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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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In the most recent Hero of Ages annotation, you said that Preservation chose Vin to be the recipient of the power, just as Preservation had chosen Alendi previously (thus, this was why Ruin had manipulated the Prophecies). Was Alendi also chosen precisely sixteen years before the Well of Ascension's power returned?
Yes. He was chosen exactly sixteen years before, but he was a bit older then Vin when he was chosen.
I was happy when Elend finally burned duralumin with atium. I was holding my breath hoping that someone would eventually do it. However we didn't really get any info as to what Elend experienced. Does a duralumin-enhanced atium burn allow a person to see significantly farther into the future? If so, being that Elend's army was dying all around him did he get to see into the afterlife? Also if you could tell us what he saw that would be awesome. Did something he saw make him not want to avoid Marshes strike?
On a similar note if someone burned electrum with duralumin would they get to see significantly into their own future?
There is much here that I can't say, but I'll give as much as I can. Elend saw Preservation's ultimate plan, and Elend's own part in it. What he saw made him realize he didn't want to kill Marsh, and that his own death would actually help save the world. Like a master chess player, he suddenly saw and understand every possible move his enemy could make. He saw that Ruin was check-mated, because there was one thing that Ruin was not willing to do. Something that both Elend and Vin could do, if needed. And it's what they did.
So, in answer to your question, Elend stayed his hand. This is one of the reasons why I changed my mind and decided that Marsh had to live through the end of the book. Elend spared him; I needed to too.
Brandon, I just wanted to confirm that you did have a couple of cameos as Slowswift? Or was that mean to be someone else?
I'm pretty sure Slowswift is Hoid. The Ars Arcanum says he "bears a striking resemblance to a storyteller", which I take to mean Hoid.
Slowswift is an homage to Grandpa Tolkien. A study of his personality will reveal why that name was chosen for him.
Hoid appears in that same chapter, but Vin doesn't meet him. Something he does spooks her. She's just too darn observant for her own good.
Why did Ruin give off Allomantic Pulses? Because Preservation did and they're two sides of the same coin? Allomancy is of Preservation, so I figured that's why he did...
Manifestation of the awesome power he held, mixed with Vin's increased ability to sense these things. Allomantic pulses are like a ripple of sound in the fabric of creation itself—the power of creation being used, creating a drum beat to those attuned to it. Ruin created a similar beat when his consciousness was near.
In one of the bumps, Sazed mentions a discussion between Vin and Ruin in which Vin asks Ruin why she was chosen to release him from the Well. Did this discussion occur in the in-between afterlife where Vin, Elend, Kelsier, etc., were, or did it occur off-screen while Vin and Ruin were busy stopping each other from affecting the world?
I was fairly sure she asked it while she was a prisoner of Yomen, but I could be wrong.
What was she supposed to do? Well, this is difficult to answer, since the prophecies have been changed and shifted so much. Originally, the prophesies intended for a person to go take the power every thousand years and become a protector of mankind for a period of time. Someone to keep an eye on Ruin in Preservation's absence and watch over the world as he would have done. Imagine an avatar who arrives every thousand years and lives for their lifetime blessing the people with the power of Preservation, renewing Ruin's prison, and generally being a force for protection. (Note that Ruin wouldn't have gotten out if the prison wasn't renewed, he'd simply have been able to touch the world a little bit more.) Obviously, it changed a LOT during the years that Ruin was playing with things.
What should she have done? Well, Ruin's release was inevitable. Even if she hadn't let him go, the world would have 'wound down' eventually. The ashfalls would have grown worse over the centuries, and the next buildup of the Well might not have come in time for them to do anything. Or, perhaps, mankind would have found a way to adapt. But Ruin was going to get himself out eventually, so the choice Vin made was all right. There weren't really any good choices at this point. She could have decided to take the power and become a 'good' Lord Ruler, trying to keep the world from falling apart. Of course, she would have had to make herself immortal with Hemalurgy to make that work right. And since she was already tainted, chances are good she wouldn't have ended up any better than the Lord Ruler himself.
The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself. Allomancy, Hemalurgy, Feruchemy are manifestations of this power in mortal form, the ability to touch the powers of creation and use them. These metallic powers are how people's physical forms interpret the use of the Shard, though it's not the only possible way they could be interpreted or used. It's what the genetics and Realmatic interactions of Scadrial allow for, and has to do with the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical Realms.
Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers. The form of that super fuel is important. In liquid form it's most potent, in gas form it's able to fuel Allomancy as if working as a metal. In physical form it is rigid and does one specific thing. In the case of atium, it allows sight into the future. In the case of concentrated Preservation, it gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)
So when a person is burning metals, they aren't using Preservation's body as a fuel so to speak—though they are tapping into the powers of creation just slightly. When Vin burns the mists, however, she'd doing just that—using the essence of Preservation, the Shard of Adonalsium itself—to fuel Allomancy. Doing this, however, rips 'troughs' through her body. It's like forcing far too much pressure through a very small, fragile hose. That much power eventually vaporizes the corporeal host, which is acting as the block and forcing the power into a single type of conduit (Allomancy) and frees it to be more expansive.
Glad you liked the book, Rainbow!
You may want to note that the moment Preservation dropped out and let the last of his consciousness die, someone was waiting in the Cognitive Realm to seize the power and hold on for a short period until Vin could take it up more fully. You'll find him using it to whisper in moments of great stress in the book, to one person in specific in two places. (I'll bet someone on here has already found them.)
He never could just let things well enough alone....
I also wondered if you could explain that circle in the cave some more, I didn't quite get it.
I was sure Vin was the hero right up until the end, even though originally before I read the book, I was sure it would be Elend or Sazed. But then the epilogue author started naming people off, so I knew it wasn't them. But it only mentions Vin as 'she,' when talking about how she got her spike. I was sure one of the epigraphs was going to be: "And that girl is me."
The Sazed thing totally made sense in hindsight, I can't believe I didn't figure it out. And we were right about the "on the arms," bit being the part Brandon was referring to, good find Vintage!
I'm a little sad that the lake doesn't come into it more. But the Mist spirit and the Deepness were BOTH Preservation. That was cool.
So I have a couple of questions....
I loved the book, it was all great UNTIL Vin and especially ELEND died. I can see why you did it, but I was crying so hard when Vin confirmed Elend was dead. I actually had an urge to burn the books right then and there and pretend it had never happened. Either way, I continued reading and then found some sliver of hope when Sazed said he hadn't figured out how to restore the souls YET, he said he would get better at it.
1)Does that mean that he might someday, maybe, hopefully (pretty please) bring them back to life? I suspect that you might not answer, but can I at least hope? Cause if anyone deserved to live a full NORMAL life it was Vin and Elend. Besides, it would ROCK if Elend and Kelsier ever got to meet each other......
Aw man.....I'm still crying over Elend....Is it wrong I get so attatched to characters? Its just that Elend and Vin got so little time together. It's so sad. Which reminds me: You mentioned, when someone asked about Sazed meeting Twindyl again, that he hadn't because he hadn't reached that space where souls were and the ones that were trapped in the in between were the ones that had a connection with either the physical or the concious world. Those weren't the exact words but it was something like that that IMPLIED that Vin, Elend and Kelsier were somehow still connected with the earth because unlike Twindyl the hadn't progressed past that in between place.
2) Am I right and maybe going somewhere, or am I talking total nonsense and simply trying to cope with the loss of Elend?
One of the reasons for that line at the end is to give you, the reader, the power and authority to bring to the characters the ending you wish. I may do more in this series, but until then, please take the future of the characters wherever you want in your own mind. (Also, you mention that they had such little time together—which is true, but also remember that there was a year between books one and two, then another year between books two and three. They spent most of this time together.)
The door is open for a return of Elend and Vin. Will I write it? It isn't likely to be soon, if I ever even do. Does that mean it won't happen? No. Not at all. If I write more Mistborn books, they will be hundreds of years in the future. During that time, Sazed could have learned to get souls into bodies, given Vin and Elend a life together somewhere away from the others, where they wouldn't have to struggle quite so much like they did through their lives, then ushered their souls on to the beyond. Or they could hang around with him, working with him as he takes his next steps to shepherd humankind on Scadrial. Or neither of the above. Imagine it how you wish, for I'm not going to set this one in stone for quite some time, if ever.
Yes, as has been pointed out:
A powerful peace swelled in Elend. His Allomancy flared bright, though he knew the metals inside of him should have burned away. Only atium remained, and the strange power did not—could not—give him this metal. But it didn’t matter. For a moment, he was embraced by something greater. He looked up, toward the sun. (From the text.)
As a note here, the powers granted by all of the metals—even the two divine ones—are not themselves of either Shard. They are simply tools. And so, it's possible that one COULD have found a way to reproduce an ability like atium's while using Preservation's power, but it wouldn't be as natural or as easy as using Preservation to fuel Allomancy.
The means of getting powers—Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting—are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.
The silly question is, who would win in a fight? Vin or Vasher or the Nightblood?
And who would win in a fight between Vin and Vasher? It would probably depend on who got the jump on who. Vin's a bit more sneaky so I have the feeling that Vasher would be in trouble if it involved sneaking but Vasher is - he only has to get one little cut on you and you're gone so it's, it would probably- my money would be on Vin.
How did Vin and Elend change during the course of the story?
This story, the series is about them, it’s about progression. I talk about the plot for books, for instance, the Mistborn series is about a group of thieves taking out a Dark Lord, but books, for me, are about character. Action is only as interesting as it happens to people you care about, in my opinion, and a setting is only as fascinating as characters’ ability to interact with it. The progression, who characters become, is really where I think fiction can shine. In a different medium, you just don’t have the time to do what we do, and we can show across a span of years how someone starts as a street urchin and ends up as a queen. You can show this and you can show the internal changes, and the struggles inside of them that leads to this.
The story, about, for Vin and Elend is the story of them coming to accept each other’s different worlds. Vin starts as a street urchin, and she understands that life. Elend starts off as a nobleman, and he understands that life. As they start to interact and begin to have romantic interest in one another, their two worlds sort of collide and start sucking each other into each other’s worlds. Vin’s progress is learning that there is a part of her that can survive in this world of nobility, and of balls, and of political intrigue. But Elend, just as much, needs to understand that there’s a need to be able to survive “on the street,” a need to be able to take care of yourself rather than being pampered. It’s a role-reversal for the two of them, how it works as the series progresses.
Hero of Ages is the third and final book of the Mistborn Trilogy. One of the things I love about this book is that it is the ending. I like to end things. I don’t want to leave people hanging. I like my stories to come to a conclusion. I promised people at the beginning, when I was writing this series, that it would be three books: and I would give them a dramatic, powerful ending. Endings are my favorite part, honestly, of novels. In a given novel, I love telling you the ending, and Book 3 is kind of a book that is an ending itself. The entire book is an ending. It’s a big climax: it’s exciting, and it’s powerful, and it fulfills things that have been building in the series for three books now. I was able to write the trilogy straight through when I was preparing, and so I had Book 3 drafted before Book 1 even went to press, which allowed me to really make these three novels cohesive. I have seeds in the very first few paragraphs of Book 1 to things that become climactic powerful moments in the end of book 3. Book 3 is just an overload of action and excitement and character climaxes and just an amazing, just, romp through this series. I’m really excited about people being able to finally read it because I’ve been waiting for quite a while to make good on the promises I made at the beginning.
The great thing about Book 3 is that I'm introducing a completely new magic system. Each book has had its own. We'll start talking about Hemalurgy, and Steel Inquisitors, and where they come from. A lot of the origins of things that people have been wondering about since Book 1. The last 200 pages are just some of my favorite writing that I’ve ever been able to write because I was able to bring things to a head and to a close. I hope you enjoy it.
So in the trilogy, we see that when someone has a Hemalurgic spike implanted in them, they can hear Ruin talking to them, both as a vision and in their head. However, we learn in the Hero of Ages that Ruin cannot hear a person's thoughts no matter how much under Ruin's influence they are.
In Alloy of Law, we see that Wax (and other Pathians) uses an earring to "pray" to Harmony, and we see that Harmony can hear his thoughts and respond.
So I guess this leads to three questions:
1. How does Harmony hear the thoughts of Wax, when it's explicitly pointed put that Ruin cannot?
2. Are the earrings that the Pathians use Hemalurgicly charged, as otherwise they would be of no use to Ruin, and therefore Harmony?
3. Or did Harmony completely change how that aspect of Hemalugy works?
How this all works dates back to the original design of the Magic system.
I wanted Ruin and Preservation to be complimentary opposites, like many things in the Mistborn world. Allomancy, for example, has Pushes and Pulls were are less "negate one another" opposites, but instead two sides to the same proverbial coin.
Ruin is invasive. The power is more "Yell" than "Listen." The philosopher would probably have some interesting things to say about the masculine symbolism of Hemalurgy and its spikes.
Ruin can insert thoughts. That power, however, can't HEAR the reactions. It's about invasion.
Preservation, however, is the opposite. Preservation listens, Preservation protects. (Perhaps to a fault—if there were no Ruin, there would be no change to the world, and life could not exist.) Because of this, Preservation can hear what is inside people's minds. It cannot, however, INSERT thoughts. (This is important to the plot of Hero of Ages.)
Harmony is both, the two complimentary opposites combined. And so, he inserts thoughts with Ruin and still uses Hemalurgy. He can also listen.
Yes, Wax's earring is Invested. (Or, in other terms, it's a Hemalurgic spike.)
One of the advantages of moving the first chapter back and making it a prologue is that I now get to start the book, chapter one, with Vin. That's important, in my mind, because she's the main character of the book. Establishing her with a very strong viewpoint as the first chapter of the book adds a lot to it, I think.
We get a lot of important information in this first little section with Vin. I like starting early with Reen's advice and thoughts. As you'll see as you read the book, Reen's teachings have quite a strong influence on Vin. He's a little stronger in this chapter than in others, I think, but it's good to start off strong. You'll find out more about him, and about what these thoughts in Vin's head mean.
I will admit that one of my weaknesses in writing is that I like to spend too long in contemplative, in-head scenes with my characters. This introduction with Vin is a good example of that. I like the scene quiet a bit, but I can understand that too much of this sort of thing gets boring. That's why I move it quickly into a scene where something is happening. Given my way, however, I'd probably spend about twice as long with characters just standing around thinking.
This second scene with Camon is important for several reasons. The first thing I'll note is that Vin doesn't say anything out-loud in the book until she tells Camon that his servants are too fine. I thought it would be interesting to introduce Vin as a character who doesn't say a whole lot—who thinks her responses. This establishes, I think, that she's something of an introvert, and that she's smarter than she lets people know. When she does speak, she's blunt and straightforward.The other thing established in this scene is Vin's use of Luck. Hopefully, you connect her abilities with Kelsier's line in the prologue about the Lord Ruler fearing skaa who have 'powers they shouldn't even know exist.' Vin fits quite well into this category. She can obviously do something extraordinary, yet she doesn't know why—or really even how. It was difficult, narratively, to work out how Vin was able to use Allomancy without knowing it, but it works, and you'll get the explanation later.
Camon was originally far less competent than he ended up in the final draft. Originally, Vin was constantly (in this chapter and the next) thinking about how he was making mistakes when talking to the obligator and the crew. I thought this would establish Vin as an intelligent, insightful character—one who is even better than the guy in charge of her crew.However, I eventually realized that this didn't work. Camon was too incompetent—the version of him in the first draft would never have been able to keep control of his crew. In addition, by making him so weak, it weakened the threat to Vin. It's always better to have antagonists be strong, if only to make the heroes look stronger by comparison. Though Camon is only a minor villain in this book, strengthening him made the story seem much more logical, and I really don't think I lost anything.
Ah, the introductions. I worry that this scene is a little too long, and perhaps a little too obvious, as we bring in the separate members of the crew. However, it seemed like the best way, and it adheres a little bit to the heist genre framework I'm using.
My favorites of the group are, of course, Ham and Breeze. I knew I wanted to use a smaller crew than you see in some heist stories—I wanted to get to know them better, and deal with them more, than one has opportunity for in a movie like Ocean's Eleven. Ham and Breeze, then, formed the basis for my group. Simply put, they're both guys who are fun to talk to. I can put them in a room with each other, or with Vin, and an interesting conversation will blossom.
This chapter also has some of my favorite early-book characterizations of Vin. The Vin we get in the first few chapters is a beaten down, sorrowful thing. The Vin in this chapter, however, is more true to who she really is. Careful and discerning, quick to scout out her surroundings and wary of anything new. Yet, at the same time, not hateful or even really brutal. She kind of lives in the moment, taking things as they come.
The scene with Vin standing in the darkness and looking in at the people having fun inside was one of the first and fundamental scenes I got for her character. Those who have read other annotations and essays by me know that I build my books by important focal scenes. This image of Vin keeping herself aloof from the fun and good humor, yet desiring to be part of it so badly, seemed to me to be the perfect character for Kelsier's apprentice.
Of course, this scene was actually only half of the image I conjured in my mind. The other half comes, of course, the scene later in the book where Vin has become fully a part of the crew, enjoying their friendship, and looks out of the kitchen at the dark hallway beyond, where she once stood. Nice little brackets of a character arc, and the main focus in my mind of Vin's growth in this book.
To be honest, I'm not certain if Kelsier's right. Making someone jump off a city wall as one of their very first Push/Pulling experiences seems a little extreme. Kelsier is, however, a somewhat extreme person. It's fortunate for him that Vin is both determined and a quick learner.
There are a few points in this chapter that really and truly sum up Vin's character for me. The first point comes in her asking Kelsier if Marsh beat him often. The fact that Vin wouldn't even consider the fact that two siblings could get along without some form of beating or dominerance speaks a lot about the life she's led.
She's not a bad person, however. Kelsier gets it right—she isn't herself bad, she just assumes that everyone else is. In my opinion, the amount of good left in her despite what she's gone through is a powerful testament to her character. And, finally, some of that starts to come out in this chapter. It might be a little early for her to begin changing—it's only been a few days—but I wanted to leave a few hints in this chapter, since we're going to have a big time jump here pretty soon.
The first hint is that she really is starting to want to become part of the team. She feels sad when she thinks she won't get to act the part of Renoux's heir. In addition—and, for Vin, I meant this to be something very telling—she left food behind. That's a great moment in the chapter for me.
One odd thing I've heard—and noticed—about new writers as opposed to more experienced writers is that the more experienced ones tend to make their books last longer. Many first books take place in a matter of days, or perhaps weeks. Yet, books by more accomplished writers tend to span months or years.
It might just be coincidence relating to books I've read. I mean, there doesn't seem to be any reason it would be true. Yet, it certainly holds for myself. My first books happened very quickly—even ELANTRIS, which was my sixth, happened in only the space of two months. Yet, in MISTBORN, I let more time pass between sections and chapters.
I think, perhaps, newer authors are intimidated by plotting over such a longer stretch of time. Or, perhaps, it's just something unconscious.
Either way, we've jumped in time—something necessary for this book, considering the amount that needs to be done in order for the job to get pulled off. This was one of my first clues that I couldn't do a straight-up heist novel with MISTBORN. The book covers too much time, and too much has to happen before the ending can occur. I just didn't feel that most of what the crew would be doing would be interesting to a reader, and I wanted to focus too much on Vin's character growth to let me focus on the 'heist' of stealing the atium.
The fight in this chapter is what I consider the first true Allomantic battle of the series. This is what it's supposed to feel like—there's a reason I started with the concept of Vin feeling free. Allomantic battle is graceful, yet sharp. It is leaps through the mist and clever uses of Pushes and Pulls. This is what attracted me most to the magic system—not the logic of metals and the like, though I enjoy that. I loved the idea of mist, plus flying forms in fluttering mistcloaks.
I realize that it's obvious, by the way, that Kelsier is her opponent. I didn't write the chapter calling him 'her opponent' to be surprising. I just thought that by de-emphasizing Kelsier, I could better create an illusion of tension. The idea is that Vin herself isn't thinking of him as Kelsier. Just as an opponent.
I'd just like to point out that Sazed heard Kelsier approaching before Vin did. That should mean something to you. This is also the first time we get Vin wanting to ignore Reen's voice in her head. That is, in my way, an acknowledgement to the progress she's achieved during the last few months.
The mists and Allomancy feeling right to Vin have something to do with the ending, where she draws upon the mists for an extra burst of power. I'm afraid I can't say more until we get to future books.
Originally, I had Vin far less emotionally affected by the scene of slaughter. I wanted to imply that she's seen a lot of death and hardship in her life, and so something like this wasn't all that shocking to her. Alpha readers, however, found her too callous here. I did a rewrite, and realized that I liked it much better with Vin reacting emotionally to the scene of death. She still puts up a strong front, which is very like her. However, she no longer just walks through it without reacting.
Why do I have the ball scenes in this book? Isn't this supposed to be an action story? Well, the absolute truth is I like party scenes like these.
It's kind of odd. I don't particularly like parties myself, but in books, they add quite a nice contrast to the dark skulking type of activities Vin has been about so far. It's nice to show the lavish side of life in Luthadel. The ball scenes in ELANTRIS were some of my favorite, since they allowed for some relaxed—if important—verbal sparring and witty commentary. So, when I was planning MISTBORN, I knew I had to have some parties at the noble keeps.
So, that meant I had to get Vin to said parties. That meant she had to pretend to be a noblewoman. That's where this whole plot cycle started—with me wanting an excuse to have ball scenes in this book.
With Shards? Because they only have so much power they can access at a certain time, but yet they still have more energy. So how does that work? Is it just they have so much power they can use at any given time?
[still slightly confused] What are you talking about? Like which shards?
Ruin and Preservation. Since we know the most about them.
Ruin and Preservation were a specific instance, because almost all their energy was thrown into resisting each other. Keep that in mind. Even after Preservation was only a shadow, basically all of it was "Let's keep Ruin from destroying the world". So they were polar opposites. Set in balance. But slightly unbalanced in a couple of ways, that eventually, that slight imbalance [led to the Mistborn Trilogy]. They are a special case, because of that.
So then why are they hesitant to directly fuel Allomancy?
Why are they hesitant to? What do you mean by directly fuel Allomancy?
You mention in the Hero of Ages Q&A that they can directly fuel Allomancy, like Vin does with Elend, but it requires expending their energy in a way they are hesitant to do.
Because it imbalances them more. Does that make sense? So if you are putting your energy here, rather than fighting the other force, that gives them an edge somewhere else, while trying to gain an edge here. And you have to make sure that's really worth it. Like a chess game. Is it worth sacrificing my pawn here to expose myself over here.
That makes sense.
Who was the most challenging WoT character to write?
Mat was the most challenging, the second most was Aviendha. He explains that it is hard to write about someone so different than yourself and the Aiel culture seemed the most unique in the series. Of Rand's three women, Aviendha is Brandon's favorite. He recalls that after writing his first Aviendha scene, Harriet read it and then told him that it was a "picture perfect Elayne." Brandon went on to discuss how he has to write his way into his characters. Vin, in Mistborn, was originally a boy. Lots of his early work on The Gathering Storm was scrapped by Harriet because Brandon wasn't "there yet" with the characters.
He then goes on to discuss the volume of notes left by Robert Jordan. There are about 200 pages for A Memory of Light and then there is roughly 32,000 pages of other notes for the series, three times as large as the entire series put together. Brandon tells of how he tried to open it once and it crashed his computer because the file was so large. He also wants to commend the enormous efforts of Alan and Maria for their help in managing all of the details of the series.
Why did you have to kill Vin and Elend?
They demanded that they be allowed to take the chance they did. And I just let them take the chance. I didn't kill them, I just let them take the chance that they demanded that I let them take. That's kind of a cop-out answer, I'm sorry, but that's what it feels like to me. And if I always make it so that there are no consequences, then the books have no heart.
This further explains why Vin required more than normal power to push/pull the metalminds from the Lord Ruler, because of their proximity to his soul, via the Spiritual Realm.
3.) The amount of investiture is relatively low on Scadrial, whereas worlds like Sel and Roshar are pushing around "high power" according to Brandon. I interpreted this to mean that hemalurgic spikes and metalminds have low amounts of investiture compared to Shardplate and Shardblades.
I don't want to be unsympathetic to people's love for these characters, but I feel that as a writer I must resist the urge to bring back characters in this manner. I feel it would undermine my storytelling. I never want to get to the point where people read and the tension of a character being in danger is ruined by the thought, "Well, even if they die, they'll probably just be brought back in the future."
I'm not saying I won't ever do it, but I want to be very sparing. I like how Robert Jordan did it with a certain character's return in TofM. It was foreshadowed, built into the story itself, and relevant.
There are characters--in the 36-book-cosmere-superoutline--who return when thought dead. Some have not met their perceived end yet, while others have. So it's going to happen, but I want it to be very rare.
I've got a non-Brandon-specific question. I just happened to think about one thing about authors: When do you decide if the character is male or female?
1. Did it happen to one of your characters that you changed the gender pretty late?
2. What is important when choosing the gender?
3. So why did you make Vin female and not male, for example? Is it much easier to write a male character as a male?
Personally, I don't like books where a woman is very physically strong. I don't know, I'm strange. gotta admit I stopped reading Mistborn after the first book due to it. As I said, I'm strange...Still love your books and I never was looking forward to a book as much as I am looking for followup of Way of Kings. (Not even Harry Potter LOL!)
1. Vin, in Mistborn, started as a boy. I wrote about one chapter of Mistborn with her as a guy, then changed. However, another character by that name had existed in one of my unpublished books as a boy.
2. This is hard to answer, as characters are very organic things for me. I don't plan them nearly as much as I do plots or settings. I go with my gut when writing them. I can't say why some "feel" right as male and other "feel" right as female. I write it and see if it works. If their voice is right, I go with it.
3. As mentioned, Vin swapped genders. It had to do with my writing instincts, her dynamic with the other characters, her backstory, and just WHO she is. I'm sorry that I'm not being very specific. Characters are hard to explain.
As an abuse survivor I just wanted to thank you for creating a character like Vin. The emotion you brought about through her story, was so authentic. How do you create your characters and how much research do you do?
Most of my character research comes from talking to people, reading interviews, and taking notes. For Vin, it was particularly important to me that I get it right, so I did go speak in person with some special individuals that helped me out. In most cases, however, I look on-line.
Who do you want to be like Vin and Elend?
I don’t really cast people in my head. And so I would rather let the director decide that and the casting director and things. It’s not one of my things, is to cast people.
For a while, I really- I was kind of hopeful for Ellen Page, but I don’t think that’s viable now, I think that she’s too old now.
Is there some reason why both Vin and Kelsier are half-skaa, half-noble, both natural Allomancers, both end up overthrowing the Lord Ruler, and have siblings that are seekers.
Both were heavily influenced by Ruin in doing what they were doing. So there is a connection there, maybe not the one you’re looking for, but Ruin was looking for talented Mistborn that were easy to manipulate and talented Mistborn tend to come from talented Mistborn lines, and so Ruin is looking for that, and they both end up fitting that role. And the thing is, is that the half breeds ended up being easier for him to manipulate and easier lost in the shuffle of things, so they weren't paid attention to as much by the ministry, because the ministry didn't know about them.
So it's mostly coincidental for what Ruin's trying to achieve.
Oh! Did Ati- We see Elend and Vin in that kind of holding pattern with Sazed at the end, did Ati perish? Or did he also stay in the holding pattern?
Ati perished. He is gone.
A lot of your works that are stand alone novels or seemingly completed stories, you have announced or started working on sequels for. Are there any stories that you feel complete and don't need to work on the same world or characters again? Or do feel there is always some new tale to tell about every world you make?
Thanks for being involved in the reddit community so much, and for writing books I've enjoyed very much.
It's hard, because the way I plot I always have to know what happened before the book and what will happen after the book. Knowing that doesn't mean that I have to continue. It's also hard, though, to say no to fans who are so passionate about a specific project.
The Vin/Elend story is most certainly done. As is the Raoden/Sarene story, as is Siri's story from Warbreaker. So there are completed threads. There might be other stories to tell in those worlds, though, so I'll avoid closing the door on them for now. (That said, it did feel very good to finish the Wheel of Time for good, and look forward to putting some of my own works to rest in a similar way.)
Following Kelsier this night is probably one of the dumbest things Vin does in this book. Letting her follow is undoubtedly the dumbest thing Kelsier does in the book. Yet, these two characters are alike in more ways than they may seem at first. Both have a sense of brashness that borders on the foolhardy.
Vin is beginning to understand that there are crews where people truly care about each other. The problem is, she's feeling a very natural (especially for a girl of her age) desire to fit in and be needed. She has a deep-seated fear that she'll be proven useless, then be abandoned by the people that she's only just beginning to understand that she needs.
So, she wants to learn to be useful as quickly as she can. For Kelsier's part, he just feels that he's invincible. It's always been a problem of his. He's the type of man who can make things go his way. It's easy for him to ignore the failures and focus on the successes—like the fact that the Lord Ruler trying to kill him only ended up turning him into a Mistborn.
And so, they infiltrate together. And, this was the natural result.
I almost took out the section where Vin thinks "Oh, that's why Sazed saved me. He has to because he promised Kelsier. That makes sense—after all, why would he want to save me?"
This section fits with the earlier Vin, but I think it's just a bit out of character for her now. She's getting over her feelings of worthlessness and solitude. She knows Sazed well enough now to understand that he WOULD save someone because he's a kind person, not just because he promised that he would.
So, I shortened Vin's thoughts in that section, de-emphasizing them by adding them into another paragraph, rather than giving them their own. I maybe should have cut them, but I wanted to hint that she's not over her hang-ups yet. She still has some of those old feelings. The progress is that she doesn't dwell on them as long.
Whew! I've got a lot to say here. First off, Vin's earring. It's a little morbid the way she wears it around, since it was her mother's. The same mother that killed Vin's sister and tried to kill Vin, before Reen rescued her. But, we'll get to more of that later.
My feeling is that the earring is Vin's last connection to her real family or the life she knew with Reen. True, it wasn't a great life—but it was part of her, just like the Pits became part of Kelsier. He'll always carry those scars. The earring is the same for Vin.
Also, I think it was about time to establish firmly the relationship between Kelsier and Vin. She—if you haven't guessed—has a bit of a hero-worship crush going on with him. It will never be stated explicitly, but it's there, and kind of has to be there.
Kelsier, however, regards her like a protégé, and perhaps even a daughter. That's it. I apologize to those who were looking for a romance between the two. I realize that I'm breaking some laws of storytelling by introducing a female viewpoint in chapter one, then a male viewpoint in chapter two, and not having them get into any sort of romantic way. However, that's not what this book is about. Kelsier is not only much older than Vin, he really doesn't look for relationships any more. Not his focus in life right now.
I never intended there to be any romantic tension between the two of them. However, some of my alpha readers were hoping to find it—and found more than I anticipated. So, I added the lines here from Kelsier about wishing he had a daughter, just so I could make things clear.
It was extremely important that Elend reject Vin in this chapter. I worry that I got a little bit into convenient motivations in this chapter—I always hate it when men and women have relationship problems in book simply because it's the place in the story for things to go wrong. Weak conflict—something a friend of mine calls "Deus Ex Wrench"—is a problem with most romantic comedies.
Better to have realistic, rather than feigned, tension. I hope that I was able to manage that in this chapter. Elend is being almost completely honest with his emotions here—he has just discovered that Vin was lying to him all along. Rather than feeling bitter, however, he feels like a fool. He's realized that the game was playing him all along, and he's disappointed to find that Vin is part of it. That, in turn, persuades him that he should just give in and do his duty to his house.
And so, he turns her away. The vital part of this all, of course, is that it gives Vin the chance to love him—and protect him—even though he's rejected her. This is perhaps the most important step for Vin in the entire book. She's learning the things that Kelsier talked about, the truth that she needed. With this in hand, she can trust people, even knowing that they might betray her.
Here's my original journal entry for this chapter, written right after I finished the chapter itself:
Chapter Thirty: Vin saves Elend at the party.
It's wonderful when a chapter turns out just the way you envisioned it.
I worked on this chapter for a long time—from the beginning of the planning process, I imagined this as one of the major action sequences in the book. I began with the image of Vin shooting up through the air as the rose window twisted and fell beneath her in the mists, then I expanded that to her protecting Elend, giving Vin a real scene of heroism. Originally, I wasn't intending her to fight the Allomancers, just to lead them away, but I decided that I needed a pure Mistborn-on-Mistborn fight in the book. Every other Allomantic battle involves Inquisitors.The scenes in this chapter are some of my favorite so far. Though, oddly, it took me a long time to get into them—I hedged over what the first part of the chapter should entail. Eventually, I decided that this would be a perfect place to give Vin some abandonment issues. This is a hold-over from the original Vin from the first FINAL EMPIRE write–the fear of abandonment was a large part of that Vin's personality. It worked well in this setting, and I think I'll emphasize it just a bit more in the rewrite. The next chapter really plays off of this idea.
It feels a little bit weird to be writing about a young girl running around killing people in her skivvies, but I don't really see any reasonable way for her to fight in one of those bulky ball gowns I'm using in this book. So, underwear it is!
Kliss and Shan have both come to have much larger parts in the book than I'd intended. Kliss was intended to be a throw-away character used in one chapter, but now she's become an informant and a conspirator. In a rewrite, I think I'll have to introduce her sooner and try and give her a more distinctive personality. As for Shan... well, I only added her a couple of chapters ago. Obviously, she'll need more time in the rewrite as well. Vin's battle will be much better if I can have her fight a named character that's been an antagonist in a few chapters. The Vin ball scenes have become a larger part of the book than I had thought, and adding Kliss and Shan as recurring characters will help flesh out that plot-line, I think.
Like how I ditch Sazed in this chapter so that I can have Vin's 'grand' entrance in the next chapter? Pretty smooth, eh? I was worried about how I was going to deal with him... As for the actual fight and the scenes, I think everything flowed quite well. We'll see what readers think!
(Note, when I wrote this, ELANTRIS wasn-t even out yet—it was still over a year away from publication—so I really had no idea if people would be responding well to my writing or not.
Another big step for Vin is admitting that she loved Reen. She's finally letting herself feel, and admit, the things that she's been repressing all this time. It's good for her to get them out, even if they hurt.
Of course, we also get to see Vin's abandonment complex. It's something that I haven't enforced too much in the book, but it was always there. Often, I think a sense of forced independence and solitude—like the one attitude Vin displayed in the early parts of the book—comes from believing that everyone will leave you eventually.
To be honest, I'm not sure if Vin's right—if Kelsier should have stayed back from the trying to save the people—or not. It's certainly the more heroic thing to try and save them. This scene is to show that Vin still has a little bit of her Reen-crafted selfishness (or, maybe self-preservation-ness) left in her. Kelsier is ready to risk everything for his friends. You can debate whether this impulse is foolish, but I think it's noble.
Vin's sin here isn't deciding that going after them would be too dangerous. It's how quickly she jumps to this decision, and how powerless she decides that she is. She's not a coward, nor is she ungrateful. She's just lived on the street too long. In a situation like this, her first instinct is not to fight, but to flee. (Just like it was when the army got attacked by the garrison a few chapters back.)
Backing up a bit, Vin's remembered conversation here is a real one. She had it with Kelsier during the scenes when she was first training with him. He promised that he'd catch her if she fell off the wall, not using Allomancy correctly. It might seem like a little scene to you, but to Vin, it was very important. It was one of the first candid conversations she had just between her and Kelsier, and it was one of the foundational turning-points in her life. (She decided that night to stay with Kelsier's crew instead of running away with the three thousand boxings he gave her.)
That's why it's important enough for her to remember here. Her entire foundation for the last year's time—Kelsier—has just been pulled away from her. Her abandonment issues are growing more and more powerful. Fortunately, something distracts her before she can sink more deeply.
I was forced to cut one of my favorite lines from the book, and it was in this chapter. I'll write it now. Near the beginning, the narrative says regarding Vin:
"She was, as if, nowhere."
Moshe convinced me that this sentence just didn't make enough sense. Yet, to me, it somehow expressed how Vin felt. She had been cut free by Kelsier's death. Yet, she was still there. She wished she could just meld with the mists—she felt as if her soul were already cast away. Yet, she couldn't vanish, as she wished.
Ah, cursed grammar, ruining a perfectly good sentence!
I hope you noticed the difference between the way Kelsier got into the room and the way Vin did it. She walked up to the guards at the front and talked them away, rather than killing them. She just strolled through the guard chamber—the place where she killed her first time—instead of attacking. Why attack? She's powerful enough that she can just slip through and escape.
For Kelsier, the killing was always part of the victory. Vin's more goal-oriented, perhaps. In addition, she doesn't like to kill. So, her way is to just slip by the men. Then, in the room, she doesn't get close to the Inquisitors—she takes them down with tricks. On the streets, she would have had to use very little to gain much. She needed to be extremely clever with the small advantages she had. She used Allomancy in small ways to great advantage. Now that she's more powerful, I think her cleverness and resourcefulness will lead her to be far more amazing an Allomancer than Kelsier was.
If I had a chance to rewrite the book again, one of the things I'd change is the scene where Vin gets caught here. If you want to imagine it this way instead, pretend that she dropped both Inquisitors completely, and therefore thought she was safe to inspect the room beyond. The Inquisitors can actually heal far more quickly than I've had them do in this book.
My problem with this scene is how easily Vin lets herself be cornered and captured. I think that breaking into the room is exactly the sort of thing she'd do. However, I just don't think the writing works here (around the section where she gets surprised and grabbed by the Inquisitor.) She's more careful than that. The way it's written makes it seem like she gets grabbed simply because that's what needed to happen. There isn't enough drama, or enough realization, to the scene.
I do like what happens afterword, however—Vin using the Eleventh Metal. In this book we get our first hints regarding just how much Allomancy has been hidden and obfuscated by the Lord Ruler. Vin realizes that the Eleventh Metal must be part of the structure of Allomantic theory, as is the metal that she's given that makes her lose all of her other metals. (It's aluminum, by the way.)
There were two important events for Vin in this last scene. First, she decides to stay and try to save Sazed. As I note below, this is a character climax for her. She's not only grown to trust, but grown—somewhat—to sacrifice. Most of Reen's harm to her soul has been reversed by the care and love of a group of idealistic thieves.
The second thing Vin does of importance in this section is fight without her Allomancy. I think it's a nice moment for her, and lets her show some true bravery. One problem with making heroes as powerful as mine is that it's sometimes hard to find a challenge for them. Also, it's hard to present them as the underdog. In this scene, Vin gets to fight as just a regular person, and show that she's still better than most people, even without Allomancy.
The following is a journal entry I wrote regarding this chapter three years ago. It's kind of fun that I finished it almost three years to the day from when I'm posting the annotation.
Okay, so Vin's running around in her skivvies again. There are a couple of legitimate reasons for this. First off, I figured that if I had an Allomancer captured, the first thing I would do would be to strip them completely. A little bit of metal can go a long way, and you don't want to miss any. Now, this isn't as big a deal for the Inquisitors, who can use Allomancy themselves to see sources of metal a person might be hiding on their body. However, I still think it would be standard procedure to take away the prisoner's clothing. I toyed—briefly—with having Vin be naked in this chapter. I decided I just didn't want to deal with that. Having an adult man get stripped and thrown in a cell is a bit different from doing the same thing to a young girl, I think.
So, this chapter is Vin's character climax. Here's where she finally realizes that part of trusting people is being trustworthy yourself—or, more importantly, part of not being abandoned is not abandoning your friends. Her choosing to stay with Sazed, followed by Elend's appearance, are very important events for Vin. Her decision is a fulfillment of her story-long character arc, which has transformed her form a jumpy, frightened, untrusting person into one that would stay behind with a friend she loves, even though she knows that she might be killed. Her reward, then, for this bravery is Elend's return—and the realization that there are people out there who love her enough to risk their lives for her. Her statement 'You came back' to Elend is perhaps the most important line Vin gets to say in the book.
Her decision to go and fight the Lord Ruler is secondary to these things, I think—which is probably why this decision doesn't seem quite as well-founded as her decision to stay with Sazed. Still, the story has been pushing for a face-off between her and the Lord Ruler ever since Kelsier died, so I think that it works narratively.
I really want to get that final chapter written, but I have writing group in an hour, and I still haven't read one of the submissions. It looks like Vin & co. are going to have to wait until Monday to have their final climax. I don't expect it to be a long chapter—which is good, since I REALLY need to get to work on the ELANTRIS rewrite...
One of my writing groups had an intense reaction against Vin killing the dog in this scene. I'm not sure, still, WHY they got so upset—but they really didn't like it that she killed a dog "in cold blood" as they put it.
So, her little "I'm sorry about this" in her head is there for them. At least now they know she kind of wishes she didn't have to do it.
That dog had it coming, though.
Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.
A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.
He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character—and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble—as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc—while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.
Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.
Kandra are a race that will also get a lot of development as the series progresses. During the development of this book, I tried to resist using the 'there's a spy among us' plot, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. The pieces were all there, and I wanted to play with the concepts of trust and reliability.
In the first book, Vin learned to trust. She learned that it was better to trust and be betrayed than to suspect everyone. The nice twist on that in book one was that there WAS no traitor in the book. Everyone stayed true to Kelsier and his vision.
So, in this book, I had to sew seeds of distrust. I wanted Vin to have to deal with those problems again, and really have to confront her suspicions and paranoia. The only way to do that was to have her begin suspecting members of the crew.
Besides, you don't just put in a race of shapeshifters then ignore the tension of people wondering if someone they know has been replaced. That would just be irresponsible.
My goal with Vin, here, is to take the mists from her. Kelsier gave them to her in book one, and now it's time to take them away.
They are the haven of the Mistborn. But, if you watch as the story progresses, you will see that I slowly take them away and leave her without.
This is the first twinge of distrust between Vin and Elend. She doesn't tell him about seeing the Mist Spirit again.
It's a small thing, I admit, but for me—as a writer—it was intended as a dangerous first step. Vin's ability to trust is still fragile. And, if she thinks that Elend will mock her or disregard her, she'd rather keep it in.
This is the first twinge of distrust between Vin and Elend. She doesn't tell him about seeing the Mist Spirit again.
It's a small thing, I admit, but for me—as a writer—it was intended as a dangerous first step. Vin's ability to trust is still fragile. And, if she thinks that Elend will mock her or disregard her, she'd rather keep it in.
Vin in her room
This first scene is a classical Brandon scene—a character studying, thinking, and exploring who they are in their own head. Some people find my narrative style—with the thoughts, the conclusions, and the debates in the head—to be a little slow. I can understand that, even if I don't agree.
I like knowing my characters. A chapter like this really works for that, in my opinion. It seems to me that in too many books, you never really know a character's thoughts, feelings, and logic enough to understand why they do what they do. So, I spend time on those things.
This scene is important for the decisions Vin makes about herself. She is not the type of person to second-guess herself. In a way, she shows some of the very things Tindwyl tries to get across to Elend later in the chapter. Vin encounters a problem, mulls over it, then comes to a firm decision to trust herself.
Oh, and the line "he was the type of person who could defy reality" in reference to Kelsier is one I stole from my friend Annie. She said it about me, actually. It was in reference to how I belligerently believed that I could do something like become an author—a job that very few people can have, and even fewer people can make a living at. She said it long before I got published.
Always stuck with me.
Also, we get to see here that Zane already has his fingers on Vin's emotions. She's beginning to question and doubt. This, however, isn't a quick change—you should realize that all of these questions were already there inside of her. Not only is she a teenage girl, and living during an emotionally volatile part of her life, but she grew up learning to distrust and fear betrayal. Though she's getting better, the old worries are all still there, and even a little bit of scratching at them reveals them again.
She never really had to confront these things. Falling in with the crew, learning to trust, was actually easy in the last book. Kelsier was there to make everything work out all right, and Vin was always underneath the watchful care of Sazed.
This book is about making her face these things directly.
This is a short scene, but one of the more important ones to show off a little character development in Elend. He is beginning to see some of the truth in Tindwyl's words.
Pulling off a transformation like his was one of the great challenges of this book. Actually, the plot was pretty easy—but getting Elend and Vin's relationship down, along with the development of both of their characters, was much more difficult. It takes a subtle hand to make Elend learn to be a king without having him progress too quickly, and I'm not sure how well I did it.
Vin's development—showing off her inner distrust without making her seem paranoid or making their relationship seem shallow—was even tougher.
Vin spies on Ham in the Mists
This chapter has another poetic introduction—I warned you about those, I believe. I hope it isn't too out of place.
Testing Ham in this way is something Vin really should have done earlier in the book. The problem is, I have a lot of things I need to pack into a relatively short space of time in this book. I did things in order of importance, and—oddly—testing the crewmembers took a lower precedent than getting Allrianne into the city or introducing Elend's plan to deal with the warlords.
But, finally, we get to work a little bit on the impostor plot. There are dozens of ways that Vin could have gotten Ham to burn pewter—but she wanted to do one where he didn't know she was there and he where he would use the metal reflexively. She also wanted to do it when she knew he was alone. That way, she couldn't be fooled by someone burning pewter nearby to make it seem like Ham was burning.