Recent entries

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4901 Copy

    Questioner

    How many marks to a broam?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, Peter—take out the … It’s been so long. I had it at ten, but then I think he came in and said “it can’t be ten”, and so it’s actually in our wiki. Peter—hey, where’s Peter? How many marks are in a broam? Is it ten or 25? Email Peter, and he’ll tell you.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4902 Copy

    Questioner

    I know that Tolkein hated allegory in his story. What is your belief?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Tolkein hated allegory. He thought that his stories should just be stories, and I actually feel similar to him. I do have themes in my books, but I let the theme come as an outgrowth of what the characters are passionate about. And certainly, there are certain things, you’ll read Way of Kings and Dalinar’s very interested, a very big theme spiritually in the book (I know, that sentence doesn’t make any sense). But, it’s not me going in and intentionally writing an allegory. I like the story to stand as a story, I like telling stories. I’m not big into writing metaphors.

    Certain people are very good at that. C.S. Lewis did a great job of that, it’s not what I try to do.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4903 Copy

    Questioner

    What’s your schedule like as a writer with so many projects?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, what I do is I get up really early in the morning—noon. I get up at noon. This is hard sometimes! Maybe I’ll get up at 11. Usually I write until 5, and that writing is interspersed with a lot of email, and things like that and kind of distractions. Then I go hang with my family, and then I go back to work, depending on the day, at around 8 or 9, and then I work until about 4, and then I go to bed.

    Usually I’m only writing one book at a time, while outlining another, and I’m often revising a third. I can’t do new material usually on two projects at once, I can only do new material on one thing at a time. But I can be doing some revising on one, and some planning on another, but the truth is I’m very much a segmented writer, and work on segments on things. Right now, with the Wheel of Time, I’m usually not working on anything else or planning, I’m all gung ho on this one thing, and then I’ll shift modes and do something else eventually.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4904 Copy

    Questioner

    Have you ever thought about making your writing class open?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes I have. There are some back and forths here. One thing, about the classes, I really do like teaching at BYU. I like being a BYU teacher, I like being involved a little bit in our Alma Mater, I like coming here, and if I were to make the class open, basically, what I would have to do, I would have to stop teaching at BYU and go to a library or something like that, and just do it in an Auditorium, and I like the class as it is. BYU has policies that say “You have to be a BYU student to go to the class” and that’s not something I can influence or change. So as long as I have it at BYU, it kind of has to be that way. Does that make sense?

    Though I’ve tried to let them get me to record it and like Webcast it, but they have requirements and rules that so far we haven’t been able to make that work. But Writing Excuses is basically the way that I do my class without doing my class, if that makes sense.

    A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
    #4905 Copy

    NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

    If a native of Sel or another Shardworld traveled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their Breath.

    NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

    If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No, they cannot Return.

    NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

    If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4906 Copy

    Questioner

    How do you get the different personalities for all your characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    With the characterization for me is a very organic thing. I acutally plot my plot in detail, do my worldbuilding in detail, before I start on my characters though, if I plan them out too much, they don’t have enough life to them. It’s a very weird thing to explain, but for me, what I have to do is I have to try writing through this character’s eyes, and if it doesn’t work, than I actually have to toss that chapter and try again, and often times you’ll see me start a book try a character a couple of times to get them right. And then they just grow into what they are as the plot goes along. And in fact, the characters have veto power over the plot, and so if I get to a point that I feel like a character would not do this, I have to either go back and cast a different person in this role, or...

    If you are very interested in how I write, I do a podcast called Writing Excuses. And what it is is it’s through your browser, so you don’t do anything special, you just go there and press play, and it’s me and Mary Robinette Kowal who writes these books, they’re like Jane Austen with magic. (laughter) Yeah, she’s good. And it’s Dan Wells, who writes these really scary creepy books, but they’re really good, and it’s Howard Tayler. So anyways, Writing Excuses, all you aspiring writers, it’s Hugo-nominated, it's very well received, I think you’ll really enjoy it. You can look by topic, and find where I talk about writing characters, and we’ll give you a ton of advice. There’s two hours of advice on characters you can listen to.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4908 Copy

    Questioner

    How many Feruchemical powers have you revealed in the Alloy of Law?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the Ars Arcanum in the back, I have revealed them all. I have not explained them all. But I have revealed them all, they are in the back, so you are free to theorize what they mean.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4909 Copy

    Questioner

    You said you were going to rewrite Dragonsteel? Is it going to be a one-book thing, or a trilogy, or what?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dragonsteel is set to be seven books. I shouldn't tell you these things, because it scares people. The cosmere sequence is set at, what did I say, 36 books? Yeah, it's 36 books. A trilogy of Elantris, Two books from Warbreaker, ten books from Way of Kings, and the Mistborn series, and some other books. So anyways, this is a big thing, but don't get scared. You don't have to pay attention to any of this. Just go ahead and enjoy the books. This is behind the scene stuff, and in fact the reason why we don't have a book about Hoid is because I don't want you to have read all of those books in order to understand that book, does that make sense? As soon as Hoid becomes a main character, then you have to have read the whole sequence in order to get it. I don't you to have to do that. I don't want you to have to read Mistborn to understand Stormlight Archive. Hoid may be involved in these things, but he will never be a prominent character, changing things, until he gets his own sequence.

    A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
    #4910 Copy

    Questioner

    How did you keep Legion straight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    "I cheated a little bit in Legion and based each personality off an actor." He pointed out that his favorite personality was JC, who was based on [Adam] Baldwin from Firefly. He also related that Ivy was based on Gwyneth Paltrow. The fan commented that he envisioned Brandon having a folder on each personality, which Brandon confirmed.

    When asked how he approaches writing a novella as opposed to an epic, Brandon reiterated that he was an "architect" style writer, and viewed novella writing as an opportunity to practice his pre-writing skills and his "discovery writing."

    A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
    #4911 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    The Cosmere—How?:

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    "I don't know if it's something I can answer, simply because I don't know how." He went on to relate his feelings when reading Asimov's Foundation, and how cool it would have been if Asimov had known from the beginning that he was going to be tying all these things in, and the subtle hints he could have left in the earlier stories.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4916 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you didn’t know, Mistborn was pitched to my editor as a trilogy of trilogies. I told him I wanted to do a trilogy of epic fantasy books, then the same world in a modern setting, which we’re not to yet, but it’s going to be Allomancers in the 21st century-equivalent technology. It’s an urban fantasy series. Then I wanted to do a Science Fiction series in the same world, using the Epic Fantasy world as kind of a mythology to this new world, and the magic system becoming the means of Space Travel.

    So Alloy of Law I wanted to set up things for the second trilogy. I didn’t want to do the second trilogy yet, because the second trilogy, like the first trilogy is kind of bigger books, with a very involved storyline evolved across three books, and I didn’t want to be releasing that parallel to Stormlight Archive, which is the same sort of thing. Very evolved books where you tie a lot of things together, and so I wanted a series of Mistborn novels that were more independent.

    Alloy of Law is intended to be a “read it, have fun.” Eventually I may end up doing more with those characters, but when I do, you won’t have to remember that much about this one. It’s not like you have to remember a cast of 500 characters. You can just keep track of the main characters. They’re more of an episodic adventure. I kind of imagine Alloy of Law being—I’m not totally sure how to describe it. It’s like you have the giant movie that comes out, and then you have a TV show that’s based off of it, and then another big movie series, or something like that, if that makes any sense. So that’s what Alloy of Law is.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4918 Copy

    Questioner

    When will we see a Hoid book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It’ll be a little while. He’s playing around with things in the Stormlight Archive if you couldn’t tell, he’s decided to—Hoid is fiddling with things, more than he usually does. But Hoid as a major part of things doesn’t really show up till the third Mistborn trilogy, which is the outer space Mistborn, the sci-fi Mistborn.

    So Hoid is very involved in the third Mistborn trilogy, he’s also very involved in Dragonsteel, which is actually the first book in the sequence, long before Elantris happened. So eventually I will tell that story. You can read a draft of it at the BYU library. It’s the only copy that I know of in existence. It’s almost always checked out. It’s my Honors thesis, and it’s not very good. It really is not very good, but basically it’s involving the ideas that eventually will become Dragonsteel once I write it again. But I stole the Shattered Plains and put them in Roshar instead because the fit better there.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4920 Copy

    Questioner

    Does Iron store mass or weight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question. The thing is it really does involve mass, but I’m breaking some physics rules, basically. I have to break a number of physics rules in order to make Magic work in the first place. Those whole laws of Thermodynamics, I’m like “You are my bane!” (laughter) But I try to work within the framework, and I have reasonings built up for myself, and some of them have to be kind of arbitrary. But the thing is, it does store mass if you look at how it interacts, but when a Feruchemist punches someone, you’re not having a mass transference of a 1000 pounds transferring the mass into someone else.

    So there are a few little tweaks. You can go talk to Peter, because Peter has the actual math. Oh Peter’s back there. Peter is dressed up as Allomancer Jak from the broadsheet. In fact we’re giving some out broadsheets, aren’t we Peter. So when you come through the line, we’re giving out Broadsheets. Please don’t take fifty—I think we might have enough for everybody. The broadsheets are the newspaper from the Alloy of Law time. It’s an inworld newspaper. It’s actually reproduced in the book in four different pages, and we put it together in one big broadsheet.

    So anyway, you can talk with him, he’s got more of the math of it. I explained the concept to Peter and he’s better with the actual math, so he said “We’ll figure it out.”

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4921 Copy

    Questioner

    So what happens if you have a Bendalloy bubble, and then another Bendalloy bubble inside of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will compound and double, and it will multiply. Bendalloy is one of the metals from Alloy of Law if you haven’t read it, as this person obviously has, or has read the Ars Arcanum, you’ll find out what it does.

    Alloy of Law release party ()
    #4922 Copy

    Questioner

    What’s your favorite fantasy/scf characters that you haven’t written?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excluding my books and the wheel of time, Sam Vimes from the Discworld books, I really, really like. I have a strong affection for Harry Dresden. I really am fond of Lesa from Dragon Riders. Dragon Riders was one of the early books that I really really liked. Let’s see, who else. That guy from Dragon Prince. Dragon Prince is one of my favorite all-time books. Who else? Who else is good characters? The Fool from the Assassin books by Robin Hobb that she wrote is really awesome. That’s a good place for you. I would like to say Kvothe, because I love those books, but I don’t think he and I wouldn’t get along. I love the books and think that Kvothe is a jerk, and that’s part of why I love Name of the Wind, because Kvothe is kind of a jerk.

    A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
    #4923 Copy

    Questioner

    All of the females in your books seem to be very independent, strong women; do you believe that you write them that way from your perspective, or is that your experience, or...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a couple of things behind that. The first is that my mother graduated first in her class in Accounting in a year where she was the only woman in the entire Accounting department. That was in an era where that wasn't something that a lot of women did, and so I've had quite the role model in my life. But beyond that, it's kind of an interesting story. I discovered fantasy with a book I mentioned earlier, Dragonsbane. Wheel of Time was my *inaudible*, but I discovered Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, and my teacher got me to read this, and I came back to my teacher, and said, "People write books about dragons?" She's like, "Yeah, there's a lot of books about dragons; go read them."

    And so I went to the card catalog, which we had back then in the Stone Age [laughter], and I flipped to the next title in the card catalog, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. And so I'm like, "Well, this has dragons; maybe this is good." And it was fantastic! If you've ever read Dragonflight, it's amazing! So I read through all of those in the school library, and I'm like, "Well, what else is there?" The next title in line was Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn, and so I read through all of those, which are also fantastic books, and one of the best magic systems in fantasy, in Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books.

    And so I got done with those, and at that point, a friend came to me, who'd heard I discovered fantasy, and said, "Here, you'll like this book." It was by David Eddings. And I told him, "I don't think guys can write fantasy." [laughter] That was—honest to goodness—that's what I told him. I'm like, "I don't know if I want to read a guy writer; I don't think they can get it down." And so, I did end up reading Eddings, and enjoying Eddings, but my introduction to fantasy was through three women who have at times been called feminist writers—all three of them have worn that mantle—and that's still with me as part of what makes a good fantasy book, and I think that's just an influence.

    My very first novel that I tried, which was not ElantrisWhite Sand—the female character turned out really bland, and I was really disappointed in myself, and I thought, "the book is terrible." And it took me a long time to figure out—like, several books of work—what I was doing wrong. And what I was doing wrong, and I find this in a lot of new writers across the spectrum, is I was writing people specifically "the Other"; people who are different from myself, I was putting them in their role, rather than making them a character, right? And this is an easy thing to do—like, you get into the head of your main character. They're often pretty much like you, you can write them, they're full of life, they've got lots of passions, and then, the woman is like the love interest, and the minority is the sidekick, right? Because that's...you know, how you do that. And you stick these people in these roles, and then they only kind of march through their roles, and so while it's not insulting, the characters don't feel alive. It's like one person in a room full of cardboard cut-outs, like "Stereotypes Monthly" magazine. [laughter] And then your main character.

    And women are just as bad at doing this as men, just doing the men in that way. And so it's just something, as a writer, you need to practice, is saying, "What would this character be doing if the plot hadn't gotten in their way?" Remember, they think they're the most important character in the story. They're the hero of their own story. What are their passions and desires aside from the plot? And how is this going to make them a real person? And you start asking yourselves questions like that, and suddenly the characters start to come alive, and start to not fill the role. And you ask yourself, "Why can't they be in the role they're in?" And that makes a better character, always, than "Why should they be?"

    Flop roles, too, if you find yourself falling into this, you say, "Okay, I've stuck—" You know, Robert Jordan kind of did this. The natural thing to do is to put the wise old man into the mentor—you know, the Obi Wan Kenobi, the Gandalf—role, and instead, Robert Jordan put a woman in that role, with Moiraine, and took the wise old man and made him a juggler. [laughter] And these two...you know, and suddenly by forcing these both into different roles, you've got... they're much more interesting characters. And you know, Thom is named after Merlin; he could have very easily been in that role, and instead he wasn't. And so, it made even the first Wheel of Time book so much better by making characters not be the standard stereotypical roles that you would expect for them to be in. So, there you go.

    Also, stay away from tokenism. If you force yourself to put two people in from the same culture in your book, that will force you to make them more realistic as characters, because if you only put one in, you can be like, "All right, their whole race and culture is defined by this person." And putting in multiples can help you to say, "Look, now they can't both just be defined by that." Anyway, I went off on a long diatribe about that; I'm sorry.

    Alloy of Law London signing ()
    #4926 Copy

    Fejicus (paraphrased)

    Concerning the Radiants shardplates, and the glyphs on them that Dalinar had never seen before, is there any relation to these and the AonDor? could they perhaps act as an added focus.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    From what i recall, he didnt really give a definitive answer on this one, but he seemed as if we were in the right direction

    Alloy of Law London signing ()
    #4927 Copy

    Fejicus (paraphrased)

    i made a comment about the role mythology plays in WoT, and if Brandon was planning on using any real world mythological parrallels for the Stormlight Archive.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No, he said that while they play a huge role in WoT, that if he were to include mythological parallels in Stormlight, that they would be parallels of Roshar's own mythology.

    Alloy of Law Seattle Signing ()
    #4937 Copy

    Questioner

    The Way of Kings was a book you wanted to tell for many, many years. And I want to figure out, what is the essence that you wanted to tell? Because so many things changed. The major plot elements, some characters. You brought things from other books that are so central to the book. What was the essence that you originally wanted to tell?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was Dalinar's story. Dalinar was one of the very first characters I wrote about when I was a teenager. And I was not able to achieve the story I wanted to tell for him. And so he sat on the back burner as I waited and waited until I figured out how to tell this story in a way that would work. So, basically it's him. He's the soul of the series for me. And certainly, Kaladin and Shallan are very important, and they will have excellent fun, exciting things to do, and they'll be very much part of it. But both of them were developed later in the game. Kaladin was developed early 2000s, and Shallan was developed when I wrote this draft of the book. She had not been around before; there had been another character.

    So it's that mixed with the setting. The setting is one of the oldest I have been working with, the highstorms and things like this. I've for a long time wanted to tell that story.

    Plus, you know, knights in magical power armor. I actually have thought, "No one's gonna buy this until I've given them other books." They might say, "Okay, we trust you Brandon. Knights in magical power armor, I suppose we'll go along with this."

    Alloy of Law Vancouver signing ()
    #4940 Copy

    zxg15 (paraphrased)

    I asked him for more info on what he meant when he said that Stormlight will be organized as two 5 book series within the total 10 books.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Understandably he didn't want to give much away, he wouldn't say if there would be a time skip or not. He did tell me that there would be a large change in tone between books 1-5 and 6-10. Also, he said that since book 2 is now going to be Shallan's, he wants Dalinar's book to be number 5. He then talked about how the 5 characters that were introduced in depth in WoK would be the the 5 flashback characters for the first 5 books and the others would be more focused on in the final 5 books.

    Alloy of Law Vancouver signing ()
    #4941 Copy

    CrazyRioter

    The earring that Wax has. What is it made of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is an excellent question. That is a really good question. You've been reading very closely. How about this: it is made of... what you're trying to figure out is, if it has a Hemalurgic charge? It does have a slight Hemalurgic charge to it. So I'll give you that. It does have a slight Hemalurgic charge.

    Brandon Sanderson

    [Inquisitor spikes] got melted down and turned into earrings.

    Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
    #4945 Copy

    Questioner

    I’ve always wondered what Atium looks like when you’re burning it, do you have possible things coming out of you or do have one shadow just walking out or like an accordion of shadows?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I see one shadow that bursts out that leaves a trail, so like a really faint blur, and then the one shadow in the front, for each...and yeah, if you've got like two Atiums then it's a whole bunch of those, but I see one shadow with a blur of all the pieces and things behind it.

    Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
    #4946 Copy

    Questioner

    I really appreciate all the work you've done on the Wheel of Time, and everything else. Now that you're starting your own really epic fantasy series, you know, I've noticed an issue that Robert Jordan had and that George R.R. Martin has is that the series kind of bloats on them over time. So, how would you approach that with your series, and how are you dealing with the possibility of that happening?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a really good question, actually. A lot of the great series that we love did get a little bit...they feel like they may have gotten away from their authors a little bit, and I have a big advantage that Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin didn't have, which is that I got to read Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin. [laughter] And I say that—we laugh at it—but if you really think about it, a lot of these big epic fantasy series, these people are treading new ground, and they didn't have—you know, the best they have is Tolkien, three books. What do you do with that? I mean, maybe you have Zelazny with Amber, and a lot of books, but they're really thin, and I mean nobody had really done what Robert Jordan did, before he did it.

    What I'm trying to do, is I kind of have a mantra for myself on these books, is that they must be...each one must be individual. Meaning, it's gotta have its own conflicts, its own feel, it's gotta have its own art. I can't let them just blend together, and I think that will help a lot. And so, for doing that, that's why I assign each book in the series a character, and I do the flashbacks in that book for that character in that book, and tell what I want to be a complete arc for that character in that book. Doesn't mean the other characters won't be in the books; Kaladin will be in all the books; Dalinar will be in all the books—assuming they survive. [laughter] But each book will have a character as being kind of the soul of that book, which I think will make them all feel self-contained, and be their own thing.

    The other thing that I'm doing is I'm trying to avoid secondary character bloat. One of the reasons secondary characters show up is you want to show off this little piece of the world, and so you write this thing about this character, and then you're like, "Wow, that's an awesome character; I wanna write more!" And then...BOOM. And so, in The Way of Kings, I actually gave myself these Interludes, which are in-between parts of the book; I let myself do basically two short stories set in the world, or maybe three, and the purpose of that is to show the scope of the world, but to use characters that you don't really need to come back to, for most of them. And so it kind of gets it out of my system, but I have kind of written down as my mantra: "These characters cannot become main viewpoint characters." That's the purpose of doing them in that, and so by doing that and giving myself a sort of pressure valve in one way, and a kind of constraint in the other, that each book must be about a specific character, I'm hoping it will keep this series more focused.

    Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
    #4947 Copy

    Questioner

    I don’t know if this question will come out right...is there a difference between being an author that works for Tor and an author that Tor works for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Most authors, you'll find, are actually independent businesspeople who license their books to a publisher for various languages, and so I don't actually work for Tor. Now, Tor and I get along really well, and they've done very well by me, but I've also done very well by them, and so we have a very good working relationship. But actually I, as a businessperson, license them the books, and that means that I control all the characters, they can't insert or change anything without my approval—they can't even change commas without my approval—and that's the way it goes for most people. Now, everything outside the cover I have is theirs, their packaging, so that's why authors don't get a lot of say in cover and things, because the marketing copy on the cover, the picture and stuff, that's the publisher's. They license the works. So, there is a difference. There are some authors who will do a work-for-hire sort of thing, like I did with the Wheel of Time. I work for Harriet on the Wheel of Time. I am employed by her. It's a very good contract—I mean, she was very awesome to me—but at the end of the day, I am an employee working for her, a contractor working for her, and in that case, it's a different sort of business relationship.

    Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
    #4948 Copy

    Questioner

    How much time do you spend per day writing and doing other writing-related activities, because you put out more than any other author that I ever…

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do this very compulsively. I basically spend—how many hours do I spend?—I basically spend all of them, and when I'm not doing something else. So basically, I usually take two or three hours off with my family, um...so I get up at around noon, I work until five—yes, I get up at noon. Don't knock it; it's the author's way; I'm an artist—and then, I hang out with my family from about five to eight, and then I go back to work and I work generally to about four. Um...and, if there are other things going on in the evening—you know, going out to dinner or things like that—I'll do them, but my default is to working on my books. And that's been pretty steady for the last few years because the Wheel of Time has been so dominating. I'll probably ease up a little once it's done and, you know, maybe play a few more video games and read a few more Pratchett novels. Yeah, it was really, that joker back there that I pointed out works at Blizzard, Blizzard brought me in today and gave me a whole bunch of games, “yeah here Diablo 3, you can go play that...”, “agh, don’t do this to me guys”.

    Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
    #4949 Copy

    Questioner

    You mentioned in your newsletter that you were thinking of doing a Mistborn film, and I'm wondering because it's an internal magic system, how you would differentiate which metal was being burned?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We've got a couple of tricks up our sleeve that we've been working on. One thing that we're changing in the screenplay is, when you burn iron and steel it makes metals glow blue rather than shooting out blue lines. Basically this will keep it less cluttered, and you can kind of dim the screen a little bit and show everything glowing blue. We're doing that, and when you start burning one of the, for instance, one of the metals that influences personality, we're gonna actually kind of like send a pulse out of the person, and have it kind of wash across people, and things like that, so we're coming up with visual clues to show them.