Chapter Forty-Six Part One:
Raoden’s reaction to Iadon’s death is just a little bit cliché, but I think that cliché exists for a reason, so I wrote the scene this way.
Sometimes, I have difficulty in my writing because I try to be TOO original. I react pretty strongly against anything I’ve seen before, and don’t want to include it in my books. This has served me well in some ways–Moshe bought ELANTRIS partially because he found it refreshingly different from other fantasies on the market. I generally have a strong element of originality to my worlds, my magic systems, and my plot structures. This is part of what draws people to my work.
However, sometimes I go too far. If I see something written one way–even if that way is good–then I react against it, trying to find another way. I’ve stayed away from ‘Eternal Apprentice’ plots (Thank you Craig Shaw Gardner for the name) even though they are extremely popular in fantasy–indeed, they are what got me into fantasy when I was younger. But, because of some things like this, my books can be more difficult to get into. The extremely steep learning curve of my works, the focus on strange settings and odd magic systems, might be off-putting for some readers. (ELANTRIS, by the way, is only a hint at these kinds of things. MISTBORN is a much better example.)
I try to walk a fine balance in my works. The trick is to write something that is original and new, breaking convention and tradition–yet at the same time have it FEEL like a fantasy. People read in the genre because they like the things it can do. I have to add the new, Sanderson, spin to things without tossing out all that is wonderful and resonant within the genre.
That’s why you’ll see some old archetypes showing up in my works occasionally. In a way, MISTBORN is an old-fashioned ‘overthrow the evil empire’ fantasy. When choosing my next project, I decided that I had enough sufficiently new material–both in setting and in plot–to tell the story in a way that would be fresh. I think it adds something to the genre, rather than just recycling what is there. So, I went ahead with it, hoping that the familiar and the original would work together.
ELANTRIS is similar. I threw in odd (for fantasy) plotting structures, but I let the air of ‘standard medieval culture’ remain in the book. (In fact, as I’ve noted, this is probably my most like-Earth book in that way.)
The balance between the new and the familiar. That’s what it’s all about.
Anyway, back to the chapter. I planned from the beginning for Sarene to give Raoden this vital bit of information about the magic system. As I’ve said before, she represents chaos–and chaos isn’t always a bad thing. She is able to give Raoden the one simple bit of information that, despite all of his studying, he hasn’t been able to find.
Fortunately, I think it’s the very next Triad where Raoden figures out how to use Sarene’s bit of information. We don’t have to wait long for him to figure out the secret–so, hopefully, if the readers figure it out, they won’t feel Raoden is too stupid for taking so long.