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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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Jul 7th, 2009
Now, the big news. At about 6:00 am this morning, I finished The Way of Kings rewrite. It ended up at 380k words, which is almost double the length of Mistborn [The Final Empire]. (It's almost as long as The Shadow Rising, by Robert Jordan.) Now, before you get TOO excited about that size, know that I tend to write too much on a first draft intentionally, and now plan to trim it down by at least 10%. The final book should be between 300k and 350k. Either way, though, it's going to be a meaty book. (Not long for long's sake, mind you. That's just what it took to tell the story the right way.)
How did it turn out? Well, to be honest, it's FANTASTIC. This is a monstrous, beastly, awesome epic of a book. And so I'm going to give Tor the official thumbs up so they can put it on the schedule for release next year. The series title, if you haven't heard, is going to be called THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE.
The book does everything I wanted it to, and then some. It was a lot more work to revise it than I'd anticipated. I essentially ended up writing the thing all over again, not keeping any of what had been written before. But knowing the characters already helped a great deal. (And if you guys ever see my wife at a convention, make sure to give her a thanks and a hug for deal with a husband who has been essentially working two full time jobs for much of this year—one on Kings, one on THE WHEEL OF TIME.)
Like any time I finish a book, there's still that itching, authorial paranoia that nobody is going to like what I've done. I have chosen a career path where, instead of releasing all of my books in one series, I jump around. I've done this partially because I want the freedom to reinvent myself. Some of my favorite authors growing up seemed unable to give new life to a series when they started it, and ended up repeating the very same story and tone over and over. I wanted to train myself to be doing new things, and wanted the freedom to write different books in different ways.
I know I'm not as wildly different in my variation as some other authors, but at the same time, there's a different feel to each book/series I've done. Hopefully, all will have great characters, a fun setting, and a compelling plot. But there will always be those who prefer Elantris's thoughtful contemplativeness to Mistborn's action or Warbreaker's reversals and humor. Each time I've released a new book, I've worried. Will my audience follow me in this (slightly) new direction? What will they think of what I've done?
Kings is no different. In fact, it's got me even more worried. My goal for this book was to give it SCOPE. The setting is the most distinctive I've written, with the largest world and the largest number of cultures and peoples. The book (though mostly linear) involves flashbacks to character pasts, and sometimes firsthand looks at the deep past of the world. At the same time, because of the enormity of what I'm trying, I found that the book couldn't telegraph as easily what it was about.
What does this mean? Well, Mistborn and Elantris both did excellent jobs of telegraphing to the reader—right off—what the story was going to be about. After the first few chapters of Mistborn, you pretty much knew that it would be a book about Kelsier's attempt to overthrow the Lord Ruler, mixed with Vin's training as a Mistborn. Elantris was about Raoden trying to restore Elantris, Sarene investigating his disappearance, and Hrathen's attempts to convert the people. Because of the scope of these books, I was able to get across very easily what they would be about and what the central conflict would be.
Kings . . . well, I have trouble describing what the heck Kings is about. While there are a number of plots bouncing around in those 380k words—and many of them do get resolved—the larger storylines are only just beginning. The book isn't about one or two things, like Mistborn was. It's about dozens. And yet, the main character's plotline is simple: survival. He's in a terrible, brutal situation, and he just wants to live.
Anyway, the book needs a lot more revision, but it's in a state where I think we'll make it. So send a little good will my way as I dig into it over the next eight months. Maybe I'll be able to come up with a way to describe this beast.