Vin in her room
This first scene is a classical Brandon scene–a character studying, thinking, and exploring who they are in their own head. Some people find my narrative style–with the thoughts, the conclusions, and the debates in the head–to be a little slow. I can understand that, even if I don’t agree.
I like knowing my characters. A chapter like this really works for that, in my opinion. It seems to me that in too many books, you never really know a character’s thoughts, feelings, and logic enough to understand why they do what they do. So, I spend time on those things.
This scene is important for the decisions Vin makes about herself. She is not the type of person to second-guess herself. In a way, she shows some of the very things Tindwyl tries to get across to Elend later in the chapter. Vin encounters a problem, mulls over it, then comes to a firm decision to trust herself.
Oh, and the line “he was the type of person who could defy reality” in reference to Kelsier is one I stole from my friend Annie. She said it about me, actually. It was in reference to how I belligerently believed that I could do something like become an author–a job that very few people can have, and even fewer people can make a living at. She said it long before I got published.
Always stuck with me.
Elend on the wall
Now you can see why Elend’s proposal–giving him power to hold the city until he met in parlay with the kings–was such an important plotting device. Don’t worry; I’ll get into the problems with the proposal soon. It’s by no means hard-fast, and I realize that a simple promise like this is not going to hold for long in the face of something like a siege.
Still, it lets me set up the siege. This section here is actually one of the very newest in the book. I wanted a section that officially began the “siege of Luthadel” making it firm and fixed in people’s mind, so that they would know for sure what the conflict was.
Adding scenes like this one increased the size of some chapters far beyond what I normally write. This is one. It’s interesting to note that, for a given book, my chapters tend to end up being around the same length. It’s not completely intentional; it just happens that way. This book, however, has that rhythm thrown off quite a bit now.
I chose to only show a few sections of Tindwyl training Elend–I figured that these could get laborious if I did too many of them. This isn’t “My Fair Lady,” after all.
We never get to see Elend learning to duel, for instance. As a writer, I tend to react strongly against things I’ve seen done too often. That doesn’t always make me not include them in books, but sometimes it does. Training a man with the sword, for instance, seems to have been done enough that you can just assume that it happened–and imagine it happening–without me going into detail about Elend’s practice sessions.
This scene that is included, however, is rather important. Elend’s new look, and his decision to let his hair get cut, represent the first change we pull off for him: The visual one.