Recent entries

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Bryan Cross

    Where do you get your inspiration for the more technology based things such as the starships here [in Skyward] and in Firstborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    These ships came from sketches I did with the illustrator, looking for the designs that felt the right for me. I wanted most of them to feel like glass cannons--small, kind of frail seeming, but potentially deadly.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Rusty Hodges

    In book 2 of Stormlight, Mraize says Shallan is not to harm Amaram, his life belongs to another. Does he know about Kaladin at this point or is she referring to Jasnah. If he is referring to Jasnah this would insinuate he knew she was still alive, which would make sense he clearly knows a lot more then he's let on so far. This question is fulled by some conclusions I have come to about Amaram and Jasnah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll RAFO this, but you are very astute.

    Miscellaneous 2018 ()
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    Pagerunner

    I just saw the Feruchemical Table medallion on the store, and it reminded me of a question that was raised on the forums a little while back. It appears there's a mistake in the metal pattern, with regards to pure metals and alloys; Chromium and nicrosil are in the opposite places from what we'd expect. I've attached a color-coded example; with pure metals in green, and alloys in blue, it's evident that the Spiritual quadrant has them criss-cross, unlike the other quadrants.   The medallion matches the poster's layout; that's where the question originally arose, from the poster. Is there a reason for this switch? Or is it an error in the pattern?

    Isaac Stewart

    I just looked over the chart, and rather than the metals being in the wrong places, it looks like I accidentally swapped the symbols. So the medallion is correct. It's the symbols for chromium and nicrosil that ought to be swapped. I've cc'd Peter on this email, too, so he's aware of the mistake. I'll try to remedy this for future printings.

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    Pagerunner

    Any in-world significance to the new symbols for E and U [on the Badali Mistborn rings]? (Tin/Pewter with dots moved) Or is that just creative liberty to give each English letter a unique symbol for the jewelry?

    Isaac Stewart

    From the beginning, I built the symbols to also be an alphabet. Moving the dot to create a different vowels sound is something I borrowed from baybayin: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1b/9c/6f/1b9c6f22fce5589c1d3dfc62bfc1d4b2.jpg … Also planned from the beginning over ten years ago. The rings are the first chance to use it. :)

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    Byron King

    Has there been any discussion about making the Allomantic Table print with the foiling process from the Roshar map?

    Isaac Stewart

    We haven't discussed this. But maybe that's something we could do down the road once the Hemalurgic Table has been released.

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    John Aspler

    Just finished Oathbringer (ahhhhhhsogood) and decided to do a Warbreaker reread. Was super happy to discover that the e-book edition had your annotations. Any chance others will get an update based on existing annotations (e.g., Elantris, Mistborn)?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    That’s not planned for the other books.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    This is my third and final essay tying in with the release of my new book, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. The book has been released for about a week now, and I hope you've all had a chance to check it out. This story is something special to me, particularly the third part—which might be the most personal story I've ever written.

    But how did it start? The Legion stories seem, at first glance, very self-referential. They are about a man who hallucinates a wide variety of characters—but unlike many protagonists of his ilk, Stephen knows that his hallucinations aren't real, and doesn't (for most of the stories) resist the fact that he is like this. Instead, he uses this ability to help him, acting like a one-man team of experts.

    The parallels are obvious. Stephen is very much like me, in that he imagines a large cast of people who accompany him. It's quite the metaphor for being a writer, though when I was working on the first story, I didn't really see this connection. I just wanted to see if I could change something that is often portrayed in film as a huge liability into (instead) a huge advantage.

    The original cast of hallucinations—specifically JC, Ivy, and Tobias—were based on actors. This is rare for me, as I don't often "cast" my characters in stories. But to me, it felt like Stephen would have used people he'd seen in film as a jumping-off point to create these personas, much as many of my characters have their roots in the pop culture I consumed when young. Ivy, then, looks roughly like Gwyneth Paltrow, Tobias like Morgan Freeman, and J.C. like Adam Baldwin—with the name J.C. being a reference to the fact that he's played multiple characters with those initials.

    But, like any characters I create, these were just jumping-off points, used to spin me into unique characterizations. JC went into this fun mix of self-aware, playing up his quirks, while Ivy became a representation of the fight within Stephen between cynicism and sincerity.

    The more I wrote, the more this became a metaphor for the complex relationship between a writer and the characters in their head. The voices that they know aren't real—but still depend on convincing readers to buy as real people. The stories deal with mental illness, yes, but the further I wrote, the more Stephen became a stand-in for the way our perceptions—and our hopes—shape the world we perceive. And maybe for the crisis that can be caused when we realize there's a misalignment between the two.

    Going back to the points I made in the first essay, however, it isn't that I was trying to express anything specific by writing these stories. And yet, by the end of the third one, I had indeed expressed something that was deeply personal—and real in ways that it is still strange to me that a piece of fiction can reach.

    But that's the point of stories, or at least one of them. A medium through which we can all connect in ways that we never could solely by explaining ourselves. Because art reaches inside us, and expresses aspects of ourselves that aren't deliberate, there's a truth and genuineness to it. A raw sincerity that isn't always about which part of the three-act structure you're crossing right now, or which part of a character arc this event is fulfilling. Those are important to give us a framework. But it is not itself the art.

    The structure is the skeleton, but the art is the eyes. The part you can see into and feel it looking back at you. The part that somehow—despite my best attempts to quantify it—is a soul that lives on its own, and defies explanation.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    In the last post, I talked a little about how characters come into existence, walking the line between an instinctive process and an intentional one.

    Working this way can create some issues. The first is that sometimes when I talk about my process, this part of it ends up getting presented as a lot more… deliberate than it really is. I spend a lot of time trying to help new writers, and I worry that in presenting all of these outlines, exercises, and techniques, we miss emphasizing just how little we really understand about the process.

    In some ways, writing a story is like hitting a baseball. You can talk all you want about the physics involved in how a baseball is pitched, then hit with the bat. But the truth is, neither pitcher nor batter are thinking about any of this in the moment.

    This makes the process feel overwhelming to some new writers, who think they need to have all of this in hand before they can write a story. Truth is, I'm generally explaining things I did by instinct early in my career, then figured out ways to talk about as I proceeded to study what I'd already done.

    You don't need to feel some mystical connection to characters to start writing—and if you focus too much on the idea that your characters should "feel" right and "do what they want," you can end up frustrated, as you don't have the practice writing yet to get them to do what needs to be done to actually create an interesting story.

    Another problem with the voices in my head is the worry that I'll repeat myself. Working by instinct, as so many authors (including outliners like me) do, can lead to repetition. Something can "feel" right because you've seen that thing done so many times, you think it is the "right" way—even when it makes for a worse story.

    This sort of writing, even when you're doing something interesting and new to you, can get repetitive as you only write in one way or style. In fact, I see a lot of writers talking about the "right" way to do something, as if it's a hard and fast rule—but it's not really that, it's simply the way they've trained their instincts to respond. Something that goes against this feels off to them, but only because of a kind of tunnel vision.

    You can also start to regurgitate stereotypes and other weak or harmful tropes because they're part of your historical experience with genre—and you take them for granted. I did this in the original Mistborn novels, where I spent a lot of time working on Vin as a character, wanting an interesting and dynamic female lead for the stories. But then I wrote the rest of the team as men—not because I consciously decided it, but because stories like Ocean's Eleven, The Sting, and Sneakers (which were part of my inspiration) contained primarily male casts.

    It isn't that you can't make a story that does this, or couldn't have reasons for writing a primarily male cast in a story. But I didn't have any of those reasons in mind; I did it because I was mimicking, without conscious thought, things I'd seen before. It felt "right" to me, but during examination later, I felt the story would have been stronger if I hadn't just run with the default that way.

    Overall, I think that repeating myself is my biggest worry as a writer. Specifically, I worry that I'll end up writing the same characters over and over, or look at themes the same way time and time again, without even realizing that I'm doing it. That's one of the reasons I force myself to approach stories like the Legion ones—where I have to get out of my comfort zone, write in a different kind of setting with different kinds of storytelling expectations, and see where that takes me.

    And so, the third part of this series will look at the Legion stories specifically, and where the voices in my head came from in that regard.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the most common questions I get, as a writer, is some variation on, "Do you ever hear voices, or feel like your characters are real?" People ask it timidly, as they don't want to be offensive, but there seems to be genuine curiosity about the way a writer's brain works. (Other variations on this theme are questions such as, "What are your dreams like?" or "Do you ever get so wrapped up in your worlds that you have trouble coming back to our world?")

    They're legitimate questions, though I'm not convinced that a writer's brain works in any consistently different way from someone else's brain. I think you'll find the same amount of variation in the way writers work as you'll find in any profession. There are as many ways to approach stories as there are people writing stories.

    That said, I have talked to a lot of writers who imply a certain autonomy to their characters. "I had to write their story," one might say. "They wouldn't leave me alone until I did." Or some version of, "I was writing one story, but the characters just didn't want to go that way, and so took off in another direction."

    To me, these are ways of trying to voice the fact that the way our minds work—and the way we construct art—is in some cases a mystery even to those involved. Human beings have this fascinating mix of instinct and intent, where we train ourselves to do complex tasks quickly through repetition. In this way, writing a book is somewhat similar to driving home from work—you can consciously think about it, and make each decision along the way. Or, more often, you just let your body do the work, interpreting things your brain says should happen without you thinking about it directly.

    I spend a lot of time teaching how to write and talking about writing, but I don't consciously use a lot of the techniques I talk about. I've used them so much that I just move forward, without formally saying something like, "Now I'm making sure my chapter ties together the sub-themes it introduced at the beginning." The truly conscious technique comes during troubleshooting, when a story isn't coming together for me—and so I have to step back, take apart what I've been doing, and find the broken bits.

    So again, a mix of intent and instinct is where books come from for me. I don't generally feel that the characters "want" to do things—but I still write them by gut feeling most of the way, and only look at breaking down their motivations specifically when I'm either working on the outline or trying to fix something in revisions.

    On one hand, I know exactly who the character is and what they would do in a situation. So it does feel a little mystical sometimes, and you can have eureka moments during writing where you finally find a method to express this character that will convey the right idea to the reader. In that way, there's almost this Platonic version of the character that you're chasing—and trying to explore, figure out, and commit to paper.

    On the other hand, it's likely that these characters feel right to me not because of any mystical connection to the abstract. It's because I'm unconsciously drawing from tropes, characterizations, and people I've known before—and I am putting them together on the page to form something that will feel right because of the backgrounds I'm drawing upon.

    It's an exhilarating process for me, but also can lead to troubles. Which I'll talk about in Part Two.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    FriarTuckeredOut

    I can’t wait for the sequel [to the Legion collection.]. I’m sure you’ll be joining me soon.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    This is the complete Legion collection and there won't be a sequel.

    Brandon is feeling the need to tie up some of his projects to get them off his plate. The third Legion story was always intended to be the conclusion, and it is.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Tellingdwar

    A while ago someone mentioned it would be sweet to have a metal box for the Era 1 leather-bounds. As I recall, Peter seemed to think that was a cool idea, but I haven't heard anything about it since.

    If it happens, I would guess it'd be announced alongside book 3's official reveal. /u/peterahlstrom would be the one to ask, though they might be waiting to make that reveal.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    There aren’t any current plans.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Marsh treats seeking and smoking as an either/or

    And what would be the greater advantage? Being immune to — but ignorant of — some Soother's attentions? Or instead knowing — from your bronze — exactly which emotions he is trying to suppress?

    If you could do both at the same time what he's saying doesn't really make sense.

    In addition, Vin switches off her copper before burning bronze and vice versa

    TFE:

    Curious, Vin extinguished her copper for a moment, burning bronze instead, trying to sense Breeze's use of Allomancy. No pulses came from him. Of course, she thought. I forgot about Clubs's apprentice— he'd keep me from sensing any Allomantic pulses. She turned her copper back on.

    and

    Let's try something, then, Vin thought, extinguishing her bronze. She lightly began burning copper to mask her Allomancy.

    WoA:

    The Thugs charged, but Vin retreated, frowning. Why kill the Smoker? He wasn't a threat anymore.

    Unless. . .

    Vin extinguished her copper, then burned bronze, the metal that let her sense when other Allomancers were using powers nearby. She couldn't feel the Thugs burning pewter. They were still being Smoked, their Allomancy hidden.

    Someone else was burning copper.

    and

    She still wanted to find those Allomancers, and there was only one way to be certain. She turned off her copper, then burned bronze.

    It would be extremely odd for Vin to keep doing this if the powers didn't interfere with each other. Maybe /u/peterahlstrom can put the topic to rest?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The seeker being at the soothing station is an interesting example. I want to say they might be able to sense from outside the coppercloud, but that contradicts that secondhand WoB. I also don't think the soother and smoker were on the lower floors. It says those are unused.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    ThatTimeI

    How do you go about setting the age/reading level of your books? Alcatraz, Reckoners, and Mistborn feel completely different...

    Also, where does Skyward fit in the spectrum of maturity?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's mostly done by instinct as I look at similar books, at myself at a given age, and at what my readers think. (Particularly those of younger ages.)

    Skyward is somewhere just underneath Reckoners in age.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Steeldancer

    When can we expect to see anything new cosmere-wise?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll start working on Stormlight 4 in January, and hopefully can get a novella (a la Edgedancer) written during the process, so you don't have to wait all the way to 2020 for more Cosmere.

    Seifersythe

    So Stormlight 4 will come before Mistborn 2-4?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Potentially--it depends. A Stormlight book takes a LONG time to write, and often I sneak other books in the middle, because I need a break.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    matgopack

    About your characters - they're always a lot of fun to read about, and varied. Do you have a method while coming up with them and their personalities/motivations that you use?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Character is the most difficult for me to pinpoint my process on because I do a lot of experimenting, trying different things, and searching for the right voice. The most important thing for me tends to be finding a way this person sees the world that I want to explore more in depth.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    BusinessCress

    In Stormlight Archive, all three main characters, Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin, suffer from various mental health issues. Is that a normal psychological condition for all Radiants or the lead three is an extreme example of how people break?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am very interested in mental health, and the way that we--as human beings--react to and interpret the world around us in different ways. This is a theme of the Stormlight books, but it's going to take a lot of work to do it justice--and I want to approach it from different directions. So yes, it's a theme, and these sorts of issues were common for Knights Radiant.

    But I'd point out that they are also common themes for being human. And one of the correlations between orders of Knights Radiant is people who overcome, persist, and push through very difficult trials.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    basham09

    I am looking forward to picking up this new story and I had no idea it was coming out so soon! What made you decide to put aside all of your other stories to write Skyward?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I usually need a big break between Stormlight books to recharge, and I look for something different in style and genre. A space opera fight that really well, and gave me a much-needed breather.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Genabackan

    By the time of Sixth of the Dusk, are the Ones Above undisputably the most technologically advanced society in the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, they aren't. There has been some concurrent development, and a lot of sharing technology--to the point that you could make an argument for several societies being equal, though some better in specific areas.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Genabackan

    Shalash will be having back-five flashback POVs. In Oathbringer, you seemed to portray her as pre-Shattering. For example, "Oh, Adonalsium!" and referring to Hoid as Midius. Will later Stormlight books focus on pre-Shattering stuff at all or will we have to wait for Dragonsteel for that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There will be more of a pre-Shattering focus, but not as much as you're probably hoping.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    DammyJerry

    Have you ever thought (just for fun) which KR Order your characters for other books would fit the best? Like, Sazed is Bondsmith, Kelsier is probably Skybreaker.

    Which Rosharian Shard, Honor, Cultivation or Odium, better fits with Dalinar's personality?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd agree with the other commenter that Kelsier isn't much of a Skybreaker. But picking orders would depend on what point in the person's life we're talking, and the situation. It's not a hard-fast rule.

    For example, young Dalinar is very Odium. Modern Dalinar is very Honor.

    Seifersythe

    What about Magic: The Gathering color alignments?

    Like, would Kelsier be Red/White or Red/Black?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kelsier is blue/black. Vin is Red/green. Sazed is white/green--with arguments for mono-white. Elend is red white. The LR is white/black.

    mithrilnova

    This actually surprises me a lot. I would have expected Sazed to be Bant-colored, and Elend seems much bluer than he does red.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually, I don't know why I said red/white for Elend. Must have been answering quickly. You're right, blue/white is a better match for him. Ham is red/white.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Yata

    If a person with Breath (let's say 100 Breaths) dies. After a while (let's say a hour), are the Breaths still in the corpse ? If yes, are those destined for the same fate as an object with Breath inside ?

    If a Returned dies for mundane ways (let's say a dagger in the back) and therefore he has still his Divine Breath.Would the Divine Breath keep the CS stampled to the corpse until he run out of fuel/Investiture ? (Like a Ghost in the CS anchored to his corpse until the Breath lasts)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Breaths in a dying person usually escape with the soul.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Yata

    Spensa has this habit in citing "X is one of my ancestors". Is it possible that sometimes she has actually right ? Regardless if this lineage is relevant to the story.

    Brandon Sanderson

    She's right--but in the way that all of us have a (relatively recent) common ancestor, if you look at the actual genetics. I believe that by her point, centuries in the future, everyone on her colony could trace linage back to both European ancestors and Asian ones. So she's right--but everyone in her colony could say the same things she does.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Tetau

    As far as I aware, Skyward is your first attempt to write techno fantasy. Will this new experience be useful for Mistborn 3 and 4, which is supposed to be a sci fi?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think it will help a little--but not a ton, as the real challenge to Mistborn Eras three and four is going to be making good on the promises of the earlier trilogies, and using them well. They will need to be more "hard" SF than Skyward, except with made-up science.

    Skyward, I could create what I needed from the technology specifically to fit this story. (For the most part.)

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    ASIC_SP

    Was it intentional to introduce Musicspren as the first spren in TWoK?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was intentional in that I knew I needed some spren very early in the book, to establish the world--and that was the scene I was working with to do that. It isn't supposed to be hugely meaningful that those spren are first, though they are more relevant to later parts of the story than some of the earlier ones.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Stormstoyou

    I was wondering about origins and meaning of Dalinar's name. It's a shame we know name meanings of minor characters like Oroden, but don't know about our main character. How you came out with Dalinar's name and what does it means in-world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dalinar is actually a chicken-egg thing. I had his name way before I had the linguistics of Roshar, and it was always just the RIGHT name for me. I built a lot of the naming conventions around the fact that I liked the name.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Stormstoyou

    So, Skyward is gonna be a trilogy. Each book will contain it's own stand alone story or it's a one big story splitted into three books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Each of the books stand pretty well on their own, though the final one (this will probably be four books, not three) is a lot more reliant on the previous ones.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    IBNobody

    The [Skyward] Audiobook narrator is Suzy Jackson. How did you end up finding her?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We asked the audio publisher for several samples of readers they thought would be good, and then we listened to them, asked for follow-up and finally chose. Sometimes, we don't like any of the options, and ask for more--but this time, we didn't need to go through that.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    Phantine

    Stormlight has a lot of parallelism with Mistborn, but with protagonists who are now on the other side of the slave revolt. In particular, there's a very strong through line going from Kelsier to Miles to Moash, with characters attempting to overthrown a corrupt system being treated differently by the narrative in each case.

    How much of this inversion is intentional? I know Warbreaker had a lot of deliberate parallels to Mistborn.

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is pretty intentional. I like to approach things from different sides, and I knew Stormlight was about the establishment, while Mistborn about the revolutionary. I like to try to show both sides of things like this, when I can.

    Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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    KillerSlipper

    What was your biggest challenge when writing Skyward? And possibly as a follow on - are there any new challenges or surprises that come to you as a writer even after all these years of doing it ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The biggest challenge to Skyward was getting the actual fighter-pilot stuff right, followed closely by the fact that I didn't really have a safety net for this book. Having already pulled a book from the publisher, and having a very small time to get this one written, I felt I really needed to nail it on first try--and I did, fortunately.