Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon is one of the few authors we've ever seen be completely transparent with the iteration of a novel. If you follow the link below to his website, you can view the complete progression of Warbreaker across every draft.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a work in progress!  It is part of an exercise I did in posting drafts of my novel, WARBREAKER, on-line as I worked on them. This book will change form as the writing continues.  Not only will it include typos, but there may be plot elements that are poorly represented, as well as setting, blocking, and dialogue issues! In short, please don’t judge my writing solely based on this work.  Give my finished, edited work a chance first.  You can find ELANTRIS and MISTBORN in bookstores around the world. 

FIRST DRAFT


Why, Vasher thought, does it always have to begin with me getting thrown into prison?

The guardsmen laughed to one another outside, slamming the cell door shut with a clang.  Vasher stood slowly, dusting himself off, rolling his shoulder and wincing slightly at the pain.

“They say you’re pretty tough,” said one of the guards.

Vasher looked to the side.  While the bottom half of the cell door was made of solid wood, the top half was barred, and he could easily see the three men outside as they opened his pack and began rifling through his possessions.

One of the guardsmen stood facing the cell.  He was an oversized beast of a man with a shaved head and a dirtied uniform that just barely showed the bright yellow and blue colorings of the T’Telir city guard. 

Bright colors, Vasher thought.  I’ll have to get used to those again.  In any other nation, the vibrant blues and yellows would have been ridiculous on soldiers.  This, however, was Hallendren: land of Returned Gods, lifeless servants, BioChromatic research, and--of course--color.

Compared to the Hallendren norm, these guard uniforms were actually rather drab.

“They said you beat down some twenty men in the brawl,” the guard continued, still standing in front of Vasher’s cell.  The man rubbed his chin.  “You don’t look that tough to me.  Either way, you should have known better than to strike a priest.  The others, they’ll spend a night locked up.  You, though--you’ll hang.  Colorless bastard.”

Vasher turned away from the guardsman, looking over his cell.  It was functional, if modestly unoriginal.  Only a thin slit in the top to let in light, stone walls that dripped with water and lichen, a pile of dirty straw in the corner.  He was, fortunately, the only one in it.  The fewer people he had to deal with, the better.

“You ignoring me?” the guard asked, stepping closer to Vasher’s cell.  As he did so, the colors of his uniform brightened just slightly, like he’d stepped into a brighter light.  None of the men had noticed the effect before, when they’d picked Vasher up from the bar floor.  This time, however, the guard paused, frowning.

He had just been confronted by an impossibility.

“Here, now,” one of the men said from behind.  “What’s this?”  The two were still looking through Vasher’s possessions--doing so right outside his cell, rather than in their guard post, as if to purposely provoke him.  Vasher had always found it odd that the men who patrolled dungeons tended to be as bad, or worse, than the men they guarded.  Perhaps that was the purpose.  Society didn’t care if such men were outside the cells or in them--just as long as both groups were kept away from more honest men.

Assuming that such a thing existed. 


FINAL DRAFT

 

It’s funny, Vasher thought, how many things begin with me getting thrown into prison.

The guards laughed to one another, slamming the cell door shut with a clang.  Vasher stood and dusted himself off, rolling his shoulder and wincing.  While the bottom half of his cell door was solid wood, the top half was barred, and he could see the three guards open his large duffle and rifle through his possessions.

One of them noticed him watching.  The guard was an oversized beast of a man with a shaved head and a dirty uniform that barely retained the bright yellow and blue coloring of the T’Telir city guard. 

Bright colors, Vasher thought.  I’ll have to get used to those again.  In any other nation, the vibrant blues and yellows would have been ridiculous on soldiers.  This, however, was Hallandren: land of Returned Gods, Lifeless servants, BioChromatic research, and--of course--color.

The large guard sauntered up to the cell door, leaving his friends to amuse themselves with Vasher’s belongings.  “They say you’re pretty tough,” the man said, sizing up Vasher.

Vasher did not respond.

“The bartender says you beat down some twenty men in the brawl.”  The guard rubbed his chin.  “You don’t look that tough to me.  Either way, you should have known better than to strike a priest.  The others, they’ll spend a night locked up.  You, though. . .you’ll hang.  Colorless fool.”

Vasher turned away.  His cell was functional, if unoriginal.  A thin slit at the top of one wall let in light, the stone walls dripped with water and moss, and a pile of dirty straw decomposed in the corner.

“You ignoring me?” the guard asked, stepping closer to the door.  The colors of his uniform brightened, as if he’d stepped into a stronger light.  The change was slight.  Vasher didn’t have much Breath remaining, and so his aura didn’t do much to the colors around him.  The guard didn’t notice the change in color--just as he hadn’t noticed back in the bar, when he and his buddies had picked Vasher up off the floor and thrown him in their cart.  Of course, the change was so slight to the unaided eye that it would have been nearly impossible to pick out.

“Here, now,” said one of the men looking through Vasher’s duffle.  “What’s this?”  Vasher had always found it interesting that the men who watched dungeons tended to be as bad as, or worse than, the men they guarded.  Perhaps that was deliberate.  Society didn’t seem to care if such men were outside the cells or in them, so long as they were kept away from more honest men.

Assuming that such a thing existed. 

If you're intrigued by this excerpt, check out Sanderson's website for the complete draft and support the man by buying his book!

1984: Early & Final Drafts

1984: draft

     It was a cold day in early April, and a million radios were striking thirteen. Winston Smith pushed open the glass door of Victory Mansions, turned to the right down the passage-way and pressed the button of the lift. Nothing happened. He had just pressed a second time when a door at the end of the passage opened, letting out a smell of boiled greens and old rag mats, and the aged prole who acted as porter and caretaker thrust out a grey, seamed face and stood for a moment sucking his teeth and watching Winston malignantly.

      “Lift ain’t working,” he announced at last.

      “Why isn’t it working?”

      “No lifts ain’t working. The currents is out at the main. The ‘eat ain’t workin’ neither. All currents to be cut off during daylight hours. Orders!” he barked in military style, and slammed the door again, leaving it uncertain whether the grievance he evidently felt was against Winston, or against the authorities who had cut off the current.

      Winston remembered now. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, conscious of his thirty-nine years and of he varicose ulcer above his right ankle, rested at each landing to avoid putting himself out of breath. On every landing the same poster was gummed to the wall–a huge coloured poster, too large for indoor display. It depicted simply and enormous face, the face of a man of about forty-five, with ruggedly handsome features, thick black hair, a heavy moustache and an expression at once benevolent and menacing. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption ran.

1984: published 

     It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

     The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. the flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Interested in knowing more about the changes made between these documents? Check out our In-Depth Analysis of George Orwell's 1984 Edits.

8 1/2 Tips to Supercharge Your Writing Focus

It’s a cruel twist of technology that one of the focus-intensive tasks in the world almost always happens on the planet’s greatest distraction.

With the internet just a few clicks away, your phone within arm’s reach, and a dozen ideas knocking on the doors of your focus, it’s harder than ever to immerse yourself in work that really matters.

Here are a few strategies to help make the most of whatever time you can devote to your creative endeavors.

1. PRIME YOUR BRAIN FOR THE TASK

A productive writing session happens before you compose a single sentence. The headspace you bring to the desk will influence you

We don’t want to prime for general creativity, we want to prime for writing which is a very particular sort of work indeed.

Switching immediately from anything that doesn’t have to do with writing (i.e scrolling social media, playing with the dog, etc.) is going to make your brain lag. Instead, give yourself a transitionary period to get in the proper mindset.

Read a book about writing (or about the topic you’re covering). Do not read a book about anything not explicitly related to your writing and do not read anything at all online. That way darkness lies.

Take a walk and think about you story.

Think about why you’re doing this. Visualizing your goal, whether it’s to have a 1000 true fans or publish a book, can have a powerful effect on your productivity. All that and more is within your power to achieve.

2. SET A DEADLINE

Every piece you start should have an endpoint. Writing without a deadline or endpoint is journaling. If you start an article, give yourself a window to finish it. When time is up, publish the thing somewhere, anywhere.

If you don’t set a deadline, you’ll never allow the article to be finished. You’ll belabor every word and phrasing until it sits forgotten at the bottom of an “In Progress” list.

Whenever you start a piece, decide how long you have. Say, 48 hours for anything less than 1500 words. A shorter deadline puts the Pareto Principle to work that much faster (LINK) and forces away the never-finished nitpicky perfectionist mindset.

3. GET COMFORTABLE

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t play the long game if you’re not taking care of your body and mind. There’s a lot that goes into this but here are the essentials.

Let’s assume you’re feeling healthy and rested. The next factor is your work environment. Is it somewhere that’s conducive to creativity? That doesn’t mean it needs to be on a mountain top or nestled in the woods. I’m sitting in a dining room with bars on the windows but there’s a good breeze blowing and nice natural lighting.

How’s your posture? For years I was plagued by soreness in my back, neck, and wrists from terrible writing posture. If you do most your work from a laptop, you probaably know what I’m talking about.

Fix the stoop by raising your laptop to eye height and getting an internal keyboard/mouse set up. This can be as simple as resting it on top of some books or getting an external monitor.

I use this awesome thing because it’s super portable meaning I don’t have to compromise posture when I’m at a coffee shop or traveling (LINK).

4. WRITE FAST AND LOOSE

It’s easy to go back and formalize language but it’s hard to take stuffy diction and make it fun again. Cutting down playfulness is easy, forcing jokes in later is hard and awkward. Your job is to get out a first draft FAST.

Use the momentum that comes from having a good idea to get that idea down in it’s basic form. A single spark can light a fire but only if immediately given it fuel. Otherwise it goes out.

Trying to write formally/authoritatively on the first draft is the quickest way to get stuck and kill off that spark because, in addition to flushing out the idea, there’s a second voice in your head that’s tone policing!

More often than not, the structure of a piece that comes most naturally is the right structure. The best writing is easily digestible a.k.a easily understood a.k.a conversational because conversations are the primary form of human communication. It’s what people are used to.

Don’t compromise creativity, speed, or flow (which is largely dependent on speed) by becoming self-conscious about how something SHOULD sound.

5. STAY OFFLINE

Don’t start researching until you have to. The minute you open your browser, all sorts of distractions will come knocking. It’s like stepping into a candy shop but oh so much more tempting because all those internet sirens like your favorite blogs and news sites and ___ promise to help you! Don’t believe them!

When you write something that needs a citation or some further research, just put a big placeholder in its spot and keep going. Do the same thing for any content that you want to hyperlink.

The average person spends seventy five minutes A DAY clicking down rabbit holes of the internet after going online to search a specific fact (CITATION). That is why the average person gets so little done (LINK)!

6. WRITE ONE ARTICLE AT A TIME

Don’t write more than one article at a time. When you’re in the creative zone, ideas star

However, resist the temptation to flush those concepts out. Keep an indexed journal (LINK) with an ideas page or a document on your computer to quickly scratch down the basics but

DO NOT under any circumstances start writing that article until you’ve finished a first draft of the original.

There’s a lot to be said for striking while the iron is hot and striking two at the same time might be feasible but before you know it, you’ll have thirteen snippets of different essays and they’ll al be ice cold.

7. TAKE REAL BREAKS

As mentioned in the intro, the human mind has a limited attention span. Some people think you can discipline your way through distraction (LINK TO JOCKO), others thinks it’s better to bend than potentially break.

For instance, it’s better to schedule a five minute break every thirty minutes than getting distracted for an hour and half because you’re brain is exhausted after seventy-five minutes straight.

Having said that, a good break is itself an art form.

Before you stand up, set an alarm for when you will sit back down.

Do not derail your creativity by injesting something not directly related to your work. Scrolling the socials isn’t going to maintain a creative headspace, it’s going to distract.

You want to do something that’ll take the pressure off your mind but not remove the task at hand entirely. Rather, you want to let it rest in the back corner, somewhere between the thalamus and the hippocampus.

Make a snack, take a walk, do some light exercise. Send a text or two reminding someone that you’re grateful to have them around. Here’s a list of 33 things (LINK) to do that maintain a positive creative headspace.

Finally, if you go to the bathroom, DO NOT bring your phone! Not only are you getting little pieces of human waste on it, there’s no way you won’t be tempted to fall down some distracting rabbit hole. The next two hours of your life, gone.

8. PUBLISH

If you don’t publish it, or submit it to be published, not only are you tempting the same fate, you’re cheating yourself. Publishing is the best way to get feedback on your work and it’s the only way to add value to anyone’s life with it.

It doesn’t matter where you publish it so much as sending it somewhere. ANYWHERE. Medium. Facebook. Personal Blog. Someone Else’s Blog, it doesn’t matter. Call it good enough and let it go.

Each of those comes with a different level of exposure and thus reservation but if they’re all too intimidating, send it to a family member or a single friend, someone you know will appreciate what you’re trying to do.

The point is that someone reads your work (preferably someone included in your audience) and gives feedback. This is the only way to quickly iterate and improve. What’s more, it’ll help you edit with an audience in mind.

If you don’t trust yourself to ever let a piece go, compose it in something that let’s you schedule an automatic post date. For instance, I use (SERVICE) to publish every Monday and Friday on Iterwrite.com. As soon as I start writing a piece, I give myself 48 hours to finish it.

9. TAKE A REAL BREAK.

Go do something else. Give your writer’s mind a break. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

 

SUMMARY

  1. Prime your creativity with a pertinent book and visualization.
  2. Set a short deadline
  3. Work in a comfortable, healthy space.
  4. Get the words out rough and fast
  5. Don’t get online and research until you have the bones down
  6. Take scheduled breaks that don’t derail your flow
  7. When time’s up, seek out feedback.
  8. Relax the mind, take a real break.

 

 

 

 

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