Brandon Sanderson – A signing

By | April 2, 2010

Last night was a lot of fun. I was able to rearrange work a little bit and leave from Jamestown, ND a bit early to drive down to Minneapolis, MN to attend a signing that Brandon Sanderson was having at DreamHaven Books. This rearranging included working a couple of support tickets in the evening and having my wife drive for an hour while I was on a conference call. We were heading down to the Twin Cities for Easter with our families anyways, but worked out well.

I brought my camera along with, so I was able to snap some pictures.  This was actually the first author signing I have ever attended.  (We don’t get a lot of big name authors, particularly fantasy authors, up in Jamestown, ND.)  Overall the experience was worth the effort getting there.  It is a bummer that the convention Brandon is in town attending is right on Easter weekend, otherwise I would be going.

There were three key highlights for me at this signing.  This doesn’t include listening to Brandon talk to the other fans and answer questions that they asked.   Which was pretty cool.  It wasn’t just get your book signed and move on, but chat a minute or so, a picture if you wanted, etc.  Brandon (all 3 actually) were very friendly and personable.

The first big highlight for me was talking to Brandon himself while he was signing my books.  (Brought The Gathering Storm from home and purchased Warbreaker there.) I had overheard him say something to another fan about character development and mapping, but was hard to hear at the time.  So I re-asked him when it was my turn.  He said he doesn’t like to fully map out characters in the beginning.  Sure know who they are and the basics, but allowing them to grow with the plot as you write it prevents having to go back and completely rewrite a character.  (As I am doing in my own novel currently…)

The second greatest highlight for me was getting a chance to chat with Moshe Feder.  Moshe is Brandon’s editor at Tor Books.  I had been trying to come up with a great question all evening since I heard he was going to be there.  What would be the best question for an aspiring writer to ask an editor with Tor?  I can’t remember exactly what I had come up with, but it was something along the lines of agent ready material, how to know when, etc.

While I was standing in line I heard someone make a joke about being unknown outside of the slush pile.  Moshe piped up that

    “The slush pile works – that’s where I found Brandon!”

I hadn’t realized this, but *bam* my question came to mind.  So while Moshe was signing my copy of Warbreaker I asked him, “What is it out of the slush pile that catches your attention?”  He said of course it always depends, but two things get his attention right away.  A unique idea and storytelling.  The ability to spin a tale.  He can fix the writing, though above average writing catches his attention to.  Apparently the first 50 pages of Elantris (Brandon’s debut novel) were a bit rough, but the idea and the story caught his attention.

I like to think this means there is hope for me yet 🙂

Last, Brandon did a reading from the prologue The Way of Kings which is coming out in August of this year.  It was actually interesting to hear the author read his own work for a couple of reasons.  First, just hear some of the pronunciations.  Second, to hear his voice pick up in areas that emphasize something I might not have paid as much attention to.

So it was worth sticking around for that. He spoke of some of the things he is trying to do with The Way of Kings. One of the more interesting points was when he was describing the viewpoint approach he was going. He tried to take the best part of the G.R.R.M approach, combine that with the Jordan approach, and combine that into something he hopes is better. See G.R.R.M (A Song of Fire and Ice is his fantasy epic) tends to have a large cast of characters that you never really spend a lot of time with. Jordon tends to spend great 3-4 chapter chunks with the same character/viewpoint, then you don’t see then again for a while. The way I understood Brandon’s explanation (and this is me trying to explain it to my readers a day later) it is more of a Jordan approach interspersed with flashes from around the world.

Below are some pictures from the signing.  (They can also be found on the Gallery page.)

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