Thus Spake The Creator

How many books will there be? Can't he write them any faster? Does he know the end yet?

Q: Hello, just to say I LOVE your books, I was wondering how long you will continue the saga because I read in the prologue of the first book that the battle lasted about ten years? And it's only been about two up to the 6th book.
A: It will last several more books, until I reach the last scene, which has been in my head since the very beginning. 

Q: Not that I'm complaining, but could you write the books faster? I'm dying here. 
A: No, I can't write the bloody things any faster, and if I find out where you live, I will send my friends Little Guido and Harry the Nail around to talk to you. 

Q: We're glad to have you here! I've got lots and lots of questions, and I'd like to ask you to briefly tell us about Wheel of Time before we get started. :) 
A: It can't be done! Not briefly. This is Loial's country. :) I can't even do it in two or three pages. My advice is to read the books. :) And start with THE EYE OF THE WORLD, please. :) It works much better that way. 

Q: How much longer do you anticipate the series will go on? I have heard 10, but is anything definite yet? 
A: It will be at least 10 books, yes. There will be some more books, not too many, and please God, not so many as I've already written. I am, in truth, writing as fast as I can. I want to maintain the pace of the story until I reach the final scene, which has been in my head since before I started writing THE EYE OF THE WORLD. 

Q: Mr. Jordan. were you rushed by publisher deadlines? 
A: In a way. Not with the last book, certainly but THE EYE OF THE WORLD took 4 years to write. Each of the other books took 13 or 14 months but the publisher brought out the second book 10 months after the first and the following books at 12-month intervals. You can see there's a law of diminishing returns there. For this last book, I simply told them I could not do it again. A CROWN OF SWORDS took about 20 months to write, in fact. That's why the book didn't come out last fall or earlier in the spring.

Q:  what did you think about those folks arguing with you about YOUR characters? 
A: Well, I'm sort of used to it. It's been going on for a long time now. 

Q: Do you realize what you are putting us through with the time between books? 
A: You guys get to sit around with your feet up between books! :) I bust my hump writing them. 

Q: First, I'd like to thank you for such a great series. The Wheel of Time is probably the best I've read... My Question: Do you know roughly what will happen between now (Book 7) and the last scene of the last book, or are you making it up as you go along?
A: Yes and no. I know the last scene of the last book. I know the major events I want to happen between now and then. I know who will be alive and who will be dead at the end of the series. I know the situation of the world I know all of those things, but I leave how to get from one point to the next free so that I can achieve some fluidity. I don't want it too rigid, which is what I think will happen if i plan in too great a detail. 

Q: Mr. Jordan, I first wanted to say thank you for such a great series. My question is how long has this story and or series been running around in your head, and do you feel you have the ending picked out? 
A: I started thinking about what would turn into the Wheel of Time more than 15 years ago, and the first thing that I thought of that was really solid was the last scene of the last book. I could have written that 15 years ago, and if I had, it would differ from what I would write today only in the words. What happens would be exactly the same. So, I've known where I'm going from the start.

Q: How far in advance did you plan the later novels like LORD OF CHAOS and A CROWN OF SWORDS? Did you know the series would be this long when you started? 
A: I did not know the series would be this long in the beginning. When I first went to my publisher, I told him, I know the beginning, and I know the ending, and I know what I want to happen in-between, but I'm not sure I know how long it will take me to get from the beginning to the end. Now, don't laugh, but I said to him, "It's going to be at least three or four books, and it might be as many as five or six."

Q: You've said before that you know where this series is going to end.
A: I've known the last scene of the last book for 15 years. I could have written it easily 15 years ago, and it would be only changes in the wording, not in what happens, from that to now.
Q: So will the male-female duality be resolved? Or is this a "read and find-out" question?
A: Read and find out. What I consider the major story lines will be resolved. There will be a number of minor story lines that will not be resolved, for the simple reason that there is no point to any real world where everything is resolved. That's always something that has irritated me about some novels--that you reach a point at the end of the book, and everyone's problems have now been solved, and all of the world's problems have been solved. I get the feeling I could put these characters and this world on a shelf and put a bell jar over them and go away. There's nothing left there alive.
That's the way it's going to be. I even intend to set a small hook in the last scene.
Comment: Wow... you're going to drive people crazy!
A: I know, I know. I've been thinking about getting some of those Groucho glasses with the mustache.

Comment: Meanwhile Jordan continues to work on the next volume of _The Wheel of Time_ series with no idea when he'll finally wrap the whole thing up. 
A: I know where I'm going. 
Q: You do? 
A: I know where I'm going. I know the last scene of the last book. I could write it now. I could have written it before I started this series. I know how all of the major story lines are going to resolve. I just have to get there. And I'm not sure how many books it's going to take. There are going to be several more books. There are going to be some more books. There are going to be a few more books. But not too many. 
Comment: No telling how many volumes _The Wheel of Time_ will eventually get. But with Robert Jordan as the author, you can bet that we're in for some very interesting reading.

''I've known the last scene of the last 'Wheel' book since before I started writing the first book, and that's unchanged. I thought 'The Wheel of Time' was going to be five or six books. I didn't think they'd be this long. I was doing this like a historical novel, but I had more things to explain, things not readily apparent. In a normal historical novel, you can simply let some things go by because the reader of historical fiction knows these, or has the concept of them. But this is not the medieval period, not a fantasy with knights in shining armor. If you want to imagine what the period is, imagine it as the late 17th century without gunpowder. I had to do more explaining about cultural details, and that meant things got bigger than I had intended."

Q: Do you already know the fates of all the primary characters or are they still changeable?
A: I know the fates of all of the primary characters.

Q: Mr. Jordan, How much of the story is already planned out in your mind, and how much is supplied as you go along in the writing process?
A: I know the major outline of the story. Various characters lives, who lives and dies, the fates of nations and I know the final scene. Minor details, or smaller details I leave until I'm writing. It flows organically that way
I thought it would take five books, by the way. I was optimistic!

Q: Why does it take you about a year to two years to issue the next book?
A: Because it takes that long to write it. The earlier books also took a long time, but what was happening there was that the usual space between handing in the manuscript and the book being published, was shrinking in my case. Normally that is nine months to a year. For my last four books, however it has been two months from me handing in the manuscript to me being on tour.

Q: How long did it take you to formulate the Wheel of Time series before you started the first book? Had you had this ruminating in your mind?
A: Extending back to the first clear thought I had that I can say led into the Wheel of Time was maybe 10 years before I began writing. I'm not saying I knew 10 years before I began writing what it was going to be, or that I was actually on to something that would become the Wheel of Time.
I thought I had a story set in my head, a set of stories, fixed. And when I began writing the Wheel of Time -- "The Eye of the World" in particular -- I realized I didn't have as much of it as clear as I thought I did. There were things that I needed to work on. So "The Eye of the World" took me four years to write. I guess you could say, in a way, it was about 14 years of development to get the thing set.
Q: Did you ever think it was going to turn into this epic series?
A: No. The story is the same story that I set out to tell. I knew before I began writing what the story was. There were details of how it worked that I didn't have fixed that I thought I knew and suddenly realized I didn't. But, I knew the beginning and the end and the things that I wanted to happen in the middle. I literally could have written the last scene of the last book before I began writing "The Eye of the World". The problem has been over-optimism.
Q: In what way?
A: Well, when I went to the publisher with this at Tor Books and I said, "Look, this isn't a trilogy that I'm talking about. It's going to be four or maybe five books." I said. "It could be six. I don't think so, but it could be." And I really believed that. But the over-optimism has been, "How much of the story can I get into one book?"
With every book I start out thinking I can get more of the story into this book than I actually turn out to be able to. I suddenly realize that I have to stop here or I'm going to have to write another thousand pages to really make it fit together. Or I realize that I'm going to have to take some things and do them later or I'm going to write a 2,000-page hardback, which they really would have to sell to people with a shoulder strap.
Q: I've heard that you're going to have 13 books in the series. Is that true?
A: I've heard that myself. I just put out the ninth book, "Winter's Heart." And as I tell people, there are going to be at least three more books. Now, I say, "at least." I cannot see how to finish it in fewer than three, how to get to that final scene. If I can do it in three more, I will, but I'm not promising. I apologize to people about that. I'm really sorry. I never set out to write a mega-epic as far as the number of pages go.
Q: Why would you possibly apologize? Obviously people want it.
A: Well, yes, I know but . . . I still love writing it as much as when I started. But in a way I also feel impatience with myself. Until I complete the Wheel of Time I haven't really done it, if you understand what I mean. It's like a football player takes the kickoff on the one and then runs to the opposing team's 20. Well, he didn't get the touchdown. If he stops there he hasn't finished it. You have to cross the goal line. And until I finish it I haven't crossed the goal line.

There are a number of storylines that I want to tell, a number of stories that I want to tell. Basically I think of this as a story of people surviving the upheaval of their culture. ... You know, when I began I knew the beginning, I knew the end and I knew certain major events that I wanted to happen in between, so that I would arrive at the proper conclusion, the conclusion of the story that I wanted to arrive at. And it simply wasn't possible to get everything in there as quickly as I thought. The people must all undergo changes. The cultures must undergo changes.
Q: Could it be possible that it will never end?
Uhm, no, there is no possibility that it will never end. I will wrap up all of the major storylines, I will wrap up some of the minor storylines, other minor storylines will be left hanging, and I'm going to do worse than that. I am going to set a hook in the last scene of the last book, that will make some people don't believe what I say, think that I am setting up a sequel. What I am doing, what I will be doing, is trying to leave you with a view of a world that is still alive. One hope that some fantasies have is that when you reach the end of the book, or you reach the end of the trilogy, all the characters' problems are solved. All of the things that they have been doing are neatly tied of in a bow, all of their world's problems have been solved. And there's no juice left, there's no life left. you think 'I ought to set this world on a shelf and put a bell-jar on top of it, to keep the dust off.
When I finish the Wheel of Time, I want to do it in such a way that you will think it's still out there somewhere, people still doing things. This story has been concluded, this set of stories has been concluded, but they're still alive.

Q: Was WH originally intended to be longer?
A: winters heart was originally intended to be longer yes but every book was intended to be longer when i started. i have always been overly optimistic about how much of the story i can put into any one book. remember in the beginning i thought it was onlygoing to be 4-5 books maybe 6 at the most.

Reports from signings

There will be a few more books, some, not a lot, hopefully fewer than seven more. He knows the final scene of the last book, all the major events he wants to have happen and who will live and who will die. When he starts a book, he decides which of these events he wants to try to do and then writes it so they happen. He will tie up all the major plot lines, but will leave a lot of the minor ones unresolved. He finds it too unrealistic for a series to end with all of life's problems solved. Expect the series to end with the major problems solved, but a lot of people will still have tumultuous lives ahead of them.

With the final scene in the final book (which he eloquently said did not have to be identical with Tarman Gai'don), all _major_ plotlines will be resolved, and most minor ones. Some minor plotlines would still be unresolved, as a way to let the world continue to live and breathe. The surviving characters would still have lives to go on with, even if more "boring" ones.

The length of the series: He's given up guessing how long it will be. He knows the final scene, and he knows how all the plot elements will work out: who will be married, who will be dead, what plot elements will be left unresolved. (Subtext: somebody will get married, somebody will get killed.)

Book timings:
o 4 years to write Eye of the World; the next 5 took 14-16 months each
o aCoS took 22-23 months to write.
o The Guide to the Wheel of Time took 5-6 months; there was a lot of work he had to do on it that he didn't expect to need to do. I think he expected a few weeks of work from him directly, with it mostly being done by others.
o New Spring took 2-3 months

Path of Daggers could have been longer, but he had to take out events he had intended to include because including them would have required another month of Randland time, and that would have made the book "twice as fat."

He went on to repeat what he has said before--knowing the end, knowing all the major events, yadda yadda.  However, what he did said that was new (at least for me) was that the _order_ of events was _not_ set, and that he allowed some fluidity for them.  He made a remark about a cousin of his (who is an engineer) who came over and saw all the notes and work and asked why RJ hadn't created something called "critical flow charts" or some such.  RJ replied that the nature of the story was too complex for such linear breakdown.

Around the same time something was asked about him knowing the final scene (or maybe that was even earlier), because Rowling [the Harry Potter author; at least, I think it was her that was mentioned here] had already written the final sentence of her work. Jordan came with the usual story about him knowing the scene since before starting the series. He doesn't have it written down anywhere. Harriet already knows the final scene, she's very good at getting things out of him (at least, that's what I think I recall), but no one else... And then later he said absolutely nobody knew it besides him.

He was talking about the ending again, and that nobody knows it except for him. But this time he once again said that not even Harriet knows it. If it wasn't for the fact that others also had heard him say last Wednesday that Harriet did know the ending I'd really be doubting myself now.

Raina's Hold / Thus Spake The Creator - Index
 

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