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Robert Jordan wrote only (est.) 15 000 words after KoD, there wasn't any outline left

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For decades we've known that Robert Jordan wrote the final scene when he started working on The Eye of the World, but since the series had changed totally: Sanderson had to rewrite the whole thing. First he denied it, then he admitted a few injections, then came the small changes etc.

 

(A Dance with Dragons 1510 manuscript pages 415k, A Storm of Swords 1521 pages in manuscript, 424k)

15k text = first chapter of TSR

 

 

Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)
Well, okay, this is going to be kind of long. To understand my next step, you have to understand what we mean by "Notes." There are really three groups of these.

1) Robert Jordan's Worldbuilding Notes. These were in a series of dozens, maybe hundreds of files embedded chaotically inside of files inside of files, using his own system of notation. The notes reach all the way back to early books he was working on, as he was working on them. They aren't intended to be read by anyone other than him, and are sometimes very difficult to figure out. This is the group that Harriet has said, in her estimation, include a total wordcount equal to or greater to that of the published series.

2) The notes for the last book, gathered by his assistants Maria and Alan, with Harriet's help. These are far more focused on the last book, notes that RJ wrote specifically focusing on the last book. This is a much more manageable amount, maybe fifty or a hundred pages. It includes interviews that Alan and Maria did with RJ before he died.

 

3) Scenes for the last book, either in written form or dictated during his last months. This includes some completed scenes. (The last sequence in the book, for example. Also a lot of prologue material, including the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, the Borderlander Tower scene in Towers of Midnight, and the Isam prologue scene from A Memory of Light.) A lot of these are fragments of scenes, a paragraph here and there, or a page of material that he expected to be expanded to a full chapter.

This is different from #2 to me in that these are direct scene constructions, rather than "notes" explaining what was to happen.

Together, #2 and #3 are about 200 pages. That is what I read the night I visited Harriet, and that is what I used to construct my outline.

 

Sanderson: There were a couple issues with it. One, we had a major issue that I was just doing too much Perrin stuff, because I’d just come off a Perrin book and I love Perrin, and Harriet’s like, “We’re just doing too much Perrin. Let’s scale back the Perrin.” And then the other thing was, she’s like, “You don’t quite have the Ways right, so they don’t have the feel Robert Jordan had.” Rather than spend the time getting it right, she just felt the whole section needed to go anyway, for pacing reasons. Too much Perrin, too much distraction, and Maria made the argument that closing the Waygate wasn’t necessary, because we already had in the plot to have the Trollocs being destroyed another way, so she was like “Why are we closing this Waygate, and spending 20,000 words doing it?” The only reason to keep it was the Ogier arrival, which was awesome, and driving off Mashadar. {He meant Machin Shin, and corrected it later.} The Ogier arrival now is much weaker; they show up at the Field of Merrilor, and that was kind of packed into place after we cut out this whole section.


 

Brandon

The thing about the notes is that a lot of the notes were to him, and so he would say things like “I’m going to do this or this” and they’re polar opposites. And so there are sequences like that, where I decide what we’re going to do, and stuff like that. And this all is what became the trilogy that you’re now reading.

Half will be stuff that he wrote notes on, half will be stuff that I wrote.

I said something deep in the notes made me include her. I have not said if she herself was in the notes or not.

But going into it, nothing was off-limits. So I wrote them like I write any novel. Nothing is taken for granted, nothing is sacrosanct.

Since Robert Jordan wrote the last scene, that actually made this whole project mountains easier. I had a target to shoot at. While I didn't have a ton of written material from Robert Jordan that I could actually put in—there are about 200 pages worth of scenes and notes that needed to become somewhere around 2,500 pages [books 12-14 by Sanderson total 2,556 pages]—a lot of those 200 pageswere summaries of scenes he wanted. Robert Jordan wrote by instinct. He was what we called a discovery writer, so what was handed to me was a big pile of half-finished scenes or paragraphs where he wrote, "Well, I am either going to do this, this, or this. I was thinking of this, but it could be this." Yes, cracking an ending is hard, and the Wheel of Time had a lot of loose threads. My job was to take all those threads and weave them into an ending, which was a real challenge.

 


 

Luckers: RJ's notes may have provided the maps of the waters Brandon needed to sail, but it was Brandon to decide the exact course from point to point (as he himself has stated time and again explaining his work on the Wheel).


 

@BrandSanderson gave up on trying to read Jordan's notes after two months, instead relying on Maria and Alan.


 

fionwe:
The problem is, the notes weren't as extensive as we were led to believe. For example, Brandon said in the tour that while RJ had said the LB would be long, and take up a significant portion of the book, he didn't leave many details. Except for incorporating a few things RJ had suggested, the entirety of the battle sequences in the last book, from strategy to execution to length, were not from RJ's notes. Brandon apparently had RJ's assistant Alan (who's a war buff), and Bernard Cornwell help him in coming up with the overall strategy. Then the portrayal is all his own. So I don't quite see where RJ can be blamed for the tiresome, repetitive nature of the battles in this book. We know it is totally not his style. We also know that he didn't leave many notes on it. We've been told that everything from Siuan's death to Bela's were up in the air. For certain, none of the One Power stuff was from RJ. All of Androl's part was all Brandon, though he did say that RJ had planned to have various Asha'man do various things in the Black Tower, and he decided to take all these things and give them to a character of his creation. So how can RJ be blamed for Androl?

Brandon has also revealed that the battle between Rand and the DO wasn't exactly spelled out either. He said that the notes seemed to make it more like a "last conversation", and that Harriet later sent in a suggestion that maybe Rand and the DO could battle it out by creating many possible worlds.

We have also been told RJ had specific numbers for the turned Aiel channelers in the Town (we'll know that number soon enough). We saw all of four, so unless that actually was the number, its pretty clear they were a severely underutilized resource. The numbers of the Aes Sedai, the Wise Ones, the Windfinders, etc. were also completely wrong, and the Black Ajah was totally absent. All these were Brandon and Team Jordan's choices, not RJ's. So again, I don't see how he's the blame for these issues.

 

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Obviously she was of a different opinion when RJ was drawing out Faile's rescue at the expense of possibly finishing the series while he was still alive. Brandon didn't do a perfect job but RJ made lots of mistakes too. Side characters grew like weeds and were given POVs.

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This is from some thread at westeros, for anyone tempted to take anything here as fact.

 

You should post the link to the thread if you're using quotes from members there to support something. I'm not sure what you are trying to support, because how many words RJ typed on his deathbed vs how much BS fleshed out the outline (and if you look up the word outline, I think you'll find that there was one, and you reference it above) for the last three books is moot. He took what he had and wrote what he didn't have with the resources available to him, and now it's long done and what does it matter anyway.

 

Let the dead rest in peace and let Sanderson move on with his life. Yay, we got the finished series. Boo the original author left us before he finished it.

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I don't think this is a conspiracy theory or anything. Brandon Sanderson never said that RJ left a fully fleshed out outline. Matter of fact I remember that he was very open about how he had to fill in huge holes in the story. Sanderson by no means did a perfect job, but I RJs version wouldn't have been perfect either. 

 

For one, I imagine that the epilogue would have spanned many more pages had RJ been healthy enough to finish it. Wheel of Time is a great series, one of my all-time favorites, and so I am happy that it was finished even if it wasn't written perfectly.

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I don't think this is a conspiracy theory or anything. Brandon Sanderson never said that RJ left a fully fleshed out outline. Matter of fact I remember that he was very open about how he had to fill in huge holes in the story. Sanderson by no means did a perfect job, but I RJs version wouldn't have been perfect either. 

 

For one, I imagine that the epilogue would have spanned many more pages had RJ been healthy enough to finish it. Wheel of Time is a great series, one of my all-time favorites, and so I am happy that it was finished even if it wasn't written perfectly.

I discovered WoT after RJ passed away. :(

 

I think people are still discovering him and may want to discuss books/theories. I agree about the epilogue.

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Obviously she was of a different opinion when RJ was drawing out Faile's rescue at the expense of possibly finishing the series while he was still alive. Brandon didn't do a perfect job but RJ made lots of mistakes too. Side characters grew like weeds and were given POVs.

When you get paid $0.35-$0.40+ a word I'd go into detail and description and expound on my world as much as possible, too. :wink:

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What point are you trying to make with this thread?  I followed the news about the final three books very closely, from the moment that Brandon was announced as the author, mostly by reading Brandon's blog and his Twitter feed.  And all of Brandon's quotes that you posted here are consistent with the things he was saying while he was writing (or researching prior to writing) the last three books.  So I don't see any big surprise or stunning revelation in what you have posted.

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What point are you trying to make with this thread?  I followed the news about the final three books very closely, from the moment that Brandon was announced as the author, mostly by reading Brandon's blog and his Twitter feed.  And all of Brandon's quotes that you posted here are consistent with the things he was saying while he was writing (or researching prior to writing) the last three books.  So I don't see any big surprise or stunning revelation in what you have posted.

 

 

For people following this less closely than you these are not well known facts.  I wager you could not have made your comment after TGS came out, which being the first novel after RJ's death, is when people probably paid the most attention.

 

I enjoyed the  Sanderson novels, but he is an author whose skillset compliments rather than builds upon RJs strenghths.  By this I mean Imagine having RJ and an author like Sanderson working together as a team starting around book 7.  Sanderson adds pacing, plot twists, attention to deadlines and attention to fans to Jordan's deep characterizations, world building, vision and prose.

 

I felt Sanderson was at his strongest when  he was combined or riffing directly off Robert Jordan.  Which is why I thought TGS was a particularly strong novel for the most part.  I enjoyed AMOL, but I feel RJ would have made very different choices.  

Edited by Albanus

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I'm not sure what the point of this thread is. It is fine to relay the information, but keep this threat civil and let's not revisit any inflammatory debates that end up a mud-slinging rather than an interesting debate. 

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Is there a list somewhere of which bits in the last three books were actually written by Jordan himself and what parts Sanderson wrote were actually based on RJ's notes/ wishes?

I tried compiling one a few years ago, but I can't find it for the life of me. :madmyrddraal:

I'm depserately hoping someone has a link to a place where a list has been made with the relevant quotes to back that list up.

Anyone?

 

 

I don't think RJ would have ever finished. As another poster said a while ago, RJ was always going to be two books from finishing.

I'm hoping either Mr Ares or Suttree will come and tell you how wrong you are.

RJ was on a clear route to the finish-line with KoD and the plot was moving towards the Last Day / Battle just fine. *shrugs*

Suttree explained it best in many of his late 2012 / early 2013 posts IIRC.

Edited by Mik

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Is there a list somewhere of which bits in the last three books were actually written by Jordan himself and what parts Sanderson wrote were actually based on RJ's notes/ wishes?

I tried compiling one a few years ago, but I can't find it for the life of me. :madmyrddraal:

I'm depserately hoping someone has a link to a place where a list has been made with the relevant quotes to back that list up.

Anyone?

.

Oh man!  This is something that I have have been dying to know also.

 

BTW, I assumed that Masema's death was RJ written.  Anybody confirm or refute that, please?

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Is there a list somewhere of which bits in the last three books were actually written by Jordan himself and what parts Sanderson wrote were actually based on RJ's notes/ wishes?

I tried compiling one a few years ago, but I can't find it for the life of me. :madmyrddraal:

I'm depserately hoping someone has a link to a place where a list has been made with the relevant quotes to back that list up.

Anyone?

 

 

I don't think RJ would have ever finished. As another poster said a while ago, RJ was always going to be two books from finishing.

I'm hoping either Mr Ares or Suttree will come and tell you how wrong you are.

RJ was on a clear route to the finish-line with KoD and the plot was moving towards the Last Day / Battle just fine. *shrugs*

Suttree explained it best in many of his late 2012 / early 2013 posts IIRC.

Ask and you shall receive: It's worth noting that RJ issued a lot of qualified statements - "at least three more books", things like that - but then when KoD came out it was billed as the penultimate book, with no qualifiers. He obviously was sufficiently confident in that that he convinced his publishers to put it in the blurb. He was also very much brining plot threads into line for a conclusion - it's not directionless, it's not a series spinning its wheels, it's getting close to being over. So while some posters do like to claim that RJ always would have been x books from the ending, that's simply not borne out by the facts (so those posters are very, very wrong). Whether AMoL would have been one massive volume, or split in two and released close together, the end was coming.

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The Seanchan attack, the trip to Finnland, the Black tower, the town, foresaken meddling, all would probably have received plenty of expansion. Then there are the unknowns or not enough notes left, a shadow attack on the WT was probably coming, the sharans may have gotten attention  and who knows what else. I base my guesses on Faile's rescue taking three books, Elayne's ascension took 5 books, from LOC, Perrins development took 13 books, most of which was shoved into TOM, as much as I like Matt, his dawdling with Tuon took 3 books. Side characters who had no business having them got POVs. So you may be right that RJ was close but given the record, I highly doubt it. 

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About RJ committing to something in KOD blurb, I'm sure moneymakers like like RJ can commit to things, then uncommit when they realize they can keep the schedule.

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I don't think we can really know what would have happened. We have seen both with RJ, he can reign things in to a fast pace like the first 3 books and then KoD he is recovering the pace. 

 

On the other hand, we have the middle books that are dragged out. 

 

I think it would be possible to finish in a 2 way split volume (like Way of Kings). It could also just as easily been expanded another 4-5 volumes, the content is there. 

 

Brandon expanded some of the story to fit 3 books worth of material, so it is possible that a lot of the things that happened could have been reduced into 4-5 chapters instead of 10. 

 

For example, Mat's ToG could have been done with the Tower chapters. The Dragons could have been given to Elayne via Aludra in Elayne's story arc, with the Band arriving in Caemlyn without Mat, with a message "Mat will be back, just gone to pick someone up." type thing. Perrin's Whitecloak and Slayer line could have been reduced to a few chapters. (like Perrin in tDR, the pace was 1000x faster than the whole Shaido nonsense)

 

RJ was capable of packing a lot of plot in few chapters. (I know he did expand as well, excessively so, but he WAS capable of doing it.) 

 

So, RJ has done both ways. 

 

What is left is just how much was supposed to be in RJ's aMoL, which we don't really know beyond a general sense of unresolved plotlines. (and then, we can only count the major ones, because RJ said he would leave loose threads.) 

 

So, I can see both happening. I'm inclined to think that RJ meant he would finish the series with one more 'release'. I don't necessarily think that would mean one typical WoT volume. I see it more like RJ was saying he would release the final episode of the WoT in the next release. It may have taken 4 odd years instead of 1-2, but we would have gotten the end of the story in one release. (Most likely a 'Part 1 Part 2 split 'A Memory of Light' with 1200-1500 pages between them.

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The Seanchan attack, the trip to Finnland, the Black tower, the town, foresaken meddling, all would probably have received plenty of expansion. Then there are the unknowns or not enough notes left, a shadow attack on the WT was probably coming, the sharans may have gotten attention  and who knows what else. I base my guesses on Faile's rescue taking three books, Elayne's ascension took 5 books, from LOC, Perrins development took 13 books, most of which was shoved into TOM, as much as I like Matt, his dawdling with Tuon took 3 books. Side characters who had no business having them got POVs. So you may be right that RJ was close but given the record, I highly doubt it. 

RJ's record is more mixed than you're trying to make out. Even in the later books, known as they are for their sprawl, he shows an ability to handle a plotline with economy. And KoD tied off plots and brought things closer to a conclusion. The mid-books are the ones which sprawl most. Look at the early books as individual works - EotW starts out with one group, they split int multiple groups, things are drawn together for a conclusion. The middle bits have the most sprawl, they are when things are most spread out. The endings draw things together and increase the pace. This is not something unique to RJ either. His stated reason for there only being one more book was structural - he didn't see a way to make two good books. That's actually a prophecy we saw borne out - TGS was structurally strong, ToM and AMoL were quite weak (it's also worth pointing out that this is something BS tends to do well in his own books as well). If someone were to say that his promise of just one more book was a bit much, and it might have taken RJ two or three I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. On the other hand, if we assume that RJ hadn't died, if he was able to keep writing, that he would never have brought the story to a close? I find that extremely unlikely. I don't think you're wrong because RJ would never have broken his "one more book" promise, I think you're wrong because you overplay your hand, because you claim rather more than you can back up.

 

About RJ committing to something in KOD blurb, I'm sure moneymakers like like RJ can commit to things, then uncommit when they realize they can keep the schedule.

While it's certainly true that publishers would likely have no problem with a big cash cow saying "actually, I do need more books", the point is that he was convincing enough in the first place that he could get in done in one - they didn't need to put "this is the penultimate book" in there, but they did. If anything, because he's a cash cow they should be more reluctant to put that in there - if RJ has to back down from his promise of just one more, he hasn't put it in print in every single copy of the book. I'm sure GRRM probably has some regrets over the note at the end of AFFC saying "ADWD will be out next year". A more vague wording leaves more wiggle room, but they went with the hard promise.

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I have to agree, RJ might of went to book 14 or even 15, but think that would of been it.  He was averaging around 2.5 - 3 years per book so it's unlikely he would of drawn it out too much longer.  I also don't see him expanding too much on other areas, especially if he didn't want a 17 book series.  A quick strike like the Seanchan attack really couldn't take up too much space, especially since its main purpose to me seemed to get rid of Elaida.  I don't think he could of added to many more plots or expaned on the areas you mentioned too much simply because RJ has shown a knack for being brief in areas.  Look at how little Rand's time in Far Madding took, the cleansing, or even his fight with Semi.  All were areas he clearly could of expanded on had he wanted to.  Yet Perrin and Faile never seemed to end. 

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