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Chapter Eighteen Part One
Yes, Vin wears the red dress. It seemed like the best choice to me. However, several of my female alpha readers seemed to think that she should have worn the black dress. In fact, one said “Well, she’d better get to wear the black one eventually!”
The Elariel ballroom isn’t a place I’ve ever visited. (Unlike keeps Venture and Lekal–which are both based on real places.) I just liked the concept of a ballroom with the stained glass windows on the roof. It seemed like a good image, especially if it were lit from above. The ballrooms are the only places I really get to show off noble extravagance in this book, and so I worked hard to make each of the four distinctive and visually interesting.
I wasn’t planning on Elend getting as big a part in this book as he ended up having. However, the more I wrote scenes with him, the more interested I became in him as a character. He doesn’t exist just to provide a romantic interest for Vin–he exists to show the human side of the nobility. I knew that I needed at least one nobleman who was presented favorably, otherwise Kelsier’s harshness wouldn’t have the contrast it needed. So, I designed a young man that Vin could meet at the balls.
Yet, when I started writing the scenes with Elend, I found them flowing very easily. I really liked his voice and his relaxed affability. MISTBORN, being about such a harsh world an society, threatened to become too dark. I needed another character like Elend to provide moments that were more lighthearted. He also gives us scenes that are interesting in a more thoughtful way, rather than a dark way. He turned out much better than I’d hoped, and is probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the novel.
Part of humanizing the nobility was to show Elend being interested in the skaa. I had to walk a line with him. I didn’t want him to be TOO interested, or sympathetic, toward the skaa. He’s a nobleman, not some crusader for the rights of the oppressed. Yet, I wanted to show through his simple interest that he wasn’t cruel. I also wanted to show how little some of the noblemen know about skaa. The things Vin wonders–if the nobility even know about much of the suffering in their world–are valid. Someone like Elend, who spends most of his time at balls or being waited upon in his keep, wouldn’t really understand the life of a skaa.