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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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Will Kaladin (or Shallan, or any of the other characters) be going to visit the various places Kaladin saw in his dream, and if so, for extended periods of time or just short trips? I think the interludes are wonderful ways of showing other parts of the world, if I may also comment.
I'm glad you liked the interludes. One of the reasons to include them is to show parts of the world that I won't be getting to for a while, but this is an epic, and there will be characters traveling to various places you've seen. Maybe not all of them, but some places will be visited. Some for extended periods, some for shorter periods.
So my question is, you're planning the Stormlight Archives as this big long ten book series and I think that obviously look at your work with the Wheel of Time the other big long epic series one of the issues that at least some fans perceive is that these series are at least perceived to sag or at least slow down at some point in the middle, people start to get very bogged down and it takes years for the next one to come out, is that something you're considering for your structuring of the Stormlight archives and what are you trying to do to address that?
Excellent question, it is actually something that I've very consciously thought about when designing this story. One of the reasons that I didn't release the Way of Kings when I wrote it back in 2002 is that I hadn't figured out this problem yet, and it's one of the reasons that I shelved the book and re-wrote it from scratch back a couple of years ago.
I really was conscious of it because I have an advantage over authors like George Martin and Robert Jordan, who have had these kinds of accusations levelled at them, in that I've read them! I've read Robert Jordan, and I can see he's kind of pushed his way in the snow for some of us to fall behind and see some of the things that he did even after he said "Boy, I think I might have done that differently." We can learn from that.
What I'm trying to do is -first off the Stormlight archive is divided in my head into 2 five book series, it is a 10 booker but it is divided into two big five book sequences. I do think that will give me more of a vision of a beginning, middle, and end for each of the sequences.
The other thing I'm doing is I consciously did some little thing in the books. One of the reasons we end up with sprawl in epic fantasy series is I think writers start writing side characters and getting really interested in them. The side characters are awesome, they let you see the breadth of the world and dabble in different places, so what I did is I let myself have the interludes in the Way of Kings (I will continue to do those in the future books) and I told myself I can write those interludes but those characters can't become main characters, those characters have to be just glimpses.
The other main thing that I'm doing is that each book in the Stormlight Archives is focused on a character that character gets flashbacks and we get into the back-story and that gives me a beginning middle and end and a thematic way to tie that story together, specifically to that character, which i hope will make each chara- each book feel more individual.
That's another part of the problem with the big long series; they start to blend. If the author starts to view some of them as blending then you stop having big climaxes at the ends of some of them and view them too blended together. This isn't a problem when the series is finished, I think that when the Wheel of Time can be read beginning to end straight through, a lot of this worry about middle-meandering is going to go away because you can see it as a whole. But certainly while you're releasing it, you get just these little glimpses that feel so short.
I feel that if I can take each book and apply it to one character give a deep flashback for each one and thematically tie it to them, each book will have its own identity and hopefully will avoid some of that. That's my goal, who knows if I'll be able to pull it off but it is my intention.
You seem to be pulling it off so far Brandon
Well I only have one book yet! I mean none of these, none of these series- they all started with great first books, in fact I feel that a lot of them are great all the way through but the sprawl issue doesn't usually start to hit til around book four is really where the, where the problems show up.
Brandon Sanderson on making videos of your creative process:
"Some artists that I like, they're doing this thing where they'll film themselves painting a piece, and you get this awesome thing where you start with the blank page and then you see in fast motion them painting the whole thing. . . I can't do that with writing. It's not nearly as engaging to watch someone typing as it is to watch someone creating this amazing piece of art out of nothing, but I wanted to try, and see what it was like . . . I do these things called 'interludes' in the Stormlight Archive where I basically write short stories in the world and put them between major sections of the book, and I screen captured myself typing that out . . . The idea is just to put those things up as something fun that people might enjoy, probably sped up a bunch, since it took me six hours to write the scene . . . It totally makes you self-conscious. Mostly it's the spelling. I'll be typing along and I'll see that I've spelled some word wrong, and I'll be like 'Oh man.' . . . It does actually keep you focused, though, because every time your instinct is 'I'm going to go check my e-mail' or 'I'm going to check this browser,' you're like 'Oh, wait a minute. I'm filming. I probably should not do that.'"
I'm starting a new weekly bonus content feature for the next few months as a bit of an experiment. Right now I'm writing the sequel to The Way of Kings, and I've recorded my writing process for one chapter using Camtasia (which was provided to me by the folks at TechSmith). The chapter I've recorded is the new interlude featuring Rysn (who was in one of the interludes in the first book). I've split the recording up into multiple videos that I'm uploading to YouTube. The first one is up now, and it covers the prewriting/outlining for the chapter. For now, the videos are in real time, but once they're all uploaded I'll make a high-speed version of the whole chapter for those of you who don't want to sit and watch my normal typing speed.
Some of you are wondering if this video will have spoilers for Stormlight 2. As an interlude, it takes place away from most of the action of the rest of the book, so you shouldn't see more than hints. This first video has the interlude's outline in it, so it will partially spoil the rest of the videos, but you'll find that the outline is very sparse. It's probably more likely to make you more interested to read more than to spoil you for the rest.
The main point of these videos is to show you my writing process, which is something I get a lot of questions about. Enjoy. Stormlight 2 should come out before Christmas if I can get the first draft finished in April. I'm working hard on it right now, so we'll see if that happens.
I've uploaded the second video of me writing the Rysn interlude from the sequel to The Way of Kings. If you missed the first video with the prewriting, it's here. This week's video starts the interlude itself.
The third of my Stormlight Archive 2 writing videos is now up on YouTube. Be sure to watch it in 720p for the best quality. I WILL be posting a sped-up version of the whole chapter once I'm done posting all of the videos; if my typing is too slow for you, don't worry.
In the fourth of my Stormlight Archive volume two writing videos, two of the included songs are the actual songs I listened to while writing. I've been able to include them in the video thanks to the artists, Ray Lynch and Incendio. This might help you feel even more like you're looking over my shoulder while I write.
Hay Brandon, Huge fan! Finished A Memory of Light, Re-read all 3 Mistborn for the 2nd time, re-read Way of Kings for the 4th time and am currently listening to Alloy of Law while I toil away at work. Also recently listened to all of season one of Writing Excuses, very cool stuff please keep doing it, maybe a live podcast from SDCC this year?
I also wanted to mention I met you last year at SDCC on preview night and I'm working on that Memento. http://i.imgur.com/tve4Xqv.jpg
To the questions...I believe I've heard you mention more than once that you weren't happy with Way of Kings, could you explain a bit exactly what you would change or love to do-over with it or expand on your comments?
Also, any teasers for the new Stormlight archive?
The problem with doing something live like that at SDCC is that it's really hard to get the space or work out the logistics. We keep talking about it, but have trouble making it happen. Everyone is just so BUSY there. But maybe!
The original draft of The Way of Kings had some big issues. One of the largest ones was that I was trying to do too many characters with too many separate plots. (Jasnah and Taln both had full sequences with as much complexity as the three main characters in the current draft.) Beyond that, Kaladin's character (he had a different name there) was bland and never worked. I needed to rebuild him from the start.
I'll post more explanations of this in the Kings annotations, which I'm working on right now. As for teasers for the second book, one of the interludes is from Taln's viewpoint. (He's the guy who shows up in the epilogue of the previous book.)