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Interviews: San Diego Comic Con 2012

Summary:

Entries

4

Date

Jul 13th, 2012

Type

Verbatim

Location

San Diego, CA

TourCon

San Diego Comic Con 2012

Reporter

Kurkistan

Links

Youtube

  • 1

    Kurkistan

    [Directly after reading an excerpt from A Memory of Light]

    Brandon Sanderson

    [If you’ve] gotten to the last books, there’s a little bit in there. I think that those of you who have gotten to the last books will find far more of interest in that; it’s a fairly innocent scene, but it was a very important one to write, one that I sincerely enjoyed doing for this book.

    Let’s go ahead and do a few questions.

    [Details mechanics of asking questions]

    [Sees minder from previous Con, minder gives him water/lozenges for old time’s sake]

    [Thanks audience for coming (rather than waiting in line for Firefly panel)]

  • 2

    Questioner

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 3

    Questioner

    Okay, first of all I’d like to say I love reading the annotations, and kind of finding out what was going on in your mind, kind of behind the scenes, like the Director’s Commentary

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, thank you

    QUESTIONER

    So thank you for doing those. And my question is: I’ve noticed in a lot of the books—Mistborn, Warbreaker, even Elantris—that the characters are working so hard towards a goal, and then once they did it or when they get close, all the sudden they realize that it’s doing the complete opposite of what they were expecting, or just was kind of a distraction for them or whatever, and so my question is:

    Is that just a good way to kind of throw in a plot twist that’s unexpected, or is that a reflection of kind of how you see our lives and what we’re doing, or something else?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

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

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

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

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  • 4

    Questioner

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

    QUESTIONER

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

    BRANDON SANDERSON

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

    Footnote

    The notebook is a Taiwanese Way of Kings notebook which Brandon brought to Comic-Con.

    Notebooks

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