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    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #401 Copy

    Oversleep

    I got a question about this and last week's epigraph.

    The metals Fused use. How come nobody knows, guesses or even suspects that aluminium and its alloys are Investiture resistant? They know you can Soulcast something into aluminium, so they should also know it's impossible to Soulcast aluminium into something else.

    And once they know about metal that cannot be Soulcast, they start experimenting with fabrials - they used that in construction of Fourth Bridge - and then the logical step is to test it against Shardblades.Probably experimenting with alloys of aluminium, too.

    Yet the metal Fused use to make weapons resistant to Shardweapons is a mystery to them?

    I feel like I'm missing something here.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're getting to answers here. Problem is, metallurgy just isn't a big science on Roshar. I feel it's one of those things that is more easy to see externally than internally--and do remember that there are things like god metals (Shardblades, for example) that also behave strangely around investiture. They have far more experience with those than aluminum, which is more of a little historical oddity to them than a big revolutionary part of science. Add to that the fact that some of the metals the fused are using aren't aluminum, and...well, I don't think it's as obvious a leap as you're making it out to be.

    ImBuGs

    So the Fused's fabrials are not 100% aluminum based? Or they are and they are struggling to reach that conclusion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think what you're asking will be answered in the book, so I'll RAFO for now.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #402 Copy

    Harbournessrage

    That line, about Kaladin trying to take on ardent job, then general one, and then on running away. Did you mean surgeon job being in certain way the running away way for Kaladin? Or you will leave it for readers to decide?

    p.s. to me it felt like very sad decision tonally and probably the lowest point of Kal's regression.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, right now, Kaladin views this as somehow giving in. That he should have been able to find a better option, a way to keep doing what he'd been doing. It is supposed to be sad tonally because Kaladin is sad about it.

    However, this is partially Kaladin not being quite able to see clearly. So I suggest waiting for a little bit and seeing what happens next.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #404 Copy

    Shandycapped

    You’ve mentioned a few times the concept of the “in-between” book. Did you plot the events of that time skip out in detail to give yourself the starting point when planning RoW? Or did you just know where you wanted the characters and the world to start from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's not as detailed as a full book outline, but at the same time, it's more than just starting where I felt was right. So kind of between the two ideas you offer?

    Rhythm of War Annotations ()
    #405 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighteen

    All right, so I talked earlier about the odd structure of this book. You can see it manifesting in this chapter, and the next one, which are the last chapters of the part. In a regular Stormlight Book, at this point in the novel we'd be pushing toward a more action-oriented or mystery-oriented climax (such as Shallan's confrontation with the Midnight Mother in Oathbringer.)

    The reversed structure of this book's first part--which began with the climax of the "in between" book we didn't see, instead comes to a more calm, character-oriented climax here with Kaladin making his decision to become a surgeon. (Along with, in the next chapter--which is a calm, introspective Navani chapter to end out the part.)

    We released the Syl Interlude early through my newsletter (that comes after the Navani chapter) and tried to edit out any big spoilers--but forgot one line that indicates Kaladin has become a surgeon again, so I suspect many of you have been anticipating the decision Kaladin makes here.

    Still, it's an important moment for Kaladin, one I've been pushing him toward for a while now. Though he's always been the surgeon's son, he hasn't had a chance to truly be a healer, and see how it fits him as an adult.

    Rhythm of War Annotations ()
    #406 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seventeen

    As I was working on the annotation for last week’s chapter, I realized it was touching on something I wanted to talk about in a more substantive way. So I decided to put that annotation off and make a separate, longer and more in-depth, post about it. This WILL have some small spoilers for the book, specifically some things to do with Jasnah and her sexual identity. If you’d rather just read it as it comes up in the story, then I’d suggest you head away now--and you can come back to this in a month or two after you’ve read Rhythm of War.

    However, good communication with fans--particularly when it comes to expectations--is something I consider a foundational principle of my career. During the beta read, I had the chance to get a glimpse of how readers might respond to some aspects of Jasnah, and at that time I determined I’d do a post like this before the book came out.

    So, here’s the problem: through the course of the series, people have been asking me about Jasnah’s sexuality. Gay, Bi, Straight, other? I usually answer with some variation of the following: “Jasnah would prefer you focus on other aspects of her identity, rather than her sexuality.”

    I said this for various reasons. First, I felt it is in line with the character, and what she would want. Second, I’ve avoided talking too much about Jasnah as a general rule, since I plan her to be a major (perhaps the major) character of the back five books, and so it’s best to keep focus off her for now. There will be plenty of time for discussions about her later. Third, I generally don’t force relationships upon my characters as I write. It depends on the character, of course. (Navani/Dalinar, for example, had a romance planned as a main part of their storyline.) But for many characters, I give myself wiggle room to see what I feel works best as the story develops.

    The end result of me being vague on this, however, was that I seem to have led a lot of people to think I was playing the Brandon game of: “If he won’t say anything about a topic, it must be mysterious, and therefore something we should theorize on a ton!” This is, obviously, my own fault.

    I’ve heard a lot of different things via email and in person from people that have made me realize that a lot of people are wanting some mutually exclusive things from the character in this regard. As I started work on this novel, I decided I should say something in the book in order to pull back the shroud on the mystery a little, as I never intended it to get as big as it did.

    I tried a few different things to see what worked and was most genuine for the character. In the end, I settled on what I felt was best and most in-line with how I view Jasnah. For those who want to know, and I’ll put this next part behind extra spoilers. Jasnah is asexual, and currently heteroromantic. Her feelings on physical intimacy are very neutral, not something she's interested in for its own sake, but also not something she's opposed to doing for someone she cares about. I tried several different things with the character, and this is what really clicked with me--after getting some advice, suggestions, and help from some asexual readers.

    One of the reasons I wanted to make this post is because I wanted to address some of the people who are going to be disappointed as I worry that I (by making her a blank slate in this regard) accidentally led a lot of people to theorize and attach ideas they wanted to her--and so I’ll inevitably disappoint these people. (Though, hopefully, others will find the depiction I ended up with in line with the characterization and with Jasnah’s overall character mode.)

    For the main body of the annotation, I wanted to talk about how Jasnah came about, and my inspirations. So if you’ll forgive me for a moment, I want to walk you down that path--and I think it might explain some of why I ended up making the decision that I did.

    When I was first working on the Stormlight Archive back in 2002, I decided early on that I wanted a character like Jasnah in the books, as I was dealing with some gender politics and social structures. (I actually pitched Jasnah to myself as “The woman Serene thinks she is.” No offense to Serene, she’s just young--and I wanted to take a stab at a true scholar and master of politics.)

    This decision made, I dove into reading a lot of work from feminist authors--and made certain to talk to some of my feminist friends in depth about how to accomplish an accurate depiction. A lot of times, when I’m developing a character, one or two things will leap out at me from readings, and I’ll start to use that to make up the core of the personality. (Much like the idea of Kaladin came from the idea of a surgeon, trained to save people, being sent to war and being trained to kill.)

    Jasnah’s atheism was one of these things--specifically I wanted a rationalist humanist character as a counterpoint to the very mythological setting I was developing with the Heralds. I was extremely excited by the opportunity to have a character who could offer the in-world scientific reasons why the things that are happening are happening.

    At the same time, one key takeaway I got from these studies was this: several authors and friends be frustrated with the idea that often in media and discussion, people pretended that a feminist couldn’t also be feminine. As it was explained to me, “Saying you shouldn’t have to play into society’s rules for women shouldn’t also mean no women should ever decide to play into some of society’s rules for women.” It was about choice, and letting women decide--rather than letting society pressure them. This was central to my creation of Jasnah.

    And so, fundamental to my view of the character is the need for me to not force her down any path, no matter how much some fans may want that path to be the right one. Jasnah being as I’ve written her was just RIGHT. I’ve always viewed her as sharing some aspects with myself, and one of those is the clinical way I approach some things that others approach emotionally. While I wouldn’t say I identify in the same way as her, this part of me is part of a seed for who she is and how she acts. And with help from betas, I think I found her true voice.

    All of that said, the people I’m most sad to disappoint here are those who I know were hoping for Jasnah to be gay. Out of respect for these readers, and to be certain, I did try writing the character that way in this book--and I felt it didn’t quite fit. Obviously, this is a character, and not an actual person--and so it’s all a fabrication anyway. I could absolutely write Jasnah as gay, and it wouldn’t undermine any sense of choice for a real woman.

    However, it didn’t feel authentic to me. Plus, now that Way of Kings Prime is out, you all can know that a relationship with a man (Taln) was a plot point to her initial characterization. (I can’t say that I’ll stick with this, to be honest. It will depend on a ton of factors.)

    When I discussed all this all with a good friend of mine who is far more involved in feminist discourse and the LGBTQIA+ community, she suggested that I make Jasnah bisexual or biromantic. I resisted this because I knew the only planned relationship I had for her was with a man, and it felt disingenuous to try to imply this is how I see her. (Though, in your head canon, there’s certainly great arguments for this.) The problem is that Shallan is leaning very bi as I’ve written her more, but she’s in a relationship with a man. I don’t know if this is a big issue in fiction, but it would feel somehow wrong to for me to write a bunch of bisexual characters who all only engaged in relationships with people of the opposite gender. It feels I could do more damage than good by trying to pretend I’m being inclusive in this way, without actually giving true representation.

    This all might beg another question: will there be other characters in the Stormlight Archive (or cosmere) who are LGBTQIA+. Yes. (Including major viewpoint characters.) However, I worry that by talking too much about that here, I would imply a tone where I’m trying too hard to deflect. (One person I chatted with about this warned me not to send the “wrong message that queer characters are like representation tokens that we can exchange for each other for equal credit.” I found that a very astute piece of advice.)

    I am quite happy with Jasnah’s depiction in this book, and while I’m sorry she can’t be everything everyone wanted, I’m excited for her development as a character in the back five books. My promise to you remains the same: to make the Cosmere a place where I explore all aspects of the human experience. And a place that represents not just me, but as many different types of peoples and beliefs as I can--depicted the best I can as vibrant, dynamic characters.

    Many thanks to those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have written to me with suggestions, criticisms, and support. And thanks to everyone for being patient with me, and this series, as I continue to shape it.

    YouTube Livestream 21 ()
    #407 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are certain things that I do in Stormlight Four that I will not give as spoilers, but they're gonna make the writing of Stormlight Five particularly difficult.

    Poor Karen. That's all gonna be stuff for Karen and me. It's gonna be headaches for us. Not as much for you [Isaac].

    YouTube Livestream 21 ()
    #408 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did the idea of pooping in Shardplate come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Because I wondered how it happened with knights on the battlefield and thought, "This is the sort of thing that just doesn't show up very often in fantasy books."

    Adam Horne

    Or in history books, probably.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's there in history books. The historians are very interested in this sort of thing.

    One of the ways that I wanted to ground some of the conversations in Stormlight was to talk about some of these things. And it turns out that Shallan and Adolin's conversations tend to be very good places to talk about this sort of thing.

    YouTube Livestream 21 ()
    #409 Copy

    Zarin

    What is your favorite part about worldbuilding?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably the magic system. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

    That, or finding connections between different stories I'm working on. I really enjoy when I can make the worldbuilding for one book be foreshadowing for the worldbuilding of another book, and things like that. And where I can sneak in combinations between things in the cosmere, and stuff like that. That's really satisfying for me. I don't know why, but it's one thing that really excites me.

    YouTube Livestream 21 ()
    #410 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there an update to the combined volume of White Sand?

    Isaac Stewart

    This has been a hectic year. We've had a lot of things going on. I've had to prioritize things like the Kickstarter and the manufacturing of all of the goodies for that. In addition, I've had Rhythm of War and all of the art and art direction that comes along with that. It's just been a really big year. As things are tying up (as far as my involvement on the manufacturing side of things, we're getting close to having everything approved and in process there), I will be able to spend more time on the omnibus.

    In the background, though, I have kept the letterers working and the artist working as much as I could, and I think all of the minor fixes... a lot of people know, there were electric lamps. And I hired my brother (who is also an artist), and he, in the latter half of those, erased a lot of those. There was a modern IV in one scene that we needed to erase. But I think that changes to the art, small things like that, are pretty much almost done.

    There are a few other things that need some attention, and I'll be able to turn my brain to that here soon.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're adding some pages and things, right?

    Isaac Stewart

    Yeah, there will be 38 more pages and a prologue to introduce characters a little bit more. Those are almost completely done. The writing on those is done.

    There are some pages that are more world-building that are written by Khriss, and I have to find out where we have room for those so I know how many of those that we have, and then write out some of the worldbuilding. And that's what I'm in the process of doing right now. Getting really close to being done with that.

    So that's where we're at on that. And as soon as that's done, we will discuss that with Brandon's agent and with the publisher and figure out where to go from there.

    YouTube Livestream 21 ()
    #412 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I originally had planned Starsight to be something that had "Fort" in the title, or "Fortress" in the title. "Star Fortress," or something like that. And the publisher came back and said, "That sounds too fantasy-ish. And it's science fiction." And they just didn't like the sound and feel, and so I came back with Starsight, and they liked that, and I liked that, so we just went with it.

    General Reddit 2020 ()
    #413 Copy

    CiberneitorGamer

    Would it be possible to break a Shardblade?

    If one breaks, what happens to the spren? Could this somehow kill the spren/Nahel bond?

    Can it be reforged?

    What happens to the Investiture stored inside of the sword?

    Could a living spren regenerate the lost part?

    What could cause this breaking?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #414 Copy

    BennParr

    Has Balat been healed? He isn't mentioned using a cane in the chapter, and he's in guardsman training? Did he get a session with Renarin or somethng?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, not healed (wound is too old) but has access to much better things like physical therapy, and a little strength training to help. Plus, he's doing much better mentally.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #415 Copy

    therealkami

    The main concern I saw with people on this chapter [Rhythm of War Chapter Sixteen] is the whole thing with where The Thrill ended up. Do we just lack info, or did Jasnah allow something that powerful to be simply tossed away and hope no one finds it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Betas had some questions about this too, and my team keeps pushing me to put more info about it--but I haven't found the right place. It's more secure than you'd think.

    YouTube Livestream 20 ()
    #416 Copy

    Bob

    I am wondering if it is possible for a person to take the power of a Shard and then later decide the whole god thing isn't working out. Can they retire and go back to being a person? Or are they immediately sent to the Beyond?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is possible that they could retire as a person. Wouldn't be the first thing that would happen.

    YouTube Livestream 20 ()
    #417 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    With Dawnshard, what was going on [with revisions], there was some big things that I needed to do, and some of them I was aware of. And because the book... basically, it was written in July, and we did the beta read in August, and I'm doing the revisions in September/October; it has a really accelerated timeline. Which means that the beta read wasn't as clean as I normally like a beta read to do. I really like a beta read to have seen a book after I've done revisions that the alpha read has caught all the big problems. Or that I've had time to layer things in. Like, there is a whole aspect of this book that I knew needed to be in the book, but I just didn't have the time, the brain focus, in the first two drafts to put in. So they all had to read and complain about this thing that I knew I was going to put into the book, but they thought I'd just completely missed. In that case, I had this thing to add in; but, still, giving their feedback helped me decide how to add it in. In other cases, there were characters that just needed some expanded screentime and stuff. I can talk about it better during the spoiler stream.

    But also, I had multiple people who are themselves paraplegic read the book that I had written primarily from the viewpoint of a paraplegic woman. And they had just a ton of really great information on how to be more authentic to the life experience of someone like themselves, and also some of the pitfalls that authors often fall into that I hadn't known about. Really handy stuff.

    And we will be releasing, with the Kickstarter (because we hit the stretch goal), all the different drafts of Dawnshard, along with the beta reader document, that you'll be able to just read what everyone said and see what I took from that. You can go read, like, the 3.0 and be like, "All right, I read the 2.0; I read the beta read document. Now I can read the 3.0 and see how Brandon changed things based on what the beta readers said."

    And I do have a little document of the main things I'm changing and why that will go along with it. Hopefully, that sort of thing will be very helpful to you because this is the sort of thing that's really hard to explain because it's an instinct you pick up as a writer over time.

    YouTube Livestream 20 ()
    #418 Copy

    Isaac Stewart

    As Brandon has mentioned, we have some scenes from The Lopen viewpoint [in Dawnshard], and I'm going to show you The Lopen chapter icon.

    I don't know if this will wind up in the actual main books, but if we have a Lopen chapter, we might.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So far, for Lopen, we've been using the generic Bridge Four icon, because usually what's happening is I have a whole section where we get a bunch of different Bridge Four viewpoints, and it makes more sense. But we needed one for The Lopen.

    YouTube Livestream 19 ()
    #419 Copy

    Questioner

    Will you ever consider writing someone with dyslexia into your books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would, in fact. Haven't found the right place for it. My son is dyslexic, and he has a big challenge with school. Dallin is just smart as a whip, but has real trouble with school, because he is very dyslexic. He just loves it when he finds out... like, Dav Pilkey, who does the Dog Man books, is dyslexic. When he finds an author who's dyslexic, it means a lot to him.

    And finding a way to get dyslexia in... I would probably want to do it in a book with a word-based magic system. Because that would be an interesting thing, because having someone who's dyslexic who interacts with words differently than everyone else would be a really fascinating story when there's a conflict related to the actual worldbuilding.

    But we'll see; we'll see if I can ever find time to do that. There's a lot of things to do. And dyslexia is one of those harder things to get across in fiction, because people aren't spending a lot of time reading in most books. So it is a character attribute, but it's not the sort of thing that comes up in the story all that often unless you construct the story in a way that it will.

    YouTube Livestream 18 ()
    #422 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is hard for me to keep in mind more than one big change for a book [while revising]. I can do it, but it's hard; it's a challenge. And fortunately, the way I write books is, generally I only have one big change per plot cycle or per viewpoint. Like, I can say, "For this viewpoint character, my big focus change for this is changing this part of who they are. This character needs to be more proactive." That's one of the ones that I had for the new Stormlight book, is there was a character that just wasn't proactive enough. And I'm like, "I need to change the way that they're viewing their life, and add a few scenes in appropriate places that up the character's proactivity."

    That was separate from a different character, where I had approached some of the mental health things the wrong way, and early beta readers were able to point me the right direction on how to do it better. And that character, I didn't change structurally their plot; I changed their response to it, and then a few places where that response did require some major changes. But I could have them on mind: this revision, I'm doing this for this character.

    And I had, like, three of those in my 4.0 draft. And for all the other characters, I could say, "In this, we are just focusing on tightening-normal-prose sort of cleaning." And that way, when I went to the 5.0, if there were things for those other characters, I could feel that I had already done the prose tightening for them, and I could get into some more of the problems they needed, and I was able to keep the big changes in my head for the other characters. And then, in the last draft, I was able to do the prose tightening on their viewpoints. And that worked really well for this specific book.

    YouTube Livestream 18 ()
    #423 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there going to be a physical release planned for The Original at some point in the future? Or is it going to be audio-only?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would anticipate that we would, eventually, do this. It was written for audio. I know we've just kind of briefly said "yeah, probably." But it's not like we've made any plans. It's not like we have a release in mind.

    Mary Robinette Kowal

    The conversations that we've had are basically, like, "Yeah, that would be awesome if someone wanted it." And also, I'm like, "And there needs to be some rewriting." There are scenes where we're relying on the narrator, and it won't play on the page.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So the answer is "Yes, probably." But we can't say when. And we have no specific plans yet.

    YouTube Livestream 18 ()
    #424 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Getting those subject matter experts... like, the new Stormlight book. If I hadn't had some of these subject matter experts, I would have been at sea with no oars.

    Someday, perhaps, for fans, I will release the first draft, and they can compare. But it's now so embarrassing, about which things I got wrong.

    YouTube Livestream 18 ()
    #425 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did a [film] treatment for Mistborn, recently, where I'm like, "How would I envision this getting made?" And I basically had to throw out the book, start with the same premise, characters, and idea, and build it again for the medium, rather than try to pick specific scenes. Because specific scenes that I wrote in the book are there to work on the page. I needed a scene that did the same thing, but wasn't all internal. (Not really internal, but the character responding in their head.) And it needed to work differently. I have a lot more respect for adaptations.

    YouTube Livestream 18 ()
    #426 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can't talk about details, but I wrote a picture book. 127 words!

    Mary Robinette Kowal

    How long is the outline?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The outline is really long. But that's because... the reason I was able to be so short is because the joke of the picture book is that the description that goes with the picture is comically simplistic. And then the picture, I spend, like, a page describing each one. So the actual text is 127 words. But the pitch is, like, 3000 words, or something like that. It's just ridiculously long.

    The reason I did it is because one of the things that we want to do eventually is, each of the Stormlight books has... there's a character in the books named Wit who's a storyteller who will tell stories to the other characters. And I would eventually like to do those as picture books. I think they would adapt really well. But wanting to do that and not knowing the form, I'm like, "I really ought to learn the form before I expect to do something like that." So I'm like, "I'm going to go research picture books. I'm gonna look at the lengths, and read all the stuff I'm doing, and then try my hand at it and see if a publisher is interested in just a standard, not-based-on-the-Stormlight-books." And then, if I'm lucky and it sells (which there's no guarantee), then I'll be able to watch the process, as I like to do as something is getting made. And hopefully learn more about it, and things like that. So that's why I did.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #429 Copy

    Ketamine

    I am in the very small minority of your readers that finds Hoid obnoxious and unpleasant. So will we see more characters talk negatively about Hoid, or expose some of what he has done in the past? I bet there are a lot more people like Shai out there ...

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a ton. But I don't know when exactly I'll be able to get to them. Suffice it to say that you wouldn't find yourself alone in that opinion in the cosmere.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
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    MoriWillow

    I happened to notice that Aon Ene in AonDor, which is said to represent debate, is used to control timing in Aon sequences. Is this an intentional connection with logicspren, which are drawn to debates, being used for timing in fabrials?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it is. There are a few more connections like this in some of the other magics I hope to be able to get to before too long.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
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    3DLightweaver

    Will we see more fights like these [Kaladin vs Zahel] in the future of the cosmere to settle all the debates? Would have loved to see full Surgebinder vs Returned Awakener.

    Also can you say who would win if Zahel and Kal went all out?

    I assume Kal couldn't really lash someone with a lot of Breath. But my money is on the Windrunner.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Being able to fly is a huge tactical advantage in most fights, so I'd agree with you to an extent. But Vasher could probably beat anyone alive in a fair swordfight.

    Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
    #432 Copy

    mazzeleczzare

    Finally, thank you for writing Kaladin like this during this chapter [Rhythm of War Chapter Fifteen]. As someone who struggles with depression and is often brooding, I do have my good days and still have some serotonin in my brain. I get excited about doing things I’m good at and I think you nailed that aspect.

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the worries I had starting this book with Kaladin down was that people would forget that he can be up--so I wanted to make sure to get there in this section as well.

    YouTube Livestream 17 ()
    #433 Copy

    Questioner

    Are there any mythologies that you have hoped to incorporate into the cosmere in some form, like Celtic, Norse, Egyptian, or Chinese?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that's not really how I look at it. I don't generally say "I'm going to be inspired by this mythology." I know a lot of writers do, and that's fine. I tend to look and say, "This part of this mythology is really interesting. It says something about this culture." The Norse mythology that they are going to lose; Ragnarok is going to happen. That is fascinating. The idea that Greek and Roman mythologies had these different names for what were essentially the same gods that, over time, became more and more like one another is a really cool idea. I like that aspect of it.

    But even when I wrote the spren, which have some roots in Shinto and some Asian mythologies, it's not like I'm sitting down and saying, "I'm gonna use this." What I'm saying is, "What fascinates me." The idea that everything has a soul fascinates me. The idea from Plato that there are multiple realms of existence. These things mix together. And certainly there are other seeds like that that I will incorporate. But I don't sit down and say, "This is the time to do this."

    Once in a while, I'll use a culture like that and say, "I'm gonna use the linguistics of this culture and kind of base some things on this culture because it is interesting to me." You've seen me do that with the Horneaters. But mythologies, not as much.

    YouTube Livestream 17 ()
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    Questioner

    As a medical student who is currently in my musculoskeletal class, how different is the internal anatomy of the "humans" of the worlds of the cosmere? Like structure and number of muscles, bones, organs, things like that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    In general, you wouldn't have a problem. There would be minor differences. Like, there's gonna be some slight anatomy differences for, like, Scadrians, who were changed to deal with the ash and stuff. You'd be like, "Wow, the lungs are different here." And Roshar is a lower-gravity, higher-oxygen environment, and you're gonna find longer bones, you're gonna find stuff like that on Roshar. But, in general, you would be like, "This is a human whose species is slightly evolved for a different environment." Rather than "this is not human at all."

    Now, if you were to ask about an Aimian, either variety, they would be very, very, very different. You would be like Bones trying to operate on Spock. The Sleepless, you'd need a very different degree for dealing with them. I'm very excited to eventually get the Sleepless fully into the stories. They're from my second novel, Star's End, is the very first appearance of them. And they got ported over to the cosmere once I designed the cosmere. And are a really cool, in my mind, science fiction race that are not a hivemind, but an individual is made up of a group of large insects that share Cognitive load across all of them, and there's just so many fun things you can do with that. Because they can selectively breed parts of their own body to do different things and have, like, fifty generations of this group of insect that they are selectively breeding to do this specific thing, and stuff like that. Hasn't been a lot of space for them in the cosmere, yet. Just some brief appearances. They'll be very important during the space age.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the reasons I've not been firm on what the names of the sixteen Shards are is because I want that flexibility to be able to say "no, this is what the cosmere needs, is a persona like this to have a Shard, and the Shard doing this." By the time Rhythm of War comes out, I think we will have canonized all sixteen or very close to all sixteen. But I wanted to take my time doing that.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    I am likely done writing Legion novellas. I still hold out hope for a television show; we have the rights to that sold. And there's a decent chance we'll do some audio originals that I'll do with a co-author on those. So if you really like Steven Leeds, I've always imagined Legion as a television show pitch. That is from the very first novella, I am writing in-depth episodes (kind of like the Sherlock episodes of the BBC Sherlock), standalone episodes that build on each other was my pitch to myself.

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    Questioner

    Where does Dawnshard fit, time-frame wise?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Three months after Oathbringer, which puts it in Rosharan terms seven months-ish before Rhythm of War. (Ten-month years.)

    Isaac Stewart

    But we should probably mention that you don't have to read this one to read Rhythm of War.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You do not. I have written Rhythm of War in such a way that, if you haven't read this, you will not really be confused. There will be a few things where you're like, "Oh, that's probably what that's referencing." And if you read this after, it's not going to ruin either story.

    I did something very specific with the Rysn interlude in Rhythm of War that allows us to preserve most of what happened in Dawnshard, so far, so that you will not have it spoiled when you get to that interlude. I've done something very different for that interlude, let's just say. And I did that because I hadn't written Dawnshard yet, when I wrote the Rysn interlude. In fact, it's the last thing I wrote for the book, was that interlude. And let's just say that interlude is from a different viewpoint. We'll just say that.

    And references to what happened are in the story, but they're mostly kind of vague, because even most of the people in the main storyline don't know the specifics of what happened in the novella. It's kind of like what happened in Edgedancer, where what happened to Lift is not really generally understood and known by everyone else, because she was off on her own.

    It is done. First draft is finished. It is The Lopen and Rysn.

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    Questioner

    What are two cosmere characters that have never met (and maybe never will) that you would be most excited to write a scene involving?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is Lift and Wayne. Preferably after Lift is of age, and they can go drinking together. But even before, I think, they would make a very interesting pairing.

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    Questioner

    Alloy of Law leatherbounds? Have you made any decisions?

    Isaac Stewart

    Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self will come together. They will be separate leatherbound books, but they will be packaged together, not in a slip case. They will probably be, together, around $150 as a package.

    We're gonna try to keep elements of the design from the Mistborn books, so that they look good in a line, but have something that is a little bit different about them.

    Because of our contracts, we will not sell them separately.

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    Love-that-dog

    I’m curious, based on Adolin’s behavior towards his father getting more and more rebellious and antagonistic.

    Did Dalinar tell his family about Evi and what he was confessing g before the book was published or did they find out like the general public?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He kind of told them. He had the book read to Adolin and Renarin, in draft form, before he started releasing those drafts.

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    Cthaehen

    I perked up when Zahel mentioned Hoid! I just wonder how much we'll get to read about Hoid in this book. I really hope it's more than just an epilogue, he really seems like the type of guy who can offer A LOT of information but is too engrossed in his own journey towards a hitherto unknown goal to care about the plebian things lol

    Brandon Sanderson

    He's a little more involved than normal. (A trend that should continue into the next book, the final of this sequence.)

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixteen

    Seems like a good place to talk about my philosophy on how I choose viewpoint characters for these books. I've been getting DMs saying, "Why no Dalinar viewpoints?" or "Why no Adolin viewpoints?" And I can understand frustration there.

    When I started this series, however, I dug into the multi-book epic fantasy stories I'd enjoyed in the past, as well as the more popular examples, and tried to really nail down the pitfalls of the format. A main one felt, to me, to be character sprawl. These series tend to end up with so many interesting characters that the author, in turn, ends up having entire sequences (and even books) that don't move the storyline forward, but instead investigate new storylines.

    While I do appreciate some of that, I wanted to do what I could to mitigate that. Which meant limiting my viewpoints, even among main characters. This helps prevent sprawl, at least for me, because when I'm in someone's head, I naturally begin working on subplots and character arcs for them. In this case, I needed to keep my focus, and limit myself. To not try to do full sequences for every character in every part of every book. While I know some of you would have enjoyed that, I would really rather finish this series before I am a hundred--and feel that the books need to be as focused as is reasonable for their length.

    That's why when I outline, I look at all the characters that COULD have a viewpoint in a given section--then narrow my scope to a few of them. Dalinar most certainly could have had viewpoints in Part One of this book, but I decided it was Navani's perspective that made the most sense for this story. So, while you get to see a healthy dose of Dalinar, we don't have his viewpoints.

    Those will come later in the book, in a part where it makes sense to have his perspective on things. I need to look for the characters that are adding the most to a given sequence--that usually means the ones who are changing the most, learning the most, or who have the most tension in their sequence. I do feel bad for this somewhat cutthroat use of viewpoints at times, but I believe it is the right decision--it's either this, or watch the series balloon to many more books while at the same time slowing the narrative down to the point that books pass, and you wonder what was actually accomplished in them.

    Only three more chapters left in these previews before you get the entire book! (Also, apologies for those who found this annotation repetitive from things I've said before. It is difficult to judge, sometimes, what is new information to the majority of readers and what is becoming well-worn, so to speak.)

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    Brandon Sanderson

    As Elantris was getting published, I sat down and did an outline for the Mistborn trilogy (which I expanded to nine books in the middle of that outline" and said, "What if I made this backbone series to the cosmere?" (As I was then kind of officially calling it in my head.) I went to my editor, I pitched it; I talked about Adonalsium, this god who was Shattered long ago, and sixteen individuals took up pieces of that god, the Intents of the god. Like that god's Honor, or that god's sense of entropy (which was called Ruin) or things like this, and then went out into the cosmere and were kind of ruling over these planets, or involved in these planets, or sometimes just lightly touching these planets. The sixteen Shards of Adonalsium, as we call them.

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    Mattew

    Has knowing that Tor releases the first big chunk of your books when they're coming out change the way you write? For example, more cliffhangers, things like that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nope, it hasn't. Good question. But I am the one who picks what Tor releases. They would not be releasing nearly as much if it weren't my choice, if I hadn't suggested it and strongly encouraged it. It doesn't change how I write the chapters. That's not really a factor in it for me.

    I am having a lot of fun writing a little annotation for every time Tor does a release on Tuesdays. I go on Reddit on the thread and write a little annotation about the chapter (or chapters).

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    Jake

    Do you see yourself ever releasing any more Sanderson Curiosities? And if so, when?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Response to Way of Kings Prime was strong enough that I would at least like to release, in hardcover form, the good ones. The good books from the Sandersons Curiosities are: White Sand, Aether of Night, and Dragonsteel. They are all of an equivalent quality, I would say; as in being slightly worse than Elantris. Maybe significantly worse, but has similar problems. They're all good enough books that I don't think you waste your time reading them. They are just not good enough books that I would want to mass release them. They are, I think, great books to read as somebody who is like, "This is one of Brandon's early books that could have gotten published, good enough to get published, but didn't quite make it there." And I think people can have a lot of fun with those.

    So I would imagine that we do one of these per Stormlight Kickstarter. Because we will probably continue to do... the Stormlight Archive books are just a big enough thing and require a big enough gear-up and enough funds that we'll probably continue to do one of those every three years. We will continue to do other leatherbounds, not as Kickstarters. They have smaller print runs, and we probably will continue to do all of those in bonded leather, and then do the Stormlight books in Kickstarters. And we will probably have a new Curiosity each time. So I would expect us to have White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Aether of Night curiosities in the next three of these Kickstarters.

    And then we'll take a long, hard look at what we have left. Because after that, we go down another jump in quality. We have Mistborn Prime and Final Empire Prime, which are probably the next two in quality. Where they aren't bad books, and I think they're readable, but they're a little step further away from what ended up being my vision. But I think that White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Aether of Night are probably a little bit stronger of novels than Way of Kings Prime. So maybe Final Empire Prime and Mistborn Prime are both kind of equivalent to that.

    Then, after that, we have another big dip in quality, and then you get things like Star's End, which was my second novel. You get things like Knight Life, which was my attempt at a comedic, sort of Bob Asprin adventure-style comedy. (Mostly cringe, with a little bit of actual comedy.) And the book I called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which is a cyberpunk look at immortality, where people have been turned into superweapons with nanites and stuff like that, and I have no idea how that book measures up anymore. It's the book I wrote right before Elantris. But those ones, I could even see releasing those.

    Then, we have a huge dip in quality for White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell Prime, which are the first versions, the first books I wrote, and are really bad. And Mythwalker, which is the one I didn't finish because it just wasn't any good. And those are the other Sanderson Curiosities. I would not expect us to ever release those. Those are just bad enough that they aren't worth charging you for. Whereas a lot of these books are things I was experimenting with and exploring with and getting better at, they're my journeyman works, the first version (White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell) are the equivalent of the stuff you do as a filmmaker in high school with your parents' camera, your parents' phone, where you make your own Indiana Jones movie with your parents' phone when you're sixteen. That's the equivalent of what you would be getting, and I just don't know if I can charge people for that. Maybe we'll put 'em up free on my website, and if people really wanna complete the collection, they can complete them and have them bound themselves.

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    Questioner

    How much artistic license did Michael [Whelan] have when designing the cover [of Rhythm of War] and what your process is when working with him to get the cover vision that you're going for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Our preference is to give artists a lot of leeway for personal interpretation. I, personally, believe any piece of fan-art or official art is that artist's vision of what they saw in their head when they were reading the book. And that's going to differ greatly from what someone else would see, and I like seeing those interpretations. I like seeing those visions. So we try to give quite a bit of leeway and flexibility to the artist.

    For instance, Michael (being the consummate professional he is) sent, like, ten sketches of possibilities. And we had ones we liked the most, and fortunately they were the same ones that he liked the most. But mostly, we say, "These are all great. Which one do you enjoy? Which one are you most excited to paint?" And we move that direction most of the time. Isaac will usually have continuity comments, and we want to make sure that things are in continuity, but we give a lot of freedom to the artists. We don't really want to chain them down. We want art to inspire art.

    And so, because of that, people look different in some of our official interpretations. And I think that's okay, because that's how artwork goes. We're not trying to match a really exacting style guide on the characters, usually. And that lets us have the cover art for the UK cover look very different from the covert art form the US cover, and even have different interpretations on the characters in different ways. We'll catch the big things. We'll say "put a glove on her" if there's a scandalous hand exposed. We'll say "this is what the patch looks like that should be on Kaladin's shoulder." Stuff like that, we will do, but we try to give a lot of freedom.

    I really like this cover. This is my favorite of his covers since the first one.

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    Reflex Jack

    How are you feeling about Dawnshard?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dawnshard is just a lot of fun to write. How am I feeling about it? The structure's a little odd, so I'm not sure what alphas and betas will think of that. "Little odd" meaning it's about a trip to Aimia, but about half of it is the trip there, and half of it... it's kind of like what happened with, actually, the King Kong movie that Peter Jackson made, where there's as much stuff happening before you get to the place as actually on the place. So that's one thing that I'm... I'm not concerned about, but I'm wondering how people respond to.

    I have to say, it's been a real pleasure to write it because Rysn and Lopen are not characters that I get to do a lot of viewpoints from. And if I had to do this from one of the main-line Stormlight characters, I think it wouldn't be nearly as fun, because I basically exhaust my excitement for writing about them during the books, where they are very involved, and it takes me eighteen months to recuperate and then to get back to it excited again. But I almost never get to write Lopen scenes, and we only get one Rysn scene per book, and they both have really interesting ways of seeing the world. (Lopen in particular. And he's a blast to write. Always keeps things fun and interesting.)

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    Questioner

    Stormlight tabletop RPG game. Have you ever looked into that? Would you ever consider that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We would consider it. Since we've done one with Mistborn, it is certainly something we would consider. And Stormlight would be the thing we would do. But the Mistborn game is still having active support, and we enjoy our partnership there with Crafty, so there hasn't been a lot of real nitty-gritty detail discussion of doing a tabletop RPG. I expect it will happen someday, how about that; but we don't have any immediate plans.

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    Natalie

    Do you ever dive into fan theories? And has it perhaps helped you to come up with a solution for some plot issue you have trouble figuring out?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Plot issues, no. Because, if I'm having trouble with a plot issue, that's usually during the outlining stage, and it happens well before fans are seeing things and can theorize on things. But, once in a while, in writing group I'll be doing something, and they'll start theorizing, and I'll be like, "Oh, that's a way better idea than what I had!" And that helps a ton; writing group can do that. The danger of writing group is, sometimes, they can take over the book. But as an outliner (as I am), that never happens to me. So if they are theorizing about something...

    Really what it helps me is when people are theorizing along certain directions, it tells me what they're interested in, what they're thinking about, what they're expecting. And as a storyteller, one of my big goals is always to be in control of reader expectations, at least on the large scale, so that I know how people are gonna respond to what I'm writing. And I am creating and shaping that experience for people, and fan theories are really great for helping me understand where I need to put emphasis, what I've explained, what details are foreshadowed well enough.

    I'm of the philosophy that most major things that happen in a series (like the ones I write) should be foreshadowed well enough that people are figuring out what's happening. This doesn't alarm me when people figure out early what's going to happen, because this entire series is about the journey. And I feel like if my signposts are correct, people are gonna have a general instinct.

    That said, I always do like to add a few zingers that people aren't anticipating at all. I like those, when either they're the sort of zinger that surprises the cast; something happened in life that nobody's anticipating. And the fun is how people respond, rather than the actual surprise itself. Or the sort of surprising-yet-inevitable; the things that you aren't expecting until it happens, and then realize you should have expected it. So, I do like to throw those out now and then. Like, the little twist that happens with Adolin at the end of Words of Radiance; this is not something that I think people could have guessed, but it makes sense with his character. And so people were shocked, but not surprised, if that makes sense. And those sorts of twists, I really like to do.

    But fan theories, I do read them when they pop up on Reddit. Mostly because people are asking me about them. And I find them very interesting. But they're more relevant in a "market research" sort of way than they are in a "figure out how to fix this problem" sort of way.