantris, and next I thought, I'm going to jump back in the shared universe of my Cosmere and write the prequel series that started it all, where everything came from. This is the backstory of the character known as Hoid, who is a fan favorite. And I'm like, I'm going to do this trilogy, or more books. It's going to be super awesome. It's going to just be the greatest thing ever. And I actually finished the whole book and it was a disaster. It was a train wreck of a book. The character, for the first time - it's like this whole problem you have when you have a really engaging side character that you try to make a main character - didn't work at all as a main character, at least as the personality I had for them way back when. The plot was boring. The setting just was even more boring, which is saying a lot for me. I tried to pull and incorporate some different elements from books that I had tried before and none of them meshed. And so it felt like five books with a bad character and no plot. It was a huge, just terrible thing.

    Howard Tayler

    Did it have a good magic system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The magic system was weak.

    Here's the thing. It had a really good magic system from another world that I ported into this world that didn't jive. And the one that was from this world never meshed well with that. And so the magic system was really weak in that it was doing cool things, but in complete contrast to the tone of the novel. Dan may have read some of it, Liar of Partinel.

    Dan Wells

    Uh, no.

    Brandon Sanderson

    OK. The writing group which just kind of baffled by this. I actually tried -speaking of what we did last week - I actually started with the clichéd scene of someone being hung and then flashing back to show how they got there - like it had so many problems with it.

    Dan Wells

    72 hours earlier.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Yeah, it was, exactly. It was one of those things. Exactly one of those things. Like "I'm going to to try this tool. Oh, this tool is not a tool," right? Like some tools you try and you're like, "Oh, that's a cool tool that doesn't deserve its reputation." Some of them you try and you're like, "This is so..."

    Dan Wells

    There's a reason everyone makes fun of this one. Wow.

    So I kind of want to ask questions about how bad it was.

    Specifically with Hoid.

    Because that's what fascinates me about this. He was, he is a fan favorite and he's always the side character, you know.

    He's the one who's sits off and makes goofy comments and, you know, maybe appears once and then leaves. What did you do when you attempted to make him a main character? Like what was your process there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I knew the biggest chance for failure on this was, you know, taking him a bit, having be too wacky through the course, right? It's the Minion movie thing, which worked for my kids, but for a lot of people are like "These side characters that add flavor to a larger story, when you make the whole story about them, are super annoying." I'm like, I can't have him be super annoying! Well, that's OK. It's you know, when he was young, when you're seeing him in the books, he's hundreds and hundreds years old. He was young, and so I will take that part out. But I did this weird dual identity thing with him, where he was like pretending to be someone else for a big chunk of the book because it had a really cool twist when I did the whole reveal. But then that meant I had to characterize him as somebody you grew too emotionally invested in somebody to...at the end you're like, "Surprise! In the next book you'll get to know who he really is." Which was part of it. And the person I was having him be was bland on purpose because it was like trying to hide and pretend to... Oh, man! There were so many problems with this character, like it was trying to be too clever, leaving out the cleverness that had made him a fan favorite on purpose. Right? So it's a different kind of cleverness. And it just did not work. Didn't work at all.

    Dan Wells

    Do you think that if you were to write that book today, you could make it work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have completely scrapped that, and what actually changed my opinion on how to do this was Name of the Wind. It needs to be him in the future, flashing back and talking about himself because people will have already bonded to who he is in the future. And it needs to be a memoir. It needs to be...the Assassin's Apprentice is a better example of what this needs to be, because Robin Hobb does such a great job of showing you that contrast between what someone is now and what they've become. And so I need to do something like this. This is now my feel on it. If I then can set in his own voice, I can have these, you know, this first person where we're really, really fun in Hoid's voice for all, and then he fades into the story when he's telling a story, he's not nearly as, you know, he doesn't try to zing you every minute, he tries to tell the story well. That's who he is. And so he will tell the story well. And then we can pop out occasionally and get, you know, it's like Bilbo from The Hobbit.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So we'll see if I can write it. But that's my plan right now. And there is my true confession of failure. There've been other ones since, but that's the one that hurt, hit me the most. I actually wrote The Rithmatist as I was supposed to go into the sequel to this and start outlining it, and I'm just like "I can't, this book is so bad." And I wrote The Rithmatist without telling any one of my editors I sent that in instead of Liar of Partinel.

    TWG Posts ()
    #275 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Folks,

    I've turned my full attention back to this book, and have done a heavy rewrite of Chapter One, which helped me pound out who Midius is (in my mind at least.)  You can see the effect your comments had.  Here's the new version.  As always, comments are welcome!

    Brandon Sanderson

    All, here's an experimental change I'm considering for the Theus chapters (and note the new Midius chapter at the bottom of the previous page.) I think this may soften the brutality somewhat, even though it's all still there. It will make for a drastic change in feel for the king as a character, but I'm very tempted to do this instead. Reactions?

    NEW CHAPTER TWO BEGINNING

    It’s a bad day to kill, Theusa thought. Too cloudy. A man should be able to see the sun when he dies, feel the warmth on his skin one last time.

    She marched down the dusty path, crops to her right and left, guards behind her. The men of her personal guard wore woolen cloaks over bronze breastplates. Bronze. So expensive. What farming supplies could she have traded for instead of the valuable metal armor?

    And yet, she really had no choice. The armor meant something. Strength. Power. She needed to show both.

    Several of the soldiers pulled their cloaks tight against the morning’s spring chill. Theusa herself wore a woolen dress and shawl, the copper crown on her head the only real indication of her station. King. It had been twenty-some years since anyone had dared question her right to that title. In the open, at least.

    Her breath puffed in front of her, and she pulled her shawl close. I’m getting old, she thought with annoyance.

    Behind her towered the grand city state of Partinel, circled entirely--lake and all--by a rough stone wall reaching some fifteen feet high. The wall had been commissioned, then finished, by Yornes the grand, her father-in-law. She’d married his son, Didarion, in her twenty-third year of life.

    Didarion been a short time later. That had been almost thirty years ago, now.

    Old indeed, Theusa thought, passing out of the ring of crops. Partinel’s trune ring was one of the largest in the Cluster, but it still provided a relatively small area in which to grow food. They grew right up to the edge of the city wall in a full circle around the city. Running in a loop around them was a narrow, earthen road. Beyond that, a wide patch of carefully-watched and cultivated walnut trees ran around the city. Her people cut down one group of trees every year and planted a new patch. It was a good system, giving them both hardwood for trade and nuts for food. In the Cluster, no land could be wasted.

    Because beyond the trees, the land became white. The walnuts stands marked the border, the edge of Partinel’s trune ring and the beginning of fainlands.

    Theusa could see the fain forest through a patch of walnut saplings. She paused, looking out at the hostile, bleached landscape. Bone white trees, with colorless undergrowth twisting and creeping around the trunks. White leaves fluttered in the breeze, sometimes passing into the trune ring, dusted with a prickly white fungus.

    Skullmoss, the herald of all fain life. Her soldiers and workers gathered the leaves anyway and burned them, though it wasn’t really nessissary. Though eating something fain--animal or plant--was deadly to a human, simple interaction with it was not. Besides, fain life, even the skullmoss, could not live inside of a trune ring.

    That’s how it had always been. White trees beyond the border, trune life within. People could go out into the fainlands--there was no real danger, for skullmoss couldn’t corrupt a living creature. Some brave cities even used fain trees for lumber, though Theusa had never dared.

    She shivered, turning away from the fain forest and turning to where a group of soldiers--with leather vests and skirts--stood guarding a few huddled people. The prisoners included one man, his wife, and two children. All knelt in the dirt, wearing linen smocks tied with sashes.

    The father looked up as Theusa approached, and his eyes widened. Her reputation preceded her. The Bear of Partinel, some called her: a stocky, square-faced woman with graying hair. Theusa walked up to the kneeling father, then bent down on one knee, regarding the man.

    The peasant had a face covered in dirt, but his sandaled feet were a dusty white. Skullmoss. Theusa avoided touching the dust, though it should be unable to infect anything within a trune ring. She studied the man for a time, reading the pain and fear in his face. He lowered his eyes beneath the scruitiny.

    “Everyone has a place, young man,” she finally said.

    The outsider glanced back up.

    “The people of this city,” Theusa continued, “they belong here. They work these crops, hauling water from the stormsea to the troughs. Their fathers bled to build and defend that wall. They were born here. They will die here. They are mine.”

    “I can work, lady,” the man whispered. “I can grow food, build walls, and fight.”

    Theusa shook her head. “That’s not your place, I’m afraid. Our men wait upon drawn lots for the right to work the fields and gain a little extra for their families. There is no room for you. You know this.”

    “Please,” the man said. He tried to move forward, but one of the soldiers had his hand on the man’s shoulder, holding him down.

    Theusa stood. Jend, faithful as always, waited at the head of her soldiers. He handed Theusa a small sack. She judged the weight, feeling the kernels of grain through the canvas, then tossed it to the ground before the outsider. The man looked confused.

    “Take it,” Theusa said. “Go find a spot of ground that the fainlands have relinquished, try to live there as a chance cropper.”

    “The moss is everywhere lately,” the man said. “If clearings open up, they are gone before the next season begins.”

    “Then boil the grain and use it to sustain you as you find your way to Rens,” Theusa said. “They take in outsiders. I don’t care. Just take the sack and go.”

    The man reached out a careful hand, accepting the grain. His family watched, silent, yet obviously confused. This was the Bear of Partinel? A woman who would give free grain to those who tried to sneak into her city? What of the rumors?

    “Thank you, lady,” the man whispered.

    Theusa nodded, then looked to Jend. “Kill the woman.”

    “Wha--” the outsider got halfway through the word before Jend unsheathed his bronze gladius and rammed it into the stomach of the kneeling outsider woman. She gasped in shock, and her husband screamed, trying to get to her. The guards held him firmly as Jend pulled the sword free, then he cut at the woman’s neck. The weapon got lodged in the vertebrae, and it took him three hacks to get the head free. Even so, the execution was over in just a few heartbeats.

    The outsider continued to scream. Theusa stooped down again--just out of the man’s reach--blood trickling across the packed earth in front of her. One of the guards slapped the outsider, interrupting his yells.

    “I am sorry to do this,” Theusa said. “Though I doubt you care how I feel. You must understand, however. Everyone has a place. The people of this city, they are mine--and my place is to look after them.”

    The outsider hissed curses at her. His children--the boy a young teen, the girl perhaps a few years younger--were sobbing at the sight of their mother’s death.

    “You knew the penalty for trying to sneak into my city,” Theusa said softly. “Everyone does. Try it again, and my men will find the rest of your family--wherever you’ve left them--and kill them.”

    Then, she stood, leaving the screaming peasant behind to yell himself ragged. Theusa’s personal guards moved behind her as she returned to the corridor through the wheat, Jend cleaning his gladius and sheathing it. Over the tops of the green spring plants, Theusa could see a man waiting for her before the city.

    (Edit, cleaned up language.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thanks for the comments, folks.  A new version has been uploaded, mostly making minor tweaks as suggested by db.  Some good points, and the prose needed streamlining.

    Dawn:

    For some reason, this just feels less brutal to me.  Theusa's language is softer than Theus's had been, and I think more reasonable.  Still brutal, yet somehow it works better for me.  That might just be because I've seen (and written) too many characters that feel like Theus, and changing the character to a female (who's a bit older, and who is arguably the legitimate ruler of the city) makes them feel a lot more exciting to write. 

    Gruff, Gritty, Male solder king: Feels overdone.

    Gruff, gritty, grandmother king: Not so much.

    I know it's more about how well the character is done, and less about whether it's been done before or not.  However, excitement on my part seems to make for a better story over-all.  So, I'm wondering if this character will be more exciting for me this way, or just much more trouble.  (I'll have to think of what to do for the next Theus chapter, for instance.  I really liked the fight there, and I can't really put Theusa in the same role.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    DavidB

    There are, unfortunately, reasons why I have to start the book where I did.  I can't get into it without major spoilers.  You are perfectly right about this chapter lacking a hook, which is why I decided from the get-go that I'd need to start with a scene from the middle of the book, then jump back. 

    So, this chapter should be considered the SECOND, and not the one that introduces Midius's character. 

    My goal is to try some new things with this book.  Who knows if it will work, but they will present narrative challenges for me, because even when we flash back, we're starting in the middle of a story, with Hoid already dead.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll admit, I'm really torn on this one.  I can't quite decide which way to go.  The thing is, I've been thinking about the characters so much that they're both--Theus and Theusa--now formed in my head.  I know their motivations and their feelings, but I can only use one of them.  

    With Theus I gain the ability to have he, himself fight.  I can show him with his family, which could really round out his character.  Yet, I worry that he's too similar to other characters I've written.  (Cett and Straff both come to mind from the Mistborn trilogy, though neither of them are as rounded, as well as Iadon from Elantris.  I've done a lot of brutal rulers.)   

    With Thesua, I lose the two things I mentioned above.  I couldn't soften her by showing a spouse and children, and while she'd still have a daughter, I don't see the child being as much of an influence on reader opinion.  And, there would be less action in the book by a slight amount as Theusa will not be a warrior, and will have to rely on Jend to do her combat.   

    However, I gain a tad of originality.  (How many tyrant grandmother city-state rulers are there in fiction?  Have to be fewer than men like Theus.)  I also gain some subtlety--Theusa's rule would be much more tenuous, because of her gender, and there would be a lot of politics working against her.   

    Both would play off of Yunmi very well, if for different reasons.  Midius's interactions lean slightly toward me liking Theus, but not a huge amount.   

    I keep going back and forth on this one.  So, I'll put off the decision until tomorrow and write a Yunmi chapter instead.  Huzzah!

    Brandon Sanderson

    After much playing with the plot and wrangling, I've decided to go with the male version of the character.  The new Midius chapter is here to stay, however.

    I'll just have to do the old grandma tyrant king in some other book. 

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Questioner

    Who is your favorite minor Stormlight character?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    There's a new guy in Rhythm of War who has a really cool name.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is this the Tuckerization? Stargyle? That's Steve Argyle. It is a cool name. I'm like, "How can I put a 'Steve' in that doesn't sound... He's a Lightweaver; what if he just made up a really cool stage name for himself?"

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Questioner

    Did you do anything for Way of Kings Prime?

    Karen Ahlstrom

    I did not. I don't think I've even read that one. I did read Dragonsteel, but I haven't read Way of Kings Prime.

    Brandon Sanderson

    We had Kristy [Gilbert] look over it, who is a freelance editor friend of ours that we have do a lot of work because she's really good. She looked over Way of Kings Prime, but she's the only one, really.

    You are getting this pretty raw. This has seen one editor, whose job was just to make changes. We just said, "Change things you think need to be changed to make it more readable." But it's still a draft.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Peter Ahlstrom

    In Sadeas's warcamp [in Way of Kings], we had this character named Laresh, who came and delivered some recruits for the bridge. And we decided that he was really kind of a prototype for a different character who does the same thing, whose name also starts with "LA" [Lamaril], so we essentially said, "Eh, these are really the same guy. We'll just make them the same guy [in revision]."

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    Questioner

    What is the biggest continuity error you've caught?

    Karen Ahlstrom

    If he puts in somebody that's dead...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Once in a while, it usually happens with Bridge Four characters, the side characters. One of them, I had accidentally get resurrected.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Karen came to me yesterday, and she's like, "This guy is dead!" I'm like, "No no no, it's a different guy, it's okay."

    Karen Ahlstrom

    They didn't write his name. But there is a character with that exact description that is dead, and Peter convinced me it could have been a relative of theirs. So I'll give it to you.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Espion200

    What cosmere location has the best tacos or equivalent? And is Hoid a regular visitor to that location?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on how you feel about Soulcast meat. For people who are vegan, Soulcast meat involves using gemstones to make meat. Also, I would say that Soulcast meat has a certain flavor that is not bad, but it is acquired. And so, for some people, chouta is going to be, probably, the best street food in the cosmere.

    But otherwise, like most things, if you want to default to "What has the most Earth-like of X," it is going to be Scadrial. Scadrial is the one that I intentionally kind of keep closer to Earth-style cultures and things. For various reasons; like, for instance, the fact that I want to do a computer programmer as a protagonist in an upcoming sequence, there are things like that that I've built Scadrial to feel more Earth-like.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    17th Shard

    Originally, it was said Way of Kings Prime had spoilers for later Stormlight. But we've released it now. Why is that? Do you still feel it has spoilers, or do you think it's safe or fine?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think it is fine, though it still has minor spoilers. The whole thread with Dalinar and Elhokar, I felt, was a pretty big spoiler. Because a very similar relationship played out in the published books, just with different results. I thought that one's a spoiler.

    I felt that some of the Taln stuff is slight spoilers. But one of the things that worked passably well in Way of Kings Prime is the question of, "Is this guy a Herald, or is he crazy?" That was a central theme for him. And that whole arc got transposed to Dalinar. "Am I seeing visions, or am I crazy?" Whole thing got transposed, and I knew by the time I was into the actual published versions of the Stormlight Archive, I knew by then that I couldn't do the same thing with Taln. We'd already had a plot cycle like that, plus I was going to be introducing the Heralds, and it was going to be very clear that the Heralds are back and that the Voidbringers are here. And so the question of "Are the Voidbringers actually coming back? Were the Heralds real?" Thats, like, a major theme of Way of Kings Prime. And that cannot be a theme of the published version. And so, for a while, I was still holding onto the hope that maybe I can do something like this with Taln. And eventually, I said, "No, I just can't." It would be too repetitive and what-not, and that's part of what made me realize it's okay to release Way of Kings Prime. The stuff that happens to Taln is going to be so different from where I'm going to be taking him moving forward that it's okay.

    There's still some minor, slight things that are still gonna show up, but it would be hard to pick out what those are. And when they happen in the actual series, you'd be like, "Oh, I can see the resonance of this to the original." Just like the Elhokar/Dalinar thing (which is more overt) resonates through that one into this one.

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    Pai Lanningham

    Given that the 17th Shard picks through every word you say with a fine-toothed comb and argues over the tiniest details, what have you said in the past to most thoroughly troll them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I try not to actively troll on those sorts of things. I like that people are interested in my work and are treating it with sincerity. It is far better than the alternative. So I don't do a ton of trolling. But I would call things like the Shardhunt and things like that that we did a bit of trolling. (If you weren't aware, that's where I was giving out codes you could find or could get from me that would unlock things. We did it for Steelheart, we did it for Wheel of Time, and I think we did it for one of the other books. And there's some trolling that goes on involved in that where I'm hiding these things and playing coy about what they would reveal, and stuff like that.)

    I guess you would count, when someone asks me a question that a "yes" is a technically true answer but I know it's going to mislead them, I will still often say "yes." Because if they give me wiggle room on some of these very detailed questions, I will take it. So because of that, sometimes they grossly misinterpret things I say.

    But I also, sometimes, am really tired and don't hear the question right and answer something, and then they don't grossly misinterpret it; I have just misled them. Both of those things happen.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Esper

    Have you ever followed the cremposting subreddit?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't really follow it. I go to it when people tag me, and that's about it. I think it's hilarious, but it's not one that I track a lot.

    That's for Cosmere memes, basically, and/or Brandon Sanderson memes. If you feel like going there and cremposting, you may do so. They tag me on some interesting things, now and then.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Robert

    In your last Reddit update, you gave a good rundown of your future projects until Stormlight Five. Time permitting, could you talk about other side projects, like the non-Cosmere short works collection, Apocalypse Guard, Alcatraz, and The Rithmatist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alcatraz Six is done, being illustrated as we speak. We have the deal in hand from Tor to publish it. Alcatraz Six is a go. Should happen next year, I would suspect. And that is the actual ending to the Alcatraz series. Co-authored with Janci, who is amazing.

    Apocalypse Guard has been kicked back to me from Dan, I think I mentioned before. I need to do a draft on it. Dan improved it wonderfully, but what he didn't fix is the ending, which is still broken, because endings aren't Dan's thing in the first place, they're kind of my thing. Which is part of why I pulled the book, is that the ending was not working. So, I need to fix the ending. Fortunately, I came up with a pretty good plan for doing it. So it's going to go on my list sometime during these next couple years, when I need a break between things I will do an Apocalypse Guard revision. It will probably only take me, I would guess, two to three weeks of work to fix it. So that's a strong plausibility that I will be fixing that book in the coming months.

    Non-Cosmere collection. I have lots of stories for it; we actually commissioned all the art for it, but that's when we thought that Snapshot was going to get greenlit. It got really close to being greenlit as a movie, but then the option on that lapsed, as they didn't end up doing the greenlight last year. So now, we don't have a movie tie-in to push us to do that, which we still probably should do at some point, is get that collection out. With the couple of short stories I've written that would go in there that we're not gonna necessarily publish somewhere else. Though I did tell you guys, I am sending them out under a false name to see if I can get any magazines to pick them up. It's going to happen eventually; I don't know when. There's some new, cool talks that are happening around Snapshot, which is the most movie-friendly of the things for the non-Cosmere collection. We will see.

    I know, for instance, in Spain, they want to take Defending Elysium, which is tied to the Skyward books, and do a Spanish translation of that, in conjunction with a Skyward book, so that might be happening. But I'm not sure how that's going to end up working.

    This schedule for me does not include any little side novellas that I decide to write, or side short stories. It leaves some wiggle room, but not a lot, for me to do something like that. So we'll have to see. If some Secret Project pops up on the progress bars, you will know that I have felt too constrained by the schedule I have set for myself and have started writing something else. That hasn't happened in a little while, but it totally could happen. I think the last one of those was the Wizards of the Coast story, where I just had to write that.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I will feel bad if the [Dawnshard] ebook isn't out by the time that Stormlight Four is. You don't have to have read that before this one; it's not hugely integrated, because it's about Rysn. But there are some things that happen, that you'll get to Book Four and be like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. They're mentioning a trip to Aimia. What happened there?" That the novella would help you with. And then, when you get to the Rysn interlude in this book (which is a little different from previous Rysn interludes), I wrote it in such a way as to not spoil the novella, in case people hadn't read it yet. And so it's a very different sort of interlude. But you would appreciate having read the novella when you get to it, I suspect.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Questioner

    Will [Dawnshard] be available to buy in hardcover later?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it should be. We are probably only going to print for the Kickstarter, starting. As part of the Kickstarter, you get the ebook; everybody gets that. And then those who have ordered it will get the print book. I assume we'll have hardcovers on our store for sale. I assume we'll print enough that we can have some for sale.

    One warning I'll make to you is that if I do an Arcanum Unbounded 2, we would put this as one of the anchor stories in that. So if you prefer to collect them in physical form in the collections, you can get the ebook now as part of the Kickstarter, and then you could wait for the physical form until later to get it in the collection. But we do have these nice ones that'll match the Edgedancer hardcover, if you'd rather have nice little hardcovers on your shelf. And my guess is that we'll do a printing with Tor as well to have bookstore distribution.

    There probably will be an audiobook of it. My guess is that we would do an audiobook first, just of it, and then we would eventually do an audiobook of the full Arcanum Unbounded 2. If and when I end up writing that. The thing about Arcanum Unbounded 1, I had a bunch of stories waiting to be published in that. This would be the first, I think, new Cosmere story since Arcanum Unbounded. So it's probably a number of years away before we would get to a number 2. There will be a collection someday, I would bet; but I have to write a bunch more stories to go in it, first.

    YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I will start writing [Dawnshard] on Monday. I'm almost through with my revision of Songs of the Dead. Takes a lot less time for me to do a revision on that, because basically instead of fixing problems, because I'm co-authoring with Peter Orullian, I get to say, "This is working. Maybe change this to be like this." And give Peter the chance to make the changes. The book is looking really good, this last revision.

    I thought a lot about the title for this one, because I wanted to fit with the other two: Edgedancer, and Horneater (which I will write). So I was thinking I need some sort of classic Brandon mashup word. For a while, I was thinking of calling it Wandersail, because Rysn's ship is the Wandersail, but I thought that would be duplicitous because the story has nothing to do with the story Wandersail, from Hoid's stories. And in fact, I'm more and more thinking that I want to do some picture book versions of Hoid's stories that would make nice read-alouds, and I would call one of those Wandersail. So I'm like, this is just a bad title for this book.

    So, I thought I would dig into instead one of the things that we were talking about in the book, which is the Dawnshards. So, it is named Dawnshard. For those who are deep lore cosmerenauts and are wondering about the Dawnshards, we are going to talk about them in this novella. So, yes, we will be going to Aimia.

    Right now, Rysn, probably Lopen as a secondary viewpoint character is my guess. But I haven't written it yet, so I have to see how the viewpoints work out.

    Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    All right, so most of you were probably expecting this one to appear sometime today--and here it is. The Previous Update can be found here. As I announced over social media this weekend, I have finished the final draft of Book Four. Rhythm of War is finally done. (Or, rather, my part is done. At least for the prose text of the book. See below.)

    I finished the revisions on Saturday, and then today wrote the ketek and the back of the book text. (The in-world text. Tor does the marketing blurb.) The only thing I have left to do is the acknowledgements, plus the ars arcanum. The bulk of the work left to be done will be handled by Peter, my editorial director, who will oversee the copyedit (which is like a really in-depth proofread that also watches for style guide changes and things like in-book continuity) and the proofreads. In addition, Art Director Isaac will be finalizing the artwork done by himself and his artists. (Including Ben, who now works for us full time. He usually drops by the comments to say hi.)

    Peter/Isaac's work will take several months to complete, and then the book will be sent separately to the US, UK, and Australian printers for English Language distribution. Excitingly, for the first time, we're hoping to do a simultaneous Spanish launch for the book, and my Spanish publisher has been putting a lot of extra effort into trying to make this happen. So if you live in Spain, and meet my team over there--translator, editor, etc--buy them a drink. They've been putting in some heroic work to try to get this beast of a novel ready in time.

    I can't promise timelines for other foreign language editions; but if the Spanish experiment works, we will approach some of our other publishers to suggest trying the same thing with them.

    Other random updates of note. The tour seems likely to go digital at this point because of the virus. We'll keep you in the loop. (This will likely include the release party.) Goal is to ship huge cases of books for me to sign so we can get them to partner bookstores for a signed launch, with talks/readings done digitally. Don't consider this an official confirmation of that yet, though. Tor is the one working it out, and we'll need to wait for them to figure out the details.

    The kickstarter has been...well, a little crazy. We're in the process of adding new stretch goals; if you didn't see today's update over there, it has a poll of suggested new stretch goal rewards for you to mull over.

    So, what's next for me? This week, I'm doing a quick revision of Songs of the Dead, the book-formely-known-as-death-by-pizza, which I'm writing with Peter Orullian. I plan this to take about a week. After that, I'm going to dive into the kickstarter novella, the official title of which I believe we'll be announcing tomorrow.

    After that is done, I owe Skyward 3 to my very patient YA publisher, who has been sitting in the wings waiting for eighteen months or so for me to start it. Wax and Wayne 4 will follow, with my goal being to start it January 1st. Skyward 4 (the final book of that series) will follow starting about a year from now. After that, it will be time (already) for Stormlight 5, final book of this sequence of Stormlight novels. (Whew!) That will mark roughly the halfway point of the cosmere.

    Thanks, as always, for your patience as I juggle all of these projects. Also, I'll be doing another livestream this Thursday, where I'll be chatting more about the kickstarter and this book (we keep it non-spoiler, so don't worry.)

    I'll be turning off inbox replies to this thread, as usual, so I apologize if I don't see your questions here.

    With that, I officially conclude my Book Four updates series. Expect to see me back in around eighteen months, January 2022, when I start updates for Book Five. (I do plan to do updates for Mistborn on that subreddit when I start the fourth Wax and Wayne. So if you're really hungry for more rambling posts about in-progress books, you can visit there.)

    As always, thanks for everything. You folks are great. It's been quite the pleasure working on these books for you.

    Brandon

    General Reddit 2020 ()
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    beewall

    You've said that Darro, from Aether of Night, will be appearing in the Nightblood novel. Will he be appearing as a worldhopper (presumably from the Aether planet) or as a transplanted character, similar to how you've said Dalinar was in Dragonsteel before being moved to Stormlight?

    And (probably entering RAFO territory) if he is a worldhopper, will he have a functional Amberite in the Nightblood novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a RAFO, as mostly I just haven't decided on a lot of things about this novel yet.

    If it helps, my instinct is just to make him a local, as the Aether planet (though canon because of things in Stormlight) isn't one I've completely finished worldbuilding yet.

    YouTube Livestream 9 ()
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    Questioner

    Who bullies whom: Jasnah or Cadsuane?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would like to think that Jasnah and Cadsuane would very quickly determine that they should have mutual respect for one another and keep to their own spheres. They would meet, they would turn around, and they would walk the other way from each other and go on bullying other people.

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    Questioner

    In a Google video you once made, you talked about how you never knew Robert Jordan. You knew his family, friends, world, and characters; but not him. You wrote the end of his life's work. That juggernaut that is and was The Wheel of Time.

    In The Emperor's Soul, Shai had to build up something new from journal entries from the Emperor as well as pieces from her to make what she thought was a better man. Long question short, is this analogy baseless? Or do you in some way see The Wheel of Time as your Emperor's Soul?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, there's an interesting connection there that I'd never thought about before, reconstructing the person from the lore of their life, rather than themselves. Where that falls apart is, I still maintain (and I doubt there's much contention on this point) that Robert Jordan could have done a better job of his ending than I did. This is in the definition, right? I couldn't reconstruct...

    The whole goal of The Emperor's Soul is that she's creating a work of art that replaces the original, but in many ways is superior to the original. I don't think I did that. But I did have that experience of trying to recreate, in some ways, Robert Jordan from all the pieces, all the lore, all the ephemera.

    So I love that you've made that connection, and I certainly think there's something there. But I don't know that the metaphor sticks in the large scale.

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    Questioner

    Can you talk a little bit about Dark One? Anything else that's going on here?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We are working on the audio version. We're doing it as an audio original, the actual prose version. I don't know when that will happen. Probably with that one, I'm gonna do it with Dan Wells, is most likely what's gonna happen. He and I together.

    Television show, there's been no movement that I really know about. Joe Straczynski did email me a little while ago, talking about when he thought he was gonna have the pilot script ready, and things like that. There's still some progress there. Actually, he did send us the pilot, didn't he? He sent us the first draft of the pilot. That I did read, so I do know he sent it. But, basically, it's TV. Things are working along; it's coming along slowly. Who knows. If they start filming, I'll go out and and enjoy. Joe Michael Straczynski is a blast; he is quite the character, and I have loved chatting with him and going out to dinner with him. He knows his stuff. The show will be his thing. I will be involved, but gotta let the showrunner make the show that they want to do.

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    Questioner

    In Warbreaker, you dealt delicately with sex and sexuality, especially in the first half. How did you find that line of what was appropriate and what wasn't, especially given the culture of sex in the region in which you live?

    Brandon Sanderson

    With Warbreaker, with all of my books, basically I'm thinking less about the culture in which I live and more with my own personal lines on these sorts of things. And I've constantly said, and I still believe, that one can write mature fiction without graphic content. That is what I like to try to do. And Warbreaker is, in part, an attempt to explore where I would want to go with these themes and ideas, and a book where I was expressly not being explicit, but also going further across lines than I normally went, to see... "across lines" is probably the wrong term. Going further along a path. Because I don't think, really, that I have lines. I have paths I go on, and at some point, I'm like "This is as far as I want to go on this path." And it's not like I draw some line in the sand, it's just my own gut instinct. With Warbreaker, I just wrote what I was comfortable writing, and maybe even pushed myself a little further and said, "Am I comfortable with this or not?" as I was writing and I thought, "No, this is dealing with the topic in a mature way that I like" and it worked for me. It was an experiment and kind of a give-and-take, but every book that I write is that to one extent or another. This is just one of the areas that I was focusing on when I wrote Warbreaker.

    YouTube Livestream 9 ()
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    Questioner

    What makes fantasy creatures good and how do you go about creating them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I try to build mine from the ecology of the world of the world I'm building. I try to extrapolate from that and this is just because I have this sort of "one foot in fantasy, one foot in science" approach to writing the cosmere in particular. And because of that, I want the flora and the fauna to feel integrated with the world that they're on and to be interesting in that aspect. Obviously, I have not done this in most books to the extent that I did in Stormlight. But one of the fun things for me to do is to ask, "What have I changed about this world? What would that do to the ecology?". What do I look for other than that? I want something that's visually interesting. I want something that'll draw well. I want something that'll not just be what I've seen before and that will be a nice take on what I've seen before. That's the thing, I mentioned before: human creativity is about recombining things in interesting ways. That's how we seem to work. We don't come up something we've never seen before, we put a horn on something we've seen before and call it something new, which is cool. We're remixers, is what we're really good at doing. And I ask myself, "What can I remix that I haven't seen remixed before?"

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    Questioner

    How much do you have to show about the past of your characters in a flashback?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are no rules. There's nothing you have to do. Flashbacks, though, they can be great, they can be a minefield. Let me talk about some of the minefield aspects of a flashback.

    First is, you're gonna have to decide how you're gonna do your flashbacks, because there are a lot of different ways. I do my flashbacks in The Stormlight Archive as a separate narrative line and basically we have multiple timelines in the books, where you're getting a character's timeline catching them up to the start of The Way of Kings. This works very well in an epic fantasy because I have lots of space and I can separate these chapters off that are flashback chapters completely on their own and they can be isolated. More common, the type of flashbacks you'll see from a lot of people is the "stop and think about it" flashback, and then cut to a new scene and you are seeing actively what the character's remembering at that time. This is the Lost method, the TV show Lost, a lot of television shows and movies use this, and they actively show the character thinking about it. I rarely do this. Once in a while, in The Stormlight Archive, you'll see a character start to tell a story about their past, and I'll make it a line with the next flashback chapter that you're going to get, but really what's happening is a character's telling another person a really shortened version of events, because when you're getting the flashbacks, it's actually not a flashback, the characters thinking about it, that's a separate timeline.

    Another way to do it is the kind of, in the middle of a chapter, you're not doing a scene break, you're just flashing back to what happened, and there it gets tricky with tense. Tense can be really a challenge with this. The "I had done this" or whatnot, or if you're not gonna use the tense, it can get really confusing if you're not gonna do a tense change, you're just gonna put that past tense too, both of which are viable, I've seen them done very well. But those in-scene flashbacks can get really "tell-y" and really hard for readers to track and kind of uninteresting for them to read. The danger with any flashback -- this is the one that has the most trouble -- is that the reader will feel like the story is not progressing and instead they're wasting time doing something else and that they're not interested in attaching to this. And this is a challenge even with The Stormlight Archive ones. There are people who just do not attach to the flashback sequences, because they are, by nature of their story, prequels. And that's a challenge of writing them.

    What do you gain? Why would you do this? Well, it's a really cool way to build motivation for your character, depth for your character, and to show a different place and time in your story so that you can show how much has changed. We talk about show versus tell, and you can use a flashback to show a character's changes quite dramatically in this manner. You can also get information to the reader in ways that would've been really "tell-y" otherwise. Sometimes, flashbacks are really "tell-y". And when I say "tell-y", they're boring, because they're infodumps and they're just giving you a whole bunch of information. A lot of times, if you do a flashback right, it feels more active and more interesting way to get the same information across to the reader, rather than having the character sit and explain about their lives to people, you just get to experience and see it. But that's just one tool, right, and like all of them, gauge for your own story if this tool is going to enhance the story you're trying to tell or if it's something that you should save for a different story.

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    Questioner

    How is the Mistborn screenplay going? What's it like adapting your own work from over a decade ago?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've been running the screenplay through my writing group, and they've got some great feedback. The biggest challenge right now with the screenplay is actually with Vin's character. This is because a lot of what you get to know about Vin in the course of Mistborn is really internally motivated. She's actually pretty quiet, rather shy for someone who does what she does. And keeps a lot of her emotions and thoughts close to her heart. That is hard to show in a screenplay. And really difficult to pull off in an action/adventure screenplay, where you need people to be moving and things like this. And the danger is having Vin come across as just an Artful Dodger. As this confident street thief. Which was the first version of Vin that I wrote, trying to pull of in the books and then failed. This is just one chapter, before I wrote the book. She was kind of your more generic street thief, your Aladdin, your Artful Dodger. And Vin didn't work that way. It, partially, was too generic. Not that those characters are generic; they've just been genericized, they've been done so much. So I tried this other version, this non-self-confident version of Vin that had this really interesting dynamic going on inside of her about wanting to trust, but not being sure if she could. And that really made the book work. Getting that across in the screenplay: super hard. So that's been the challenge.

    Fitting it into screenplay format has actually not been hard. I haven't written the screenplay yet; this is all in the treatment stage.

    How is it adapting something that I wrote over ten years ago now? It's actually been, in some ways, liberating. Because I have enough distance from it, I can see structurally the things that I can change, I think, easier than if I'd been closer to it. But also a little bit hard, because it is something so long ago, I have to keep going back to the book and reading sections of the book and reminding myself of things that I wrote in the book. Like, the scene where Vin and Elend meet is one of my favorite scenes in the book, but I still had to go back and reread that scene to get it into the treatment, because I had forgotten the actual dialogue cues, and things like that.

    So, yeah, it's a challenge, but it's also liberating.

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    Questioner

    You said earlier that Rhythm of War includes a key sequence that you have envisioned for years. How does it feel to have captured the sequence? And are you personally happy with the result?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Feels great to finally write that sequence. And now that the beta reads are in, I can say the sequence works. Really, really pleased. Really happy that it came together. There were other things that needed to change, but that one worked. There almost have been no edits or revisions to that whole sequence through all the drafts. I've been planning it for so long. It's one of those things that I wrote, and it was as I imagined it, and it came together. And you will be able to read it in Part Five of Rhythm of War.

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    Questioner

    I wonder if you got the inspiration for Doomslug's character from your parrot Magellan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wrote Doomslug before i had Magellan. However, I have had pet birds since I was a kid. I love parrots. Other people are dog people or cat people; I am a parrot person. So, I basically always had a parrot. There was a period in my life where the kids were young that my cockatiel Beaker went to live with my mom because the kids were tormenting him. Now they're old enough, and they're afraid enough of Magellan that we can have a parrot again. So, parrot behavior influences a lot of how I treat animal behavior because of that. So, yes.

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    Questioner

    Maybe talking about your process about picking chapter titles for the Stormlight books?

    Emily Sanderson

    It's been really fun. I wouldn't say I really pick them, because the betas come up with a fantastic list of possibilities, and Peter has a lot of say about what really fits. But with... did I start in Words of Radiance? In Words of Radiance, I think, it was just Brandon and Peter were both just too busy. And so I got on the beta document and looked at everyone's suggestions, and kind of skimmed back. Because I'd read the book before; but I skimmed back through the chapters and chose a chapter title that would fit.

    And it's been really fun to be involved in that way. Both to see the test audience reactions and... I get impatient, and as soon as Brandon will let me, I read the whole book. So when I choose chapter titles, I reread it again more slowly, and you always get different things out of it when you read it slowly.