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Interviews: Reddit 2012 (WoT)

Summary:

Entries

30

Date

2012

Links

Reddit.com

  • 1

    n3xus1 (January 2012)

    I have been reading the wot for more that half my life. I love it. I just finished my nth read through and let me say that Sanderson does an amazing job. I loved all of his books, if you have not read mistborn you are missing out. Ok that said I am fairly certain that the curse is "Blood and ashes" or in cases of extreme stress and/or Uno, "Blood and bloody ashes". Maybe even "blood and bloody flaming ashes". But NEVER was it simply "bloody ashes". Thank you, that is all. Sorry for typos wrote this on my phone, while riding a raken.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's okay.

    I've done this intentionally. It's a personal quirk of mine from my linguistic background. I feel that many constructions like this, over time, will simplify. As the world of the WoT has been modernizing, I feel that slowly "Bloody and bloody ashes" would shorten. I've used the longer version in the books, but have begun pushing the oaths toward their more clipped versions as part of a subtle linguistic shift to accompany the birth of things like gunpowder and steam power.

    Our world's own oaths have done this quite aggressively.

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  • 2

    elquesogrande (February 2012)

    /r/Fantasy is closing in on 10,000 readers and, to celebrate, one lucky r/Fantasy member will win a hardcover copy of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man's Fear—signed by Patrick Rothfuss with a personalized message of the winner's choice.

    To enter, simply put your favorite fantasy-related quote below. Don't have a favorite quote? Hmm...google one up or just write down something clever.

    At an arbitrary point of my choosing on Friday, February 3rd I will tally up the total number of people who entered and use a random number generator to help pick the winner.

    Brandon Sanderson (February 2012)

    So tempted to post a quote from the unpublished last book of the Wheel of Time here.

    blowing_chunks

    Please do!

    If you win, your personalised inscription could be one for the ages.

    "I, Patrick Rothfuss, acknowledge that Brandon Sanderson's beard is superior to mine."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha. Now that might just be worth it...

    Of course, I already have Pat's books signed to me. I don't want to take the chance from anyone else. More importantly, though, I haven't gotten back edits on A Memory of Light from Harriet yet—so any line I post could be one that she decided to cut, or one she found a continuity error in. If I had a draft she'd seen, I might actually do it.

    Mat does say "Blood and Bloody Ashes!" a few times, though. Does that count?

    shepherdless

    If not, at least post a quote from another source. I find it interesting to see what one the best writers of the genre (not to blow smoke up your ass) favorite quote is.

    Brandon Sanderson

    From the Wheel of Time, it's Lan's "Portion of Wisdom" quote.

    "You can never know everything, and part of what you do know will always be wrong. Perhaps even the most important part. A portion of wisdom lies in knowing this. A portion of courage lies in going on anyway."

    From any fantasy work? Wow, that would be a tough one. Maybe Vimes on the economics of buying new footwear?

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  • 3

    asmodean reborn (February 2012)

    *snip*

    moose_man

    Silly Forsaken. You aren't supposed to be reborn. That's the Prince of the Morning's job.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dang. And here I'd been telling everyone that he was dead for sure.

    Better go edit the appendix for Book 13 for the next edition.

    moose_man

    Dear god. Dear god. Holy shit, man. Holy shit. You are an inspiration to me, and I look forwards to reading your contributions to WoT.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Thanks!

    Hopefully, we'll meet at a con somewhere someday and can have a game of Magic or two.

    moose_man

    That would be incredible. I'm so psyched for A Memory of Light, obviously.

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  • 4

    Necrosxiaoban (March 2012)

    I read the article expecting Sanderson to share some special insight but that article could have been written by anyone :(

    Brandon Sanderson

    Heh. I can give special insight into the books I worked on, but as for the early ones, I'm really just another fan. (Well, okay, that's not true—but special things I know about the early books are not mine to share, by the NDA I signed with Harriet.) I also have to squeeze writing these into five minutes or so between drafts of A Memory of Light chapters.

    So, unfortunately, with these posts you'll only get Brandon the fan talking for a little bit about why he likes each book. (Sorry.)

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  • 5

    exteras (April 2012)

    Of course, the comic industry isn't quite the same as the publishing industry, as Marvel and DC both have their own apps on the iPad/Android. No middle-man. But I can't believe that the publishing industry hasn't considered a solution like this to keep paper books relevant. In fact, I feel like Barnes and Noble would jump all over something like this: Buy a book in their store, and get a free (or even a $1) digital copy on the Nook.

    Brandon Sanderson (April 2012)

    It's an issue that I've busted my mind trying to figure out. There are several ways to do this, all somewhat problematic.

    1) Work directly with someone like B&N. This requires them to sell the digital copy alongside the print edition, probably at the register. Kind of a "Oh, you bought the hardcover. Would you like the digital add-on for a buck?" Then they give you a slip of paper with your digital code on it. There are huge logistical issues here. Not insurmountable, but still tough. How many books do you do this with? All new books? How do you keep all of those slips separate? Do you have a machine that prints one with a code? Who pays for the infrastructure? What happens to all of those slips once a book rotates out of being new? We already have trouble with advance copies being snatched by booksellers (or other) and offering them up for sale on ebay when they were intended to be review copies. (Printed at a high cost and given for booksellers to read.) I could see this, without careful management, going the same way.

    Also, what about all of your independent booksellers who are already up in arms about B&N and Amazon getting all of the preferential treatment? What do you do about them? Let them give away an ebook too? It would have to be multi-format, and that means printing and shipping them all the slips on your end.

    2) Print a code in the book itself. Easiest answer, I think, but it offers a huge problem. Books are not usually a sealed product. People like to flip through them on the shelves. So how do you hide the code? Make it inactive until it is scanned at the register, like some gift cards? I don't know how much work is required for this. It seems like less than the one above, but still requires and infrastructure change.

    This is much, MUCH easier to do with a sealed product like DVDs or CDs.

    If anyone has suggestions on how to make this all work, I'd love to hear them. I've proposed giving away digital copies of my books with the hardcovers before, and Tor as scratched its head trying to figure out how to make it all work.

    Edits: Logical flow, typo fixes.

    EDIT TWO: It has been mentioned on twitter that maybe, a code could be printed on the receipt. Much easier than a method I mentioned above—but the problem remains that it's not something that I can do alone. I MIGHT be able to get a code in my books, if we can secure them somehow. I alone can't get retailers to change so they print something out and give it to a customer. I'm mostly curious about something I can take to Tor, as a suggestion, that we could maybe get to work for the last Wheel of Time book or my future hardcover releases.

    warriormuse

    What about the system Baen uses? They include a CD with the book in multiple formats already.

    Granted, that increases the overhead for the publisher. And the ISO is able to be spread online.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm intending to try this again. When I asked last time, they were hesitant because of the cost. (About a buck.) However, that was for one of my books before I hit the level of popularity I have now. The Wheel of Time is something else entirely. Something that might be prohibitive for another book because of small print runs could be much more cost effective here.

    However, perhaps a code/CD plus shrink wrapping for certain books might be a good way to go. If we released most copies like normal, but did a certain percentage of them packaged like this with a code for a digital download, maybe it would work.

    dceighty8

    On this note does anyone know if the ebook release of A Memory of Light will be at the same time as the paper copy? I would prefer to buy it on my kindle over purchasing the physical copy.

    Brandon Sanderson

    <>This is basically what I'm working on. I don't know yet if Harriet will want to delay the ebook launch or not. She did last time, but things have moved quickly in the ebook world since then. Her main reason for delaying was worries over how the New York Times bestseller list accounted ebooks.

    She might not delay the launch this time. If she wants to, I might have a better chance of getting her to agree on a special edition with ebook included in the hardcover than I will persuading her to push the ebook launch up. It's one of the reasons I'm exploring this concept now.

    demooo

    Okay Mr. Sanderson, here are my two ideas, but I don't know if they are actually feasible.

    Disclaimer: if it turns out I'm fantastic with these ideas, please forward me a copy of A Memory of Light in the next week.

    1. Can you know just have two copies released at most stores? One copy would be the non-shrink-wrapped regular book. The other copy would be the 1-3$ more expensive shrink-wrapped copy with the digital code. Or keep the hardback copy+digital behind the counter.

    2. Include a scratch-off-code in all the books, but sell the copy at the normal price. The code will require a 3$ activation fee when you activate it online. I realize that the possibility for theft is still there, but I would assume if someone is going to illegally scratch the code and pay 3$, torrenting the book would be the first choice.

    Release A Memory of Light early. I know it will help.

    kaladin_stormblessed

    1 is a fantastic idea. I've got Avenging Spider-man in my pull (which comes with the digital copy), and this is pretty much how they run it. Comic is in a sealed baggie. They don't offer a version without a digital copy (that I know of anyway) however.

    I think your idea is the most feasible on here.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think this is one of the main options I'm going to try.

    precisionesports

    Hello people of the internet. I`d like to introduce you to.... email.

    Most retailers have them anyways. You buy a book, give your email.

    Receive email with direct download link or (heaven forbid) a torrent to relieve stresses on sites selling fast selling books. Harry Potter comes to mind.

    Done and done.

    Edit: Most B&N stores, among others already use a web based sales format. They just need a small code entry to create a drop box. Containing the Distributor code, and book name.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think Tor is more likely to want to use Tor.com as a method for this, as getting people to sign up for that (which is free, but includes an optional newsletter) could be valuable for them. When they gave out Mistborn for free, this was how the approached it. Sign up for our website, and we'll send you a book via email.

    jasonlotito

    Scrap number 1. Independent booksellers are awesome. I bought your last book through one.

    Print a code in the book itself. Good solution. Proper solution.

    Your problem is that it's supposedly easy to "steal the code". This makes a massive assumption, and ignores existing evidence.

    First, you aren't the first one to think of this. People already include codes for ebooks in their books. I know this is done fairly often in the tech industry (programming books often allow you to get access to an ebook. Granted, the market is much smaller than what you are probably used to by now, but the target market is also more tech savvy. They know how to pirate the book, even without the code.

    And that brings us to the second point: pirating. People who would copy the code can easily obtain your manuscript online already. In fact, getting the code would be far more trouble then it's worth. They have to go to a store, find a copy, write the code down, go all the way back home... or they could simply go one of a few places and have a copy in minutes.

    So, this brings us to the third point: who would go to a book store with the expressed desire of picking up your book? Your fans! People who already buy and pay for your books. People who want you to write more. People who want to see you finish your multiple series. And I'd be hard pressed to believe that your fans would open up a copy of the book, copy the code, and use that at home. They know what that costs them.

    And even if they did, would they have really purchased your book? Really? What your suggesting is that someone who loves your work, who has followed it, goes to the bookstore with the expressed intention of copying the code and leaving. That's pretty far fetched. Even the MPAA and RIAA can't come up with numbers that support these sentiments (industries that, despite all the doomsayers, continue to grow and earn massive profits).

    Yes, a few people might steal the code. And frankly, any system that accepts these codes will need to be lenient in the codes usage. But the reality is this:

    1.People will violate your copyright, code or no code.

    2.Having a code won't make it any easier.

    3.Having a code will only provide additional value to your paying readers.

    In the end, the only people who would abuse this are people that weren't going to buy the book at first anyways. You should try this out. You might be surprised.

    K.I.S.S. =)

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't disagree with anything you've said here. However, you've got to understand that I need to deal with the realities of a large business with investors and corporate overseers.

    Tor is not afraid of piracy, as I've said elsewhere. They give away DRM-free books, and have done so with mine. They let me give away on my website one of my books DRM-free in its entirety two years before it was released in stores. However, accepting that people will pirate and hosting the method they will use to pirate are different things entirely.

    The Wheel of Time is not something that the publisher wants to experiment with. It is a known quantity, the biggest bestseller for the company by a mile. Things we could get away with for a new author that the company views as being 'built' are not going to work for the Wheel of Time simply because this will have a 'why rock the boat?' kind of attitude.

    That's why I'm looking for something for this book that won't rock the boat quite so much. We can rock the boat on my own books, which are still growing, rather than the company's baby.

    Footnote

    This topic started about Marvel now offering free eComic with physical purchase, and how it should be that way in the publishing idustry. A Memory of Light will not have a free ebook with the hardback.

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  • 6

    Carpenterdon (June 2012)

    Myself and many others love the universe of the Wheel of Time. I know the possibility of future books has been discussed between yourself, Mr. Jordan's wife, and the publishers. And it's been said none of you wish to "cash-in" on Mr. Jordan's work.

    I for one think you are all looking at this backwards, for you to continue writing books about the world and characters we've all come to know and love over the past two decades would do nothing but keep Mr. Jordan's legacy alive! It would not be "cashing-in" to make all his (and your) fans happy by providing them many more stories that we will all enjoy. I don't believe any of us want to just give up this universe after following it for this many years.

    I for one do not want this story to end with A Memory of Light. I would love to be able to continue reading about all our friends for another 20 years. None of us want Mr. Jordan's world to simply end, he created a vast and wonderful world that is filled with endless stories. Please continue to write them!

    If you truly believe it would be bad for Mr Jordan's memory or that it would appear you're writing more to make money off him then by all means donate the proceeds of any future books to a worthy charity.

    Please don't deny us the future stories.

    Signed, A dedicated fan

    Brandon Sanderson (June 2012)

    A thoughtful letter. Thank you for writing it.

    Let me make a few points. The first is that Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable about people writing in his world. He said several times that if he died before the series was finished, he intended to have the notes destroyed and the series left undone. (He later changed his mind about this, or may have been mostly joking in the first place.)

    The Guide to the Wheel of Time (known as the big white book) was originally going to have fiction in it written by other authors in the Wheel of Time world. Robert Jordan eventually decided he was uncomfortable with this idea, and they pulled the stories.

    To be honest, there probably wouldn't be anything wrong with doing a few more books—the ones RJ said he was planning to write, like the two other prequels or the Outriggers. However, I worry that the further we go, the more we will invariably stray from RJ's original vision for the series. (Because we'll have less and less direction left by him.) Therefore, I will have to step in to fill the gaps, and the series will more and more become about me and less about him.

    I don't want that to happen. I never want to reach a point, for example, where I've written more WoT books than RJ did. Is it not much better to quit while we're ahead? I'd rather be Bill Watterson than George Lucas. I'd rather stop on a high note and not drive the series into the ground.

    Perhaps I will change my mind eventually. (Though, I should point out it's not even my call, but Harriet's.) However, the price of stopping now is leaving a few stories untold that might have been great to tell. The price of continuing on is to risk undermining the Wheel of Time's integrity and Robert Jordan's legacy. I don't know that I want to roll those dice.

    bouncl

    If I could do one absolutely terribly immoral thing, and get away scott-free, it would be to steal the notes after A Memory of Light is done. I want to read them very badly.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's not impossible that Harriet will let me post them once this is through. I've asked before, and she's undecided.

    bouncl

    If it really matters either way, what I'm after is not super-spoilerific, but things that are either interesting but ultimately unimportant easter-eggs (the allusions to modern events at the beginning of The Eye of the World for example) and things like character notes and place notes (if those exist.) Above all else, I want to see what Jordan was thinking when he wrote the world.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think these are completely reasonable questions that should either be answered in the Encyclopedia or (hopefully) when we're allowed to release the notes. I'll say what I can once the book is out.

    brucey7191

    Are the notes for the prequels quite extensive like for the final three you have written, or are they just general theme and plot?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The notes are not great for most of the outriggers or prequels. We'd be relying mostly on things Team Jordan remembers of what he said about them.

    One conversation we've had is potentially doing these other stories as video games. That way, the fans can experience the stories—but if we flub them, they won't detract from the main sequence of books.

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  • 7

    TellAllThePeople (June 2012)

    Wow I am amazed that you actively Reddit, how in the name of the dark one didn't I know this? If you have the time I just have one question! Is WoT really going to end this next book? there seem to be SO many loose end that, if the series is tried too be ended in one book, will be rushed or left unacknowledged/uncompleted! Anyway thanks for yor amazing work I loved the latest books!

    Brandon Sanderson (June 2012)

    Well, I guess "active" is a relative phrase, as I only now saw this.

    Yes, this is the ending. No, not every loose thread will be tied up. Robert Jordan left instructions for some to be left open.

    It doesn't feel rushed to me, but we'll have to see what the fans think.

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  • 8

    Ashan_Darei (June 2012)

    I debated writing this because you seem like a genuinely nice guy who cares about his fans, and I don't want to hurt your feelings. If you find it difficult to read criticism, please don't read any further.

    To be honest, I am hoping that you won't write the outriggers/prequels because it seems to me like your heart's just not in it anymore. In 2011 you announced that you needed time off to reread the entire series before starting work on A Memory of Light since you'd forgotten too much and this had led to continuity issues in Towers of Midnight. But according to your own website, you only reread a third of the series, then went on to work on Alloy of Law, Legion, The Emperor's Soul, The Rithmatist... As someone who enjoyed Way of Kings a great deal, I'm glad that you've continued to work on your own books, but the fact that you abandoned the reread does make me worry about the quality of A Memory of Light. If you cannot give WoT as much time and attention as it needs, it's better to let it go.

    Another big issue for me is the characterization. You're great at writing Perrin and also did a good job with Rand and the girls for the most part. Others felt off, and that unfortunately includes the main characters the outriggers and prequels would focus on. I'll leave out Mat since that's been discussed to death already, but Lan and Moiraine's scenes in Towers of Midnight were a huge disappointment for me. Lan has always been a favorite of mine, but here he came off as a whiny combination of Gawyn and Perrin. He's a grown man in his late 40s, not a sulky teenager.

    Then there's Moiraine, now ready to give up all her power if only Thom tells her to. Yes, her captivity undoubtedly changed her, but at her core, she is someone who was ready to sacrifice everyone and everything to win the Last Battle, including herself. So it didn't seem right for Moiraine to offer to give up an important tool like the angreal.

    ""Egwene, I know what you feel for Rand, but you must realize by now that nothing can come of it. He belongs to the Pattern, and to history."—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising

    For an instant she regretted sending Thom away. She did not like having to waste her time with these petty affairs. But he had too much influence with Rand; the boy had to depend on her counsel. Hers, and hers alone.—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising

    That had been one of Moiraine's more succinct bits of advice. Never let them see you weaken.—Rand, Lord of Chaos

    I happen to like Moiraine a lot, but there's no denying she was partly responsible for Rand thinking he needed to be hard. Yet in Towers of Midnight you have Rand speak of how caring she was; even Mat and Nynaeve sing her praises. You seem to be trying to retcon Moiraine into a saintly figure she never was. All WoT characters have major flaws; Moiraine's was that she treated people as chess pieces that sometimes needed to be sacrificed for the greater good. In The Shadow Rising she intentionally tried to separate Rand from his friends so she could be the only person influencing him. It wasn't until Rhuidean that she discovered firsthand what it felt like to be the person forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, and she finally became the advisor Rand needed. But even then she was still manipulating him and encouraging him to be hard, so obviously she hadn't changed completely. To ignore her flaws and mistakes is to do the character a disservice and hides her growth in The Fires of Heaven.

    This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up here. I hope this made sense and that I didn't hurt your feelings. I still think you're a very talented writer and look forward to reading both A Memory of Light and the next Stormlight book.

    Brandon Sanderson (June 2012)

    Well, thanks for the thoughts. I will take the comments for what they are worth, and appreciate your sincerity.

    By way of correction, I do want to point out that Alloy of Law, Legion, and The Rithmatist were all written BEFORE I started work on A Memory of Light. The only thing I've written during A Memory of Light was The Emperor's Soul, which is a short work I wrote on the flight home from Taiwan earlier in the year. I have always stopped my main projects for side ones. It is part of what keeps me fresh. Alcatraz was in the middle of Mistborn, Rithmatist in the middle of Liar of Partinel (which I decided not to publish; it was the last book I wrote before the WoT came my way.) Legion was during Towers of Midnight. Emperor's Soul during A Memory of Light.

    My heart is completely in it—that I can assure you. I stopped the re-read because I was just too eager to be working on the book, and I'd already re-read (the last year) books 9-11 in working to get Perrin and Mat down for Towers of Midnight. But your complaint is valid. I did not re-read 6-8, except for spot reading. I kept telling myself I needed to get to them, but I was too deeply into the writing by that point.

    As for where I misfired on characterization, I apologize. In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do. In other cases, I am doing a worse job than RJ would have, and the failings are mine. I don't want to diminish your opinion, as it is valid. I certainly have struggled with some characters more than others.

    Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind.

    ashan_darei

    Brandon, thank you for the thoughtful response. I understand that it's very difficult for most authors to read criticism (let alone reply to it), so I appreciate that you took the time to read and reply.

    I'd like to stress that I wholeheartedly agree with Neil Gaiman's "GRRM is not your bitch" post and hope it didn't come across like I thought you shouldn't be working on anything besides WoT. Side projects are very much a good thing (happy and creative authors→better books), and I am personally excited about your upcoming books. It was mainly the fact that you seemed to have given up on the reread that felt like a reason for concern since you had previously said you needed to refresh your memory to avoid a repeat of Towers of Midnight's continuity errors. It also made me worry that you had gotten weary of working on A Memory of Light, which would have been understandable given that it's a very time-consuming and demanding project that you've already spent 4-5 years on. I'm glad to hear this is not the case.

    "In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do."

    That's not something I object to since we all have different perceptions of the characters. In most cases I understand where you are coming from even if your interpretation differs somewhat from mine. Unlike me, you also have access to all sorts of character notes and spoilers about their futures.

    However, in some cases it felt like your personal love or dislike of certain characters also played a strong role. To put it bluntly, it's easy to tell that Perrin, Egwene and Moiraine are your favorites since they've received a disproportionate amount of PoVs or praise from other characters, Egwene in particular (how many scenes do we need where people talk about how brilliant, clever and talented Egwene is?). I don't know how much you follow other WoT boards, but there's been a lot of debate in fandom as to whether Egwene has become too much of a Mary Sue-type character who easily defeats supposedly shrewd political opponents and is constantly praised by other characters, often at the expense of people like Siuan. It's impossible for a writer to remain completely objective, and your background as a fan is on the whole one of your biggest strengths, but sometimes things like that can feel jarring. I would not want to see the same happen to a complex, flawed and interesting character like Moiraine.

    "Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind."

    I have to admit, this comes as a surprise to me, partly because of Moiraine's seemingly uncharacteristic offer to surrender almost all her power for Thom's sake and partly because she used contractions in this scene (in the New Spring graphic novel, there's a note from Jordan informing the comic writers that Moiraine never uses contractions). She and Thom seemed to have a mutual respect and attraction in the early books, but spent very little time together, so I would not have expected any full-blown love or a marriage proposal at this point. It just seemed very strange for Moiraine to be willing to sacrifice her only chance at regaining her strength when she's barely even thought about Thom in her PoVs before. But since Jordan wrote that scene, there's nothing to do but accept that it's where he wanted to take the characters.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Re: Contractions Interesting story here. Harriet and Team Jordan worried about my use of contractions in places that RJ did not. It seemed very striking to them. Their first instinct was to go through and change it, after the fact, in order to match RJ's style.

    Harriet didn't like how that looked. She felt that my style needed to be blended with RJ's, rather than taking my style and forcing it to fit into something else. So it was decided that one of her tasks, as editor, would be to blend the writing after it was put together. She'd go through and make scenes feel right together, and would blend the two styles like a painter blending paint.

    So, she takes away contractions from me where she feels they need to go and she actually adds them to RJ's writing where she thinks it needs to be blended. I was curious if that was the case here, so I went back to the original notes.

    And it turns out RJ wrote the scene with contractions. Most likely, he was planning to trim them out with editing. Remember, even the most complete scenes we have from him are first drafts. In fact, in some of them, the tense is wrong. (Much of this Moiraine/Thom/Mat scene is in present tense. )

    An example from the notes is:

    He puts the angreal on her wrist, and says 'I'll marry you now.'

    In revision, this line turned into:

    He put the bracelet back on her wrist. "I'll marry you now, if you wish it."

    Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time defending myself, because that's not the point of your post. Really, the most important thing for me to say is that I understand. I'll do my best, and criticism like this is important to me. (Particularly on the Wheel of Time books, where I feel that listening to fan direction is important for gauging how well I'm doing on the characters.) It was fan criticism that brought me around to finally seeing what I was doing wrong with Mat, and (hopefully) making some strides toward writing him more accurate to himself.

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  • 9

    Halo6819 (June 2012)

    Not that it matters to you, but that is a serious chunk of downvotes...

    Brandon Sanderson (June 2012)

    Interesting. I hadn't noticed that.

    I wonder if I picked up some downvote bots at some point along the way. It would explain why even my simplest comments, agreeing or offering clarification, are each getting a handful of downvotes.

    Either that, or they are coming from displeased readers who are downvoting my every post, regardless of content. There are those who feel I have ruined the Wheel of Time.

    (And, to an extent, they are right—as anyone who would write these books who is not RJ would ruin them to an extent. There is a valid argument to be made that the books should not have been written, and that the notes should have simply been released as-is to provide closure. I don't agree with the argument, but I do see its validity.)

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    LeisureSuiteLarry (July 2012)

    180 days until A Memory of Light.

    Just six months until this 20+ year journey is finished.

    Brandon Sanderson (July 2012)

    Gah! Don't remind me. (Gets back to editing.)

    QENOPS

    Are you working on it in San Diego? That's dedication!

    PeterAhlstrom

    Yes, he is. Brandon is not a party animal; his idea of relaxing after a hard afternoon at the con is to go back to his hotel room and write for 8 hours.

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    Sneegro-damus (August 2012)

    Does anybody else think it would be a cool thing to get Brandon Sanderson to do an AMA? I'm really curious about how he went about writing the last few novels of the series. How would we go about getting him to do an AMA?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    What do you want to know about the process? I sometimes have to be vague about what I did and what RJ did, as Harriet prefers people to read the books and enjoy them without spending a lot of time trying to pick out the differences between our styles. I can try to answer a few questions if you pitch them at me, though.

    EternityOfDeath

    I don't have any questions, I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication that you have put into finishing this series.

    I picked up this series about 10 or 12 years ago, and being in Randland helped me get through some tough times. I was very sad when Jordan died, and when Harriet made the announcement that you were going to finish the series, I must admit that I had my doubts.

    So I figured I would take a look at your work, and picked up Mistborn. That book was awesome! So after finishing the trilogy, I was like "Ok, this guy can write, he is the perfect pick to finish WoT."

    I wanted to jump in and start reading The Gathering Storm, but by that point it had been a while since I had read Knife of Dreams, so I went back and started at the beginning, and when I got to the books you wrote, I was very impressed.

    There were so many good moments in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, I don't know where to begin. The one that stands out the most in my mind is Mat's story at the end of Towers of Midnight.

    Anyways, I'm really looking forward to the release of A Memory of Light. You rock, Brandon Sanderson!

    tl;dr: Just wanted to let Sanderson know how much it means to me that he has done such a stellar job in completing one of the fantasy series that is near and dear to my heart.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It has been an honor.

    yongshin

    I've read things before from you saying that you received a lot of written guidance as well as ideas that hadn't been fully fleshed out by Mr. Jordan to help you take the stories towards the conclusion he'd always had in mind.

    Once you had worked through the stories that Mr. Jordan wanted to be told in your head and got down to writing, was there anything that you really wanted to include or thought would have a special level of awesomity but felt that you shouldn't because it went against (or would probably be against, under different circumstances) the ideas Jordan had?

    For clarification, did you ever feel like a character should experience something that Mr. Jordan hadn't mentioned or had clearly discouraged? Or feel that something should happen that Mr. Jordan hadn't conceived or didn't want?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a good question. Yes, there are things I'd have done differently—but out of respect for Mr. Jordan's desires and the integrity of the series, I haven't done them. For example, I like to use magic in ways that Mr. Jordan didn't. You see me playing with this a little bit in my use of gateways. There are many things possible with weaves (particularly since you can tie them off) that I feel exploring would have changed the focus of the stories in ways I don't think Mr. Jordan would have wanted.

    One thing that specifically came up once was me wanting to delve more into the Heroes of the Horn. The Wheel has always turned, and time is infinite. If people can occasionally be added to the Horn, that would mean that the number of people tied to the Horn is also infinite unless people get unbound as well as bound. I wanted to explore this idea—in conversation only, this isn't a plot point—but was persuaded by Team Jordan that RJ wanted nobody ever to be unbound, and that exploration in this direction would go against his vision for the world.

    yongshin

    Thank you for your answer, I've never had the pleasure of interacting with you directly before, although I am making my through your series of lectures on YouTube (that I've always assumed you consented to?) which are truly very informative.

    You mentioned that there are aspects of the world of the WoT that you would like to explore in ways that Mr Jordan wouldn't. Would you be interested in writing spin off books, perhaps with different characters set in the same universe/world? Regardless of your interest in doing something like that, would you ever be allowed to?

    On a slightly related note, do you feel that there are any aspects (characters, magic, unexplored possibilities etc.) in the WoT series that have since influenced your other writings?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The main reason I haven't done things like this is because it's not my world, and I feel it should remain closer to RJ's vision. So, even if I were to do spin offs (which I don't think will happen) I would feel the same constraints. My goal has never to be to turn the Wheel of Time into something else; there is plenty of room in my own work to explore magic as I like to explore it. In the Wheel of Time, the magic is RJ's—and should remain true (as much as possible) to his vision.

    I would say that RJ's work, and my experience on the WoT, has taught me a number of things. RJ was far more subtle in some of his plotting than I am, and I'd like to think that seeing that has helped me learn to be better in that area. I also like how wonderful his third person limited viewpoint can be, as proven by Mat. (See the other answer I gave.) The way he shaped a narrative to the character giving it is amazing, and has influenced me greatly.

    yongshin

    Thanks again for the answer. I'm going to be far more conscious of Mat's narrative from now on with that answer!

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    sleepinghour (August 2012)

    For clarification, did you ever feel like a character should experience something that Mr Jordan hadn't mentioned or had clearly discouraged? Or feel that something should happen that Mr Jordan hadn't conceived or didn't want?

    Good question. I've been wondering the same since RJ mentioned in an interview once that he had no intention of showing the test for Aes Sedai outside of New Spring.

    Nynaeve's Aes Sedai test was one of my favorite parts of Towers of Midnight, so I'm glad that was included, but it would be interesting to know whether RJ changed his mind or it was Brandon/Team Jordan's idea to include that.

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    This one was me. I realize he hadn't intended to do it, but he always reserved the right to change his mind on things like this. (If you read what he had to say on the last word of the book, for example, he said he thought he knew what it was—but that he might change that at any time.)

    In working on the outlines, I felt it would feel strange not to show this. The challenge was to do it in a way that wasn't simply a repetition of what Mr. Jordan had shown in New Spring. I felt if I could make the experience unique, it would have a place in the novel—and if it did not, I would need to cut it. I felt good with the way it turned out, and it indeed found a place in the novel.

    sleepinghour

    So you're the one responsible for the braid being singed off! Murderer!

    I think it made a great addition to the book. Nynaeve's my favorite character, and I've always found it unfortunate that we haven't gotten too many POVs from her since she got married in A Crown of Swords. So it was great to see scenes that showed just how much she's grown since, while still remaining the same person at heart. The references to Nynaeve's greatest fears—spiders and heights—were very neat too. Thank you for giving the test a place in the novel.

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    Sneegro-damus (August 2012)

    Firstly, the speed in which this happened is amazing. Thank you for answering so quickly. When you started writing for the WoT series, how difficult was it for you to balance writing your other books along with WoT? If I recall, Way of Kings was released very near one of the WoT (Towers of Midnight?).

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    It was difficult, but not as much as you might think. I only did two projects during: The Way of Kings and Alloy of Law. For Kings, I had a complete draft done before the Wheel of Time came my way.

    That said, I did rewrite The Way of Kings from scratch—and those were some busy months. I felt strongly that this was the time to put out the book, and so I threw myself into the work, but balancing it and Towers of Midnight was the most busy I've ever been. I never want to have to work those hours again.

    Alloy of Law was more simple, as I took a few months off between books and did some freewriting. This is what came of it. I often find it good to change projects between books in a series like that. It was juggling two books the size of The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight that was so hard.

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    theamazingape (August 2012)

    What do you think the chances are for a limited edition hardcover sort of boxset thing coming out?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    I intend to push for it. One with the ebook covers in hardcover, for example, or maybe just something like the UK covers. I know I'd like a set.

    theamazingape

    That would just be amazing. Thank you for finishing this series right.

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  • 15

    necrosxiaoban (August 2012)

    Mat's voice really changed from The Gathering Storm to Towers of Midnight. In The Gathering Storm he seemed almost a parody of himself, while in Towers of Midnight he eased back on his roguish nature and felt much more real. Why do you think Mat came across that way in The Gathering Storm, and were you specifically motivated to correct it in Towers of Midnight or did that happen naturally?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    One of the big dangers in doing what I'm doing is turning the characters into parodies of themselves, exactly as you stated. This is kind of the 'uncanny valley' of working in someone else's world. If you get them close, but still wrong, it can feel worse than if you'd been more off.

    Jason from Dragonmount, in the early reads, was the first one to warn me that Mat was "off." I was surprised, as I felt I'd gotten him down. However, in going back to Mr. Jordan's writing and delving into it, I realized I'd missed large parts of what made Mat into Mat—the tension between what he says and does, the constant little quips in narrative (which tend to be more clever than the actual things he says out loud), the complaining that isn't really complaining. I didn't understand Mat. I tried so hard to make him funny, I wrote the HIM out of him. (I feel Peter Jackson did some of this with Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films.)

    So I'd say I was specifically motivated rather than it happening naturally. I should mention, however, that the sequences RJ worked on for Mat all ended up in Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, not in The Gathering Storm. Some of what you are noticing isn't me, but the master himself.

    necrosxiaoban

    Thanks for the reply!

    I can appreciate the difficulty of trying to write someone else's characters! For what its worth, Mat was the only one who gave off the uncanny valley feeling. Given the number of characters Mr. Jordan created I'd think that was quite a bit of an accomplishment.

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    kornork (August 2012)

    As far as you know, have you finished all the plot threads with the last book? How did you keep track? Were there certain threads that RJ forgot about in his final telling to his family that you had to figure out on your own?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    I have not finished all of them. There are a few that got cut from the book during the revision process, for example. (I'll reveal what these were after the book is out.) In other cases, RJ asked for certain threads to not be tied up.

    My goal has been to tie up as many as I can, respecting Mr. Jordan and leaving alone the ones he said not to. He left many unexplained in his final telling—his last months were spent on the major plot cycles, and many smaller things were left to me.

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    kurin (August 2012)

    At the end of A Memory of Light, I assume you're going to leave some questions unanswered intentionally. Will any of these have canonical answers that simply aren't shared, or will you try to resolve all the open questions?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    There are canonical answers that are not in the book. (Mr. Jordan sometimes said in the notes "Here is the answer to this, but it isn't resolved in the last book.") He didn't want everything answered because he wanted the world to live on in people's minds. All major plot elements are dealt with, but some smaller ones are left open.

    kurin

    So there's going to be a new acronym after RAFO? Like YNFO?

    Question

    (Probably left this too late to expect a response but...)

    Will you (or anyone) ever provide those answers? Whether it be by blog/new "world of RJ's WoT" or Q&A?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will try to answer some questions once the book is out. I'd like to do some blog posts talking in-depth about the process, and about the notes. But it will depend on a lot of factors.

    Kooreth

    Even Maria's large reference book won't contain those secrets?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The reference book will contain some of the things not resolved in the book, and I've given clues about some others. Other things...well, he wanted them to go unanswered. So they will be. (And some we don't even know the answers to.)

    Kooreth

    Thanks Brandon! I am excitedly and sadly awaiting the final book. After so many years, it's going to be rough finishing it, and closing a chapter of my own life.

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    AreYouReadyToReddit (August 2012)

    A question I had, if you're still answering. I believe you said on your blog that the "very last scene" is Robert Jordan's, and touched very little by you.

    Could you please specify what you mean in this? (Last scene of the main story arc, last section of the epilogue, last section of the last chapter, etc)

    Thanks for all the work you have put into the series!

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    It's the last scene of the book. RJ had a large influence on the ending as a whole, but when I say "Last Scene" I'm referencing the final 1000 word section with the words "The End" following it.

    AreYouReadyToReddit

    Cool, thanks! : )

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    zas678 (August 2012)

    Do you still have the "Brandon Avalanches" in the WoT books? I've noticed them scale down considerably in your own books, but I was just wondering if you plotted/paced things differently with the WoT books.

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    I tried to avoid some of my 'signature' stylistic flourishes, and that was one of them. Overall, I'd say I did a blending. Some things from my style, some more like RJ, trying to do what felt best for the book and for the setting.

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    Question (August 2012)

    What's your favorite plot thread in WoT?

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    Tough choice. I'd say that overall, it was either the Perrin Two Rivers sequence or Rand in Rhuidean. I'm not sure if those count as plot threads, or if you want something larger-scale. The plot thread of Mat becoming awesome across many books is very well done, and I might pick that as a larger scale item.

    Question

    Nice. three great choices from each of the ta'veren. :)

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  • 21

    Alyeska2112 (August 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (August 2012)

    Harriet drove me by here on one of my visits. Pointed at the sign and waited for me to get it.

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    polarregression (September 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (September 2012)

    Jace has gained a little weight while back on Ravnica. He blames the Golgari. :) (And for those who don't know, that is indeed me in the pictures.)

    The book picture is from a copy of Towers of Midnight I'd dressed up with an A Memory of Light cover on it. I let people use it as a prop in pictures, then at the end, was asked to 'edit' it.

    Arithered

    Maaan, why you gotta sign with a Sharpie? My Alloy of Law book looks like you crossed out your own name. :-)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ha. I was taught that 'name cross out thing' by an author right after I published. It is a kind of tradition among writers. Not a pervasive one, but it's one you'll see occasionally.

  • 23

    Brandon Sanderson (September 2012)

    If you bought Legion hardcover, send me a picture of you and the book/receipt and I'll give you the e-book FREE!

    I told people I was trying to figure out how to do this with A Memory of Light. I failed there—the publishing end of that book is too far out of my hands. I can at least do it with stories for which I own the electronic rights.

    The sad thing is, this shouldn't actually be news. It should be the standard. I feel that publishing should have figured out how to make this work already.

    The next step is to figure out how to make this happen for my Tor books.

    BigRedDSP

    As a personal opinion, how good do you feel A Memory of Light is? I feel like I've been waiting for this book since I was a child. As a side note, I just finished The Way of Kings and have been told it will be a 10 book series which makes me worry when it's done I'll feel like I do about A Memory of Light right now.

    Brandon Sanderson

    On The Way of Kings: If it helps, it's two five book arcs. The first five will draw to a natural conclusion. (Kind of how Mistborn one comes to its own conclusion, then two and three are in another arc.)

    A Memory of Light is good. How good? Hard to say. I don't know that any book can live up to two decades of anticipation—or, at least, I don't know that any book I write can manage that. I think it will hold its own with the other two I've done, and then will have Robert Jordan's own ending on it, which makes it feel RIGHT to me. I won't try to falsely inflate the book, however. I did my best with it; I hope it is a worthy capstone to the series. The ending sequences are majestic. Some of the lengthy war chapters may drag for some people, though.

    moose_man

    Is the ebook date set in stone by now, or is there a chance of it changing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    For Legion or A Memory of Light? I guess I don't need to ask, since they're both pretty set at this point. I wish I could get A Memory of Light earlier (or at the very least, get an ebook sold with the physical copy.) However, I am not in charge of these decisions, and this book doesn't seem the one to use for rocking of the proverbial boat.

    moose_man

    True, of course. Thanks for your interactions with the community!

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    RickyLidz (September 2012)

    Is there anything those of us not in the U.S. can do to buy/get the A Memory of Light prologue?

    Brandon Sanderson (September 2012)

    Okay, so it looks like Tor has managed to get hold of English language rights to the prologue in some other countries. It looks like the list does NOT include Australia/UK/Ireland/New Zealand. That would be because Orbit has the rights there.

    This isn't my doing—my emails only went out late last night, and this would already have to have been in the works—but many of you should now be able to buy it on Amazon.

    I'll keep working on the above mentioned countries. It feels like a strange thing to be fighting for, since I think the prologue should have been free in the first place, but it seems this is enough a point of annoyance for some readers that it's worth me pushing on.

    Announcement from Tor.

    AlphaTender

    I can't download it from anywhere, it seems. I wouldn't dream of torrenting this under normal circumstances, but there are spoilers all over the internet, and dammit, I have been waiting for well over a decade for the end of this story. I want as much information as I can get—to finish the story, to participate in online communities such as this, and to be able to highfive my bro because its all so awesome. Teasers and pre-released materials are awesome, but it really isn't cool that we have to wait because the publishers can't sort their shit out.

    Here is my suggestion—Mistborn, post the damn thing on reddit, please. I cannot imagine that you are content to let fans miss out because of legal wranglings about copyright, so throw caution to the wind and fix this for your European fans if you can!

    Brandon Sanderson

    If it were my own book, I'd do so. It's not mine, however. I don't own it—and it's not just about copyright. It's about my respect for Harriet, and my word of honor to her.

    I've said before that I am not, personally, a fan of selling the prologue in the first place. I don't like the idea of people paying twice for the same content. This choice, however, is not mine to make either.

    The only thing I can think to do is personally contact the UK publisher, who owns the rights to distribute the book in English everywhere outside of North America, and ask if something can be worked out. I'll try. If I get anywhere, I'll post an update in /r/WoT.

    If you really want something to happen, you could also contact Orbit UK and ask if they'd be willing to let it be sold on Dragonmount, with the proceeds going to them.

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    DAVENP0RT (November 2012)

    Honestly, I'm hoping that they will release his [RJ's] raw notes, untouched. I'd like to see how he planned and imagined the universe in his own form of organization.

    Sabin10

    I would like that too just as long as Sanderson isn't planning to do anything with them. If Sanderson is planning an Age of Legends series after this then I would rather not know everything about everything. Considering that there was approximately 100 years between to creation of the bore and Lews Therin and the companions sealing it, that creates a lot of opportunity to expand upon.

    I have only read up to Winter's Heart in the series so far so I don't know how much more is revealed about the creation of the bore, if the people involved in the creation of the bore did it intentionally or if it was accidental and about a million other questions on top of that. What we learned in Rhuidean in book 4 was only the tip of the iceberg compared to what could have been done.

    Brandon Sanderson (November 2012)

    There aren't any plans to do future books. We don't have any desire to see the Wheel of Time turn into a legacy series, like some have become, with writer after writer taking a turn at the helm. There isn't anything wrong with that for the series where it works, but I have the sense that Robert Jordan wouldn't want it to happen—and so I am against it happening. That being the case, it is my goal to do what Davenport suggested, and release the notes in as much detail as I am allowed.

    Iconochasm

    I know he had planned outriggers; do you happen to know if any of the notes touch on that, or was all that info lost to the hands of The Greatest Foe? Regardless, thanks for advocating for releasing the notes. Also, squeeeeeeereplyingtoBrandonSanderson.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is a tiny bit about the outriggers, mostly little tidbits. (Some are pretty cool.) Not a plot, really, but some character touchstones. Certainly not enough to write like we've done these last three, however. The notes are far, far more thin.

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    PostPostModernism (November 2012)

    How excited are you right now?

    Also, what are some of your next projects?

    Brandon Sanderson (November 2012)

    Hmm... For me, the excitement probably won't hit until the day of, but it will be mixed with a steadily growing sense of anxiety. It's the same anxiety for every book release. Will I have hit the target? Will it provide the right experience? Did I succeed or fail? These are things you can't know for certain until the book is out. It will be worse with this one in some ways, since there are no second chances here. Mistakes in earlier WoT books could be compensated for by future volumes. That doesn't exist for this one.

    Next year, I actually have a few YA books coming out (projects I was working on before the Wheel of Time came my way.) One of them, Steelheart, I'm very excited about. I'm also working on a sequel to The Way of Kings.

    Arithered

    Yep. Sometimes I just stare at that progress bar on your site, willing it to suddenly jump forward in real time. I can imagine it must be pretty bizarre from your end of things, having what begins as formless inspiration become quantified, written down, picked to pieces, bound, and then eagerly awaited by large numbers of people.

    We're grateful for it though, those pieces of your brain. :-)

    wisd0m (December 2012)

    Need more Stormlight Archive.

    It is very frustrating to get into a series at the beginning and have to wait for each book. I started WoT this year and ASOIAF last year, so I avoided years of waiting. The Stormlight Archive will be the true test of my reading patience.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm working on book two now. Hopefully, the wait won't be as bad for future titles in the series.

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    demoux (November 2012)

    So, uh, how do you plan to manage sleep on the tour? You're going from Provo to Minneapolis—that's going to be quite the jump one after the midnight release.

    Oh. And if you're going to be at the Roseville Barnes and Noble, try and scoot across the street to Source Comics and Games. It's an awesome shop and I think you'd like it.

    They've got Magic cards, of course.

    Brandon Sanderson (November 2012)

    That second signing of the tour (after the midnight release) is always a tough one. In fact, I'll admit, touring is not my favorite part of the process. I feel it is important, however.

    demoux

    I (and we fans) appreciate your touring. The author-fans connection is important, and meeting said author is always a cool experience. I missed you last time you were in Roseville, but did catch you at MiniCon. This time I've got no prior engagements, and will definitely be there.

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    adribbleofink (December 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)

    Just opened the document, as I figured I could give some hard statistics on this. The chapter is just shy of 79,000 words. It contains (by my quick count) 72 scenes—but only 31 distinct viewpoints, as numerous ones repeat. (There are eight Rand scenes, for example, and six each for Mat and Egwene. Three or four each for another eight characters.)

    It is not the last chapter of the book, but is a very important one, as you might have guessed. From the get-go, I lobbied Harriet to let me do this sequence as a single, massive chapter as I felt it fit with what was going on in the book as well as fitting with the series as a whole. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

    Sarkos

    This may be a silly question, but what exactly is it that defines a chapter? Why the reluctance to break it up?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a tough question to answer because what defines a chapter is dependent upon context. I have done chapters a paragraph or two long, and I've done some (well one) at this length. In addition, if I were to go into depth about what makes this chapter a single chapter to me, I feel it would give too many spoilers. It has to do with the pacing, the sensation I wish to convey, and the attempt—through prose and the form of the storytelling—to evoke the same emotions in the reader that the characters are feeling.

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    philosophyguru (December 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)

    It was very interesting to read this while trying to figure out what scenes she was referring to...

    philosophyguru

    I know you're incredibly busy on Stormlight 2, but if you have a few minutes, I would love to hear how you approached the notes that RJ left behind. I've heard the story about the ending and who killed Asmodean when you first visited Harriet's house, but where did you go from there? I assume you didn't just read all of the notes straight through...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, okay, this is going to be kind of long.

    To understand my next step, you have to understand what we mean by "Notes." There are really three groups of these.

    1) Robert Jordan's Worldbuilding Notes. These were in a series of dozens, maybe hundreds of files embedded chaotically inside of files inside of files, using his own system of notation. The notes reach all the way back to early books he was working on, as he was working on them. They aren't intended to be read by anyone other than him, and are sometimes very difficult to figure out. This is the group that Harriet has said, in her estimation, include a total wordcount equal to or greater to that of the published series.

    2) The notes for the last book, gathered by his assistants Maria and Alan, with Harriet's help. These are far more focused on the last book, notes that RJ wrote specifically focusing on the last book. This is a much more manageable amount, maybe fifty or a hundred pages. It includes interviews that Alan and Maria did with RJ before he died, asking him what was to happen to certain characters.

    3) Scenes for the last book, either in written form or dictated during his last months. This includes some completed scenes. (The last sequence in the book, for example. Also a lot of prologue material, including the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, the Borderlander Tower scene in Towers of Midnight, and the Isam prologue scene from A Memory of Light.) A lot of these are fragments of scenes, a paragraph here and there, or a page of material that he expected to be expanded to a full chapter. This is different from #2 to me in that these are direct scene constructions, rather than "notes" explaining what was to happen.

    Together, #2 and #3 are about 200 pages. That is what I read the night I visited Harriet, and that is what I used to construct my outline.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I took all of the items, but particularly the things in 2&3, and then I re-read the series start to finish, taking notes on character motivations, plots that had not been resolved, and foreshadowing. I used this to create a skeleton, using character touchstones from the notes (like Egwene's climactic moments in The Gathering Storm) to construct plot cycles.

    Where there were big holes, I used my instincts as a writer and my re-read to develop what the story needed. From there, I started writing in viewpoint clusters. I would take character who were in the same area, and write their story for a chunk of time straight through. Then I would go back and do the same for another group of characters.

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  • 30

    Robert Moreau (December 2012)

    So how long is the series going to be? RJ's answers from 95–06

    Friend of mine posted this on Dragonmount and I got a kick out of it, a timeline of RJ's estimates on just how many books the series was going to be:

    1993

    He still isn't sure how long WoT will go on for, saying probably seven books but adding that when The Eye of the World first came out he saw the series as four books.

    "At present I am indeed hoping to complete the cycle in either seven or eight books. I am 90% confident that I can do it in seven, 95% confident that I can by eight. The thing is, as a famous manager of an American baseball team once said: 'It ain't over till it's over.'"

    1994

    "It will last several more books, until I reach the last scene, which has been in my head since the very beginning."

    "I do hope there will not be ten books all told. I'm planning for eight, at present, and hope very strongly that I can wrap it all up in that length."

    He said he writes as the ideas come and he has no clue as to how long the series will be!

    "I knew from the start that I was writing something that would be multiple books. I just never knew how many, exactly."

    Not only did he decline to set the number of future WoT books, but he denied ever setting a number and says he never planned it to be only a trilogy. But he seemed to indicate he was planning 9-10 books total. When faced with the prospect of about twelve books, his wife threatened to divorce him and his editor began to make jokes about the Irish Mafia.

    "Several. Some. A few. I'm not even speculating now on how many books I hope it will take, because every time I do mention a number I hope I can finish it in, it turns out to take longer. It will be at least eight, because I've signed the contracts for books seven and eight."

    "I've stopped saying how many more books there will be."

    "At one time, I did hope for eight; now I don't think so. I certainly hope (Please, God!) it doesn't go to ten books, but I have stopped saying anything except that I will write until I reach the last scene of the last book, which scene has been in my head from the beginning."

    1996

    "There will be a few more books, some, not a lot, hopefully fewer than seven more."

    "It will be at least ten books, yes. There will be some more books, not too many, and please God, not so many as I've already written. I am, in truth, writing as fast as I can. I want to maintain the pace of the story until I reach the final scene, which has been in my head since before I started writing The Eye of the World."

    1997

    "There will be at least three more books. I'm not saying that there will be ONLY three. I'm saying that I can't finish in fewer than three."

    1998

    "I believe—believe!—there will be three more books. I am trying to finish up as soon as possible, but I cannot see how to do it in fewer than three books. That isn't a guarantee, mind! In the beginning, I thought that there would be three or perhaps four books total, but it might go to five, or even six, though I really didn't believe it would take that long. It wasn't a matter of the story growing or expanding, but rather that I miscalculated—brother, did I!—how long it would take to get from the beginning to the end. I've known the last scene of the last book literally from the beginning. That was the first scene that occurred to me. Had I written it out 10 years ago, and then did so again today, the wording might be different, but not what happens. It has just taken me longer to get there than I thought."

    "When I finished A Crown of Swords, I said it would take me at least three books more to finish. Now that I have completed The Path of Daggers, it looks like it will take me at least three more books to finish. Believe me, guys, I'm trying as hard as I can to get there as fast as I can."

    "I don't have a set amount of books planned. I believe it will take at least three more books to reach the ending that I have known for more than 15 years."

    "Remember, after A Crown of Swords I said at least three more books....the same thing I say now."

    The usual "at least three more books" was mentioned several times in an increasingly loud voice.

    "I am only asked that question by about 300 people a day. The answer is that there will be at least three more books. At least. As I said earlier, I know everything that I want to happen and I have known the last scene of the last book for fifteen years. I also know that I cannot get everything that I want to happen into less than three more books. So that's where we stand at the moment."

    1999

    Firstly, RJ said three more books "at least" and that he'd try to do it in three if he could, but he couldn't promise it would be only three. And he said he thought it would take "at least five years".

    2000

    "Sigh! At least three more. I know I've said that before, but it's still the case."

    "It still sits at three more books to finish, but I've always said from the time I began using the three books that it would be AT LEAST three books—that I'd try to finish in at least three books, but I couldn't promise. I know that I couldn't possibly finish in fewer than three. If I can finish in three, I will. But that's what I'm hoping for, what I'm trying for. NOT a promise."

    "There is no set number. It takes as much space as it takes."

    2001

    The next book will be out very soon after he's finished writing it. He don't know how many more books there'll be. At least three. If he can finish it in three, he will.

    There will be no more than five, but also no less than another three books to be expected to appear in The Wheel of Time series.

    "There will be at least three more books. The next book will be in bookstores very shortly after I finish writing it, and Michael Jordan is my kid brother whom I taught to play basketball."

    2002

    "After Crossroads of Twilight, there will be two more books, knock wood, God willing and the creek don't rise. I never intended The Wheel of Time to be this long. The story is progressing the way I planned, but from the beginning I believed I could tell it in many fewer words, many fewer volumes."

    "I think twelve."—Harriet

    2003

    When asked "how many more books?", which of course met great laughter, he responded that he had started the process intending to have only five or six. Now on book 10, he remarked that he would complete the series in two more books if at all possible. If not, then three.

    Jordan showed up around 7, and gave a little speech. He said there will be at least two books, and that he will not write a word more than he has to.

    "How many more books will there be? There will be at least two more books. I apologize for that. I cannot finish it in fewer books. I will try to finish it in two more. I have known the last scene of the last book since 1984. I know where I'm going. The problem is...[my tape is once again inaudible and this was one of the few parts of his speech I could not hear, sorry gang]. That's about it."

    "I really hope—knock wood, spit over your shoulder, and sacrifice to the gods—that I can finish up in twelve books total. We shall see."

    "No, at least two more books, I'm afraid....I've had some people say they'd like five or ten, but I generally throw something at them."

    2004

    "I hope—please God, are you listening?—that there will be only two more books in the main sequence."

    "I very much hope to finish in two more main sequence books. It's not an absolute promise, but I'm very much hoping for it and I think I can do it."

    "I sincerely hope it will be possible to tie everything up in two books."

    2005

    There is only one book left in the series but it will be a doozy. He will fight to prevent it from being "George R.R. Martined," or split for publication.

    "I am committed it is going to be 12 books, even if it is fifteen hundred pages long and it requires you to bring a luggage cart to get it out of the store. Bring your knapsack, you may need it, because no matter what the case that is going to be it."

    "One more—the twelfth book. That will be so even if that book has to be 2000 pages in hardcover, and require a luggage cart and shoulder strap to get it out of the store."

    "I have said it before and will say it again. There will be one more book. Even if it has to be a 1500 page book. It will be the last book even if you have to use a luggage cart to move it."

    "For Segovia, my intention is finish with twelve books, and that may mean that the last book will be VERY long, but I really can't say how long it will take me to write. My publisher is always trying to get me to commit to a time frame. I just do a little sand dance until he goes away. I carry a small bottle of sand with me in New York for exactly that purpose."

    Book Twelve will end the main sequence if he has to personally go to New York and beat the publishers at Tor, even if it runs two thousand pages and they have to invent a new way to bind the books (shudder). There will be two more prequels a la New Spring, and there might—very big MIGHT—be another trilogy in the same universe.

    First, "the next book will be out very shortly after I'm done writing it." Next, "the next book will be the last book, even if it's 2000 pages, and you need a luggage cart to carry it out of the bookstore."

    "Can we all say it together? One more book. I don't care if it has to be 2000 pages and you have to wheel it out the door. One more book."

    2006

    "After Knife of Dreams, there's going to be one more main-sequence Wheel of Time novel, working title A Memory of Light. It may be a 2,000-page hardcover that you'll need a luggage cart and a back brace to get out of the store. (I think I could get Tor to issue them with a shoulder strap embossed with the Tor logo, since I've already forced them to expand the edges of paperback technology to nearly a thousand pages!) Well, it probably won't be that long, but if I'm going to make it a coherent novel it's all got to be in one volume."

    Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)

    Ah, and what a marvelous 2,000 page book it would have been. I was really shooting for this. Turns out, however, that I don't have the influence that RJ did, and couldn't persuade the publisher that printing a 2,000+ page book was viable. You'll have to be satisfied with three 800 pagers instead.

    I do kind of hope we'll be able to do a cut of the volume in ebook where I weave the three books back into one, which would fix some of the timeline confusion in Towers of Midnight, which was the big casualty of the split.

    (I knew that, in all likelihood, a split would be mandated, and so I prepared for it by deciding on the three book split instead of a two book split, as I feel it fit the narrative flow better. However, I was working on Perrin when the first split happened, and didn't realize until afterward that by jumping back to the beginning of his story after finishing The Gathering Storm, I was going to create the issues it did with Tam.)

    archaeonaga

    So you're planning on doing a Phantom Edit of your own work? I, for one, would be really interested to read something like this, but I think that what you lost in chronological clarity in the split, you gained in pacing and narrative clarity.

    That said, you mentioned in a previous interview that The Gathering Storm's intensity also came from an awareness that your first effort in the Wheel of Time really needed to be a home run. Would your decisions regarding the narrative structure have changed if you didn't feel that pressure?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wouldn't consider it a phantom edit, as I wouldn't be removing sections. I'd be moving them around, adding in a few deleted scenes. More like an extended edition mixed with pacing tweak.

    I don't know how my decisions might have changed if I hadn't felt that pressure. I might have chosen to do Rand/Perrin in the first book and Egwene/Mat in the second book. Perrin/Mat have great stories in TofM—but they're not as focused as the ones for Rand/Egwene. I don't know. The timeline might have been even worse.

    This is something I'd have to play with, if I were actually to attempt it, to even see if the narrative flow would work that direction now that I've made writing decisions with three books—instead of one—being the reality.

    archaeonaga (January 2013)

    Now that I've finished reading A Memory of Light, I have to say, I think this would be an insane task. Mostly, The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight would be the things caught up in reorganizing, since A Memory of Light's timeline is internally consistent enough to justify things. It would also let you sprinkle the Black Tower POVs a bit more nicely throughout the trilogy, since the frontloading of that plot at the beginning of A Memory of Light is one of the few structural weaknesses I thought I saw.

    In any case, congratulations! You've really done it! Those annotations will be fascinating, assuming you get permission to take it on.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're right on the Black Tower structural weakness. I actually plotted that sequence to go all in Towers of Midnight, but ran up against deadlines and only did a few chapters of it. It would work far better moved earlier.

    Thanks for reading. I'll see what I can do about annotations.

    archaeonaga

    That makes a lot of sense. One gets the feeling that a lot of your writing was done with several different forces tugging you one way or another; collaboration can be tough, especially for artists who are used to working in the silence of their mind, and I can't imagine adding a massive fandom to that.

    Seriously: congrats. Tai'shar...Utah? :)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Tai'shar Nebraska, actually. But I like Utah well enough. :)

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