Link Von Kelsier Harvey

Brandon's writing quirks

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I have a roommate whom I have convinced to read most of Brandon's books. He is actually an aspiring writer himself. He's written 3 novels, with plans for more, and has had a story published in BYU's Leading Edge Magazine. So, he has a different way of reading stories than I do.

 

A common comment that I see, and an observation that I've made myself, is that Brandon's prose is more or less invisible. You really don't pay attention to the words he's using. You simply use them as a vehicle to experience the story.

 

However, and I come to my point, he claims that there are a couple of things that force him out of the experience. Specific mannerisms that he finds unlikely. He says that if one character had one of these behaviors, it would be fine, but everyone seems to have these same mannerisms despite cultural or planetary differences. The compiled list:

 

"X raised an eyebrow."

A speaker referring to anyone younger than themselves as "Child."

Blushing.

Snorting.

 

Now, I've never bothered to notice these things, and likely wouldn't care if I did, but it drives him nuts. Anyone else notice things like this? I'd like to know if he's just over-reacting, or if this is something that other's have noticed and care about.

 

Thoughts? I don't want to bash, just curious.

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Yes, he has those in his writing and they are probably partly a subconscious thing he picked up from Robert Jordan's work because WoT has a lot of quirks like that. Over the many years reading WoT though, my brain started to phase them out so I don't really notice them much when I read anymore.

One you didn't mention that used to bother people a lot with Sanderson was his love for the word tempest. Do a word search of it in some of his earlier work.

Edit: in his defense though, just about every writer has those idiosyncrasies in their writing style. Your friend probably does too, he just hasn't had his particular quirks pointed out yet. Writers like Martin and Rothfuss who tediously revise their prose phase a lot of that out but I'd take Brandon's quality book output pace with a few quirks left in any day of the week over waiting five years for perfect prose.

Edited by Awesomeness Summoned
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I love Brandon's writing and I hope I can write as well as him someday. However, while reading WoR one term did begin to drive me batty.

 

"Bah."

 

I checked on my Kindle. Sanderson uses the term 23 times in the book. Yes, it is a big book, but couldn't he have used the term a little bit less. As comparison, he only used it 19 times in TWoKs.

 

It's not a big deal, but it did get repetitive.

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One of his goto things is to make up a particular sware word/sentance and then letting this charackter sware almost exclusivly with this one. (normally there is more diversity in swaring - I guess)

I actually like it because it keeps him making up very creative ways to curse.

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Lots of grunting too. I usually have a problem associating actual sounds with the word because it isn't something that I see that often in my own interactions with people.

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I posted before about the Sanderson drinking game I thought up but would never do: every time a single eyebrow is quirked, arched, raised, etc. It's been like that his entire career, with a marked decline post WOT (where he added more snorts and grunts).

Count how many "bah" statements come from Sigzil.

The "new" mannerism that's really bothering me in its ubiquity: narrative interruption. I don't mind when someone talking or even thinking (the stuff in italics) cut off with a hyphen for some action to take place. The offender is when its the rest of the text. Like in the middle of the 3rd person description of a scene or some past culture, it-

Something moved.

I wish I had an ebook of WoR so I could search for "it-"

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This is specific to the SA, but it's weird that Dalinar is always called by his first name, while every other house leader is called by their family name. Sadeas for example always calls him Dalinar, yet Dalinar never calls Sadeas "Torol," even though they're supposed to be very old friends. In fact, the only person who even thinks of him as "Torol" is his wife. Ditto, Aladar or Amaram or any other lighteyes. Shallan even says "Uncle Sebarial" at the meeting after Szeth's attack, which is even weirder.

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I've always seen it as a Lighteyes thing, since a last name is speeeeecial. Dalinar gets called by his first name because the king's already stolen that one, and because nobody actually likes him or something like that.

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Then again, id assume the king is "Your Majesty" or "King Kholin", leaving Dalinar to be " Kholin" or "highprince Kholin"?

Maybe Brandon did it to differentiate between Kholins for us readers, but hoped no one would consciously notice?

The same things been bothering me for a while @cem, you're not the only one. :)

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"X raised an eyebrow."

 

Just started TFE again, made it to page two, and already, an obligator is doing this.  Why would you point this out to me?  I would have never noticed, but nooooo you pointed it out and now I'll notice it everywhere!!

 

But really, the ones that you mentioned aren't that odd for a lot of characters to do.  A ton of people raise an eyebrow when something strikes their curiosity.  Almost everyone blushes when they get embarassed.  Snorting is a bit odd, I'll admit.  Same with the "Child" thing, but that's probably more of a cultural thing.  I wouldn't be surprised if it happened a lot in our own history, but just fell out of favor as our culture changed over the years.

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All these things make me raise an eyebrow and it-

Suddenly i understand i will notice these things now :blush:

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Thanks Peter. That's basically been my argument as well. I don't think he believes that people actually do these things. Whenever I try to say that people actually DO raise their eyebrows, blush, etc, he looks at me like I'm crazy.

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Thanks Peter. That's basically been my argument as well. I don't think he believes that people actually do these things. Whenever I try to say that people actually DO raise their eyebrows, blush, etc, he looks at me like I'm crazy.

Does that look of his involve raising his eyebrows? and do you blush in embarrassment when he does it?

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No, that would be far, far too animé.

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I love Brandon's writing and I hope I can write as well as him someday. However, while reading WoR one term did begin to drive me batty.

 

"Bah."

 

I checked on my Kindle. Sanderson uses the term 23 times in the book. Yes, it is a big book, but couldn't he have used the term a little bit less. As comparison, he only used it 19 times in TWoKs.

 

It's not a big deal, but it did get repetitive.

I didn't notice this till you pointed it out, and now it's driving me crazy! There was definitely a 'bah' from Rock, and I think one from Dalinar, almost definitely one from Shallan's father.

The only word that particularly bothered me in WoR was 'teenage' (referring i think to Eylita) because that strikes me as a very modern term.

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I have another quirk I've noticed he does....

 

"x parsed his lips" or "x pressed his lips into a straight line"

 

I can't remember the exact verbiage specifically, but he does write a lot about lip movement.

 

Anyone else notice this? 

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Lot of '' you see'' in Woirds of radiance like 34 everyone talks like that you see and it gets annoying you see

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Yep. These things don't bother me at all, because people actually do them. I do have a list of things to look out for in revisions, but these aren't getting added to the list. If anything happens too many times close together I'll mark it.

 

My wife is incapable of raising only a single eyebrow.  Ask Brandon to include someone awkwardly bulging one eye while squinting the other.

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I noticed after a re-read of a lot of his books all at once--the villain is always the quiet one!  Seriously though.  Bluefingers, the monk from Elantris (can't remember his name...), Vin's "friend" in the thieving gang (that betrays her intention to leave), Marsh, Moash, Jakamav, they are all ones who've earned the protagonist's trust and/or friendship, and then turns on 'em.  I feel like I can guess the betrayer by whoever is the nicest, that we don't get a viewpoint from.

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The only thing that bothers me at all (being a young reader), is that his younger characters seem a bit too naive. Although I can't actually remember who it was that I first noticed this.

 

(By the way, for some reason I am a HUGE fan of- Something moved.)

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I practiced for weeks in front of a mirror in fourth grade. Same thing with wiggling one ear at a time, a useful skill which has served me well throughout my life.

 

It reminds me of making money, where the villain made an eybrow-lifting contraption because he wasn't able to lift an wyebrow like the patrician

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I'll have to watch for it on rereads.  Most of these I've never noticed from Brandon.  I did notice in The First Law trilogy all the characters using "huh", which annoyed the hell out of me.  I don't think it's a problem if only one or two character used a specific quirk.  When everyone does it though it really kills the immersion. 

As for the ticks, I grunt/snort when spoken to quite often.  And I do a lot of eyebrow raising as well.

I'm a pretty animated person, as my girlfriend and coworkers will attest too.  

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I love Brandon's writing and I hope I can write as well as him someday. However, while reading WoR one term did begin to drive me batty.

 

"Bah."

 

I checked on my Kindle. Sanderson uses the term 23 times in the book. Yes, it is a big book, but couldn't he have used the term a little bit less. As comparison, he only used it 19 times in TWoKs.

 

It's not a big deal, but it did get repetitive.

 

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 387973120 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 426535216 bytes) in Unknown on line 0

I just noticed bah for the first time in Warbreaker, so it's not exclusive to SA. Granted, this is only once and past page 350 so it's definitely more prolific in WoR.

(What a wonderful intellectual discussion this is. Bah!)

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