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Your search for the tag 'plotting' yielded 91 results

  • 1

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scarlet

    Hi, it's such a pleasure to meet you, I'm a BIG fan. Anyway, your books have so many richly developed characters and so many complex, interwoven plot threads, could you please comment on your preliminary processes such as outlining, character biographies, etc.?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm sorry, it just isn't that simple. I simply do it, and it would take me all night to explain how, if I could.

    Tags

  • 2

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    His plans have not significantly altered from the time of conception. No major scenes have been inserted or left out or substantially altered.

    Tags

  • 3

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Fable

    I've always admired the incredible patience you show in your writing moving from major event to major event (like moving Rand from the Stone of Tear to the completion of events in the Aiel Waste). Do you have any precise method you use, or does that flow naturally? Do you ever write the events then fill in the spaces, so to speak?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I never "fill in the spaces." Sometimes I have to cut events out, because I've become entirely too patient, getting from one place to another. For the rest, I don't really have a "method" beyond telling the story.

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  • 4

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    For Jordan, the process is by turns fluid and exacting.

    Robert Jordan

    "It just comes. Sometimes, it comes with great difficulty. But there's never a point when I have to ask myself, 'What do I do next?' or 'What do I say next?' This isn't to say I don't go back and make changes in the story's logic structure."

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  • 5

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Emmet O'Brien

    That was about it...a lot covered for half an hour. There was a strong impression that more of the books are made up as he goes along than a reading of all the foreshadowing etc. might lead you to expect. A thought that occurred to me afterwards...if at book one he expected to finish the series in three more books, and at book five he expects to take two more books, then logically the series should actually end up as thirteen books.

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  • 6

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Degan Outridge

    Thanks for many hours of enjoyment. There were so many new stories/threads in Lord of Chaos did you always intend to go in these directions or did it take on a life of its own?

    Robert Jordan

    For the major threads, I'm going exactly where I intended to go—and for most of the minor threads, I'm going fairly much where I intended to go. With some minor threads, it seemed, as I went along, that there was a better way than I had first thought.

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  • 7

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Richard Sowash

    How do you keep up with all of the plotlines, prophecies, etc.?

    Robert Jordan

    With difficulty.

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  • 8

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Richard Sowash

    Do you use story boards, flow charts, etc. or just the FAQs?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't use story boards, etc. I just do outlines in the sense of synopses of what I intend to write.

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  • 9

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    I know the last scene of the last book, I've known it from the beginning, I just have to get there.

    Fast Forward

    Well, let's talk about getting there. Let's talk about the process. Let's take a look at Lord of Chaos from the moment you start it.

    Robert Jordan

    All right.

    Fast Forward

    Because you are walking toward a final scene, and because you aren't sure how long it's going to take to get there, in terms of the events that are going to happen, the people that we are going to meet—let's talk about how you wrote Lord of Chaos, and the discipline you placed upon yourself to generate this 700 page book. How did you go about putting this last novel together?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, first off, along with knowing what the last scene is, there are certain events that I know I want to happen. Certain things that I want to happen, both in relationships between people, and in the world, if you will. I picked out some of those events to see if I could fit them in from the position everyone was in, the position the world was in at the end of the last book. I then began to roughly sketch out how I would get from one of those to the next. And then I sat down and began writing, in the beginning eight hours a day, five or six days a week. And—I do my rewriting while I am doing the writing. When I hit the end, I only allow myself to give a final polish. I keep going back while I am writing and rewriting the previous stuff. By the end of the book I was doing twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. I did that for the last five months of Lord of Chaos, except that I did take one week off to go fly fishing with some brothers and cousins and nephews up in the Big Horn and Yellowstone. It was terrific. It kept my brain from melting.

    Fast Forward

    The more intense schedule—was this a more difficult book to write and get to the end of, in terms of the amount of time you had to spend than some of the others in the series?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not really. They're ALL like that. The only difficulty this time was that I perhaps went to the seven day a week and fourteen hour day a little sooner that I would normally. Partly that's because each of these books takes MORE than a year to write. The publisher likes to publish them once a year, though. With the result that with each book I've slipped a little bit more beyond the deadline, and I DON'T LIKE being beyond the deadline. So the further beyond the deadline I get, the more I want to put the pedal to the floor and get done.

    Fast Forward

    Does having to put that much time in per day affect your focus, your ability to work? I mean, do you ever get the feeling when you turn something in that if you had another month to do it you could have put more of a "shine" on it, or are you satisfied with the product when it is turned in?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm satisfied and I'm not satisfied. It doesn't have anything to do with the time. The effect of the time is that I have to work to disengage my mind so that I can go to sleep. I have to read somebody else who will engage my thoughts. Charles Dickens is always great for that. If I don't do that, I will lie there all night thinking about what I'm writing, sure that I will go to sleep in just a few minutes now, and then it gets light outside, and I haven't been to sleep yet. What happens is that I get this DESIRE to keep writing. Once upon a time, before I was married, I used to write for thirty hours at a stretch.

    Fast Forward

    Good Lord.

    Robert Jordan

    And then I would sleep for nine or ten. I didn't do this all year round, it was just when I was working on a book. When I get going, I want to keep going. And about the other thing, I ALWAYS think I can make the book better. I'd probably spend five, six, ten years on a book if I was left to myself, trying to polish each phrase. So it's just as well I do have deadlines to bring me into the real world.

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  • 10

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Since you had mentioned the characterization of women in the books: now this book has, as opposed to some of the older fantasy of the last forty years, you have women, very strong women in positions of power, in positions of combat. Is that something that wouldn't have happened if you were writing these books in the past? Is that kind of a product of our times?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's a product of growing up with strong women. All of the women I knew growing up were quite strong. All of the men I knew growing up were quite strong because any of the weak men got shredded and thrown aside. So it made for a certain viewpoint, a certain outlook in life.

    Aside from that, the basic premise of the books, that 3000 years before the time of the books the world was essentially destroyed. The details don't really matter in the context of this interview, except for the fact that that destruction was caused by men, members of the male sex. A world that has grown out of that has to have a great deal of power for women, especially when the world has spent the last 3000 years being afraid of any man who has the ability to channel the One Power. You have to have a world where women have power. That's the way it's going to evolve. It can't go any other way. It's only a question of how much power they have.

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  • 11

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, structured as it is around the prophecies and the circularity of your history, does that lend to the story a certain . . . obviously, it focuses where the story can head. Does it limit you in any way, when you've got characters that are acting out the prophecies?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. What I do is have certain main points that I know I'm going to touch on. But I am flexible in the order that I touch them, and I'm flexible in how to get from one to the next. Think of it as traveling cross country, and you know that you're going to go to mountain A, mountain B, mountain C, and mountain D. But maybe you'll go to mountain D first and mountain A second, and then you'll slide back to C. And in traveling from one mountain to another, you can take a lot of different paths.

    It becomes a little bit more complex because you have to imagine this whole piece of terrain is only one layer, and you have another piece of terrain stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above that. And which path is taken on the first level influences which path can be taken on the second level, which influences which path can be taken and which can't on the third level, and so forth on down the line. But still, the main points are fixed. It's only the paths between that flex.

    Footnote

    RJ might have been dropping hints here, in his special way, about Rand going to Dragonmount before going to Shayol Ghul.

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  • 12

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lyndon Goodacre

    First, I'd like to thank you for such a great series. The Wheel of Time is probably the best I've read... My Question: Do you know roughly what will happen between now (Book 7) and the last scene of the last book, or are you making it up as you go along?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes and no. I know the last scene of the last book. I know the major events I want to happen between now and then. I know who will be alive and who will be dead at the end of the series. I know the situation of the world. I know all of those things, but I leave how to get from one point to the next free...so that I can achieve some fluidity. I don't want it too rigid, which is what I think will happen if I plan in too great a detail.

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  • 13

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ryssgarde

    I would like to see the fires in Rand's head quenched, but I would settle for them being significantly subdued. Do you find yourself WANTING to make things happen sooner so that you can delve into other areas of a character's psyche?

    Robert Jordan

    I sometimes feel impatience but I am trying to maintain the same pace, making great effort to maintain that pace, to go neither faster nor slower than I have gone before.

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  • 14

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    D. John Witherspoon

    In the first five books, the pace of the story, switching between character situations and the action in general was high speed and covered significant periods of time. In Lord of Chaos, the story seemed to slow. Was this intentional or only my perception?

    Robert Jordan

    It covered a shorter period of time, but in Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords there were a great many things that happen in a short time that made it necessary to have the books, if not slower paced from the reader's point of view, slower as far as the chronology is concerned.

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  • 15

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Brendan T. Lavin

    I have found the prophecies in your books very structured. Would you recommend a prospective author structuring any prophecy in this way? And, did you establish the main prophecies in the series early on and think to yourself, "Now how am I going to fulfill that one?"

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it is a matter of knowing what I wanted to happen in the story, and how I wanted the story to go, and placing prophecies that would foretell these events, sometimes in very shadowy ways. As far as structuring prophecies for your own work, I think you should do it however you want to do it; it's the only way you can!

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  • 16

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    JJVORSmith

    My wife wonders why you left all the plot threads hanging at the end of A Crown of Swords. I have felt that A Crown of Swords is more like the middle of a book rather than a complete book by itself. Could you explain how you pace and structure your books in the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Not inside the time we have for this interview! :) As with all of the books, there are some plot elements hanging and some resolved. In some, there are more plot elements tied up than others; some, fewer. It just depends on how the story line is running in that particular book.

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  • 17

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    AaronB20

    Did your interaction with fans lead you to make certain things previously hidden obvious in this book?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not interaction with fans. There are always things that are going to become more obvious as the story goes along. I certainly don't intend to keep everything hidden until the very last. There won't be any Perry Mason revelation scene where all the characters sit down and say, "This is what happened and this is why it happened." :)

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  • 18

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Is Book 8 the end? If not, is there a plan for when the end will be?

    Robert Jordan

    Book 8 is not the end. There will be at least three more books and I am sorry for that. I have known what the last scene of the last book would be for quite a long time, 10 or 12 years at least. I just want to get to it without speeding up my pace.

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  • 19

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Why is there such a long delay before characters return to the main story? i.e.: Lan.

    Robert Jordan

    Not everybody can be center stage front at the same time.

    Tags

  • 20

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Bondoso

    Talking about rewriting your books... I know you have a general idea about what is going to be in a book once you start writing it, but how much does it actually differ from the story layout once you get caught up in the writing process?

    Robert Jordan

    The difference varies. Some parts are very close to what I intended in the beginning, some parts vary to a great degree. it all depends on how I feel things should weave together at the particular moment I'm writing them.

    Tags

  • 21

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Gurney

    How much of the series do you plot out beforehand, and how much is written as you go?

    Robert Jordan

    Before I began writing the first book, I knew the beginning, I knew the last scene of the last book, I knew ALL of the major events that I wanted to happen, I knew how all of the major relationship would go, I knew how people would be affected by those relationships, I knew who was going to live, I knew who was going to die. You can see, I knew a good bit, including that last scene of the last book and how all of the relationships were going to end up. I have left myself the freedom to change the way that I go from one point to another, depending on what seems best at the moment. You might say it's like sketching in the larger out line of the story and leaving the details to be variable.

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  • 22

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joel from Arizona

    When you first started writing the Wheel of Time did you have a set plan for the whole series or were there some things you just thought up as you stumbled upon them in your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    I knew the beginning, that is the opening scenes, I knew the final scene of the final book, I knew the very general line that I wanted the story to take from the beginning to the end. And I knew a number of major occurrences that I wanted to take place in a number of relationships that I wanted to develop. I left open how I would get from one major occurrence to the next to allow for fluidity in writing. I did not want to set anything in stone. Sorry for the pun, but that does lead to rigidity.

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  • 23

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Enarra from Ontario

    Why did you decide to remove (for the time being, I assume) the character of Moiraine? Was it completely plot-driven, or was it actually a way of reworking her character?

    Robert Jordan

    Plot-driven. I know what is supposed to happen with these people, and I'm sorry I can't tell you more. I'll have to say, "Read and find out".

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  • 24

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Cantrell from Brown University

    How much of a framework do you have for the next book following the publication of one? Do you have a good idea exactly where you will pick up or does it take time to let things settle and pick up after a complete withdrawal from the work for a while?

    Robert Jordan

    I have a fair notion of where I intend to pick up. And I generally have a good idea of a number of things that are going to be in the book for the simple reason that every time that I sit down and list the things that I intend to put into any given book, it always turns out to be more than I can put into that book. So, there are always things left over that I wanted to do in the preceding book. And they go into the current book.

    Tags

  • 25

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Matt from Chicago

    Mr. Jordan, how did you go about coming up with the story line of Wheel of Time? Did you think about it over several years or did you have a set time frame in which you had to develop it? Any advice for someone trying to write fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    My advice to someone trying to write fantasy is, go see a psychiatrist. As far as how I developed it, I certainly didn't have a deadline set. Many years ago, more than 15, not as many as 20, certain ideas started poking around in my head, rubbing against one another, and this slowly became what is the Wheel of Time. I really don't know that I could explain it any better than that. At least not if I don't go on for hours. For that matter, if I go on for hours, I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that.

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  • 26

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    steves55

    Mr. Jordan, do you outline your books before you begin writing them?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, and no. At the beginning of a book, I make a list of the major events that that book will cover. I've known from the beginning all the events I wanted to cover and the last scene of the last book in detail. I could have written that one fifteen years ago. I know exactly where I'm going, you see. The list that I make always has to be pared down though, because I always believe i can fit more into a novel than I can find room to fit.

    Tags

  • 27

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Tijamilism

    Mr. Jordan, in another chat I heard you mention working on a book titled Shipwreck. Is that book still in the works?

    Robert Jordan

    Uh, Shipwreck is in the works in the back of my head, where it's been for 5 or 6 years. It is in fact what I will be writing when I finish WOT....a different world, a different set of characters, a different universe, a different set of rules. But I don't expect to put anything on paper until I have finished WOT...it's much easier to plan these things out in my head than to write them out on paper. Someone asked me where all of my critical path charts were for the plots, and I had to tell him they were in my head because they were too complex to put on paper charts, and the time necessary to put them into a computer would be approximately equivalent to put them into books. it's much simpler to keep it in my head.

    Tags

  • 28

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    FCT3000

    RJ—I know after A Crown of Swords you said that you expected to go three more books to the end. After The Path of Daggers you said the same. Do you find that the story is becoming harder to write or that there is more info to write?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's neither harder, nor is there more info...it simply has been that it is more difficult...no, not more difficult, it is still difficult to get to the end. Remember, after A Crown of Swords I said at least three more books....the same thing I say now. Because every time I reach a branching point and put down a major event, I cut off other possible paths to other major events. It means that certain things then are going to have to take place in a certain order and a certain way because the other branches of the logic tree are no longer available. But don't worry, guys, I really am getting there! I apologize for the length of time it's taking me, but I really am getting there.

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  • 29

    Interview: Nov 15th, 1998

    Michael Martin

    He went on to repeat what he has said before—knowing the end, knowing all the major events, yadda yadda. However, what he did said that was new (at least for me) was that the order of events was not set, and that he allowed some fluidity for them. He made a remark about a cousin of his (who is an engineer) who came over and saw all the notes and work and asked why RJ hadn't created something called "critical flow charts" or some such. RJ replied that the nature of the story was too complex for such linear breakdown.

    Tags

  • 30

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    The Path of Daggers could have been longer, but he had to take out events he had intended to include because including them would have required another month of Randland time, and that would have made the book "twice as fat."

    Tags

  • 31

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    I see the books, in a way you separate the sexes quite distinctly. Have you had much feminist critique of the way you treat the male characters and the way you treat the female characters, and how, in a way the male characters seem to be... have the upper edge?

    Robert Jordan

    You think the male characters have the upper edge? I like this, no, no, I like this one. I've had women come up to me before anyone knew who Robert Jordan was. I've had women come up to me at signings and tell me that until they saw me they thought that Robert Jordan was a pen-name of a woman, because they assumed that no man could write women that well. I thought, okay, that's the best compliment I received on my writing that I was able to get inside the skin of women well enough to fool women. You know, it's pretty good. I have seen feminist critiques, I've seen other sorts of critiques. Some of them made my hair stand on end. I had a woman stand up and point something out to me just down in Melbourne a couple of days ago about how all my women are very eager and ready to take charge, take the adventure, do what has to be done and all of my guys are trying to slide out the back door. You know, I don't want any part of this, and I haven't realized quite that it was that heavy. I don't think that I've had any really bad critiques. There may have, that haven't come to my attention. Just as I say a few that had been supposedly writing things that god knows I didn't intend to write or have any meanings I didn't intend to have. Does that answer your question or come close?

    Question

    It does answer my question. I think, to me, you certainly stimulate and challenge our imagination in your work. However I don't necessarily think you challenge our concepts of sexuality in the same sense. I believe that in your writing you very much distinctly keep the females in the female roles and the males in the male roles. And I think in our society, in today's society we're starting to get very challenged in the separation between the sexes—

    Robert Jordan

    Would you like to tell an Aiel Maiden that she's in a traditional female role? Forget about Aes Sedai, I'd love to see you go up to Nynaeve before she met any of these people and tell her she's in a traditional female role. I don't think I've got anybody in a particular traditional role. And no, I'm not challenging gender stereotypes. I'm doing a lot of things here and there's only so much I can do. There are other threads, other questions, other things that would be great write about, to put into these books. The only trouble is, would you really stick around if it was twenty-two books and they were twice as thick as this? All right, if so... Not only that, I'm not sure you could stand the strain. I have notes on characters, on countries, cultures, customs, all sorts of things. Aes Sedai—I have two files of two megabytes or so on each. One's just lists of individual Aes Sedai and information about them. The other is the founding of the White Tower—the customs, the cultures, the sexual relationships among Aes Sedai in training, the whole nine yards. Everything I could think of that might be useful about them. The story isn't there. None of it is on a file anywhere, there are no charts. One of my cousins asked us, "What are your critical path charts? You gotta have critical path charts for something this complex." And I said, "Yes I do have to have critical path charts," but even putting them on a computer in 3D it looks like a mess of spaghetti. If I pull in close enough to be able to see what's happening, I am so tight on that one particular area that the rest of it becomes meaningless. The only way I can do it is keep it up here. So the charts are all up here, the stories all up here. And I'm not sure how much more complex I can make it and how many more threads I can add and still hang onto it. So if I'm going to go into gender stereotypes I'm going to have to drop some of the things from the prophecies.

    (Later) Robert Jordan

    Oh, I wanted to add something here because of gender stereotypes and so forth. Somebody asked me why didn't I have any, in another question and answer session, asked me why didn't I have any gay characters in the books. I do, but that's not my bag to bring out the question of gender stereotypes and the whole nine yards. And they're just running around doing the things that they do and you can figure out who some of them are. If you want to help them, I don't care. It's not the point if they're gay or not gay, okay?

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  • 32

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Paul Colquhoun

    Other observations/comments.

    Robert Jordan

    He does not plan to write any further books set in Randland after this series finishes, unless he has a flash of inspiration. RJ strongly implied that he didn't think this was likely, as it would need to be something very special/compelling. He has extensive notes on all the people/places on computer, but keeps all the plot lines in his head. He commented that he didn't think he could add any more plot threads without losing track! (Personally I find it hard enough to keep track while reading, let alone writing!). I asked him if he had considered publishing the notes after the series had finished. He said it would amount to something like an encyclopaedia, and that he didn't think there would be much interest... I tried to let him know that there were many fans who would lap it up. We may need to bring this up again later, if it hasn't already been done. Can we get his publishers to suggest it to him?

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  • 33

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Dave from Mankato, Minnesota

    What sort of things caused the Wheel of Time series to be so much longer than you originally anticipated? Culture description, character development, new plot developments, etc.? Or something else?

    Robert Jordan

    Not new plot, certainly. But I have been over-optimistic from the beginning about how much of the story I could get into each book. And in each case, I've found that I had to leave out things that I wanted to put into this book—or in any given book—and do them later.

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  • 34

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Holly from Clearwater

    Do you already know the fates of all the primary characters or are they still changeable?

    Robert Jordan

    I know the fates of all of the primary characters.

    Tags

  • 35

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    LadyJ

    Mr. Jordan, How much of the story is already planned out in your mind, and how much is supplied as you go along in the writing process?

    Robert Jordan

    I know the major outline of the story. Various characters' lives. Who lives and dies. The fates of nations. And I know the final scene. Minor details, or smaller details, I leave until I'm writing. It flows organically that way. I thought it would take five books, by the way. :) I was optimistic!

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  • 36

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    LadyJ

    Mr. Jordan, How do you keep track of all the sub-plots and names and lives? Do you have a room decorated with color-coded index cards?

    Robert Jordan

    I keep track of them in my head. I have some files if I need them. And I have many cultural files. But the story and the lives are all in my head.

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  • 37

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    twayne

    When you started writing the series, were Osan'gar and Aran'gar in the original plotline, or were they added in as you went along?

    Robert Jordan

    They were in the original plot line.

    Tags

  • 38

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    From your biography, I did a lot searching on the internet, there are lots of books about you...that you can't remember the timelines exactly.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, no, I can remember the time. The timelines? [sounding very surprised]

    Question

    Yes, or is it all in your head?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, it's in my head. Ah, I was about eh,... critical method flowpath charts. For the books...by some engineers, it seemed to be obviously necessary that ... but ... the flowpath charts were too complex to do on the computer. I finally figured out that doing the setup on the computer for the flowpath charts, which would have to be three-dimensional, at the very least, for the books, would take at least as long as writing one of the books, so it was easier to put it in my head, where I could at least have a better zoom facility than I could possibly have, ... a better resolution than on a computer screen.

    Question

    So you in your head you have a better capacity, you think, than on a computer?

    Robert Jordan

    Yeah, for my books that is, at least...

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  • 39

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Corin Ashaman, I've never changed anything because of a post. I did think of doing so when I first discovered the online community. I'd see someone who had figured out where I was going with something and think that I should change it just to keep the surprise factor. But there was always somebody else, often a lot of somebodies, who would post explaining why the first post just had to be wrong. So I went ahead and did what I had planned to do. Now, when somebody figures out what's what, I just think that's somebody who's on the ball and go on with my writing.

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  • 40

    Interview: 2005

    Evo Terra

    When you have an idea for those first five novels—and obviously you didn't have five novels totally storyboarded out; I would imagine you did not...

    Robert Jordan

    No. I had the major events. I had the opening events in the Two Rivers, I had the final scene, I've had the way things were going to wrap up, and I had major events in between those two. And I thought I could tell that story—get from one event to another—and change these people in the way they needed to be changed so that the people in those first scenes would become the people in the last scenes. I thought I could do that all in five or six books, but even with The Eye of the World, I had certain things I wanted to do in that book, and I realized before I reached the end, I could not do them all. And that was the book took four years to write; it was the longest of them all, because I realized as I was writing it that I had more to work out than I had thought in the beginning.

    Evo Terra

    When you were exploring these new things that needed to be worked out—obviously you focus much on character development and tell the story of the people there—but were there also events that kind of cropped up which kind of seemed like a good place to take the story, and that's also caused some of the diversion?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I've stuck pretty much to the events that I had listed, although in some cases I've done away with some because I realized there was a better way to do what I wanted to do, to effect the change in the character. There was a more economical way to do it, and something that perhaps made more sense in terms of the story, the way it was going.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    Now, since you have basically...you had a beginning and you knew where the end was, and you said you had these points in here. Don't you feel as though maybe you may have locked yourself into a path that you could have explored different directions or different paths? Do you have any regrets to locking yourself into that and not giving yourself the freedom to go where the story takes you?

    Robert Jordan

    No. No, because I knew where I wanted the story to take me. If you're a writer, you do that; you control it. I like to say I am an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of my characters' lives. If you just sit down and start writing and see where it takes you...well, God knows if it's ever going to take you to a story that's worth anything.

    Michael R. Mennenga

    You like to know where the end is before you get started, huh?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I do.

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  • 41

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Anonymous—not George, I think—when I started writing, I knew the beginning, the end, and the major events I wanted to happen along the way. Some of those major, to me, events were as simple as two people meet and the courses of their lives being diverted in different directions by that meeting, but others were as large as Rand being kidnapped and his rescue/escape at Dumai's Wells. How to get from one major event to another I have always left until I was actually writing. I would pick out the major events I wanted to put into a book, start figuring out how I could get from one to the next—without their order necessarily being fixed—and see what I could some up with. Usually, I had to leave a few of the major events out of the book I originally thought I could put them into, one reason what I had thought would be five or six books turned into twelve. And thank you for realizing that I don't think my readers are idiots. I've never thought I had to tell the reader every last detail for them to figure out what was going on.

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  • 42

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Flavion, I'm sorry you've had some bad experiences with writers. I think a writer should either make an effort to be pleasant with the fans or else avoid them. Of course.... A fellow once wrote me a long screed, back around The Great Hunt or perhaps The Dragon Reborn, complaining bitterly, and I do mean bitterly, about the complexity of the plots making the books unreadable. I shouldn't have done it, but I wrote back suggesting that he try The Velveteen Rabbit as more his speed. In my defense, I can only say that it was late in the day, and I was tired.

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  • 43

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    Can you give me an idea of your daily/nightly routine when you're writing? Do you have a pages-per-day target? Do you let the writing flow and then go back and tinker or do you spend lots of time in meticulous plotting and planning?

    Robert Jordan

    After breakfast, I go to my desk, deal with the phone calls and e-mails that really have to be dealt with, then start writing. Usually, this begins with going over the last scene completed to see whether I can tighten it up, make it better in some way. By the end of that scene I am into the flow again. I'm supposed to stop at midday for lunch, but unless someone reminds me, I usually forget until 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon, by which time it's a little late. At 6pm I knock off, do my backup, and go into the house to help Harriet get dinner on the table. I don't have a pages-per-day target; I simply write and see how it falls out. Sometimes this involves lots of time put into plotting and planning while other times it is just a matter of letting things rip. Either way, however, whatever I write will be rewritten a number of times, perhaps a great number. I always think I could make it better given a little more time.

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  • 44

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    A big part of the appeal of fantasy is the escapism of new worlds, creatures and races. Do you enjoy the world-building process as much as/more than the actual writing? What elements of the world-building do you particularly enjoy? The history, the cultures, the maps?

    Robert Jordan

    The creation of cultures, making them believable yet plainly not just copies of some historical period, is as much fun as creating a believable history, and both are a lot of fun, but the actual writing is the thing. The cultures and the history as simply background for the story.

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  • 45

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    Have there been any story lines or scenes you have to had to give up on because they were not working as you would have liked?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I haven't given up scenes or story lines for that reason. I have abandoned scenes that I had planned on writing because I saw a more efficient or practical way of achieving the same end, though.

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  • 46

    Interview: Nov 22nd, 2005

    Question

    How do you keep track of all the story lines and characters? Do you have a fantastically-detailed and organised character/plot filing system, post-it notes all over your office or a 400GB brain? Has your mental capacity been used up by the Wheel of Time to the extent that everyday life becomes somewhat of a muddle? It would for me!

    Robert Jordan

    My wife would say that everyday life is somewhat of a muddle for any writer, and since she has been an editor for most of her life, she might have some insight. For the rest, I have copious files on characters, nations, history, just about anything that I might need to know. Some of these are quite large. The file listing every Aes Sedai living or dead along with every novice and Accepted along with physical descriptions of each woman, the dates of her birth and her coming to the White Tower, how long she spent as novice and Accepted, character traits and a lot more runs to about 2.5 megabytes. The general file on White Tower, containing such things as the layout of the Tower and the Tower grounds, Tower law, Tower history, Aes Sedai customs, Ajah customs etc., also runs about the same size. I'm not saying that the files are exhaustive—I frequently need to invent something new—but they list not only all of the information given in the books but also information that hasn't been used as yet. The story line itself has always been exclusively in my head until it was time to begin a new book. Then I sit down and figure out how much of the story from my head I can get into the book. Until recently, I had been proven wrong on that every time. I could never get into a book as much of the story as I thought I could. So what began as an imagined six-book series has expanded. Now I've reached the last book, and the rest of the story is sketched out on paper for the first time. Well, paper digitally speaking.

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  • 47

    Interview: Dec 1st, 2005

    Tom Schaad

    Again, I want to go back to the length of time that this story has taken to tell, and the sheer volume of the narrative. You've always said that you knew, you had that first scene in your head when you started—you had that last scene in your head—and you've always built your books around a series of things that had to happen along the way.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes.

    Tom Schaad

    But now that we're getting very close to that final book in this story, I'd like to ask you, are there any surprises that came to you as you were writing about how you got from point Zedd to point 006?

    Robert Jordan

    There were points where I suddenly realized that I did not have to do it the way I had thought I had to do it, I could achieve the same effect more economically, and that might be hard to believe, but I am always looking for economy of words to try to tell this story in as few words as possible.

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  • 48

    Interview: Jan 29th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I mentioned before that I see things differently as I read these books through for the sixth or seventh time. I'm a writer myself now, and I look at the books from that standpoint. I can still enjoy them as a reader, but I think I enjoy different things as well. For instance, I love the sheer weight of conflict Mr. Jordan gave to his characters. I often say that stories are about conflict—characters are made interesting by conflict and a setting comes alive via the pressure points where different aspects of culture grind against each other. If you're an aspiring author, take note of the excellent variety of conflicts Rand has shown during the first book and a half:

    1) Servants of the Dark One chasing him.
    2) The Dark One himself (kind of) appearing in Rand's dreams.
    3) Rand's worry about his identity and whether or not Tam is really his father.
    4) Rand's worry about his relationship and love for Egwene
    5) His tension between Mat and Perrin in Book Two.
    6) His worry about everyone calling him a lord.
    7) His frustration that the White Tower is trying to control him.
    8) The danger of channeling and his place as the Dragon Reborn

    And that's just a few of them. There's a reason why this story has been so successful and has been able to carry so many books. Conflict. There's no shortage of it here. Anyway, I'm still enjoying Nynaeve's character, though I wish she'd get over her anger at Moiraine. In most things, Nynaeve is clever, but she's got a hole in her vision when it comes to Moiraine.

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  • 49

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Do you ever let compassion for a character affect or influence plot development?

    Robert Jordan

    Never.

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  • 50

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Your plots are so detailed and intricate—do you ever get confused about what should happen when?

    Robert Jordan

    No.

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  • 51

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    How hard do you find it to integrate all the subplots and characters? I find that your books are much more sophisticated plot-wise than any of the other fantasy/sci-fi books that I've read.

    Robert Jordan

    I don't know how hard it is; I just do it.

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  • 52

    Interview: Nov 7th, 2011

    Neth

    How has religion and mythology changed in the 300 years since the events of the Mistborn trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I had a bit of a challenge in this book because—and you may want to put a spoiler warning on this interview—at the end of the first Mistborn trilogy, one of the characters became the god of this world. He became a god figure, an almost omnipotent figure. I had planned this from the beginning, but it also offers a challenge, because in this world you have a real deity that is interacting, that is a character—not to say that in our world God doesn't interact with us, because as you know I am a faithful, religious person. However, I think there is a different interaction going here where the reader has spent time with this person as a character, and now he is a deity figure. So how to deal with this is one of the big challenges in worldbuilding this next several hundred years.

    I wanted Sazed to be involved—I didn't want to just have him vanish and not be part of things. I wanted to acknowledge what happened with him and make it part of the mythology of the story. But at the same time, having one of your characters turn into God runs you right into the trouble of literal deus ex machina, once one of your characters has all of this power. So walking that line was both exciting and also very challenging.

    I like to deal with religion in my books. I like to look at all aspects of it, and in this book I wanted to look at what it would be like if someone like Sazed had been put in this position and people started worshiping him—what do you do with that?

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  • 53

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Question (How did the series originate?)

    [At this point, people were managing to wedge their way in between me and the table (coming within three inches of RJ), so I didn’t really get the whole question. Something along the lines of:] Are you making this up as you go along, or do you have everything planned out?

    Robert Jordan

    Everything is planned out. RJ has humongous files on his computer dedicated to certain topics. Example: two files for the Aes Sedai. The first one has info on each Aes Sedai. Everything she wears, eats, where she was born, etc. The second is history of the Tower. Halls, Amyrlins, organization, etc. He then said he was lucky to get a LS120 drive, because these files were getting too large for 1.44’s.

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  • 54

    Interview: May 19th, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    I then asked, as (plot-wise) the 4th book is clearly different for the three previous ones, if it was planned or if it just happened; he answered that it was planned.

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  • 55

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    King_Yoshi

    How did you come up with the amazing plot twist at the end of Hero of Ages?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Honestly, I did it by plotting out all three books at once. It feels right because I’d been planning all along.

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  • 56

    Interview: 1993

    Hailing Frequency

    Having seen your series grow from what you thought might be five books, to seven, do you find yourself rearranging events in your original outline so each book has an independent structure with climaxes and growth of its own?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, to some extent, but it's worse than that. I originally thought of it as one book. Well, by the time I went to the publisher, I realized that, no, one book wouldn't do it. I really thought it would be two, or three maybe, but I wasn't sure. But yes, there has been some rearrangement of events—surprisingly little though. I have been startled at how little I have had to shift the major points. Of course, a lot of them are floating, if you will. That's partly because, in the outline, the high points are not fixed—I never intended them to occur in a specific order. They were things that I knew had to happen for the development of one character or another, but there was always some allowance in my mind for things to shift.

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  • 57

    Interview: 1993

    Hailing Frequency

    What are some of the things that have shifted and/or expanded as the books have started to fall into place?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, the characters, of course, have grown in directions I didn't quite expect. Or rather in ways that I didn't expect. It always happens that way...they're like mushrooms you know. The general outline I started with is still there. The high points that I'm aiming at are still there. But I've simply realized that telling the story is taking a little more time than I thought it would.

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  • 58

    Interview: 1993

    Hailing Frequency

    In many places in "The Wheel of time," a careful reader will spot echoes of other myth cycles—the sword in the stone, for example. Do these things happen fortuitously or are they laid on in advance, intentionally as it were?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, they were laid on in advance. There are elements from Norse, Chinese, Japanese, and American Indian mythologies, to name just a few. I think it adds resonance to the story, although I've taken great care not to follow the older material in any slavish way. Occasionally, I will add in details here or there, and then discover that I have done something that is absolutely authentic to the myth I was working from. This is not automatic writing or channeling or being guided by something from the Great Beyond, it's simply that I have done a great deal of reading on these subjects and things bubble up in the back of my head all the time.

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  • 59

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2011

    GabrielRumbaut (14 November 2011)

    How "bad" are your first drafts? Many authors say their first draft of a novel is always terrible.

    Brandon Sanderson (14 November 2011)

    They're pretty bad. In a first draft, I focus on character arcs and laying down dialogue.

    So the descriptions are sparse, and often they're overly wordy to a huge fault. Drafts streamline.

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  • 60

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2011

    GabrielRumbaut (14 November 2011)

    I know you plan your plot beforehand, but do you ever find yourself changing parts of your plot in rewrites?

    Brandon Sanderson (14 November 2011)

    Frequently. Even a heavy outliner can't be afraid to change the story at any point in the process.

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  • 61

    Interview: Dec 8th, 2007

    Jason Denzel

    How would you describe your writing style?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Three things make a fantasy epic work for me. 1) A complex plot with plenty of twists and turns that comes to an explosive climax. 2) An imaginative magic system and setting that feels both real and wondrous at the same time. 3) Deeply personal characters dealing with issues that transcend genre. (This is the most important one.)

    I approach my writing from that above philosophy. I am probably best known for my magic and my settings, where I try very hard to give the reader a unique and different experience, one they haven't gotten from other fantasy books. I am also known for my endings, where I try very hard for well-foreshadowed—yet still surprising—twists and climaxes.

    However, magic is only as interesting as the characters who use it. A plot is only gripping for me if I care about the characters. Danger and action sequences mean nothing if we don't CARE about the people who might be hurt or killed.

    Robert Jordan, through his writing, taught me that. Characters first, everything else second.

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  • 62

    Interview: Oct, 2008

    lostknight (16 October 2008)

    I am curious if any changes were made to the story after you got A Memory of Light or after the Name of the Wind was published? The style hasn't changed, but the story seemed to flow much better this time around.

    Brandon Sanderson (16 October 2008)

    Actually, no. This one was finished off back before I knew anything of A Memory of Light or before I'd read Name of the Wind. Hopefully, the smoothing is a result of me trying to work out kinks in my storytelling ability. I'm learning to distance out my climax chapters, for instance. (I think I've I'd have written this book years ago, I'd have tried to overlay Spook's climactic sequence with the ending ones, for instance, which would have been a mistake.)

    Also, of the three books, I worked the hardest on this one. Choosing that ending—even though I'd planned it for some time—was very difficult. I knew that it would anger some readers. I also knew that it was the right ending for the series.

    I'm glad it worked for you.

    FLINN

    I have to admit, I am one of those angered. I will be so glad when this cliché of killing off the heroes will finally pass. I escape to fantasy for the happy ending. If I wanted to be depressed I'd grab a 3-dollar bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and drink it all and contemplate my mundane life. I can't spend much time reflecting on the book because of the mental picture of Vin and Elend dead in a field keeps popping up instead. They didn't even get a chance to reproduce.

    Now outside of the horrible ending (which wasn't surprising in the least because it is so common to kill the heroes) I enjoyed them. I absolutely cannot wait to read your books written 10 years from now. You can definitely pick up the improvement in transitions and character development in each book I've read from you. I'm quite often reminded of David Eddings although I'm sure plenty would disagree. And while Eddings isn't one of my favorite writers to be at his level (to me) so early in your career leads me to believe great things will be coming.

    I would like to ask you one thing to consider when writing endings. Fantasy is an escape, please don't ruin it with such depressing endings. When you have had the opportunity to look upon your dead wife in her coffin, reading about others dying isn't fun at all. It is absolutely terrible. Happily ever after.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (17 OCTOBER)

    I understand your anger. I wrote the ending that felt most appropriate to me for this book and series. I didn't find it depressing at all, personally. But people have reacted this way about every ending I've written.

    I won't always do it, I promise. But I have to trust my instincts and write the stories the way they feel right to me. I didn't 'kill off' Vin and Elend in my mind. I simply let them take risks and make the sacrifices they needed to. It wasn't done to avoid cliché or to be part of a cliché, or to be shocking or surprising, or to be interesting or poetic—it was done because that was the story as I saw it.

    I will keep this in mind, though. I know it's not what a lot of people want to read. Know that I didn't do it to try to shock you or prove anything. And because of that, if a more traditionally happy ending is something that a story requires, I'll do that—even if it means the people on the other side of the fence from you will point fingers at me for being clichéd in that regard as well.

    If it helps, realize that one of the reasons I added the lines in Sazed's note was to let the characters live on for those who wanted them to live on. I ALMOST didn't have Spook even discover the bodies, leaving it more ambiguous.

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  • 63

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 4)

    Moshe and I agreed on just about every edit or change made to ELANTRIS. There is one small thing, however, that we kind of went the rounds about. The word Kolo.

    Galladon's 'Kolo's are, in my mind, an integral part of his personality. I characterize him a great deal through his dialogue—he doesn't really get viewpoints of his own, so everything I do for him at least until the ending

    I either have to do through Raoden's thoughts or through Galladon's own words. When I was coming up with Galladon's character, I realized I would need a set of linguistic features that would reinforce his culture's relaxed nature. So, I went with smooth-sounds, and gave their dialect a very 'chatty' feel. The Dula habit of calling everyone 'friend' came from this—as did their habit of softening everything they say with a question tag. Linguistically, questions are less antagonistic than statements, and I figured a culture like the Dula one would be all about not antagonizing people.

    A number of languages in our own world make frequent use of similar tags. Korean, the foreign language I'm most familiar with, has a language construction like this. Closer to home, people often make fun of the Canadian propensity for adding a similar tag to their own statements. I hear that Spanish often uses these tags. In many of these languages, a large percentage of statements made will actually end in a softening interrogative tag.

    Anyway, enough linguistics. I'm probably using the standard 'literary' posture of falling back on facts and explanations to make myself sound more authoritative. Either way, I liked having Galladon say 'Kolo' a lot. In the original draft, the tags were added onto the ends of sentences, much like we might ask 'eh?' or 'understand?' in English. "It's hot today, kolo?"

    Moshe, however, found the excessive use of Kolo confusing—especially in connection with Sule. He thought that people might get the two words confused, since they're used similarly in the sentences. Simply put, he found the kolos distracting, and started to cut them right and left. I, in turn, fought to keep in as many as I could. It actually grew rather amusing—in each successive draft, he'd try to cut more and more, and I'd try to keep ahold of as many as possible. (I was half tempted to throw a 'kolo' into the draft of MISTBORN, just to amuse him.)

    Regardless, we ended up moving kolo to its own sentence to try and make it more understandable. "It's hot today. Kolo?" We also ended up cutting between a third and a half of the uses of the word, and losing each one was a great pain for me. (Well, not really. But I'm paid to be melodramatic.) So, if you feel like it, you can add them back in your mind as your read Galladon's lines.

    Other than that massive tangent, I don't know that I have much to say about this chapter. I thought that it was necessary to set Raoden up with a firm set of goals to accomplish—hence the three distinct gangs he has to overcome. Since Sarene and Hrathen's storylines were going to be a little more ambiguous plot-wise, I wanted a conflict for Raoden that could show distinct and consistent progress.

    I knew from the beginning that I wanted him to set up a new society for Elantris, and the gangs represented a way for him to approach this goal in an incremental manner.

    The cliffhanger at the end of this chapter, by the way, is one of my favorites. The chapter-triad system gave me some amazing opportunities for cliffhangers—as we'll see later.

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  • 64

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson (Chpater 13)

    This is easily one of my favorite chapters in the book. This chapter really shows off the core of Raoden's character—lets him be the hero that he is. I've never written another character like Raoden. In a way, he's not as rounded as some other characters (characters like Hrathen.) He doesn't have the flaws or internal battles of some of the more complex characters I've designed.

    That doesn't, however, make him any worse a character in this particular book. Raoden is something of a superman—he does the right thing at almost every turn, and his internal struggles only serve to make him more noble. You can't often get away with this in fiction. However, I do think that there are really people like him in the world—I've known a few of them. By including him in a book with Hrathen and Sarene, each of whom have their foibles and internal problems, I think I avoid making the characters of the book feel too shallow.

    And, there is a certain. . .beauty to a character who is simply noble. Often times, we as authors think that making a character 'rounded' or 'realistic' means corrupting them somehow. I think Raoden defies this concept. He probably wouldn't be a very compelling character outside of an extreme situation like Elantris. However, confronted by the almost overwhelming problems and tasks associated with the city, his strength only serves to make him feel more realistic to me. A weaker character would have broken beneath Elantris. Raoden can struggle on.

    In this chapter, I do begin to introduce what will become Raoden's main character struggle—that of his burden of leadership. He's taking a lot upon himself, and I think a man of his sincerity couldn't help but pause and wonder if he's worth all of the loyalty he is receiving.

    Also, in this chapter we begin to get a few pay-offs from the building I've done in previous chapters. The foreshadowing with the well, the foreshadowing with Karata's escapes into the city, and the foreshadowing with the child Elantrians all come to head in this chapter. At the same time, I give foreshadowing for Iadon's paranoia, and foreshadowing regarding the passage out of his palace.

    These are the sorts of little plotting events that make writing exciting for me. When they pay off—when the reader has that moment of 'oh, I get it'—is when I'm the happiest as a novelist.

    My favorite moment in this chapter? Probably a tie. One moment is when Raoden draws the Aon to stop the guard. A truly clever character doesn't need a fireball or a blast of power to defeat his enemies—he simply needs a wit quick enough to manipulate the resources he has. The other moment is when Raoden arrives back at the chapel and gives the sword to Seolin. This is the story's first big victory moment, and after this many chapters dealing with the pains and dirtiness of Elantris, I think Raoden and co. deserved it.

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  • 65

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the major post-sale revisions I did to ELANTRIS came at the suggestion of my agent, Joshua Bilmes. He noted that I had several chapters where Hrathen just walked about, thinking to himself. He worried that these sections made the middle of the book drag a bit, and also feared that they would weaken Hrathen's character. So, instead, he suggested that I add Telrii to the book some more, and therefore give Hrathen opportunities to be clever in the way he achieved his goals.

    This is the first chapter that shows any major revision in this direction. In the original, Hrathen simply walked along, thinking to himself. I added Telrii to the second half of the chapter, putting some of Hrathen's internal musings into their discussion. I cut some of the more repetitive sections, and then left the others interspersed between lines of dialogue.

    The result is, I think, a very strong new section.

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  • 66

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 29)

    So, here we get the payoff for several hundred pages worth of hinting at Iadon's insecurity and paranoia. Plotting is all about payoffs, in my estimation. You have to earn your plot. You do that by putting the pieces together in the right places, so when you finally get to a climax (even a smaller one) your readers accept what is happening.

    The build-up doesn't have to always be subtle—and it doesn't even have to be done through traditional foreshadowing. For instance, if you want a character to be able to defeat a small group of bandits, you have to have earned the payoff that says that he/she is competent with a weapon. It's like an chemical equation—you balance all of your pieces on the one side, and they should equal what comes out on the other end.

    In order for Sarene's speech in this chapter to work, I needed to do several things. I needed to build up that she'd be both capable enough to make it and brash enough to go through with it. I also needed to build up that Iadon would crack beneath this kind of external pressure, which I hope I did.

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  • 67

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, all this time Hrathen was under the effects of the potion. It was a little bit contrived not to tell the reader that Hrathen had asked for the effects to be temporary, but I figured the drama was worth it. You should have been able to figure it out anyway—it was the only logical reason Hrathen would drink the potion.

    Of all the politickings, maneuverings, and plannings in this book, I think this is the best one. In a single brilliant gamble, Hrathen managed to make himself into a saint who is seen to have power over Elantris. He out-witted Sarene and Dilaf at the same time, gaining back everything he'd lost during his arguments and self-questioning. This isn't really a 'twist,' in my mind—it's something better. It's something that makes logical sense, something that carries the plot forward without having to trick the reader, yet still earning wonder and appreciation.

    In my mind, this sort of plot twist is superior to gimmick surprises. I don't often pull it off, but there's something. . .majestic about a plotting device that is obvious, rational, yet still surprising.

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  • 68

    Interview: Jul 13th, 2012

    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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  • 69

    Interview: Jul 10th, 2012

    Sabrina Fish

    What was the hardest to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The most challenging part of that book was to keep a strong enough focus on the characters while writing a faster, shorter plot. That’s a balance I haven’t practiced nearly as much as I have with the epic fantasies, where I have basically as much time as I want with any given character. So that was a challenge.

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  • 70

    Interview: Jul 17th, 2012

    Brandon Sanderson

    On the origins of the Mistborn series and his writing process:

    "I'm always searching for 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, a good idea for each character, something that forms the core of their conflict. Some ideas come from the setting, or something that's going to drive the economy, something that's going to, for me, drive the magic [system]."

    Brandon continued to explain his process by demonstrating how the Mistborn series came together. "I was watching the Harry Potter movies and I was thinking about The Lord of the Rings and while I like the idea of the hero's journey, I began thinking about how the dark lord in these stories gets the raw end of the deal. So I wanted to write a book where the dark lord wins. Although that's kind of a downer."

    Brandon explained that he shelved that idea until he could figure out how to make a story where the villain wins not be so bleak. "It took me a little while to figure out what to with that idea. Then I was watching one of my favorite movies, Sneakers, and started thinking about how I hadn't seen an amazing heist story in fantasy ever. Little did I know Scott Lynch was going to release a great one only a year later!"

    The two ideas combined, Brandon continued, "like atoms that combine to create a molecule that's something different." The magic system in Mistborn was the same way, according to the author. Allomancy and Feruchemy were magic that had been designed for different worlds but worked really well together with the story of Mistborn.

    So Brandon set to work, filling out the gaps in the story by brainstorming along the way.

    One audience member noted that Brandon has a pattern of having his characters working towards a goal only to have that goal turn out to be the incorrect one, which prompted the author to discuss how he thinks of plot twists. "To figure out a good plot twist you want the reader or viewer to be surprised that it happened and then, as it's happening, realize they should have seen it coming. You can't always pull that off but when you can they're really great and that's what I'm shooting for."

    "I don't twist my plot just to twist it. My hope is that the more that is revealed, the more that you experience a hidden depth to the characters and their journeys. It's like life. Everyone you meet you make a snap judgment but then the more you get to know them the more depth they reveal. I want readers to experience that with my books. Part of why I like writing epic fantasies is because the story gives you the room to develop and explore that depth. Everything is about more than one thing."

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  • 71

    Interview: Jul 21st, 2012

    Question

    When you're...you know, speaking with regards to all three books that you wrote, if there's an issue where you think a character or a plot should go one way, and Harriet or any of the others thinks it should go another way, how does that work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Harriet wins. Harriet always wins. Usually what happens is that there'll be...if Harriet says something, we just do it. The only time when there's questioning is when I disagree with Maria or Alan, and we both kind of make our arguments. We do these in-line edits with track changes in Microsoft Word; we'll have whole conversations there, where I'll say "This is why I think this character would do what they're doing," and Maria would come in and say, "This is why I think you're wrong and they wouldn't do this," and we'll have big discussions, and Harriet'll make the call, and then I'll do it as Harriet says, 'cause Harriet knows the characters better than anyone.

    And so there are times when I've been overruled—it happens on every book—and there are times where Harriet said, "No, I think Brandon's right," and Maria and Alan—her superfans—disagree, but the way that fandom works, we all disagree on things. You'll find this, and I disagree with some people on how character interpretations will happen, and things like that. Some people, for instance, don't think my Talmanes is true to Jim's Talmanes. Things like that. That's the sort of thing we're arguing over. It's very rarely over main characters, but it's like, "Is Talmanes acting like Talmanes would?" And I read the character one way, and some people read the character another way, and I just have to go with my interpretation, and if Harriet says, "No, this isn't right," I revise it. If Harriet says, "No, this feels right to me," then we just go with it.

    Question

    Was there ever a case where you and Maria and Alan had a difference of opinion and Harriet had a completely different take?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That all four of us had a different take? Yeah, that's happened; that's very rare but it has happened. We're trying to piece together something that's...there's always this consideration of "What would Jim do?" But there's also a consideration of Brandon as author, not knowing what Jim would do, what does Brandon think needs to happen narratively? And there are some things where I, reading the books as an author, say "This is where he was going." "No, he didn't say it in the notes." "No, it's nowhere in there; he doesn't make mention of it." "This is where he was going; my understanding of story structure, plotting and things, and I can say, you know, as sure as I can say anything, that this is what he was going to do." And, you know, sometimes Maria and Alan, they look at the notes and say, "No, that's not at all what he was going to do; look what the notes say." And I say, "No, that's not what they're saying," and we have arguments about that too.

    There's lots of discussing going on. We're all very passionate about the Wheel of Time. It'd be like getting Jenn and Jason from Dragonmount and Matt from Theoryland together and hashing out what they think about where Demandred is, or something like that. There are gonna be lots of passionate discussions. I think, at the end of the day, that makes the book better, and the fact that we have kind of...Harriet tends to just...if she has a feeling, she lets us argue about it, and then she says, like...you know, 'cause she's the one that would sit at dinner and discuss the characters with Jim. None of us did that, and she did that for twenty years, so...yeah.

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  • 72

    Interview: Oct 24th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    I had two questions for him. The first was if we were going to be moving to more of a "short timespan, lotsa action" format, since the past couple of books seemed to have fit this format (disclaimer: it's been a couple of years since I've read A Crown of Swords, much less Lord of Chaos, so my sense of book-time may be off slightly), at which point he replied that he didn't deliberately plan the book to be in that format, but if he continued the book would be another 600 pages in length.

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  • 73

    Interview: Jul 29th, 2006

    Brandon Sanderson

    Joshua, by the way, also pushed for an action scene here—where Kelsier grabs the Inquisitor's attention and runs. I do take most of Joshua's suggestions. In fact, his desire to have an action scene earlier in this book is the biggest bit of advice by him I can think of that I haven't taken. I just really felt that I needed more time to ease into Allomancy before I could do justice to an action scene. Actually, I think a fast scene like that would actually slow the book down, since I'd have to spend so much time explaining. Better to let the next few scenes play out, where we get some good explanations in dialogue.

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  • 74

    Interview: Jul 29th, 2006

    Brandon Sanderson

    In this chapter we also have the first mention of the Eleventh Metal. I kind of wish that I'd found another place for this, since the chapter is already filled with a long discussion scene. Yet, it proved to be the best place for it in the drafting process.

    If you think that what Kelsier is saying here is a little fishy, then you're not alone. Most of the crew doesn't believe him either. I'll certainly admit that there is more going on here—far more—than anyone suspects.

    Hopefully, you noticed Clubs's little 'hooks through our throats' line here. That one pops up again, certainly, and it has a nice little relation to the next time we see Camon's lair.

    Footnote

    Brandon wrote a short story about Kelsier learning about the Eleventh Metal in the Mistborn RPG book. Ruin had Kelsier's teacher kill the man who discovered it.

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  • 75

    Interview: Jul 29th, 2006

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, so I lied. I thought the fight scene came in chapter six, but it came in five. I'm better at pacing than I thought!

    The truth is, this is one of my least favorite fights in the book. I put it in primarily because it gave a good, quick showing of the basic concepts in Allomancy. You got to see Kelsier enhance his strength with pewter, his senses with tin (including using it to help him focus), and then use both steel and iron in a variety of different Pushes and Pulls.

    The thing is, it wasn't that exciting because it wasn't really a fair fight. As soon as Kelsier got ahold of that ingot, those soldiers were toast. I did spice up the fight a bit by giving them shields—something that was missing from the original draft of the fight. Even still, this seems like a kind of brutal combat, not the more poetic and flowing battles I generally envision for Allomancy.

    (This is, by the way, the only fight I ported over from MISTBORN PRIME. There was a similar scene in that book where the protagonist took down a group of men with only an ingot. Again, I decided to grab it because of how well it introduced the concepts of Allomancy. It was quick and dirty.)

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  • 76

    Interview: Jul 29th, 2006

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 6)

    This chapter is where, in my opinion, the book starts to get good. These kinds of chapters are part of what I write for—good, solid character interaction with some intellectual problem-solving going on. I really like the way that the crew works through their challenges here. The items presented really do sound quite daunting as they're listed; yet, by the end, I hope that the reader feels as the crew does—that this plan could actually work, if they pull it off right.

    I had to rewrite this scene several times, bringing the focus away from simply stealing the atium. By the last draft, I had something I was very pleased with. It outlines things simply enough, yet doesn't make everything sound TOO easy. At least, that is my hope.

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  • 77

    Interview: Jul 29th, 2006

    Brandon Sanderson

    All of that considered, I know the beginning is kind of slow. That's how my books are—while I can often start with a bang in the first few chapters, I then need to go into building mode so that I can earn my climaxes in the later third. We need to have some scenes explaining Allomancy in detail, for instance, before we can have scenes like happen in the next chapter.

    Still, I like a lot about the introduction to this book. Vin's character comes off very strongly, and the plot is established quickly—something I sometimes have trouble doing.

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  • 78

    Interview: Apr 14th, 2012

    Question

    I was just wondering how overwhelming it was when you first took on the job of taking up the reins of the Wheel of Time. How much was it overwhelming—the amount of detail and layering that Jordan had set up in order to continue on with finishing off the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a couple of things that Robert Jordan did, like...there are many things he did better than I do, but there are two things that he did amazingly better than I do that have been really hard to try and approach. The first one is his mastery of description. I...prose is not....you know, I do serviceable prose. I don't do beautiful prose in most cases. I occasionally can turn a phrase, but he could do beautiful prose in every paragraph, and that's just not one of my strengths. Pat Rothfuss is another one who can do that, if you're read Name of the Wind; it's just beautiful, every line. Robert Jordan I felt was like that, just absolute beauty.

    The other thing that he was really good at was subtle foreshadowing across lots and lots of books. And it's not something I'd ever had to do before, unless you count my hidden epic, and I had never had to try and approach that level of subtlety, and it was a real challenge to try and catch all of those balls that he'd tossed in the air and he'd been keeping juggling. In fact, I would say, one of the most challenging parts, if not the most challenging part of this, was to keep track of all those subplots and make sure that I was not dropping too many of those balls. And you'll be able to see when you read the books which of those subplots were really important to me as a fan and which ones I was not as interested in, because some of those, I catch less deftly than others, and some of them I just snatch from the air and slam into this awesome sequence, and some of them I say, "Yeah, that's there."

    And that's the danger of having a fan that does this. There were so many of those things. Fortunately, he left some good notes on a lot of them, and in some of them I was able to just slide in his scenes, and in others I had to decide how to catch that, and what to best do with it. But there's just so much. So much undercurrent going on through the whole books, through all of them, and so many little details in the notes that it's easy to get overwhelmed by it. Fortunately I have Team Jordan, Maria and Alan, to catch a lot of those things that I miss, but even with them there are things he was doing, that we don't even know what he was planning to do, that we just have to leave as is, and let it lie rather than trying to wrap it up poorly, because we don't know how he was doing to do it.

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  • 79

    Interview: 2012

    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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  • 80

    Interview: Nov, 2012

    Szabó Dominik

    Speaking about writing: do you prefer any specific working method? How do you put your stories on paper?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I generally like to have a good outline; for me that's important to have an ending in mind before I begin. It's really the most vital part for me. I like explosive, powerful endings, and without knowing it ahead of time, I can’t point it [the story] to where I want it to go. So I would say that I'm an outliner. I do, however, like my characters to be more organic, to grow and come alive, and so I don't spend a lot of time trying to force my characters into a box as outlined in an outline of a book, but try to let them grow and become who they want to become, so to speak, as I write.

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  • 81

    Interview: Aug 31st, 2012

    Daily Dragon

    The Wheel turns, and the Wheel of Time series has come to an end with your completed final draft of A Memory of Light, due out from Tor Books on January 8, 2013. It must have been exciting yet daunting to be chosen to finish such an acclaimed series. How has the experience affected you as an author and as a fan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's been a very interesting experience, both as a writer and as a fan. Picking up something that you've loved for many, many years as a fan and then becoming the writer on it really changes your perspective on the entire process. Suddenly I had to dig into it in a way I didn't as a fan. I'm not one of those fans who always have all their favorite lines memorized or anything like that. I never had to keep track of all the subplots and minor characters, and suddenly I not only have to keep track of them, I have to know them intrinsically, which is quite the challenge.

    It's been five years that I've been working on these books, and it has forced me to do a lot of heavy lifting as a writer. Things that I wasn't as good at doing, I needed to become better at doing. It's kind of like suddenly being thrown into a swimming pool and told, "All right, now start swimming. You know how to tread water, but now we need you to swim ten miles." It's forced me to grow a lot as a writer. It's really given me a deeper respect for Robert Jordan and his works, seeing the process and how much goes on in creating these novels.

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  • 82

    Interview: Jun 3rd, 2011

    Helen O'Hara

    Speaking of adaptations, of course, you've taken over Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and sped up the pace of the story considerably, so as a long-time reader there, thank you for that!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Credit needs to be given to Robert Jordan; he started to speed up in Book 11 [Knife of Dreams]. In fact, I've read interviews where he admits that the focus was a little bit wrong in Book 10 [Crossroads of Twilight], which is the one that the fans complain about being the most slow, and he himself changed that for Book 11 and picked up the pacing. And I like spectacular endings. When I build my books, I start from the end and work forward with my outline. I write from beginning to end, but I outline end to beginning, because I always want to know that I have a powerful, explosive ending that I'm working toward. Endings are my deal: if a book or a film doesn't have a great ending, I find it wanting. It's like the last bite, the last morsel on the plate, so I get very annoyed with the standard Hollywood third act, because they seem to play it most safe in Act Three, and that's where I most want to be surprised and awed. That's where it's got to be spectacular. You've got to give the reader something they're not expecting, something they want but don't know it, in that last section.

    Helen O'Hara

    Does that go for something like your Mistborn Trilogy; did you start with the end of the trilogy or go book-by-book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I plotted all three backwards and then wrote them all forwards. I had a great advantage writing those books, because I sold my first book, Elantris, in 2003. The nature of how books are 'slotted' into release dates is that a new author doesn't get the best slot. They want to give each author a good launch, but they can't give them in the really prime slots. So we had a two-and-a-half year wait, and usually you have a year between books. That meant I had three-and-a-half years before Mistborn would be out, so I pitched the entire trilogy together and wrote all three before the first one came out.

    Helen O'Hara

    Is that something you have in common with Robert Jordan, because re-reading the prologue to the first book you think, 'This guy knows how it's going to end'.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He actually wrote the ending that I worked towards. The last pages were written by him before he passed away. He always spoke of knowing the ending, so I think we do share that. He was a bit more of an explorer in his writing than I am. He knew where he was going, but getting there he wove around a lot. You can see that in the notes I've been given; he jumps from scene to scene. So there's a difference there, but he really loved endings. And that ending is really great; I think fans are going to love it.

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  • 83

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    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. The major storylines will all be tied up, along with some of the secondary, and even some of the tertiary, but others will be left hanging. I'm doing that deliberately, because I believe it will give the feel of a world that's still out there alive and kicking, with things still going on. I've always hated reaching the end of a trilogy and finding all of the characters', all the country's, all the world's, problems are solved. It's this neat resolution of everything, and that never happens in real life.

    I originally thought I was signing up for a 10 or 15K run, and somewhere along the line I found out it was a marathon. So yes, I would like to cross the finish line on this thing and get on to what's next. I'm not that old, and I've got a lot of writing left. There are two more short prequel novels to be done at some point, but aside from that, I have said I would never write again in this universe unless I get a really great idea—which would have to be an idea that would support two or three of what I call "outrigger" novels, not part of the main storyline. Well, I may have had one! But I'll have to set it aside for a year or two because I've already signed contracts for an unrelated trilogy called Infinity of Heaven, which I'm very excited about. I've been poking that idea around in my head for 10 or 12 years.

    I've also thought about doing a book set during the Vietnam War, but Jim Rigney will probably never write the Vietnam book. If I did, it would be history now, and I decided a long time ago that Rigney was going to be or contemporary fiction, and my name for historical novels is Reagan O'Neill. Maybe Jim Rigney will never become a writer!

    There have been some computer games and comics, and a movie based on The Eye of the World is still in the works (with contracts that allow me a lot of involvement), but nobody else is ever going to write Wheel of Time books. For after I die, I've purchased an insurance policy with a couple of guys who have a kneecap concession in the southeastern United States, and they have rights to expand this concession should it be desired. For a very small fee, they have guaranteed that they will crack the kneecaps of anybody who writes in my universe, and nail them to the floor!

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  • 84

    Interview: Oct 15th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Gathering Storm: Writing Process

    I attacked the project in earnest in the summer and fall of 2008. I realized early on that there was too much to keep in mind for me to write in a strict chronological fashion, as I had normally done in the past. For this project, I needed to take groups of characters, dump all of the information about them into my mind (like loading a program into RAM), and write for weeks on just that group. This way, I could keep track of the voices of the many characters and maintain the numerous subplots.

    The hardest part of this project, I feel, was keeping track of the subplots and the voices of the side characters. This is not surprising; though I'd read the Wheel of Time many times, I was not a superfan. I loved the books, but I was not among the people who made websites, wikis, and the like for the books. I read the books to study the writing and enjoy the story; I did not spend too much time keeping track of which minor Aes Sedai was which.

    I could no longer be lax in this area; I had to know every one of them. Part of Robert Jordan's genius was in the individual personalities of all of these side characters. So I began dividing the last book (which was at that time still one novel in my mind) into sections. There were five of them. Four of these—one for Rand, one for Egwene, one for Mat, and one for Perrin—would push these four main plots toward the ending. They would happen roughly simultaneously. The other plotlines leading up to the Last Battle, and then the battle itself, were the fifth section.

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  • 85

    Interview: Oct 15th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    When Harriet asked me about splitting the book, she wondered if there was a natural breaking point. I told her breaking it once wouldn't work—but breaking it twice might. I didn't feel A Memory of Light would work as two volumes. Looking at my outline and what I needed to accomplish, two books would either mean one very long book and one normal-sized one, or two books split equally. Both would have been awkward. The former because doing a double-sized Wheel of Time book would have the same problems as just printing the original 2000-page novel. 1400 pages isn't much better in publishing terms. 1000, like some of the Wheel of Time books, already pushes against those limits.

    The second option—two 1000-page books—was even more of a problem. If we cut it in the middle like that, we'd get the first half of all four plot sequences I mentioned above—but none of their climaxes. This (writing one book as a setup book, with the payoffs mostly happening in another book) was an experiment that Robert Jordan had already attempted, and he had spoken of the problems it created. He was a better writer than I am, and if he couldn't accomplish such a split, I didn't want to attempt it.

    Instead, I felt that splitting the book as three books would allow us to have complete arcs in each one. Two, actually, for each of The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight—followed by the climactic book, A Memory of Light. So I set out to divide the plots and decide what would go where.

    I knew fans would be skeptical of me taking over the project in the first place, and I knew they'd be more skeptical when we announced a three-book split. That meant I wanted my most dynamic plots in the first book. (I knew the ending would carry its own book, and was never worried about that one being dynamic enough.) In addition, I wanted to split the four sequences—Rand/Egwene/Mat/Perrin—so that we had at least one in each book that Robert Jordan had done a lot of work on. Rand and Perrin had much less material finished for them than Mat and Egwene. So it was either Rand/Egwene or Perrin/Mat for the first book.

    It soon became clear that I needed to lead with Rand/Egwene. They mirrored each other in very interesting ways, with Rand's narrative descent and Egwene's narrative ascent. When Rand was being contemplative, Egwene's plot had action—and vice versa. While my personal favorite of the four is Perrin's arc, I felt his involved a lot of buildup and some less straightforward plotting as we pushed toward his climactic moments. I also decided that the plots would work with shaving off some of what Rand/Egwene were doing to save it for the second book, but I couldn't do the same as easily for Perrin/Mat.

    A book was forming in my head. Rand's absolute power driving him toward destruction and Egwene's specific lack of power elevating her toward rebuilding the White Tower. We needed a Mat section—I didn’t want him absent for the book—so Hinderstap was my creation, devised after Harriet asked me to be "more disturbing and horrifying" in regards to the bubbles of evil that were coming into the book.

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  • 86

    Interview: Oct 17th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Gathering Storm: What did I learn?

    The obvious thing I learned has to do with juggling so many side plots. I'd attempted this level of complexity one time before in my life, the first draft of The Way of Kings. (Written in 2002–2003, this was very different from the version I published in 2010, which was rebuilt from the ground up and written from page one a second time.) The book had major problems, and I felt at the time they came from inexpert juggling of its multitude of viewpoints. I've since advised new writers that this is a potential trap—adding complexity by way of many viewpoints, when the book may not need it. Many great epics we love in the genre (The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire included) start with a small group of characters, many in the same location, before splitting into much larger experiences with expansive numbers of viewpoints.

    I couldn't afford to be bad at this any longer. Fortunately, finishing the Mistborn trilogy had taught me a lot about juggling viewpoints. Approaching The Wheel of Time, I was better able to divide viewpoints, arrange them in a novel, and keep them in narrative rhythm with one another—so they complemented one another, rather than distracting or confusing the reader.

    The other primary thing I feel I gained working on this book is a better understanding of my outlining process. Robert Jordan, as I said in previous installments, seems to have been more of a discovery writer than an outline writer—I'm the opposite. Working with The Gathering Storm forced me to take all of these notes and fragments of scenes and build a cohesive story from them. It worked surprisingly well. Somehow, my own process melded perfectly with the challenge of building a book from all of these parts. (That's not to say that the book itself was perfect—just that my process adapted very naturally to the challenge of outlining these novels.)

    There are a lot of little things. Harriet's careful line edits taught me to be more specific in my word choice. The invaluable contributions of Alan and Maria taught me the importance of having assistants to help with projects this large, and showed me how to make the best use of that help. (It was something I started out bad at doing—my first few requests of Alan and Maria were to collect things I never ended up needing, for example.) I gained a new awe for the passion of Wheel of Time fandom, and feel I grew to understand them—particularly the very enthusiastic fans—a little better. This, in turn, has informed my interactions with my own readers.

    I also learned that the way I do characters (which is the one part of the process I do more like a discovery writer) can betray me. As evidenced below.

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  • 87

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    Towers of Midnight: What did I learn?

    Set Your Sights High

    I've never been one to dodge a challenge. However, after failing to do The Way of Kings right in 2002, I was timid about tackling complex narratives across many, many viewpoints. Towers of Midnight marked the largest-scale book I'd ever attempted, with the most complexity of viewpoints, the greatest number of distinct and different scenes to balance, and the most ambitious forms of storytelling. Aviendha's trip through the glass pillars was the most audacious thing I believe I pitched at Team Jordan, and was one of the things about which they were the most skeptical. Perrin's balance between action and inaction risked having him descend into passiveness.

    I worked on the new version of The Way of Kings during this time, in 2009–10, when I was also working on Towers of Midnight. I doubt I will ever be more busy than I was in those two years, tackling two of the biggest books of my career at the same time. However, during this time I entered a place in my writing where something clicked, dealing with the next stage of my writing career. I'd always wanted to master the complex epic—my favorite stories of all time fit this mold. Before this, however, I'd done very few sequels—and Towers of Midnight was the most complicated sequel I'm ever likely to do.

    I learned a great deal about myself during this period, and the results are on the pages of these two books, Towers of Midnight and The Way of Kings.

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  • 88

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    Increased Subtlety

    I like novels where a multitude of different threads, some hidden, twist together to a surprising conclusion. This is one area where I think I've, for the most part, done a good job in the past. Working on The Wheel of Time, however, I was able to see Robert Jordan's hand in new ways—and see how delicate he could be with some of his plotting and characterization. I worry that sometimes, I beat people over the head with a character's goals, theme, and motivations. It's because I feel a character with well-defined motivations is one of the hallmarks of a strongly written story.

    However, I do think I need to learn to be more subtle—and The Wheel of Time taught me a great deal about this. Robert Jordan's light hand in dealing with the Thom/Moiraine relationship is a good example. Other characters, however, stand out as well—Pevara is an example. The subtle clues about how some of the Sitters who had been chosen were too young is another example of his very delicate hand. It's not an important thread, in the grand scheme of things. Little touches like this, however, are what makes a world live beyond the page. It is something I think I learned from this project—not necessarily how to accomplish this (we'll see if I can), but how to recognize and appreciate it.

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  • 89

    Interview: Nov 1st, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    Androl and Pevara

    In working on the Black Tower plot, one thing I realized early on was that I wanted a new viewpoint character to be involved. One reason was that we didn't have anyone to really show the lives of the everyday members of the Black Tower. It felt like a hole in the viewpoint mosaic for the series. In addition, each Wheel of Time book—almost without exception—has either introduced a new viewpoint character or added a great deal of depth to a character who had only seen minimal use before. As we were drawing near to the end of the series, I didn't want to expand this very far. However, I did want to add at least one character across the three books I was doing.

    I went to Team Jordan with the suggestion that I could fulfill both of these purposes by using one of the rank-and-file members of the Black Tower, preferably someone who wasn't a full Asha'man and was something of a blank slate. They suggested Androl. The notes were silent regarding him, and while he had been around, he so far hadn't had the spotlight on him. He seemed the perfect character to dig into.

    A few more things got spun into this sequence. One was my desire to expand the usage of gateways in the series. For years, as an aspiring writer, I imagined how I would use gateways if writing a book that included them. I went so far as to include in the Stormlight Archive a magic system built around a similar teleportation mechanic. Being able to work on the Wheel of Time was a thrill for many reasons, but one big one was that it let me play with one of my favorite magic systems and nudge it in a few new directions. I've said that I didn't want to make a large number of new weaves, but instead find ways to use established weaves in new ways. I also liked the idea of expanding on the system for people who have a specific talent in certain areas of the One Power.

    Androl became my gateway expert. Another vital key in building him came from Harriet, who mailed me a long article about a leatherworker she found in Mr. Jordan's notes. She said, "He was planning to use this somewhere, but we don't know where."

    One final piece for his storyline came during my rereads of the series, where I felt that at times the fandom had been too down on the Red Ajah. True, they had some serious problems with their leadership in the books, but their purpose was noble. I feel that many readers wanted to treat them as the Wheel of Time equivalent of Slytherin—the house of no-goods, with every member a various form of nasty. Robert Jordan himself worked to counteract this, adding a great deal of depth to the Ajah by introducing Pevara. She had long been one of my favorite side characters, and I wanted her to have a strong plot in the last books. Building a relationship between her and Androl felt very natural to me, as it not only allowed me to explore the bonding process, but also let me work a small romance into the last three books—another thing that was present in most Wheel of Time books. The ways I pushed the Androl/Pevara bond was also something of an exploration and experiment. Though this was suggested by the things Robert Jordan wrote, I did have some freedom in how to adapt it. I felt that paralleling the wolf bond made sense, with (of course) its own distinctions.

    Finding a place to put the Pevara/Androl sequence into the books, however, proved difficult. Towers of Midnight was the book where we suffered the biggest time crunch. That was the novel where I'd plotted to put most of the Black Tower sequence, but in the end it didn't fit—partially because we just didn't have time for me to write it. So, while I did finish some chapters to put there, the soul of the sequence got pushed off to A Memory of Light, if I managed to find time for it.

    I did find time—in part because of cutting the Perrin sequence. Losing those 17,000 words left an imbalance to the pacing of the final book. It needed a plot sequence with more specific tension to balance out the more sweeping sequences early in the book where characters plan, plot, and argue. I was able to expand Androl/Pevara to fit this hole, and to show a lot of things I really wanted to show in the books.

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