Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

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Ggrogg
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Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Ggrogg » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:47 am UTC

Some of you may know who Brandon Sanderson is because he was picked to finish off the massively successful 'Wheel of Time' series after Robert Jordan died.
Some of you might know Brandon from reading his own series, in particular the Mistborn series, and the Way of Kings (the first book in a 10 book epic series he is writing).

I would heartily recommend his books to anyone who like reading, especially if you are tired of the same old fantasy tropes. In particular his magic systems are amazing. The three magic systems in the Mistborn series operate more like a science than anything else and at no point in the trilogy does he ever violate the laws of the magic system. In addition to which all three systems have a philosophy behind them which is gravy, but delicious gravy :)

But, the point of this thread is that I'd simply like to make people aware of him as an author if they themselves have even the slightest interesting in writing. Here's why:

1) On his website (brandonsanderson dot com) Brandon has written annotations for every single chapter of 5 of his novels. The annotations are much like a good director's commentary on a movie. He talks about thins like why a scene works, how he considered doing the scene or what changed from the rough draft, the character's motivations, the character's growth or lack thereof in the scene, any mistakes he thinks he made, why he uses that character's viewpoint for the scene, etc, and he also gives background stories on some of the more minor characters that only show up briefly and talks more about the magic system(s). I don't know of any other author that has done this, certainly not to this extent (altho they might be out there). It's very interesting reading. He also has spoilers hidden so if you read through the annotations while reading the story you won't read any spoilers unless you click on them.

2) Brandon has done a TON of interviews. A fair amount of them focus on his individual stories (you can learn from his answers to those questions too) but a lot of them also address questions and issues specifically about writing. Brandon LOVES to talk about writing and has taught writing classes at BYU and through the course of doing so (and doing dozens of interviews) I think he's gotten pretty good at answering questions and explaining complex ideas. Which leads us to #3

3) Brandon does a podcast called "Writing Excuses" that he does along with two other authors, Dan Wells and Mary Robbinette Kowal, and a writer/cartoonist named Howard Taylor who does a webcomic called "Schlock Mercenary". They also have guest panelists sometimes. Between the four of them they really cover a wide genre and have a lot of experience. Each podcast is 15 minutes long because as they state at the beginning of each episode "Because you're in a hurry and we're not that smart." Each episode addresses a particular subject ranging from pacing and humor to self-publishing and professional writing organizations. If you're looking for advice/help with a particular subject I'd be surprised if they haven't addressed it in an episode. All of the episodes are available for download in MP3 format and I like to listen to them while playing FB games or doing other things that don't take my full attention (I listen to them a lot while driving too). Each episode also includes an "audiobook of the week" recommendation and a writing prompt to give you something to try writing about and practice your skills. They also sometimes do episodes where they demonstrate by brainstorming a subject, ad-libbing a story, or reading off their response to a previous episode's writing prompt. They cover a lot of subjects, they know their stuff, they are all published and successful, and most importantly they all love to talk and teach about writing. They are sponsered by Audible (dot com) but as far as I am aware none of them gets paid for the podcast, they simply use the funding to provide necessary services. Certainly they are doing it for the love of teaching, they could all be making money much faster by working on their individual novels/works.

Finally I'll just comment, Brandon wrote 14 full length novels before he got a single novel published. Writing is a skill that he worked at and developed until he finally succeeded in getting published. If you're serious about learning how to improve your writing skills then I would highly highly recommend becoming a fan of Brandon Sanderson regardless of whether you're a fan of his books ^__^

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Ortus
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Ortus » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:13 am UTC

I live near him!
roband wrote:Face, yes. Chest, probably. Pubic area, maybe. Scrotum, not a fucking chance.

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Jesse
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Jesse » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:23 am UTC

He also posts on this forum.

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themoneyspider
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby themoneyspider » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:53 am UTC

Really??? COOL

Loved book one of Mistborn but I am currently engrossed in the George RR Martin's books to get part two. On the list though.

Ggrogg
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Ggrogg » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:39 pm UTC

@themoneyspider

Yeah I actually took a bit of a break between reading The Final Empire and reading The Well of Ascension too. I've got to say tho, the 2nd and 3rd books blow the first one away when it comes to looking at the world they live in, finding out how the magic systems work, and in general answering a lot of the questions from book 1. But, as Kelsier so famously says, there's always another secret. Book 2 is also very interesting because Brandon said "there's a lot of books/stories that involve the main characters overthrowing the evil overlord, but I wanted to see what happens after that. How do you take his evil empire and start to change things around to function better." A big issue that the main characters have to deal with in book 2 is that the peasants are all so used to how things have operated for the last 1,000 years that a lot of them want to stick with having a noble class and a peasant class and they just want to have someone to tell them what to do (rather than cheerfully embrassing a more democratic government that the main characters are trying to create.) Good stuff and the annotations talk a fair bit about how Brandon went about balancing the various elements of the story (there's a lot more than just that element).

Anonymously Famous
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Anonymously Famous » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

There's also Warbreaker, a published novel that Sanderson somehow got permission to share on his site as a free e-book, in case you want to try his works without buying anything, though I guess the library would also work for that. What the library won't do, however, is give you access to several rough drafts of the novel so you can see his writing process unfolding.

I highly recommend his Alcatraz books. Very funny.

Ggrogg
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Re: Brandon Sanderson: Your best friend if you want to write

Postby Ggrogg » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:08 am UTC

Yeah, one of the main reasons he made "Warbreaker" available for free was so that fans of The Wheel of Time could read one of his books and kind of get to know him (since he was taking over the series) without feeling like they HAD to buy one of his books. Which is just another thing that shows how cool he is :) Sometimes I feel like his characters can be too passive or that his books get a tad formulaic (hint: the plan the main characters originally come up with is never what actually saves the day in the end) but I find Brandon himself to just be a really cool guy and a good teacher.


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