Recent entries

    Galley Table Podcast interview ()
    #3751 Copy

    Phillip Carroll

    You teach a class at BYU. What are some of the typical mistakes you find writers in that class make?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, there's a whole host of things we can talk about in this realm. I teach the class because I actually took the class when I was an undergraduate, and they were looking for a teacher—the teacher who was teaching it moved on—and I took it on because I didn't want them to cancel it. It's how to write science fiction and fantasy. And I would say that one of the big early issues with fantasy and science fiction writers is the infodump. They don't know how to balance those early pages, those early chapters, in making it interesting and exciting without dumping a whole bunch of worldbuilding on us, which is a real challenge because...we just had a panel on this here at the con; worldbuilding is what we read science fiction and fantasy for; it's the cool stuff; it's the cream that drives us to read this; it's what we love, and yet, throwing too much on us at the beginning can really stifle a book, and I would say that's a big rookie mistake.

    Another big rookie mistake is assuming that all it takes is writing one book. Most authors, you know, you learn to write by writing. I like to use the metaphor lately of learning to hit a baseball with a baseball bat. You only learn to do that by practicing; you can't read about hitting a baseball and then go out and know how to do it. Certainly reading about it is going to help you with some things, and as you're swinging that baseball bat, the pros are not thinking about which muscles they're moving. They're not thinking about necessarily even their stance at that point; they've just done it so much and done it so well that they get to the point that they can do it, second nature. And that's what a writer wants to learn to do. And you do that by, at the beginning, you do think about your stance. You do think about your grip. You do work on these...you target certain things and you learn to extend the metaphor. You work on your prose or you work on your characters, or you specifically hone in on this, but at the end of the day, writing a lot and practicing is what's going to teach you to fix problems in your writing by instinct. And I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I don't think everyone has to do that, but I certainly think that your first job to do is to finish one novel, and then you need to start writing a second one.

    Galley Table Podcast interview ()
    #3752 Copy

    Phillip Carroll

    Waxillium? Why Waxillium?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, that's a great question. The thing about Waxillium's name is, a lot of people don't like it. I actually love it, but that happens a lot in my books; I'll do something I love that I kind of know other people are going to be annoyed by. The Wax books came, actually....as I was designing the books, I was figuring the characters, and the pun Wax and Wayne struck me, and I thought, "I can't do that; that's too lame a pun." But the characters adopted those name before I could even do anything about it, and I actually tried changing the names, and it didn't work. You know how sometimes, organically, it just happens, and you're like, "I gotta go with this." And so I didn't want to actually just named them Wax and Wayne; I wanted Wax to be short for something, and it fits very well into the Mistborn universe, because all the characters tend to have nicknames that—you know, there was Clubs and Ham and Breeze in the last series—and I wanted a name that fit with that, and so Wax worked really well, but I wanted it to be short for something, and so I started looking at period names, things like William that worked and I actually ended up picking Waxillium because it also has a metallurgic sound and I figured names in this culture in the Mistborn world where metals are so important to the magic, you might have people named after metals; you might have names that sound like metals intentionally because of that resonance. At the end of the day I just really ended up liking it. It is a bizarre name.

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3753 Copy

    Questioner

    The Mistborn books, especially the first one. I like the skaa, but I thought that they were very beaten down. The reason I think it was a big success is because, I'm from Venezuela, and it's very *inaudible* to the reason I'm not there right now. And the people there, they're in really crappy circumstances, but they find always a way to do something fun, something happy. If the electricity turns out, everyone gets out candles and we tell horror stories. If the water runs out, they all have a shower in the patio with buckets. So, why didn't you do any kind of thing like that in the Mistborn books with the skaa? Like, Vin mentioned that she had a birthday, but it's never a party or anything.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a good question. And with the Mistborn books, I was specifically trying to create a culture, what would happen if a culture had been beaten down and ruled by the dark enemy of all goodness for a thousand years. And I wanted to take it an order of magnitude worse than anything that could even exist in our world. And because of that, I really wanted the setting to enhance the fact that this isn't just an oppressed culture, this is something incredibly far beyond anything that we could imagine happening in our world. Because of an immortal emperor who just wants you all enslaved and really hates it when people are having a good time. And because of that, I tried to take it as extreme as I could justify to myself in the world. That's the answer; I don't know if that's a good answer for you, but it's the best answer I can give.

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3754 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My five-year plan is: Last Wheel of Time book, January. Next Stormlight book, as soon as possible. Hopefully by next year. If I'm really on the ball, I can do that by next year. We'll see. I have it all plotted. It's very intricately plotted. I get to that point, it's actually about the halfway point for me. So, the actual writing could go as quickly as six months. And if that's the case, we could potentially have that next fall.

    I have two books in the pipeline that are coming out next year, probably. These are books that I worked on before the Wheel of Time that I didn't have time... during the Wheel of Time, I said, "We can't release these, because I won't have time to support them." Like, I won't be able to work on sequels or anything like that. And so, now that the Wheel of Time is done, I've given the go-ahead for those. First one is called The Rithmatist. Tor is publishing it. It's a middle-grade book about a boy at a magic school, except he doesn't have any magic powers himself, because he's the son of the cleaning lady who gets free tuition. And so, it's a chalkboard-based magic. Basically, kids play magical Starcraft by drawing big circles around themselves in chalk on the floor, and then start creating little things out of chalk to go chew through their opponent's circle, and stuff like that. It's really cool, and he's... Joel, the main character (I named my son Joel, also; I wrote this before I had a son), he has his free tuition, and a murder happens at the school. And he's, like, a super fanboy of the magic systems, so he gets involved, even though he can't do it himself. So, there's that book coming out. It's targeted at thirteen-, fourteen-year-olds, and anyone who likes Brandon magic systems. It's gonna be much more similar to one of my style for epic fantasy than Alcatraz was. Alcatraz was really crazy, if you read them. They're really crazy. They're my humorous kids books.

    The other thing I have coming out, Steelheart. Steelheart is a book, I actually sold an option this summer. It is a post-apocalyptic superhero book. It postulates a world where people start getting superpowers in our world, but only evil people get them. It came from the idea of... I was driving down the street, and someone cut me off, and I was like, "You know, he's lucky I'm not a supervillain, because I would just blow his car up right now." And I thought, "What would happen if that were the case? What would happen if there were just certain people who could, like, 'Boom!'" And, you can't throw them in prison, you can't enforce it. So the world just declares these people 'forces of nature.' Laws can't hold them. If you have these powers, you are completely free to do whatever you want. There's no stopping them. World basically crumbles into little fiefdoms ruled by the most powerful ones of these. And the story's about a group of people who secretly, in the underground, hunt down supervillains, research their weaknesses, and assassinate them. Protagonist is an eighteen-year-old boy whose father was killed by Steelheart, one of the most powerful supervillains around. And he hunts down the Reckoners because he thinks he knows what Steelheart's weakness is, and he wants them to assassinate Steelheart. That's coming out.

    Those two things are next year. After I write the next Stormlight, I will probably go straight into Stormlight three, because we've waited so long. I might write the second Wax and Wayne book, because I have that one <partially written>. And after that, I would really like to do an Elantris sequel.

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3755 Copy

    Questioner

    Over my life reading science fiction and fantasy, I've noticed the trend of books becoming larger and series becoming longer. As both an author and reader, what do you prefer? What do you think of this trend of large epic fantasy series versus things that are complete in one volume. And also, can we expect anything similar from you, like Elantris?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question. I (like I think most fantasy fans) have both a love/hate relationship with the big series. You don't grow up reading Wheel of Time without wanting to do your own big series, which is where Stormlight Archive came form. At the same time, big series have certain issues to deal with, such as the big plot sprawl. Which we love, but I think we all admit is kind of an issue related to that. Just like if you're gonna take up running marathons, you're going to do certain things to your legs and knees, there are certain costs to having the big epic fantasy. And so, I really do also love the self-contained works. One of my favorite novels of all time is Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. Brilliant single-volume epic fantasy; he does in a book things that other authors aren't capable of doing in fifteen books. And I really think that there's... single-volume epic fantasy is our version of short story for overly verbose fantasy writers. I really like doing those.

    I do have a few more I want to do. The main one that I want to write as a standalone is called The Silence Divine. I don't know if I'll keep that title, but it's about a world where the magic is based on bacteria and viruses. So they have evolved to try to keep their hosts alive while they're inhabiting them. So what they do is, though they make you sick, they also give you a magical power while you have the disease. So, if you catch the common cold, you can fly. And then you get over it, and you can't anymore. And the story's about a kind of SWAT-team-type city guard, and all the things they set in place. Like, they keep people in quarantine so they can catch a disease if they need it. And they try to keep their immune systems really weak, so they can immediately catch these things when they need them, and a day later be able to use the powers. And it's about someone who invents penicillin. An ecoterrorist who will invent penicillin. It's an epic fantasy single-volume, I think it will be really cool.

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3756 Copy

    Questioner

    The Mistborn movie and game: how involved are you in the game, or are you getting to points in each of those that you’ll be able to contribute, or are they just gonna have you take a step back?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question, good question. So far, I have been very involved in both. Now, movies being what movies are, if we sell the movie to a studio, who knows at that point what’ll happen. All bets are off, right. The people I sold it to were big fans—like actually big fans, not the type of big fans in Hollywood that have heard of your name, so they’re a big fan. Like actual, serious legitimate Big Fans. They did six drafts of the screenplay—they were serious about this—and the screenplay is awesome. I have read it, I really like it. It does tweak a few things that make the screenplay really cool: like it focuses more on Vin and Reen, and kind of leads with that relationship a little bit more, stuff like that that works very well cinematically. It’s very faithful to the book and it’s an awesome time.

    Who knows what’ll happen: we really want to be able to sell this to a studio. What happened was I sold it to independent producers, and what normally you’re gonna’-- they’re gonna’ have to find funding; that’s what happens with producers unless they’re, you know, George Lucas or something like that. So we’re still shopping it, the screenplay is awesome, so anyone, if you’re uncle is, ya’ know, happens to be Joss Whedon, come talk to me. I’ll find a notebook for you, I promise [reference to Taiwanese Way of Kings notebooks which Brandon brought to Comic-Con].

    As for the video game, the video game guys—I’m actually having dinner with them tomorrow night. They’re cool, you know, they’re-- a bunch of guys from Interplay are involved in this, and the games they’ve made so far with their new company are all kind of like, how should we say, “safe money makers,” okay, and the reason they came to me is that they’d built their company, it’s solid, they’ve got the safe money makers—they’re doing like DDR games and things like that—and they said to me “we want to go and make a big-- just cool fantasy story because we’re kind of getting bored of all this stuff”—not that it’s bad, they’re great games, but you know what I mean. And I’m writing the script for it. The dialogue of the game will be mine.

    They actually asked what type of game I wanted to make. I told them some games that I thought would work really well, and they have built an engine and everything to do that, and it’s looking really good. For those who are curious, it’s going to be cross-platform, should be fall 2013. It’s going to be an action RPG and kind of—I mean it probably won’t be as open world as this—but Infamous is one of the examples I gave them as something I thought that would really match Mistborn. I don’t think we have the budget to do the just huge open-endedness of something like that, but that’s okay because I can write a really solid story, and it should have gameplay that’s going to be really fun. Demon’s Souls was another one I gave them, kind of on the other side of how a combat system I really like works.

    So that’s the story of the game, we’re shooting for RPGish, a little big like Demon’s Souls but more of the kind of freeform gameplay of Infamous.

    Questioner

    Is the game going to be a standalone and the movie a trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The game is going to be a standalone: they’re may be sequels, but right now we’re going to just get one out there, it is set about 250 years after the start of the Final Empire, stars a new character, one who is part of the history of the world, so…

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3757 Copy

    Questioner

    I’ve noticed in a lot of the books—Mistborn, Warbreaker, even Elantris—that the characters are working so hard towards a goal, and then once they did it or when they get close, all the sudden they realize that it’s doing the complete opposite of what they were expecting, or just was kind of a distraction for them or whatever, and so my question is: Is that just a good way to kind of throw in a plot twist that’s unexpected, or is that a reflection of kind of how you see our lives and what we’re doing, or something else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say it’s both of those things, certainly. I was going to say as you were saying that “that’s just how life is,” but, plot wise, plot twists are tough, because—okay, how should I say it—bad plot twists are easy, right, you can just do anything, you can be like “alright, and then ninja’s attack.” (Aside: this is a regency romance, I don’t know where those ninjas came from…(That’s actually a story, if you’ve read that)).

    Bad plot twists are easy. Good plot twists, I use a phrase that they use in Hollywood, which is “surprising, yet inevitable.” This is an age-old term in Hollywood where you want it, when it happens everyone to be surprised, and yet, as it happens, then they say “oooh, I should have seen that coming.” Those are the best plot twists. You can’t always pull those off—they’re really hard—but when you can they’re great, and that’s what I’m shooting for. I don’t necessarily twist my plot just to twist my plot; I try to find a story that is engaging and interesting and then the further we go along in it, the more you learn about the characters and the world and what’s actually going on and hopefully that reveals a hidden depth.

    It’s like life. Everyone that you meet, you’re going to make a snap judgment on them. The longer you know them, the more depth you will see to this person. I want you to have that feeling about a book. You’ll make a snap judgment, “okay, this is an action-adventure story.” You’ll read it more and hopefully you’ll see those levels, of world-building, the hidden depth of the characters, the things you can’t get across in one page; that’s why I like writing big epic fantasies because it gives me a lot of time to explore all that depth. And I do the same thing with the plot. Everything is about more than one thing, and I think that that just makes for interesting stories that I like to read.

    San Diego Comic Con 2012 ()
    #3758 Copy

    Questioner

    Talk about your process of writing; and also about how you creatively approach it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Every writer has a different process. There’s as many ways to do this as there are writers in the world. For me, my creative process is that I’m always searching for the ideas that I can connect into a larger story. I feel that a book is more than just one idea. A good book is a collection of ideas; usually a good idea for each character—something that forms the core of their conflict—several good ideas for the setting: something that’s going to drive the economy, something that’s going to drive (for me the magic) the setting—that sort of thing—and then several good plot ideas. These all bounce around in my head—I’ll grab them randomly.

    An example of one of these was for Mistborn: For Mistborn, one of the original seeds was, I was watching the Harry Potter movies that had come out, and I was thinking about Lord of the Rings, which I had just reread, and I was thinking, you know, I like the hero’s journey: young, plucky protagonist goes, collects a band of unlikely followers, face the Dark Lord… and I thought “yeah, but those Dark Lords always get, just like, a terrible, raw end of the deal. They’re always beat by some dufusy kid or thing like that,” and I thought “I want to write a book where the Dark Lord wins.”

    But that was kind of a downer of a book, as I considered it, a little bit, you know, “you read this book, and then at the end the hero loses,” that’s kind of a downer. So I stuck that in the back of my mind saying “I want to do something with that idea, but it’s going to take me a little while to figure out exactly what I want to do with that idea.” And then I was watching one of my favorite movies from a long time ago—both of these ideas come from movies, many of them don’t but these two did—Sneakers, if any of you have seen it, just a, like an amazingly awesome heist story, and I thought “ya’ know, I haven’t seen a heist story done in fantasy in forever,” little did I know that Scott Lynch was going to release one, like, one year later [The Lies of Locke Lamora].

    But nobody had done one, and so I said “I want to do a fantasy heist story.” The two ideas combined together in my head. Alright: world where the Dark Lord won, a hero failed; thousands of years later, a gang of thieves decided to rip the Dark Lord off and kind of try to over thrown him their way, you know, making themselves-- by making themselves rich.

    And those ideas combined together. And so a story grows in my mind like little atoms bouncing together and forming a molecule: they’ll stick to each other and make something different. Those two ideas combine to make a better idea, in my opinion, together. And then character ideas I’d been working on stuck to that, and then magic systems I’d actually been working on separately. Allomancy and Feruchemy, two of the magic systems in Mistborn, were actually designed for different worlds, and then I combined them together and they worked really well together, with the metals being a common theme.

    I did all of that, and when it comes down to write a book I sit down and I put this all on a page, and then I start filling in holes by brainstorming. “What would go well here, what would go well here, I need more here” [accompanying gestures indicate different “here’s”]. And I fill out my outline that way, and I fill out my “World Guide,” as I call it. I actually just got—the wonderful folks of Camtasia (it’s a software that records screens) sent me a copy of their software so that I can record a short story, and I’ll go—I’ll do the outline, and then I’ll do the story, and then I’ll post it on my website and you can see exactly, you know, step-by-step what happens. Just don’t make too much fun of me when I spell things wrong.

    It’s really weird when you’ve got, like, that screen capture going on, you know people are gonna’ be watching this, and you can’t spell a word, and it’s like “I don’t want to go look it up, I can get this right,” it’s like, the writerly version of the guy who refuses to go get directions. So I like try a word like seventeen different ways, and like “Gehhhh okay,” and then Google tells me in like ten seconds. Anyway, that’s your answer and I hope that works for you. Thanks for asking.

    Orem signing ()
    #3759 Copy

    Zas (paraphrased)

    What about Aon Rii? Talk about Aon Rii. What are the random dots? Are they valuable metals?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Honestly, I don't remember. [laughter] I'll be straight up honest with you, I designed the Aons—When I designed the Aons, they all had things like that. Like "Oh, that's what this will be," but I was not as good about taking notes of things then. I didn't have the wiki that I now have. I didn't have all of that stuff, so I can say "Yeah, that's going to be valuable metals", and canonize it that way, but I don't remember what I was actually thinking when I designed it. It was my first time doing anything like that, like [?] sort of thing. I hadn't ever done anything like that before, so I was just flying by the seat of my pants.

    In fact, there's a fun story about that, a story I don't think I told during the annotations, I might have. Originally, I wrote it, and used all the Aons as like little things about characters' personalities. Like Rao is spirit, and Ene is wit. Well, all the other ones were things like that, to the point that the traitor character, his Aon's the one that meant Betrayal. Like this, all the characters have little things like that. And then my editor saw it and said "Ah. Do you really want to give away everyone's personality? And who's going to name their kid Betrayal? And I was like "That was really stupid Brandon, why did you do that?" But at the time, I didn't know if I was going to have a dictionary in the back or anything, and so I had to go back and rename almost all of them. I left Rao and Ene, but I renamed almost all the—renamed the wrong word. I shifted all the meanings and things like this so that everyone would have a name that would make sense that you would name a person. And none of them meant anything more than what they actually mean.

    Orem signing ()
    #3760 Copy

    Questioner

    Are Parshendi like a hive mind sort of culture?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Parshendi are not a hive mind. I thought people might assume that.

    Questioner

    But because of the pairing, it seems like...

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a connection. It's more Union than Hivemind. You know about Jung? Jung's philosophy was that all people are connected through <collective unconscious>. I think collective unconscious wasactually one of his terms. So it's not hive mind, but there is—there's something the Parshendi can tap into that others.

    Questioner

    With the singing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, like with the singing, where one sings over here, and one sings over there, they are actually in beat with one another even if they start at different times. So there is something there, a connection.

    Orem signing ()
    #3762 Copy

    Josh

    If Odium went to Scadrial, would he be blind to metal there? Because I think you mentioned more than once that focuses are actually determined by planet.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm going to RAFO that. But that's one of those excellent questions. I'm amused people have figured out enough to be asking questions like that.

    Orem signing ()
    #3763 Copy

    Zas

    So the number of Shards that have been on Roshar is three, correct?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Correct.

    Zas

    People have been thrown by you saying that Odium is not native to Roshar.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Odium is not native... see that's the thing. Are any of them native? So if you dig the deeper question, are any of them native, ehhh, none of them are native to the planets that you've seen so far. What I probably should've said to be more precise is that Honor and Cultivation were there long before Odium showed up.

    Orem signing ()
    #3764 Copy

    Zas

    Marsh, as an Inquisitor, can see Ruin, and Vin sees Ruin, but they're not seeing the same thing. So how does that work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In what way? How about this. I'll give you.... I know what you're getting at. And a lot of these things I know what you're getting at, I'm just trying to force you to... I'll just give you one on this. In some cases, Ruin would manifest directly, and you would see what he wanted you to see. In other cases, that might not be the case.

    Orem signing ()
    #3766 Copy

    Zas

    So you talk about the residue a Shard leaves on a Sliver. So what does that residue have? Like what does it do? If anything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, one thing it can include is that people capable of noticing Investiture, would know there is trace Investiture from that event.

    Orem signing ()
    #3767 Copy

    Zas

    Does the power of Allomancy come directly from Preservation? Does that imbalance him?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Certain things built into a world are not the same. Not used in the same way. Meaning the energy of Preservation and Ruin inside of something living and growing—yes that's "of" them, but that's not direct force that they're using at that time.

    Adam

    Would a good example of that be Allomancy versus the blessings that Kandras have?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, yeah sure.

    Orem signing ()
    #3768 Copy

    Questioner

    So are Shards the most powerful thing in the Cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on what you believe. The Shards are the most powerful things currently overtly manifest. There are those who would say there are other subtle forces being manifest. Most people in the know would say that Shards are the most powerful thing.

    Questioner

    Does Hoid believe that Shards are the most powerful thing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll have to ask him sometime. Or see him get asked something like that sometime. There's argument to be made that right now Harmony is the most powerful thing in the Cosmere.

    Orem signing ()
    #3769 Copy

    Zas

    So what's up with the regeneration issue? With Shards? Because they only have so much power they can access at a certain time, but yet they still have more energy. So how does that work? Is it just they have so much power they can use at any given time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What are you talking about? Like which shards?

    Zas

    Ruin and Preservation. Since we know the most about them.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ruin and Preservation were a specific instance, because almost all their energy was thrown into resisting each other. Keep that in mind. Even after Preservation was only a shadow, basically all of it was "Let's keep Ruin from destroying the world." So they were polar opposites. Set in balance. But slightly unbalanced in a couple of ways, that eventually, that slight imbalance... They are a special case, because of that.

    Zas

    So then why are they hesitant to directly fuel Allomancy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Why are they hesitant to? What do you mean by directly fuel Allomancy?

    Zas

    You mention in the Hero of Ages Q&A that they can directly fuel Allomancy, like Vin does with Elend, but it requires expending their energy in a way they are hesitant to do.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Because it imbalances them more. Does that make sense? Like, if you are putting your energy here, rather than fighting the other force, you give them an edge somewhere else by trying to gain an edge here. And you have to make sure that's really worth it. Imagine a chess game. Is it worth sacrificing my pawn here to expose myself over here?

    Orem signing ()
    #3770 Copy

    Zas

    So Power of Creation. Is the Power of Creation this thing of power that powers Allomancy and powers the Aons, or is the Power of Creation just what each shard has?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say "each shard has."

    Orem signing ()
    #3771 Copy

    Zas

    Elantris. Where does it fit in the timeline in reference to Hero of Ages? Since that's what most other things are referenced to.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right. Elantris is far earlier.

    Zas

    Like thousands? Or like hundreds?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's quite... It's not thousands.

    Orem signing ()
    #3773 Copy

    Questioner

    When is the next Mistborn coming out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will probably come out after the next Way of Kings. Next Way of Kings is next Christmas, the next Alloy of Law era book is probably the following Spring or something like that.

    Questioner

    Are you planning two more or three more?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will do as many of those as strikes me. Because The Alloy of Law books are a deviation from the main world plotline. So those are for fun. I'm not going to commit to how many I'll do or not do.

    Orem signing ()
    #3774 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you come up with your magic systems? Do you just open the dictionary and point to a word, and say, "Oh, I'll make something with that"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, I'm always looking for something that strikes me. And I'm looking for things that haven't been done before. Things that will make nice conflict, that walk the line between science and superstition. If you will Google Sanderson's First Law, and Sanderson's Second Law, I have two essays that I wrote about how I do magic. They're both on my website, but Google will find them easier than trying to find them on my website.

    Orem signing ()
    #3775 Copy

    Questioner

    So where exactly would the second Mistborn trilogy take place relative to Alloy of Law?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Late 20th century era. Modern technology.

    Zas

    I've heard that's like... 50? years after Alloy of Law.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, right around there. Roughly. Not quite information age, is what I was looking at. So there's no direct comparison, because the different technology aspects, but you would see it as something around the 80s. Maybe early 90s. Allomancer SWAT team is what it's about. First book is a Mistborn serial killer versus an Allomancer SWAT team. With deeper ramifications to everything.

    Orem signing ()
    #3776 Copy

    Questioner

    I heard you're doing another Mistborn Trilogy? Any estimate when the first book might be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I might do some more Alloy of Law era things in between, they are not the second trilogy, but I will do them. The second trilogy will come between the break between the first sequence in the Stormlight Archive, and the second sequence of the Stormlight Archive. it's two five book sequences, and during that break I will stop and do the second Mistborn trilogy. So it will depend on how quickly I am able to write those.

    Orem signing ()
    #3777 Copy

    Questioner

    How does one make sense of Spook's High Imperial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One thing about High Imperial, or Eastern Street Slang, is that it was devised by those who spoke it in order to be intentionally obtuse. So it was hard for people to understand. And so there are a lot of nonsense words thrown in the middle. But, it's also got reversed grammar. ‘Wasing the wanting of doing the thing' is ‘I wanted to do that.' But you can also throw random words in there. As long as those parts are in there, it'll make sense to those they're speaking to. ‘I wanted to do this. Wasing the wanting of doing the thing.' You're putting everything into a gerund. You're starting with the verb and the tense. And you're turning everything into ridiculously bad gerunds. That's it in brief.

    Orem signing ()
    #3778 Copy

    Questioner

    The Words of Founding. What does it contain besides the religions, technological advancements, and layout for Elendel? Is there anything special in there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's some other cool stuff in there that eventually I'll talk about.

    Questioner

    But nothing specific?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nothing I'm going to be able to...

    Questioner

    I was going to say general outlines. Does that cover the basics of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That definitely covers the basics of it, yeah. There was stuff from Sazed's metalminds. A lot of that stuff that was in there. Basically everything that was in there, he tried to get in the books. And then some other additions. Such as Elendel, which he created as a basin for life and things. And stuff like that. They are very interesting. These guys are here recording everything I have to say. So I have to watch myself.

    Orem signing ()
    #3780 Copy

    Questioner

    Can spren die?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, spren can die.

    Questioner

    Okay, so Syl, she's been around for at least a few thousand years, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    How does she forget her memories? Is it in connection to humans that makes it so she remembers things?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    And she's what, a Bonding Spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out. She's an Honorspren, but you will find out.

    Zas

    Is that bond the Nahel bond?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a certain amount of... It is a symbiotic bond that is gained by Syl. And things gained by the person bonding. And the stronger presence in the physical realm, and the ability to think better in the physical realm is a part of that bond. She is mostly getting [something] of the physical realm. Without the bond, it is very hard for her to think in this world.

    Questioner

    Because she's windspren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's part of it. That's part of something else.

    Orem signing ()
    #3782 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering if you meant to do the arms thing in the beginning of Mistborn with Sazed.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did, I did. I feel kind of silly because it actually is a pun. And the entire Mistborn trilogy is therefore based on a pun. The first paragraph of the first chapter, like, the first epigraph. But you know, if you can't tell from me naming my character Wax and Wayne, that I have a slight problem with puns.

    WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
    #3783 Copy

    Questioner

    A bit of a different question: I've been trying to write a fantasy story for a few months now, but I have a chronic procrastination tendency.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, so we kind of all do.

    Questioner

    I've tried to write, but I think I've written about five lines so far. It's pretty ridiculous, I know. It's just very hard for me to do. Have you done something similar in the past, and/or do you know any writers that just have the utmost trouble with actually writing something? It's not about a writer's block, where you don't know what to write. It's more along the lines of a cringing feeling you get when you try to write. It just does not feel right even though you want to. Would love to hear from you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, this is perfect. This is a great question, okay? Here's the thing. You are in the unenviable position in that you know good writing, and you're trying to write right now. This is unenviable because when I started, I was stupid. I was a teenager, and I was not a very good reader or a very good writer. I had just discovered fantasy novels, and kind of found myself in them, and I started writing. And I had the sense of everything I did was awesome because I couldn't recognize good writing. I could, deep down, but I couldn't, you know . . . I thought everything I did was awesome. And that gave a sort of... I didn't get embarrassed by my writing. A lot of people do, especially if they have a better eye for editing and a better eye for writing.

    What you've got to remember is writing is like any other art. You don't start off doing it the right way. It's more like playing the piano than you would think. And when you sit down to play the piano for the first few times, you're not going to be very good. You've got to push through, anyway. You've just got to write. Get a notebook, go outside, go away from the computer so you can't self edit, and sit down without any distractions and try writing longhand–that works for some people. But remember, you are not writing the perfect book, you are training yourself to write the perfect book. Just like an artist has to train himself to be an artist. Just like a baseball player has to train himself to hit the baseball. And in the future, you will get to the point that you will know how to swing at this baseball naturally. And you don't know that yet. Right now you're missing with every swing, and you recognize it. But you just have to put your dues in. You just have to work hard. And you have to be willing to suck at this long enough to get good at it. All right? And you can do it, you gotta go for it. Okay?

    WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
    #3784 Copy

    Questioner

    Your fan interaction through Magic: The Gathering: planned, or more like luck?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Magic: The Gathering actually came about because of Jim Butcher. Jim Butcher LARPs with his fans. And he was telling me once that this LARPing thing–it was wonderful because when you go to a signing, it's all so kind of formal, and people get like a couple seconds to talk to you. And everyone's like . . . awkward–you're awkward, they're awkward. He said, "I found that doing something that was just my nerd hobby allowed for a natural interaction." I thought, "That is awesome. I want to do something like that." And I've always been a Magic: The Gathering addict, and so I just started playing Magic at cons, but because of Butcher's advice. And it's been great because even people who don't play Magic know that during that time, you can come talk to me. And it's not going to be me across the table. It's going to be me shuffling my cards and geeking out because I drew a mythic or something like that.

    WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
    #3785 Copy

    Myke Cole

    And so, you had this dream of being a writer, and you achieved it. You achieved it probably beyond your expectations. Is it what you expected? I mean, you're on tour all the time, you have deadlines barking at you. How do you like it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Man, that's a good question. You know, I like meeting readers—that's fun. Being on tour, as much as I go, is not so much fun. And I think this is the first year where I said "yes" to too many things. I've just made too many appearances, and it's impacting the writing. Nobody tells you—that's why you make such an astute question. No one warns you that when you first break into this business—you know, you think, "Oh, I'm going to sell a book, and then I can go full time as a writer, and all my time will be writing."

    But then, you break in and you realize the touring and stuff almost becomes like a second job to you. You become . . . I describe it like in Hollywood you have the writer who writes the script and sends it off, and then the director who directs the script, and then the actors who go out and do the publicity later on. And in writing you're all those people, plus the business person financing it all in the back end. And so you have to wear so many hats. It's bizarre, how many things you have to do.

    That said, I really love doing signings. I just wish that I could manage that a little bit better. So we're trying to, starting next year. Just a few fewer cons, making the tours a little bit shorter—make sure that I'm not stretched so thin. And it came about partially because we released three books this year, and last year released zero, which is a really stupid idea of us. Right? You really would rather be releasing a book or two a year, instead of three in one year and none the year before. But that's how things played out.

    WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
    #3786 Copy

    Questioner

    [What is] the last sentence you wrote that you were proud of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wish I could say, because things go through so many transformations as I'm writing. I would have to have a book open before me, and go look and say, "Wow, which of these sentences is the best?" The honest truth is that I am less of a sentence person than someone like Pat Rothfuss. Rothfuss writes beautiful sentences, and I'm in awe of his sentences. I try for workmanship prose. I try for prose that does not distract from the writing. And often if I write a really beautiful sentence, it stands out like such a sore thumb in my writing that it's better to kind of tone that sentence down. We call it windowpane prose. My goal is to write prose that doesn't ever distract you from the story. And there are certain level of writers that can do beautiful prose and not distract from the story. I have always just tried for . . . if there is a mark on the window, you'll look at that and not the story. This is George Orwell talking about this—I learned it from reading about him. And some writers, like in literary fiction, they will try to write this beautiful stained glass window, and what you see on the other side doesn't really matter. It's the stained glass window that you're paying wonderful attention to. I don't want the window to distract you. And so, I do like to have a clever witty line now and then, but my goal at the end is for you to not notice the writing and only pay attention to characters and story.

    WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
    #3787 Copy

    Questioner

    How are you seeing the internet impact the industry?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One thing it's really changed is allowing authors to have a lot more direct interaction with fans, which is wonderful because we are directly supported by readers. Even though there are editors and people, there are very few middlemen even in fantasy, even in writing. To the point that, when you interact with me, what I mean is you're interacting with the content creator directly, which is fun. It's awesome. It allows me to actually get feedback from fans, to talk to fans, to thank the people who are supporting me. And like I said, there's very few layers between, but in the old days there was that buffer. You know, people used to send letters to the publisher, and then the publisher would send to the author, right? And granted, the publisher's not opening them and stuff. It's not like there's a big buffer there, but it's taking time, and there's just that step. And that step has vanished, which I like.

    It is changing publishing. It's democratizing publishing. I really think this is a good thing for particularly our genre, where you will have a lot of things in sci-fi/fantasy that are not even the mainstream of sci-fi and fantasy. And sci-fi/fantasy alone is already not the mainstream. So when you go a couple niches down, you can find these things that a certain core audience would love, but it's very hard to market nationally. And this helps a lot more variety come into the genre. And that whole connecting directly with fans helps with people building a brand and breaking in, even if they aren't going traditional. The whole self-publishing has been a great boon, I think, specifically to science fiction and fantasy, in helping to add variety.

    Ebooks mean that when I write 400,000 word novels, I don't have to apologize quite so much. Because people can buy it in ebook, and I say it weighs the same amount. So there is that. Otherwise, there are so many things changing.

    Orem signing ()
    #3788 Copy

    Questioner

    So is there a third law of magic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes there is. I don't have a pithy way to say it yet.

    Questioner

    Do you want to try to describe it anyways?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, the best magic systems are interconnected with the world, the society, the culture, and the development of the setting as a whole. The next level you want to think about is how does your magic affect your gender roles, how does it affect your governments, your religions, all these things.

    Questioner

    And how those things affect the magic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. But I don't have a pithy way to say it, so once I come up with a good pithy way to say it, then I can actually write it.

    Orem signing ()
    #3789 Copy

    Questioner

    So I know that there's going to be a second Mistborn trilogy. Is Alloy part of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. This is foreshadowing the second trilogy. I may do some more books with these characters.

    Questioner

    So is the second trilogy in the same time period?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will be a little future forward from this. More like mid–20th century.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3790 Copy

    Questioner

    Shardplate, does it have to be fitted by a smith or does it just kind of magically...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It magically fits to you.

    Rubix

    I’d like to see it fit to someone three foot tall.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If it’s within reason, it can fit.

    Questioner

    But they do weld stuff to it to it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They weld stuff to it to ornament it.

    Questioner

    But that doesn’t really stick?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It won’t stay, it can get cut off and things like that. Yeah, and they paint them and things.

    Questioner

    So the actual color is gray, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dalinar’s color is the actual color.

    Questioner

    He doesn’t have it painted, yeah. It’s kind of stone, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It’s not really stone, it’s more like a deep metallic, like an unbuffed steel sort of metallic. A dark charcoal metallic.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3794 Copy

    Questioner

    The question is, can you read [women's script]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can’t read it, Isaac can.

    Rubix

    Isaac can’t read it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He came up with it!

    I told you where it came from, the writing system, right? That I told Isaac, “I want it to look like waveforms,” and he developed it to look like waveforms on the little thing when you speak voice- and things like that, and that was my goal for the system was something that was a line with waveforms across it. And he developed it then.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3797 Copy

    Questioner

    The name of the metal escapes me, but it’s the one that allows you to speed up your own bubble while everything else is outside of you, in Mistborn. What happens if you have that and you burn the duralumin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is an excellent question. The trick about that is you would have to be Mistborn to do that. Or you would have to have one other specific set of circumstances because- yeah I’m not gonna get into it. But you basically have to be Mistborn and there aren’t Mistborn anymore.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3798 Copy

    Questioner

    When you were talking about the Rithmatist, you said that he wasn’t genetically capable of doing magic and I was wondering if you actually had like a genetic system for how...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, this one actually isn’t genetic. I said genetic, but it’s not. But I don’t want to give away what it is that makes someone use the magic in that world. I did actually develop a genetic magic system that was very interesting that is in a book that didn’t get published.

    Questioner

    Is it going to get published?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not, but I might recycle the magic eventually. The magic is spread around everyone of a certain family lineage. So if there's lots of family members, they each have a little bit of magic. And if there's only one, they're very powerful. But there's only one.

    Questioner

    Which one is this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mythwalker. You have these weird family dynamics, where it's like, "If I assassinate my family members, I get stronger." But as a whole, it's weaker. It's not like if there's two of you, you each are one and one; if there's one of you, it's two. If there's one of you, it's like 1.5. So you get stronger, but you overall are stronger as a house if you have lots more people. It was really cool magic, but the book was awful. Half of it was Warbreaker. But the genetics one didn't end up in it.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3799 Copy

    Questioner

    Do the Parshendi need a highstorm to change forms?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They do, good guess! Excellent question.

    Questioner

    Do they eat?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do they eat? Yes.

    Questioner

    So, they eat like grains and stuff like that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out, but they do eat.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #3800 Copy

    Questioner

    We’ve been arguing about how to pronounce the character, either it’s “Say-zed” or “Sayzd”?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right, that’s one of the most contentious name decisions that I’ve chosen. Before I tell you the answer, I will preface it by saying I don’t say the names right, in a lot of times. For instance I say “E-lawn-tris” like everyone else, but in world they say “Elayn-tris” because of the system of language that’s been built. I say “Kel-seer” and they say “Kel-see-ay,” in-world. And so I’m American and I use my pronunciations I say “Say-zed”.

    However, that may not be the way they actually say it. And beyond that, every reader of a book has the ability to rewrite the book as they wish. A book doesn’t exist until you’ve read it. I write a script, I write- I get you hopefully seventy five percent of the way there but the last twenty-five percent is you, it’s participatory. And as you write, you create the images of them in your own imagination and that becomes the right interpretation for you. And you have line [inaudible] veto.

    When I read Anne McCaffrey’s books the dragons are these unpronounceable things in my head that I could never actually because it’s just something a dragon can say. And it has very little relationship to the letters that are there on the page. I have a friend, who when he reads the Wheel of Time- the first time when Thom Merrilin shows up in the books, on screen, it says he has these big drooping moustaches. My friend said, “No he doesn’t.” And he cannot imagine Thom Merrilin with a moustache. To me, the moustache is an integral part of who Thom Merrilin is. It’s like him, he’s the moustached guy! Well, theres a couple other moustached guys but Thom’s the first moustached guy in the Wheel of Time! And so, you have the right to say it however you want.