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Wit's Positively Painfuller Poetry


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In Brandon's latest livestream, he clued us in that Wit's doing more than alliteration in his conversation with Jasnah:


Brandon Sanderson

There is a scene in Rhythm of War between Wit and Jasnah. This scene has Wit doing a weird linguistic trick with his sentences that I'm not sure if people have figured out, but it is not just alliteration, it is deeper than that. And it is not something that you're supposed to pick up on. You're just supposed to be able to feel like, "Oh yeah, Wit is doing somethin' weird. He does weird stuff." But if you follow it, it follows a very interesting... it's like he's made his own poetic form and is trying to follow it. And the fun of this scene for me, part of the fun of writing it is, Jasnah picking up on that, Jasnah doing it as well, him trying to constrain the conversation so they can make these little quips, her saying "please don't do this anymore, we gotta really be series," and him saying "okay" but then doing it anyway more carefully and subtlety with the last sentence that he gives. Which, I don't think this is something that people are going to get. I didn't expect you. But it says something to me about Wit. He gave his word and he immediately broke it, because it was too fun for him to not break. He just had to see if he could break it in a way that Jasnah couldn't see. And Wit is bored by normal human interactions, to the point that he must put constraints upon himself to keep himself engaged in normal conversations, even ones that are full of import and emotion where he maybe shouldn't be acting like this. And that is one of his failings. And these sorts of things are basically, like that one there is mostly there for me. I don't think anyone will pick up on it other than "something weird is happening."

Maybe I'm wrong, and the cosmerenauts out there are like "oh, we got this exactly, Brandon." I won't say what it is, in case people want to actually figure out what the literary form he has created for himself to follow, what it is. But that sort of thing, I do not cut, as long as it's not too distracting. Once in a while, it is too distracting, and so I do cut it. I made up a word in Wax and Wayne that I really liked; not a fantasy word, just a derivation of another word. And the whole writing group hated it. And when I got back to it in revision, I'm like, "All right, I'll just cut this. The whole writing group hated it." Sometimes I will, if it's just too distracting. Sometimes I will leave it in and be like, "I'm creating a word here. You guys just deal with it."

YouTube Livestream 35 (Sept. 9, 2021)

So I went and collected what he said in that passage:


“Long as a soulless star slumbers”

“Long as a rat rends rust”

“Long as seasons see stories” (from Jasnah)

“Somehow stress said symphonion sounds.”

“Inappropriately involved. Indeedy.”

“You are poised, you are smart, and you are always ready with a ploy; but when each of those things fails you, Jasnah, you are – above all else – paranoid.”

I didn't look up any other passages he may have used this in; I don't think it's a full-fledged form of poetry, just some awkward constraints he placed on himself. Anyone else can feel free to look for alliteration in his other Stormlight passages, which would be an obvious clue.

But how else has he constrained himself? The word to look at will be "Indeedy," where he had to make up a new word to fit whatever pattern this was. At first, I thought it was that he had to fit a certain number of syllables. But I couldn't see a pattern; they go 2-1-2, 1-1-1, 2-1-2, 2-1-1-4-1 (for the one with five words, which I'll dig into more later), 6-2-3, and 1-1-3 (on poised, ploy, paranoid; which is the one he snuck past Jasnah). I looked for symmetry, addition, multiplication, and couldn't see any pattern to number of syllables.

Which then pointed me at letters. The first and the last word of his triads also end with the same letter. Soulless/slumbers, rat/rust, seasons/stories, stress/sounds (I think "somehow" and "said" are just Wit intentionally muddling the water with extra s-words"), inappropriately/indeedy (which was why he needed to add the extra "y"), and poised/paranoid.

EDIT: With the additional clarifications added below, I had to revise the post title, since it didn't actually. I'd definitely be derelict to be in denial of its difficulty.

Edited by Pagerunner
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I saw this on reddit so I can't take credit for it, but there's more to Wit's wordplay. It's not ONLY that the first and last words of his triads end with the same letter, but ALSO that the ending sound to the middle word in the triad is the 2nd to last sound in the 3rd word of the triad.

“Long as a soulless star slumbers” - s / r / rs

“Long as a rat rends rust” - t / s / st

“Somehow stress said symphonion sounds.” - s / d / n / nds      (this one goes an extra step)

“Inappropriately involved. Indeedy.”  - y / d / dy

“... poised, ... ploy; ... paranoid.” - d / y / id (with y and i making the same sound)

Again, I am merely reporting what I have read on reddit - I would like the post which explains it better than me, but I can't remember who or when or which subreddit it was.


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Oh, man, now to see if I can edit my original post's Wit-isms to actually work...

EDIT: Through much trial, I think I got them both working. But not without some help from the good old internet: https://wordmaker.info/result.php

This format works really well in Stormlight, with the symmetry. I'm gonna have to try to work it into a Livestream question or a book personalization question...

Edited by Pagerunner
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On 9/14/2021 at 2:37 PM, Shinwarrior said:

These are pretty cool. I'll give a nickle to anybody who can coherently out constrain themselves come up with a paragraph that follows the same rules :)

Wit wishes we would, whatever, weirdest exercise ever.  Everyone, everywhere, is interwrought in immediate imperilments. Relaxed romance, really? A Riddle? Redeyed demons demand desperate divine deeds. 

That's it I think, tryin anyway, thanks. 



Edited by ConfusedCow
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On 16.9.2021 at 6:42 AM, ConfusedCow said:

Wit wishes we would, whatever, weirdest exercise ever.  Everyone, everywhere, is interwrought in immediate imperilments. Relaxed romance, really? A Riddle? Redeyed demons demand desperate divine deeds.


actually, you did it quite good! Sure I couldn't.

But the things that matter is the sound of the letters in the word and not the actual letter. I wiil explain with examples. From the text of the book:

"hell and hate must halt" (the t sound is what matter and not the e letter because we dont pronounce it )

Killed can confound" (k=c)

So in your last phrase (demons demand desperate divine deeds) desperate is "t" and not "e" and divine is "n" and not "e".

In second thought maybe I'm wrong. Because hell and hate aren't following the exact pattern (it should be hate and hell must halt and not the other way around) so maybe it's not part of the poetry pattern and so I don't have solid evidence that I'm right about the sound thing. Beg your pardon @ConfusedCow

Edited by Bnaya
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