Tag Archives: epic fantasy

Discovery Writers and A Memory of Light


So often a writer is asked if they are a plotter or a pantser. But what about someone in-between?

Apparently there is a name for this in the industry and it is ‘discovery writer’. This is a writer who plots a basic outline, but then isn’t afraid to follow the characters and the story wherever it might lead.

I came across the concept when I attended a Brandon Sanderson book-signing. As those of us who are Wheel of Time fans know, Brandon is responsible for finishing the saga following Robert Jordan’s untimely demise, and Brandon spoke to us a little bit about Robert Jordan, and used the term ‘discovery writer’ to describe him.

The story goes that when Robert Jordan first pitched The Wheel of Time to his publisher, he had a planned trilogy. His publisher said he loved the idea, but knew Robert Jordan tended to let his stories get away from him, and suggested a six-book deal, thinking that would be enough to get him the whole series even if it blew out. 

And as we sit here awaiting the fourteenth and final book in the series, we all laugh.

Evidently Robert Jordan was a discovery writer to the extreme, taking what was originally only a planned three book series and turning it into the epic saga we all know and love. The ideas must have flowed thick and fast as he wrote, and kept flowing for a good long time.

I don’t think a writer needs to turn a three book series into a fourteen book series to be a discovery writer, though. All it requires is a balance between plotting and pantsing, a need to outline the basic bones of the story, and then the desire and the willingness to follow where the characters lead.

I admit to being rather enamoured of the concept, because it seemed a fairly accurate description of my own writing process. I always outline my books these days, but the finished product may only bear a passing resemblance to that original outline at the most basic level.

So with Robert Jordan’s ‘discovery writer’ tendencies in mind, do you think Rand will die in A Memory of Light

Here’s what I think:
  • Maybe Rand was originally intended to die, but somewhere along the way that plan (if it ever existed) changed;
  • Sure, we know Rand has to bleed all over the rocks of Shayol Ghul, but that doesn’t mean death. Hey, a paper cut bleeds like hell;
  • Rand thinks he’s going to die – therefore it’s too obvious for him to do so;
  • You’d have to be one son of a b*tch to keep your readers waiting twenty years only to kill off the hero.
OK, you might say some of that is more wishful thinking than hard evidence, but that’s my line, and I’m sticking to it. Earlier in the series I was far more convinced Rand would die, but after The Towers of Midnight, I started to think he had a real chance. 

So what do you think? Is Rand going to live happily ever after, or do you think he’s going to get the sword?


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Review of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson



Brandon Sanderson has a real knack for creating high fantasy worlds from the ground up, including magic systems. This, the tale of two sisters, the God-King one of them must marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to atone for his sins, is set primarily in the kingdom of Hallandren, ruled by the God-King and a set of Returned (lesser gods) and filled with Awakeners. 

Every person is born with one Breath, and Awakeners collect Breath to reach different levels of power (Heightenings) and can create certain feats of magic. Breath cannot be taken by force, it can only be given voluntarily, and the more Breath a person has, the greater the feats they can carry out. The Returned, or the Hallandren pantheon of gods, are similar – having died heroically, they Return as gods, invested with only one mighty Breath granting them powers comparable to an Awakener of the Fifth Heightening. The catch: because a Returned only has one Breath, he cannot Awaken. His Returned nature means the giving of his one Breath would mean his death. And so the Returned await that moment only they will recognise – that moment when they should make the ultimate sacrifice and use their Breath for another. 

And so our cast of characters – the sisters Siri and Vivenna, from a kingdom holding Awakening abhorrent, one doomed to marry the Hallandren God-King, the other hell-bent to rescue her. The God-King himself, Returned, mighty, unknowable, and all-powerful. Vasher; who does he play for, and in whose interest? And Lighthope, a Returned who does not even believe in his own religion. 

The idea of a god who doesn’t believe in his own godhood or his own religion is one of the themes Brandon Sanderson set out to explore in this book, and I must say I easily connected with Lighthope very early in the book. His flippant nature and refusal to take his own godhood seriously conceals the fact that he, of all the gods, actually takes his duties with some importance. He says he is unreliable and a hopeless god, while at the same time actually trying to be a good one; his flippancy reflects his own dissatisfaction with what he perceives as a flawed government and religion. Why should he be trusted with power to govern? He has no clue what he is doing and believes this should be evident to everyone who sees him, but instead they stubbornly insist in trusting his divinity. His earnest uncertainty draws me to him. 

The sisters, Siri and Vivenna, are completely different characters with their own distinct voices. One, promised in marriage to the God-King, must offer herself to bear his child in silence, lest her words offend this majestic immortal, while the other, adrift in a barbarian city must decide who to trust to free her sister. But nothing is as it seems for either sister, and in the background looms the very real threat of war against their homeland – a war their kingdom cannot win. Each sister must battle in her own way, against the odds, to prevent that war and rescue all they hold dear, with neither knowing who they can trust and who plots against them. 

Warbreaker is a compelling story of love and a spider web of intrigue. It’s been a while since I tore through a book in less than a few weeks, but Warbreaker I read in three days – and that’s my pre-marriage, pre-child rate of reading! I crammed that in around a family. If I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about reading it. Every chapter ends with a hook, driving you on to know what happens next, and I assure you, what happens next is never what you think it will be. I often enjoy a book where I make the connections to guess what happens, but in Warbreaker I guessed but rarely and the surprise was a pleasure all of its own.

As always, the near-perfection of the writing is impressive, although I found the prose less-polished than The Way of Kings (bearing in mind this was written first). However, the occasional ‘saidism’ or telling sentence was not sufficient to spoil my pleasure in the read, and the foreshadowing is so masterful it’s enough to make any aspiring writer fall to the floor in worship. 

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. Original, exotic, unique, and compelling. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!