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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Robert Jordans Planning of the series


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I don't think ive ever read a series by an author that put so much effort into planning and creating there world (being a long time fantasy reader). The amount of foreshadowing and clues to future encounters make the books alot like a puzzle, reading the great hunt today i noticed moraines argument with Lan where she makes a reference into her getting thrown into a pond that obviously refers to what happened in new spring when first meeting Lan. Does anyone know how much Robert actually planned? i know at the start it was suppose to be a trilogy, but the amount of information revealed throughout seems though he always planned for as many books as their is. Did he ever comment or reveal in an interview if he planned for the series to be so long in the beginning such as the cleansing of saidean, the attack on the white tower by the seanchan etc was this his plan from the beginning or created after his series become so popular?

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

 

In other words, the cleansing was certainly planned from the beginning, but the pond story might not have been all that developed when he began. What makes RJ so much better than the average writer is that he is able to plant many seemingly-unimportant details which he can work with later. Foreshadowing is often planned, but it is probably also often retroactively done. He has a tendency to use the details that he has already introduced to further the plot as much as possible.

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

 

In my mind these two doesn't add up. How could he ever have imagined to stuff all the important events into a trilogy? Even removing lots of side-stories and adventure that doesn't really move the story forward, surely there is material for at least 6-8 books? I'm still glad he didn't wrap it up in three books though. :tongue:

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One of Jordan's defining traits is underestimating how many words his ideas will take to work. A series of three books became a series of six became a series of twelve became a series of fourteen. What was originally intended to be book eight became the Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart. What was meant to be book ten became Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams. aMoL... well you get the point.

 

It's why I was always confused by so many people being angry at the split of aMoL. I mean it almost wouldn't be a Wheel of Time Novel if it hadn't been split.

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

I'd even say he got lost on the way. :)

 

 

One of Jordan's defining traits is underestimating how many words his ideas will take to work. A series of three books became a series of six became a series of twelve became a series of fourteen. What was originally intended to be book eight became the Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart. What was meant to be book ten became Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams. aMoL... well you get the point.

 

It's why I was always confused by so many people being angry at the split of aMoL. I mean it almost wouldn't be a Wheel of Time Novel if it hadn't been split.

 

Where there really so many angry people? I personally thought it was a reasonable choice since nobody could've finished the series while tying up all the loose threads in one book. Jordan said he wanted to but Jordan said a lot of things about his books that turned out to be wrong.

 

 

After 10 books of meandering about it would've seemed weird to get a rushed end.

 

 

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

I'd even say he got lost on the way. :)

 

 

One of Jordan's defining traits is underestimating how many words his ideas will take to work. A series of three books became a series of six became a series of twelve became a series of fourteen. What was originally intended to be book eight became the Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart. What was meant to be book ten became Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams. aMoL... well you get the point.

 

It's why I was always confused by so many people being angry at the split of aMoL. I mean it almost wouldn't be a Wheel of Time Novel if it hadn't been split.

 

Where there really so many angry people? I personally thought it was a reasonable choice since nobody could've finished the series while tying up all the loose threads in one book. Jordan said he wanted to but Jordan said a lot of things about his books that turned out to be wrong.

 

 

After 10 books of meandering about it would've seemed weird to get a rushed end.

 

There were, sadly. We actually had to forbid discussion about it, for a time.

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We didn't, but we did make fun of Emma. When Peter met her this weekend, he said, 'So you're the one who said you weren't going to read them until they were all done?'

 

But yeah, the general knee-jerk reaction was 'The publisher is trying to milk us all for more money!' While the general old-timer reaction was more like 'I just KNEW that RJ was on crack when he said "one more book" after KOD.' Because really, we all thought so at the time.

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

I'd even say he got lost on the way. :)

 

 

I just last night finished my second full read through of the series. It was nice having all 13 books to read one right after the other. On my first read through, I read them as they came out and I would have shared that opinion, with anger and disgust while expressing it...

However After reading each one right after the other, I could not disagree more. The action might have slowed down, but the intrigue took its place seamlessly IMO. Even the Elayne ascending the throne chapters in the final books were not nearly as bad as I remember them. On my original read through I seemed to remember a lot of chapters with secondary and tertiary characters, but there were not nearly as many as I had built up in my mind. I gained an entirely new respect for the work after a straight read through.

 

And now only one more book... :madmyrddraal:

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

 

In my mind these two doesn't add up. How could he ever have imagined to stuff all the important events into a trilogy? Even removing lots of side-stories and adventure that doesn't really move the story forward, surely there is material for at least 6-8 books? I'm still glad he didn't wrap it up in three books though. :tongue:

 

The story could easily have been told in three books. Much of what fans consider "important" ... isn't.

 

Is the story better for having been given room to grow? I think so. But I don't see any reason to doubt that it was legitimately planned as a trilogy.

 

The thing about a Robert Jordan story is that is is like a koi, and will grow to fill its tank.

 

I think you could quickly slice a couple of thousand pages off of the series with no detriment to the story. In fact, you would improve it if you:

 

1. Eliminated the repetition of dozens of pages of material at the beginning of each of the earlier books. I'm convinced Jordan only did that to keep us "caught up" when there was such a time delay between books. If he was writing and publishing it all at once, he never would have done it. That's at least 300 pages, right there;

 

2. The Perrin/Faile/Masema/Shaido/Seanchan story could have been told in perhaps 3 or 4 chapters, and would likely have been better for it. That is hundreds of additional pages eliminated;

 

3. Similarly, the Bowl of Dream/Menagerie road trip could have been handled as well in much less space;

 

4. At least occassionally, Jordan could have aimed for "evocative" rather than "descriptive."

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

I'd even say he got lost on the way. :)

 

 

I just last night finished my second full read through of the series. It was nice having all 13 books to read one right after the other. On my first read through, I read them as they came out and I would have shared that opinion, with anger and disgust while expressing it...

However After reading each one right after the other, I could not disagree more. The action might have slowed down, but the intrigue took its place seamlessly IMO. Even the Elayne ascending the throne chapters in the final books were not nearly as bad as I remember them. On my original read through I seemed to remember a lot of chapters with secondary and tertiary characters, but there were not nearly as many as I had built up in my mind. I gained an entirely new respect for the work after a straight read through.

 

And now only one more book... :madmyrddraal:

 

I completely agree.

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We didn't, but we did make fun of Emma. When Peter met her this weekend, he said, 'So you're the one who said you weren't going to read them until they were all done?'

 

But yeah, the general knee-jerk reaction was 'The publisher is trying to milk us all for more money!' While the general old-timer reaction was more like 'I just KNEW that RJ was on crack when he said "one more book" after KOD.' Because really, we all thought so at the time.

 

I never understood the "publisher is trying to milk more money" complaint. 20 or 30 dollars every couple years isn't exactly a huge deal. The great majority of people spend a lot more on entertainment on a regular basis buying movie tickets/DVDs, other books, dining out, music, video games, drugs and alcohol, cigarettes, concerts/sporting events and all the other hobbies/pleasures people have. Would they rather have a subpar and shortened finish to an epic series in the interest of saving a few bucks they would just blow elsewhere?

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I love the length of these books. I know there are a few, well maybe a lot of folks out there that believe some of the books in the middle are a little slow, but without all that added descriptive information in there I doubt a lot of the characters would seem so real. There wouldn't be as many moments where after reading you laugh and think to yourself, That's so Mat! or frustration over Eqwene doing/saying/thinking something, or that swell of emotion when something dramatic happens. It's just one of those stories that makes me feel almost a part of, because I know them all so well. I've read through the series about 6 or 7 times and am now on my eighth. It truly gets better and better each time. :)

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I had read somewhere that he originally conceived WoT as a trilogy. If so, I bet that what became the actual first three books would have originally been the first book of the planned trilogy. I couldn't tell you where the second book would have ended, though. Maybe with the Cleansing.

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Books 1-3 felt like one section of the story: questing, after the Eye of the World, Horn of Valere, Shadar Logoth Dagger and Callandor.

 

Books 4-5 felt like another section: the claiming of the Aiel and Rand's rise to power. This is where the story changes from a Fellowship of the Ring-like questing tale to a larger conquest. Suddenly we're following armies instead of small groups.

 

Book 6 is a bit of a turning point: the final plotlines are almost all set up. The Black Tower, Egwene leading the rebellion against Elaida, Rand being put in a box and set firmly on the path to insanity, Mat and the ladies planning to find the Bowl of the Winds. It really feels like the midpoint of the story, the (relative) calm before things start falling apart.

 

Books 7-9 shift the focus from conquest to holding things together. The Seanchan return, Toram Riatin rebels, Dark Asha'man attack Rand and have to be hunted down: the Dragon has to preserve now, not merely annex everything. It ends, of course, with Rand's greatest act of preservation, the Cleansing of Saidin.

 

Books 10-11 are the edge of the Last Battle. Perrin has to face his great challenge with the captivity of Faile, Mat has to court the Daughter of the Nine Moons and Rand gets set up for the devastation he goes through at the climax of the story.

 

Books 12-14 are the climax. Rand goes completely insane before finding his memory of light, Mat rescues Moiraine, Perrin comes to terms with leadership and Egwene reunites the White Tower as the Shadow unleashes Tarmon Gai'don.

 

It doesn't seem too unreasonable to think the story could have been told in around six books, at least, though a trilogy would only work if it was majorly abridged.

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I never understood why people got angray at the split of aMoL. Especially when Sanderson told us how long it would have been (over 2500 pages I do believe). We really WOULD have need a wheel barrow for that.

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The series was originally intended to be a trilogy, though the ending was in his mind before he began writing. He often said that he knew where he was going, and certain important events along the way, but that the finer details were added as he went along.

 

In my mind these two doesn't add up. How could he ever have imagined to stuff all the important events into a trilogy? Even removing lots of side-stories and adventure that doesn't really move the story forward, surely there is material for at least 6-8 books? I'm still glad he didn't wrap it up in three books though. :tongue:

 

The story could easily have been told in three books. Much of what fans consider "important" ... isn't.

 

Is the story better for having been given room to grow? I think so. But I don't see any reason to doubt that it was legitimately planned as a trilogy.

 

The thing about a Robert Jordan story is that is is like a koi, and will grow to fill its tank.

 

I think you could quickly slice a couple of thousand pages off of the series with no detriment to the story. In fact, you would improve it if you:

 

1. Eliminated the repetition of dozens of pages of material at the beginning of each of the earlier books. I'm convinced Jordan only did that to keep us "caught up" when there was such a time delay between books. If he was writing and publishing it all at once, he never would have done it. That's at least 300 pages, right there;

 

2. The Perrin/Faile/Masema/Shaido/Seanchan story could have been told in perhaps 3 or 4 chapters, and would likely have been better for it. That is hundreds of additional pages eliminated;

 

3. Similarly, the Bowl of Dream/Menagerie road trip could have been handled as well in much less space;

 

4. At least occassionally, Jordan could have aimed for "evocative" rather than "descriptive."

 

I completely disagree with this. If the story were told in three books it would have the same shallow feel of many other trilogies. While I am certain that the series could have been cut down significantly in length, 3 books is far too short. Even 6 books is far too short. The reason the WoT is such a great work is because of the depth and detail of the world and because of the character development. If you chopped the story down to 3 or 6 books the entire world would lose its depth and the characters would lose their realism. The story would feel rushed, unrealistic, and shallow.

 

Right now the series will end in 13 books. It probably could have legitimately ended in 11 imo.

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I completely disagree with this. If the story were told in three books it would have the same shallow feel of many other trilogies. While I am certain that the series could have been cut down significantly in length, 3 books is far too short. Even 6 books is far too short. The reason the WoT is such a great work is because of the depth and detail of the world and because of the character development. If you chopped the story down to 3 or 6 books the entire world would lose its depth and the characters would lose their realism. The story would feel rushed, unrealistic, and shallow.

 

Right now the series will end in 13 books. It probably could have legitimately ended in 11 imo.

 

I think you're giving Jordan way too much credit. I love the fact that the series is so long but that's just because as a fangirl nerd I would like it to never end.

 

 

But being objective much of what you said regarding the length being necessary for the world to seem real and character development to happen doesn't hold true if you actually look at character development. Perrin's character development had come to a halt for about 5 books for example and only Sanderson picked up the pieces and actually makes Perrin's character develop now. In general I think the characters in WoT are incredibly resistant to development and that can't just be excused with "wool-headed stubbornness". I wonder how other authors (and I'm not talking about fantasy literature) create believable characters in less than 500 pages.

 

Sometimes I think that for all of Jordan's accomplishments people really over-estimate his actual quality as a writer. It's probably not a popular thing to say but let's face it: The guy would've never won a Nobel Prize for Literature and that's fine. He didn't need to, the books are fun enough. But some people here seem to claim he's a genius and people being on their 6th, 10th or 12th re-read of the series should probably seriously consider that they could read so many other awesome books in all those hours spent on re-reading a 12-book series for the 7th time. Maybe those people should just... read other stuff once in a while so as to not get the "tunnel view" present in some of the posters here who don't realize that there are other authors out there.

 

/rant off.

 

If I stepped on your toes... here's a cookie. Enjoy.

 

 

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Lots of words

Fantastic post Emilia. Couldn't agree more. Great series, but a lot of people take it way too seriously and seem to honestly think it's a true classic or something. I love the Wheel Of Time and it has some great things going for it, but it also has it's many flaws and I think it is good that I can see both the good and bad points of the series. It used to be my favourite fantasy series, but then instead of re-reading it for the fifth time, I read Game Of Thrones instead...what do you know, whole new series that I love (and now I think ASOIAF is much better than WOT). From there, I branch out even more, Prince Of Nothing, Name Of The Wind...and find so many new works that I love and enjoy. WOT still holds a special place in my heart, but reading other series' was amazingly good for me and my appreciation of the genre.

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I think Emilia is exactly right. Particularly regarding character development. I would go so far as to say that one of the defining characteristics of this series is how little some characters develop, despite the great number of words devoted to their arcs. There are exceptions, of course, but still...

 

She's also right about Jordan's place in the literary pantheon. But I expect viscious attacks, nonetheless. Probably accompanied by statements suggesting that anyone who fails to view Jordan as one of history's greats simple doesn't understand, and isn't capable of appreciating, his genius.

Edited by randsc
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I love WOT too, and I think Jordan was both a miserable planner of his story and completely unable to stop adding detail. I say that with the caveat that I love detail, but honestly, this has gone on too long. I used to joke (this started around book 6) that he would die before he finished and leave us with an uncompleted epic and I felt really bad about it when it actually happened, but dammit, the man couldn't come to a point. I think he started out knowing where he was going and got lost along the way, simple as that.

 

I'm not very fond of Storm of Ice and Fire myself. *shrug* But the previous two are correct, there's a lot of stuff out there worth reading. Terry Pratchett for one. :) I'm going through Wee Free Men right now for the first time.

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Jordan was a writer who would benefited from discipline being imposed from outside. Unfortunately, as his books became commercially successful, the discipline that would have been provided to many writers by the realities of the marketplace was no longer operative. He wrote wordy, meandering books that didn't advance the overall plot because he COULD write wordy, meandering books that didn't advance the overall plot. Most writers would have been reigned in by their publishers.

 

And that is where I think some criticism of TD/Tor is appropriate. Do I think the publisher was "milking" the series, to get more money out of us? No. Do I think the fact that they were getting more money out of us anyway kept them from being as careful as they might have been on quality control? Yes.

 

I also think that Jordan might have been better served by an editor he wasn't married to. And I in no way mean that as an indictment of Harriet's skills. But more than most authors, Jordan needed someone to emphatically tell him, "No", and make it stick. It is obvious in a number of places in this series that he was either not told, "No", or that no was not made to stick.

Edited by randsc
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