Brandon Sanderson: Shardblades and Doomslugs

Fans of Brandon Sanderson, this year’s Dragon Con Literary Guest of Honor, had the prolific, award-winning author all to themselves for an entire hour of bliss on Saturday afternoon in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom. Sanderson began the panel by reading the first draft of the prologue for the eagerly awaited fourth book of his New York Times bestselling series, The Stormlight Archive. No spoilers here. As readers may know, the prologues all take place at the same time, but each one is written from the perspective of a different character. The reading ended all too soon, but the audience was pleased to hear that Sanderson expects to have the book out for Christmas of next year.

When asked about the progress of his other current projects, he gave a quick summary. The Reckoners is in preproduction at Fox. Sean Levy is still interested and enthusiastic, although Sanderson worries that The Boys might be too similar. He’s recently got an offer for Alcatraz. Legion is finished. He’s also a producer on the big one, The Wheel of Time. They’ve been showing him the scripts, and he gets to comment on them and offer pointers. The first one, he says, is excellent. He will be flying to Prague in October and hopes to represent all the WoT fans and get some photos to post. Rafe Judkins, the showrunner, has his own vision for the series and plans to make some bold choices. Alcatraz #6 is on the way.

Sanderson also talked in depth about the challenge of writing fight scenes. Movie-style fights don’t translate well to fiction. “The advantage we have as writers of fiction,” he said, “is that we are inside the characters’ heads.” Long bouts of kicking and punching become boring when written, so Sanderson focuses on a character’s goals, emotions, and reactions, thinking of the fight as its own story, with a beginning, middle, and end. “Filter it through their pain, their anguish, their confusion, or their excitement.” He advised writers to rely less on visual action, and more on emotion.

Several times during the panel, Sanderson handed out RAFO (read and find out) cards. In other words, the question asked contained a possible spoiler, so you’ll just have to wait on that one. He gives out these cards reluctantly, although he noted that Robert Jordan used to distribute them with glee.

Sanderson also clarified the type of alcohol on Roshar. It’s all called wine, but it consists of various distillated spirits that they call wine. Sorry, no beer on Roshar. This is for a specific reason and is important for some characters. Are there fermenting Spren? Why, yes!

Another little tidbit: if you found a shardblade and shardplate that had originally belonged to the same owner, it wouldn’t make a difference mechanically. And fighting in shardplate isn’t like fighting in armor plate during medieval times, when you’d likely try to stab your foe in the armpit. Shardplate doesn’t have a weak spot like that, so you have to hit it a bunch of times in the same place.

To make signings easier for his fans, Sanderson came up with the great idea of offering signing tickets this year, time-stamped for specific 15-minute intervals. To get a ticket, go to booth 1513 on the first floor of AmericasMart 2. You can also purchase hardcover copies of his books at the booth, plus some leather-bound collector’s copies and other goodies, like doomslug pins and stickers. See you there!

Author of the article

Debbie Yutko lives near Atlanta with her husband and two cats. When she isn’t gardening, rescuing homeless kittens, or cramming math formulas into teenagers’ brains, she can be found stringing words together at her computer and dreaming of adventures in far-off lands. She is a lifelong reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy and a veteran of Dragon Con, where she enjoys attending panels and working with the talented staff of the Daily Dragon.

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