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Interviews: DragonCon 2016

Summary:

Entries

15

Date

Sep 1st, 2016

Location

Atlanta, GA

Links

DragonCon 2016

  • 1

    Question

    On the planet of Nalthis, is the method with which people are chosen as Returned an autonomous system that is not governed by intelligent Entity ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, good question

    Tags

  • 2

    Question

    Stormlight feels very to me on so many levels. You've got the interludes where we get a lot of world-building, get to see more of the planet that just one place. But there is also a sense a lot of your books we are experiencing the aftermath of something. And in Stormlight that something is coming. How is this affecting the way that you are building your world for us ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is gonna get you a story, okay? So here's the story - yeah, I have time. So, alright, darkest time in my writing career, okay? - was when I was writing books 11 and 12 unpublished. I was getting rejection letters - and they were rejection letters for things like Elantris and Dragonsteel, which I was really confident in. Elantris, Dragonsteel, and White Sand were the good books in the era of unpublished Brandon. White Sand by the way, is out as a graphic novel now. You can also read the prose version by emailing me by my website form, we just email it out for free, so you can compare it to the graphic novel. And by the way, Dragonsteel, you're like "Hoid's origin story" - we'll do that eventually. The shattered plains started in dragonsteel, and I pulled them out, and I pulled Dalinar out, and a bunch of stuff, when I build stormlight. And so it's a really schizophrenic book now - shizeophrenic is the wrong term, but half of it was what became Stormlight, and half of it is Hoid's origin story. So, the half that is Hoids origin story will eventually get a book. Anyway, darkest point- I'm not selling anything, everyone is telling me like "your books are too long", this is the number one things I'm getting from rejections, "your books are too long, and your books are not market friendly in that the worlds are too weird". I'm getting at a time - you gotta remember, I love George but you gotta remember this is right after George got huge, and George introduced gritty, low magic, earth-like fantasy as kind of "the thing" that was big. And his books were large too, I don't know why people kept telling me mine were too big, but they wanted gritty and they wanted low magic and they wanted earth-like. So I was getting rejection after rejection on these things. What people were buying were things like Joe Abercrombie's stuff, which is great, Joe's a great writer, but you know, short things that gave people a similar feel to George RR Martin, but you know, but were low magic, kind of earth-like medieval societies. Basically shorter versions of George is basically what they wanted. So I would go to cons and they would be like "have you read the beginning of game of thrones? write something like that" and so finally against better advice, I sat down and said "alright I'll try something like that". And you guys do not want to read Sanderson trying to be like George RR Martin. It was embarrassing, and so I wrote these books, each something different. And I like trying to do something different, I'm not sad I tried to do something different, but at the end I was like "I can't do this, these books are crap". Worst books I wrote were the two that were books 11 and 12, like I shouldn't be getting worse as a writer, I shouldn't be getting worse the more books I write, and finally I was like "screw it, I'm gonna write the biggest, baddest, most awesome book that I can!". They want it more short, this is gonna be twice as long! They say the world is too weird, I'm gonna do the weirdest world I've always wanted to do, I'm gonna write the type of fantasy book that nobody's writing that I wish they would write. And I'm gonna break all these rules that say "don't do flashbacks". Screw you, I'm gonna put flashbacks and they're long! They say "don't do prologues", screw you, I'm doing three prologues! It really does, because Way of Kigns starts with the Heralds prologues, then it goes to Szeth prologue, then it goes to the viewpoint of the guy in Kaladin's squad, also a prologue. Then it jumps like eight months and then we start the story. I did all the stuff they told me not to do because I just wanted to make the biggest, most coolest and baddest epic I could - bad in a good term. And I finished this book, which was basically flipping the bird to the entire publishing industry, right? And that - within a month of finish that is when Moesha [sp? - his editor], who I told you is bipolar, got manic and read through his backlist of books people had sent him, including one I'd sent him two years earlier, which was Elantris. He'd never looked at it, he read it in a night, he called me manic, and he said "I wanna buy your book!". And actually what happened is, he called me and I'd moved since then, and gotten a new phone number, we used to have landlines back then, I had a cellphone by then but I had a landline at the time, and I'd actually - this is gonna date me - my first email address was AOL. And then I realized AOL - I wont speak ill of AOL - yes I will, AOL sucked, and so I'm like "well I need to get my own email address", so I went and got one, but that meant the email had changed. So I sent to anyone who actively had one of my books on submission like "this is my new contact info", but he'd had it for two years, so I figured I was never seeing it - if you were on the last panel, I mentioned that I sent things into tor and they vanished, but I never got rejections - I never got rejected from Tor, I sent them four books, they're still sitting there somewhere I'm sure. But, so I finished this big beast of a book, right, and then I sell Elantris, and I'm like "great, now I don't know what to do". So my editor is like "well what are you working on now, I want to see that too", so I sent him Way of Kings, and I still remember after he called me, he was like "Uhh...Well this isn't the sort of thing that new authors usually publish. Can we split it?" and I said "No, you split the book and it's a really bad book, cause you have all the buildup but none of the payoff". And he's like "uggh", and I said "that's alright, I've got this idea for Mistborn", I pitched him Mistborn, "I'll do Way of Kings later", there were some things I wanted to fix about it, it actually needed something, and I didn't know what that something was yet, and I didn't learn it until working on the Wheel of Time, but that's a different story. But you're asking why is stormlight so different, and Stormlight is a series of my heart, this is the series I wrote when nothing else mattered, and I thought I might never get published and I just wanted to do what I felt that the genre needed that nobody was doing, right? And so I felt like fantasy needed to be pushed a little further in its worldbuilding, and so I did that. I felt like, there was a lot going on. The interludes were kind of my solution that Robert Jordan and George RR Martin were having, which - they were fantastic writers - I was able to learn from them, and Robert Jordan, one of the problems I think he was having was he fell in love with the side characters, and then these side characters took over the story to an extent that it was hard to manage. I'm not bashing on Robert Jordan, he talked about this, he talked about book 10 and how being a parallel novel was a mistake. I could learn from his mistakes, it doesnt make me a better writer, what it means is I can learn from what they did. And I said "okay, I'm gonna put pressure valves in my book, I'm gonna put a short story collection in each book where I'm gonna write about side characters, and those who wanna skip them can, and those who don't can read them", and I'll just make sure that I contain them in these short stories, these interludes, and that lets me do what I want but also lets the book keep its focus. So I'm doing a lot of things with these books that were like my love letter to the epic fantasy genre, and so I'm enthusiastic that you actually all like it and want to read them.

    Tags

  • 3

    Question

    Is a Larkin capable of pushing Stormlight into someone as well as pulling out ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    An excellent question, they actually eat on Investiture, as some other people and things that you see.

    Question

    so this is a NO

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is more a NO than a Yes

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  • 4

    Question

    You mentioned in the last couple of (I don't understand the word but from the context He talk about Ars Arcanum where Khriss talk about what we call "perks") that you get interesting results when you mix type of investitures.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes

    Question

    Can you mix a form of magic with a source of investiture ? Vasher uses stormlight replacing Breath or that requires (word I don't understand) like Hemalurgy or something like that ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most of them required (again the word I don't understand). Some of them are little bit easier than others. It's depends on really what you need. For istance, white sand can be charged in the presence of any Investiture right? But it's not really using the magic, is just charging it with other Investiture but you know it would be very easy for istance to use Breath to fuel...Windrunning right? Because the oath and the bond and things like that make it pretty easy. However fueling Allomancy with something else is going to be a lot harder. So it really depends on the magic. It's the sort of thing that there will be lots of science in the books dedicated to making happen in the future and you will find some of the process these work easiser than other ones.

    Tags

  • 5

    Question

    (answering earlier question of "what you're working on right now)

    Brandon Sanderson

    So - I'm working on the third Stormlight book. (cheering) It is currently three hundred and thirty thousand words long, which, for comparison - the original Way of Kings was around three hundred thousand and Words of Radiance was about four hundred. And so... and it's only three quarters done. So I've prepared the publisher, and I'll have to get through this again... Maybe I'll be able to make the future books in the series shorter, but this one's gonna be a big one, which I know you guys are so sad about. I anticipate it'll be published about a year after I hit the hundred percent of the first draft, so if you watch that progress bar, right when it hits that hundred, you're looking at about a one year period. I've been doing really well, momentum's been really good lately, and so I'm expecting that to be October... But just watch as that goes, it'll slowly tick up, and it's not ticking up right now 'cause I'm actually doing the revisions for part three of the book, which I'm doing the revisions as I write the book this time to get my editor, who's bipolar... I give him the trick parts when he's manic, so he revises them (laughing) and that let's us get through them in the periods when he's not manic, and he's manic right now! So I'm going to send him a part and be like "okay, Moshe, time to work on this". You just have to learn how to work in business this way, when you've got an editor like Moshe. Book's going really well, it'll have most likely Dalinar's flashback sequence, and I will be reading one of those at my reading tomorrow. (wild cheering) Which I like to read those, because they take place before book one starts and it's not a huge spoiler for people who haven't finished Words of Radiance or anything yet, because that takes place before the series, but it's also- they're very self-contained sequences, they read very well, my big worry is that I don't know what room I'm in tomorrow... (checks, gives information)

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  • 6

    Question

    How much of your- the way you interact with your fans and your process with us (?) is a reaction to being a Wheel of Time fan, and the thins that you wanted to happen...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Right. I think a lot of it is, but it's a mix of being a Wheel of Time fan and just a fantasy fan in general, wanting to know more about business, being an author, and just... wanting this transparency and... I don't think that the authors before can really be blamed, they didn't have the Internet, right? I mean, you couldn't really have a thing like I have now on my website, or that most authors have a website, I mean, some authors tried newsletters, but those were huge productions, requiring, you know, actual paper, you know, that stuff they used to use, then sent through the actual mail, not email... the email's named after it, kids. (laughing) These were huge productions, and so they were- It's not like I sat one day and said "oh, those authors!", but then... you see, my generation, when we broke in and were, the Internet was becoming the thing that it is, were like "ah, let's use this!" I remember when Kevin James said to me "but so here's Twitter", and I'm like like, "eh, Twitter. Why would... they're so short", he said "No, but it's like you can create your own newsfeed from all the people you're following, and it's like a little kind of newspaper about what's going on in everyone's life." I'm like "oh, that's a really useful thing as an author", so I hopped on Twitter very early, I hopped on Reddit very early, I hopped on... eh, some of the other defunct places, but yeah, the idea was that... I'm gonna go off a tangent, you'll get a lot of this. I have this view, as a writer - and again, don't go say that to other writers, you shouldn't do this - the way I feel is that I'm an artist and you are my patrons. In the old days, you used to... to be an artist, you used to have wealthy patrons, right? That's how you made art, that some rich person came and said "here's a bunch of money to live on, now go make this art and then, you know, mention that I'm your patron". And a lot of great art we have, in fact almost all of it came from somebody paying so the artist can actually have food and a life while they're making this art. In the modern society that's changed to the kind of crowdsourcing, "you are my patron". The crowd in general says "okay, we're all going to be in (???) so that you don't have to be one" - thank you - "You write these stories and then we'll support you". And so my philosophy is: in a lot of way, you are my boss, in more of a patronage sort of thing, you're my patron, and so I should be accountable with what I'm doing. It doesn't mean that I'm going to necessarily change what I'm doing, and it doesn't mean that I'm always going to be writing the thing you want me to, but I will be clear about what I'm doing and when, just for that transparency, 'cause we can do it now, when we're not- we couldn't before.

    Tags

  • 7

    Question

    I know you're past this now, but would you ever consider something like the Patreon? Is that something that you would've done ten years ago, if it existed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I might have... Patreon is kind of a hard thing, because I think Patreon is much better for people who are doing something that may be not as market-friendly, but which a group thinks is very important and should be rewarded. There are certain authors I know whose work is very important to the field, like Nora Jemison. Nora's work is really important, and it's really good, but... and it's sold pretty well, but I think that the idea of "(???) have to be market-friendly" is really terrifying to Nora... maybe not terrifying, I don't think anything terrifies Nora. But you know, it's that she doesn't want to be beholden to that, and so her setting up a Patreon said, "look, I'm just gonna write this stuff, I don't even have to worry about the market", is really good use of Patreon. We set one up for Writing Excuses, and then we use the money to pay our guests, and to fly people in and stuff like that. I don't need one because what I write naturally does very well in the market and so there's no need or worry for me to do that. If all writing shifted in that direction I'd be fine with it, but for right now what's working here with me is working just fine...

    Question

    Yeah, the traditional model for publishing really serves you...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. The traditional model works very well when you're someone like me. My plots and my stories and things just connect very well with a large segment of the population. (pauses) It's also why I don't do a lot on Kickstarter, like I think Kickstarter's- like we did, we let people making this one board game - which, by the way, Mistborn Board Game, yeah, you guys kickstarted that very well - I let them Kickstart that, they're like a small company that makes the board game, and I said, "you can make the board game, but you have to get a really good designer, because I can't micromanage making a board game", and so they get it, and that's somebody very expensive, and then they Kickstarted, you guys supported that. I think that's a good use of Kickstarter for someone like me, but Kickstarter ain't just something of my own, I'd rather Kickstarter be used by people who maybe need it a bit more, so I've stayed away from doing this thing for now.

    Tags

  • 8

    Question

    So, when you were starting to write your books, did you have that... the Cosmere, did you make it first, or did you start with (the stories?).

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, excellent question. So, he's asking about Cosmere, where all my epic fantasies are tied together, where did that come from. I can trace a few paths back to my brain where that came from. What I can say is that it was built in from the beginning of the books you have been reading - but you remember, those weren't my first written books. I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. Elantris was number six. Way of Kings was number thirteen. And so... I love this idea of a big, connected universe. First person I can remember doing it that blew my mind was when Asimov connected Robots and the Foundation books, which I thought was so cool when I was a teenager. Another path that concept also, though- I don't know how many of you guys did this, but when I'd read a book - I still do this, actually - I would insert behind the scenes a kind of character who was my own, who was doing stuff behind the scenes, like I would insert my own story into the story, just kind of take ownership of it in a strange sort of way. I remember doing this with the Pern books, I'm like "oh, they think that person is who they think they are, but nooo! This is this other person!" And so I had this kind of proto-Hoid in my head jumping between other people's works. So when I sat down to write Elantris, I said "Well, I want to do something like this". All the people I've seen doing this before, and they've done it very well - Michael Moorcock did it, and Stephen King did it, things like this, I'm not the first one to connect their works together, not by a long shot. I felt like a lot of them, they kinda fell into it, and as a writer, having seen what they did, I could do it intentionally, if that makes sense. And so I started out with this idea that I was just gonna have this character in-between who is furthering his own goals, and built out a story for him, and then, after I did Elantris, I wrote a book called Dragonsteel, which isn't published, and it was this origin story for this character. And then I wrote some more books, and so, of course, things like this. Eventually Elentris got published and the other ones didn't, and they weren't as good as Elantris was. And so I took them all as kind of "backstory canon", and moved forward as if they were all there and they had happened, but nobody else knew but me, which allowed this cool foundation for you like "wow, that stuff has happened", because I had books and books of material that I could treat as canon in this way, to let me know where thing were going. So it wasn't... it was planned from the beginning, but not the beginning of my writing career, about book six was where it started.

    Tags

  • 9

    Question

    Can you give any example or examples of some things that you got to hear in (???). What that something that you did, or was that actual (???)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question, I'll go through a few of these things for you, that one was me. One of the things that was awesome, but also a little bit difficult to- anyway, it was awesome to be able to come as a fan, having read the books for twenty years and be thinking about "wow, I wish this would happen", and then say "wow, I'm gonna make that happen". But as I was doing it, I was also realizing it was dangerous, because there was a real danger for putting in fanservice type stuff, not in the traditional meaning of fanservice, but like the fanservice of Na(???) showing up in the last battle or things like this, like little fan jokes. I found that I had a lot of temptation to put those in, and so I had to tread this really careful line where I was saying "what do I as a fan want to make the book more fulfilling", not just as a joke. One of the things that as a writer I've always wanted to see was gateways used for more than they were used and the books were never bringing up that point, you know, teleportation, instant travel has a lot of ramifications. One of the things I kind of put on myself was that I didn't want to create a lot of new (ways/weaves?), because I knew if I did, I'd really risk taking it to far away from Robert Jordan's vision, so I said "let's stick mostly to the weaves(?) he's used, and see if I can use them in more different ways. This whole idea of taking the magic and digging deeper into it rather than going wider with it. And so a lot of the stuff with gateways is me. A lot of- so for instance, I also went in and said to Harriet "every book that Robert Jordan's done, almost all of them, has added a new character who's become a main character or at least a side character. If we don't do that for these last books it's gonna feel weird to people. So I would like to take one of the (???) and bring them to prominence, and make them a viewpoint character and do what Robert Jordan's done" and so that's what (???) came from and though there's nothing in Robert Jordan's notes about this little bit of, about his profession, take him and play with him, and do whatever you want. And that was almost a little pressure valve for me, to put more "Brandon-y" sort of things, goofy magic system stuff with that, and that pressure valve allowed me to, not really knowing my writing style, I was able to make the rest of it be a little more Robert Jordan-esque, if that makes sense. You see that pressure valve with Perrin and the (world dream?), the world dreams(?), because, as I've said before, Robert Jordan didn't leave much on Perrin, Perrin is a big, empty... big blank slate for these books. We knew where he ended up at the end and that was it. So Perrin was the other sort of "do whatever you want, Brandon" sort of thing. He left a lot more on the other characters. So if you're reading Perrin scenes or if you're seeing him play with gateways, you're seeing me kinda let Brandon leak out a bit more. And this was done intentionally, I'd say that was my pressure valve, but also... when I was given this, Harriet sat me down and said "you are the author now. I didn't hire a ghostwriter on purpose. I didn't want somebody who was just going to be Robert Jordan, because that would make a bad book", in her opinion. "Robert Jordan can't finish this, so you have to do it and yes, we want to stay true to his vision, but you are the writer now." And she was very clear on that, and I always remembered that and how much that meant to me, being... you know, she was the ultimate authority, but I had creative control to do whatever I felt the books needed, and her job was to rein be back if she though I went too far, and make sure the voice was consistent and things like that. So I got to do a lot with these books that I don't think a ghostwriter would be able to do.

    Footnote

    [I'm guessing this refers to Wheel of Time writing]

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  • 10

    Question

    At the beginning, you haven't had much of a fan base, how had it been transitioning from lack of a fanbase to... this.

    Brandon Sanderson

    This. Um... wow, yeah. So... it's been crazy, definitely been crazy. It's weird because as a writer, you become a writer to tell your stories, not to become famous, right? But becoming famous, nobody becomes famous as a writer, right? That's what you figure and you just want to tell your stories. If you would've gone to me, when, let's say, 1999, 2000, when I was in the thick of writing all these books, and come to me and said, "we're gonna give you", um, just pick a normal salary, "forty grand for the rest of your life if you'll keep writing books", I'd have taken that in a heartbeat. That guarantee - I'm there. I can publish a book a year, I can have means to make a living on it, that is all I ever wanted, in fact, I totally would, if I could just get there. Well... (laughs) Now, with over ten million books out there, it's different. But at the same time, being a writer is awesome in that... I sat next to somebody on the plane on the way here and he's like "oh, what are you doing", I "I'm a writer" and he's "oh, should I know who you are?" My response was "no, actually, because I'm really, really famous with a really small and weird group of people." (general laughing) And that's for me the best kind of famous. I can... if I go out, right, I'll sign maybe one or two autographs and it feel cool, right? One or two people will recognize me and be like (does "whoa" impression), then I'll sign the autograph and it's great, but then I just go on with my life! And it means a ton to some people, but for average people it means "oh, you want fries with that". And so I basically live a normal life, as normal a life as one can be when, you know, you're travelling to Europe and things like that on tour. But when I'm at home it's very normal, it's just me and my kids and my write, I write at home, it's a blast, it's a normal life, I play Minecraft with my kids, I hang out and things like that, and then I go on tour and I'm a superstar for short time with some really cool people, then I go home and it's just normal again. So... yeah, if you're gonna be famous, be writer-famous. Don't be... even movie stars very few people know, you recognize their face and they can't go anywhere, and I don't think I would want that. So this has been awesome. And the other thing is, you always want to be able to just write whatever you love, and we talk about that, I mean... I, at the end of the Wheel of Time, I paid for my house, we put enough savings for the kids and for whatever we'd need to pay for for the rest of our lives, and I retired. I retired like four years ago, retired meaning "I get to write extra books!", so thank you guys for that!

    Tags

  • 11

    Question

    I like about your writing that you know when to stop. There are a lot of writers who just keep going and going and going and just don't seem to know when to stop. How much of... pre-planning do you do for your writing, and when do you know when to... cut with the breaks off(?), like "you know, I've gotta finish this up, cause I don't want this to drag out", like so many other authors have done in past.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, so one advantage I had - I found I'm more rare in this, I though I would be the normal - but I am a heavy outliner, and usually what you find with outliners as writers is that they write good endings, but they have trouble with characters. Usually what we call a discovery writers who just kinda find their way through the book as they go is that they have this really lively characters and then their endings just kind of... whatever. And there are great discovery writers who have great endings, and there are plenty of outline writers who have great characters, you just have to learn to shore up(?) what you witness, learn your writing style, and for me that is my early books, the ones that weren't published, where the weakness was characters. I was really worried about it, and so I spent like five years being "how do I make the characters work", and I can only do this kind of hybrid method where I took my friends who I know write really great characters and I tried the methods they used, and so I kind of discovery-write characters and outline my plot and then if the characters grow into something the plot wouldn't work for, I either take those characters out and grow someone else in that place or I build the plot for characters. So right now I have this floating outline that changes as I'm going. But I like good endings. And I feel like good endings are something that a lot of... Hollywood(?) skims on them, and a lot of books just don't quite bring it together. And so it's something very important to me, that I don't start my book until I know what the ending I'm pointing toward is. And then (???) then I'm done, when I've got that ending and I'm pointed at it, when I finish it, I can then be done. I always feel that a piece of art that's continuous, like writing a serialized work, it needs to finish at some point to actually be a piece of art. And that's why, you know, Mistborn trilogy, the publisher hates that I ended the Mitborn trilogy with them dying, he said "yes, but you've just hit the bestseller list, hopped on the bestsellers", and yep. I'm done, though. That is a piece of art. It's finished. And it's not, you know... one of the things I knew I was going to do in my life and I think the publishers were okay with it because a lot of things I was doing very early in my career was, you know, start with convincing readers - I hope I've convinced you all - that what they're following is kind of Brandon Sanderson Book Brand rather than latching on to a series. A lot of authors have this trouble with people kind of latching on to the series and not the author, and then they feel tied to this series, and I never wanted to do that, cause like you said, I think there are plenty of series that have gone for a very long time and their authors always loved it. But I've also read series where it feels like the author feels chained to the series, and he only writes one of these when they actually need to pay checks or something like that, and I never wanted to be there. And so very early I'm like "I'm not writing the sequel to Elantris immediately, I might never" - I probably will, but I told people that it's a standalone book, it's just there, and if I write a sequel, it will be about different characters, cause that story's done. Mistborn trilogy... yes, I'm gonna come back to the world, but the story of these characters is done. And training people to, like, "alright, I like what Brandon does, I'll trust him that the next thing will be good too", and... hopefully that works, and even if it doesn't, I'm still gonna do what I do, I'd rather be a person who writes a lot of different things even if that means I have a smaller audience, because I really like jumping projects, it keeps me fresh. People ask me how am I so productive. It's really a mix of two things. And I'm going on tangent, like I said! But people ask this all the time, and I'm like, "I don't know how to answer that, I just do my job, right?" I write every day, consistently. I don't write very quickly, I'm not a fast writer, but I write very consistently. I think I am lucky in that I didn't get published earlier and so I had to have a job and all of this stuff and go through school all while finding time to write two thousand words a day and I did that for ten years before I got published, and so I had momentum, I knew I could just do these two thousand words a day and I would always have a book that I was working on and getting ready, and I also learned to jump projects a lot to keep myself fresh, and so when I finished something, I immediately looked for something very different to do, which will refresh my mind, let me hit the ground running. A lot of writers have downtime between books, and that downtime is because... I don't know if you guys get this kind of, this... funk after you finish great book you've read and you realize like "oh maaan", kind of like coming down from a high. Writers get that too, when you finish a book and you're like "whoah". But if I can get excited about the next thing very quickly, and start on it immediately, then I just keep my momentum and keep going. So it's kind of a mixture of those two things, good habits and switching projects, so that means you shouldn't be frustrated when I do a book that's not your favourite series, whatever it is, because your favourite series would not be coming in faster, most likely. In fact, what you can look at the time the Stormlight books have taken, and compare them to time that other big epic fantasy series taken, I do a Stormlight book at about the same rate actually, I'm not that much faster than Pat or George or something like that, it's just that I know to fill that time between those big books with something else to keep my momentum going - or at least my psychology lets me do this, and I don't think the books would be any faster without that.

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  • 12

    Question

    One of my favourite things about your books is your characters. And I was wondering - what advice would you give for aspiring authors about developing characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oof. This is the hardest one for me to talk about, because for me, it was a matter of taking what I was doing wrong and learning to do it right, which... how do you do that? That's the story of becoming better at everything. For me with characters, a big "click" that happened in my brain was when I realized every character is the hero of their own story. Every character sees the world through their eyes, that's the only experience they had, and they don't exist to fill a role, we don't exist to fill roles, we fill roles! We fill lots of them. But that's not why we exist, right? We aren't sidekick, or we aren't spouse. We fill those roles, and we identify in those roles, but we are not those roles, and when I started to treat my characters each like, I ask, what is this person's passion in life? How do they see themselves? They're okay not being at forefront of the story, but what in their minds they see as their life meaning? What do they want, who are they, all of these things, and I stopped sticking people into roles, which is really dangerous for an outline writer, sticking people in roles. I'm like, stop doing that! My characters really came alive a lot more. So that's... I don't know if that helps, but the biggest piece of advice I can give you is try to figure out a way where you can let your characters pretend like, well, what would it be like with this person the hero of the story, not just the sidekick, what would they do? How would they approach it? What would they be doing if they weren't saving the world? If this plot hadn't hit them like a freight train, what would they be doing in life, they would care about things! Would would they care about, what would they be doing.

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  • 13

    Question

    Could feruchemical Nicrosil be used to store other invested abilities, such as a Returned breath or the abilities of the Knights Radiant?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that's possible

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  • 14

    Question

    So, I wanted you ask: you, I think more than almost any other fantasy author, you create universes and then you leave them behind. I feel like you could have pages of a physics lecture for each of your universes and you'd have equations for everything. Have you always had these ideas for these various universes with gods and magic systems and things like that, or are you always creating them as you go?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Its yes and no. A lot of the ones you're seeing in the cosmere are things I created at the beginning to be kind of what the cosmere was. But I left some holes intentionally cause I knew I would come up with cool things that I wanted to add, and so I built in that wiggle room, and I'm always coming up with new ones, and there are way more that I want to do than I can write, like the one I keep wanting to find a chance for is like - do you guys know how Nikolai Tesla tried to create wireless energy? I think I've talked about this one. Like, he tried to create wireless energy, and I'm like "what if there were a world where that happened naturally"? Where you had an actual current going, and you could set your lantern on the ground and it would create a current and your lantern would just turn on, you don't need electricity, and you could have giant toads that could shoot out electrodes in their tongue that would create a current, like tazer tongues? *Brandon makes tazer noises* Stuff like this. And so, I started jumping in to looking at electricity and things like this, and current and whatnot, and that's just all back there and I'm like "aww, someday I need to be able to write this." But there are so many things that I want to write that I just don't have the time for, so it's a yes and no.

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  • 15

    Question

    So you have "what if?" questions and then you build a universe from there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Usually they're "what if?" questions, but Sanderson's zero-th law, you know I've got these laws on magic you can look up - they're named humbly after myself - so Sanderson's zero-th law is always err on the side of what's awesome. And usally it's less even a "what if?" than a "that's so cool, tazer toads!". Like if you really want to know the truth of where the stormlight archives started, there's all this cool stuff, like part of it was like "what if there was this storm like the storm on Jupiter", and then I eventually changed it to a storm that goes around the planet, something like that, but the real truth was "magical power armor! YEAH! Magical power armor is cool! Magical plate mail power armor! Why would you need plate mail power armor?" Y'know, and it starts with the really cool idea. Mistborn started with me hitting a fog bank at eighty miles per hour in my car and loving how it looked as it drove past and saying "is there a world where I can imitate this feel, where you can look out and it streams by." It's theses early visuals or concepts that make me say "Oooh, I wanna do that!". That is where my books really come from, and then I layer on top of them the "what ifs?" and a realistic ecology based around these ideas.

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