d4gregg

Regarding The One You Can Save (Spoilers)

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Dear Brandon Sanderson,

I write to you as respectfully as I can to share my experience with Oathbringer. My wife is a fan or your series, and I have begun reading the books with her. Overall the experience has been very positive. I’ve found your work to be a robust mixture of art and entertainment. I love select sections of the Stormlight Archives series, but I find it to be suffering from both overly elaborate magic schemes and shock points. The last straw for me was the chapter The One You Can Save.

I fully acknowledge that you have the liberty to write your story however you choose. It’s clear you have very elaborate plans that span years and years for your characters, and you have a very large and faithful fan base. However, I believe there is a fairly narrow line between when an author is writing tragedy and when an author is writing abuse.

I have never felt more personally aggrieved reading a story than I did when reading The One You Can Save. I identify some artful connections of fate and the inescapable ripples of a person’s past. I even found the character to be fairly expendable, and perhaps an important turning point for your story line as a whole. What changed that scene from tragedy to abuse of one’s readership (in my perspective) was the excessive nature you stacked layers of misery on top of each other. It was enough to have Kaladin overwhelmed with grief from watching his comrades and friends kill each other and to lose Kohlinar. It was simply too much at once.

It took me out of the story and exhausted the use of shock. It’s caused me to do what I call the Martin shift where I simply seek to disconnect emotionally from whatever abusive choices you may make for your characters in the future. It's drained me of enthusiasm and interest in your story.

Of course, we can argue that The One You Can Save is merely a reflection of the atrocities of reality: good people are unfairly taken from the world at the cusp of transcending great personal difficulties every day. I can tolerate certain doses of the horrors of reality, though I’m already exposed to enough of it in my work as a psychologist. I enjoy well-written tragedy, but I think you need to pick a lane for your series, so your readers know what they’re investing their time in. I think you need to slow down, focus more on cohesion rather than quantity, and assure yourself that don’t need to rely on shock points to keep your readers interested. You're better than Martin, IMO!

I want to keep enjoying Stormlight Archive. I’m not a natural reader of this magnitude, so your writing has had great impact on me for me to be reading as much as I already have. I just ask you to really consider the impact of your writing on others. You experiment with heavy themes of mental illness and fill your story with abundant amounts of self-depreciation and loathing among your main characters. Please keep the well-being of your readers in mind while you continue to write a compelling and entertaining work. Thank you.

Edited by d4gregg
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I see where you're coming from, but I don't think that Brandon did this just to have a shock point. It seems like a natural progression of Kaladin's arc (although I wouldn't have seen it coming). In WoK, Kaladin decides to always protect those that can't protect themselves. In WoR, he realizes that he should still protect people even if he doesn't like them. In OB, the next step makes sense to be something that forces him to understand that he won't always be able to protect everyone.

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I think it's interesting that you've formatted this as a letter to Sanderson, although I doubt he'll read it here. Maybe you could find an email address to send it to if you want him to see it, or if you want to start a discussion that's fine too.

I'm not sure what you mean by abusing readership, though. Most people don't tend to be personally hurt or affected by something that happens in fiction, and I wouldn't equate having a few unpleasant scenes, a quick character death, and main characters who hate themselves with Martin's work which, although I admit I haven't read it, certainly has a reputation for much more darkness and violence than is present in this series or any of Sanderson's works.

I can see saying you don't care what happens if it's just going to be miserable no matter what, although I tend to find it quite an optimistic series, but it seems like you've taken some sort of personal offense from it. If I'm misreading what you said, I applogise, and I blame the hazy state of mind the holidays have left me with, but I fail to see how frequently making Kaladin miserable is abusive or detrimental to the readership in anyway. Also, have you finished Oathbringer? There are one or two things I want to mention, but they happen after that chapter. I don't want to spoil anything if you've only just read it and wanted to share your thoughts immediately.

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There are some stories... some sections that will cause me to stop reading... and have to take a break and return to the story at some future point.

There are aspects of that in Oathbringer... I still haven't brought myself to fully re-read Oathbringer after the first trip through... There are sections of Words of Radiance I greatly dislike... but that's the kind of reader I am - sometimes I'm too invested in the story.

At some point I will re-read Oathbringer... but it may be a while before that happens... there are sections that are enjoyable... some that are not.

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I can't dismiss what you feel. I felt a lot of the same things. After that chapter I put the book down, literally cried myself to sleep, and didn't pick it it back up for a week. 

But for me Oathbringer will always be a story of hope. Since the slave wagon scene I new Kaladin suffered from clinical depression because I have some personal experience with it. And if he can get through Hell I can get through it too.

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I too have become overly invested in a character to the point where I simply have to read something else.  This is a problem for many lightweavers our lies are so powerful that our emotions can be altered significantly by powerful media.  Thankfully Oathbringer is more then a story of tragedy.  If your ability to feel hope is as powerful as your ability to feel shock on behave of a character you might want to keep going.

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I just want to add that making people feel emotions, even if they don’t like those emotions, is what art is all about. The scene you’re talking about is meant to be extremely impactful, though I don’t think Brandon intended to overload you with the emotions. The fact that you felt so strongly for Kaladin is IMO a sign of good artistry. If you have subjective problems and it seems too brutal for you, that’s completely fine, we all have our own opinions and experiences. I will advise you to at least finish Oathbringer if you haven’t already, and also to consider reading some of Brandon’s other works since it sounds like you’ve only been reading Stormlight. I have read ASOIAF, and I can assure you that in my experience, Brandon writes stories much more hopeful and optimistic than Martin, despite a few tragic scenes. Mistborn Era 1 in particular is filled with a constant theme of hope despite the dark setting. So if you can, keep on reading because I can promise you the eventual ending will be cathartic.

Edited by Ooklidean Geometry
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10 hours ago, Ooklidean Geometry said:

I just want to add that making people feel emotions, even if they don’t like those emotions, is what art is all about. The scene you’re talking about is meant to be extremely impactful, though I don’t think Brandon intended to overload you with the emotions. The fact that you felt so strongly for Kaladin is IMO a sign of good artistry. If you have subjective problems and it seems too brutal for you, that’s completely fine, we all have our own opinions and experiences. I will advise you to at least finish Oathbringer if you haven’t already, and also to consider reading some of Brandon’s other works since it sounds like you’ve only been reading Stormlight. I have read ASOIAF, and I can assure you that in my experience, Brandon writes stories much more hopeful and optimistic than Martin, despite a few tragic scenes. Mistborn Era 1 in particular is filled with a constant theme of hope despite the dark setting. So if you can, keep on reading because I can promise you the eventual ending will be cathartic.

I agree. I actually felt after reading this chapter that this is the most Dark and tragic that Brandon has ever got! Yet at the same time it felt realistic to me and it did not feel unnecessary. 
I think the whole Kholinar arc was a way to show that SA is not your normal Brandon series where everything is going to be hunky dory all the time! The situation is really dire and our beloved characters are going to face some really tough times ! 
But overall Brandon mixes some dark and sad moments with a lot of hopeful and optimistic moments! The overall tone of his work is positive. 

I have read asiof too and i think I object when it appears that sudden character deaths is the only way to deliver plot twists, which is clearly not the case with Brandon’s writing. 
If you have not completed oathbringer, than I suggest that you please complete the book and have faith in Brandon.

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For me this chapter really drove home how dire the situation really is and it helped paint the battle for Thaylen city as the great pivotal point it was.

It’s also the one chapter i usually skip on any rereads, it still moves me every time, [email protected]#$ Moash.

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