I realize that my books contain an awful lot of scenes where people stand around talking to each other. I try to keep them moving as much as possible, changing scenery, making the dialogue dramatic, allowing the characters to make conclusions and decisions. But, at the core, my stories consist of a lot of people discussing and weighing options in their heads.
I worry that sometimes I need to make things a little faster paced. I wanted to avoid too much of Elend brooding. In fact, one of the earliest rewrites of the book I did (one I did before I finished the novel, which is rare—I usually don’t rewrite until I finish the rough draft) was done specifically to make Elend a more active character. In that same rewrite, I tried very hard to work out his character arc. (It just hadn’t been working in the first draft.)
This was what I came up with. The emperor who knows he will end up having to make a very difficult decision, and fearing that he’ll do what’s right for his people—even if it seems morally wrong at the time. I didn’t want to have many chapters of him brooding, but that sort of decision can’t be off-the-cuff. For his character to work, I needed him to wrestle with the question—even go back and forth on it, as we as people often do.
The Number Sixteen
Demoux’s problems here are intended to give me another means of reminding the reader of the statistical anomaly found in the numbers of people who fall sick to the mist. As I wrote the draft, I’m glad I was forced to keep Demoux alive, as doing so gave me a character who was intimately connected with the problems of the mists and the things they were inflicting on people.
If the number sixteen seems obvious to you, please don’t blame the characters for not figuring it out. Remember, for a thousand years they’ve had it reinforced over and over again to them that there are only ten Allomantic metals. Sure, you’ve got the handy illustration in the back of the book showing you all sixteen in a circle, but the characters don’t have the benefit of being able to read the novel.