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    Sincerely Discordant

    Do you create side characters to cause or contribute to pre-planned events in the story or are the events inspired by side characters you want to add?

    Will Wight

    Kind of both. I mean I create side characters as needed. There's this idea that you hear sometimes where people talk about "Ah! This side character only existed to further the main character's journey or only existed because of their relationship with the main character." I don't wanna draw back the curtain on writing too much, but every single side character exists only to serve the main character's journey and that's it. They have no other purpose. That is why they're there. What you want to do is create the impression that they have their own lives and that they exist for their own purposes but they don't because it's a series. Because it's your own story, whoever the main characters are they're the ones who matter and everybody else is just there to support the stories of the main characters. I just create them as needed. I will say my one philosophy about side characters is, a lot of people believe that side characters that are emphasized or designed cool should then end up being important later and I don't necessarily agree with that. I think if you've gotta have a bartender or stable boy and they've gotta have a couple of lines you might as well make them cool looking. Sometimes I write people that people are like "Oh they're definitely come back cause you would never invest that much time in describing and setting them up just to not bring them back and have them bring an important role later." no I totally would. 100 percent. Just wanted to be cool.

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    Questioner

    What's your signature dish?

    Will Wight

    So I'm gonna let you in on another Will secret here, in addition to Will rants. My preferred foods are basically anything on noodles. I just love noodles. I just love them. I will make all sorts of pasta out of leftovers. I just enjoy it. 

    Chat

    Will is lazy confirmed.

    Will Wight

    That is accurate, however I will say that I put a lot of effort into these sometimes because I just love noodles so much. I think probably my ideal meal would be mushrooms, onions, sausage, and some kind of seafood, probably scallops, and a brown sauce on noodles. There's probably sausage or scallops, probably not both. I don't know that I've tried those together cause that doesn't sound great. It sounds alright. I'd probably eat it. But those are my favorite things. I just like those things and I like them on noodles. I also love popcorn. Popcorn is just-I'm a popcorn fiend. I eat way more popcorn than I do Oreos, believe it or not. I like Oreos but I don't cram cookies into my face constantly. I'm not Cookie Monster anymore. That was a dark phase in my life.

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    Questioner

    If you could collab with another author, living or dead, who would it be?

    Will Wight

    I'll answer that question in a second, but first, I would say the idea of collaboration seems really fun to me. I feel like I would enjoy it. However, on the other side, there's the reality that it's just easier to just keep writing books by myself and it's probably easier for whoever I would collaborate with too. So it's hard to justify "Let's take longer to write one book instead of us each writing two books, like we each write one faster." It's just hard to justify.

    But if I could magically collaborate with anybody, who would I collaborate with? My obvious instinct I would say is Robert Jordan because he was just a huge influence on me growing up and I would love to learn from him. However, I don't think our styles would be particularly compatible so this would mostly be him going "Will, do this." and I'd be like "Yes sir." and then we'd just be kinda writing a Robert Jordan book and I'd be sort of happily writing on a toy typewriter in the background while he's doing the real work. A more fun collaboration, let's see... Jane Austen. 100 percent. We get the same thing where I get to learn from a master and I get to improve my skills and also now we get to have a Jane Austen novel with her trademark character relationships and well defined people in a Victorian-I guess Elizabethan, whatever-English setting. And at the same time we also get magic and sword fights. That's it. It's kinda like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

    Sam just suggested D.B. Weiss and David Benioff and then my dad stage whispered "Who's that?" That's about right. I'm gonna move on. There's nothing I can say.

    Liam

    Outsource the slice of life to Jane Austen.

    Will Wight

    I'll be honest with you Liam, I would actually just outsource it all to Jane Austen. Again, it's another scenario that ends with me typing with a toy typewriter in the background while they do the real work.

    Pride and Prejudice and Dreadgods. That's it, I'll read that, I'll be honest.

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    Questioner

    There are authors who are prolific to a fault and make low quality, high quantity stuff while other more famous authors leave us in waiting for years to decades. How do you balance so you don't fall into either category?

    Will Wight

    That's a really good question, but my first response is there's a lot of grey area between those two things. Between the people who write a book a month and the people who don't ever write a book. There's a lot of flex in there, I think most people probably fall into the middle.

    How do I answer this without stepping on any toes? So it's not too hard to fall in between those two extremes, however, what I really like to do is I generally go "What is my experience as a reader and what kind of experience do I want to have? What kind of books have I always wanted to see?" So to me, I want a book series where I know the next installment is gonna come out in a reasonable amount of time. To me, that feels better. I enjoy reading the books more. If I don't know when the next books coming out then I don't know how to evaluate the story because  you have a lot of books that are great first books in a trilogy but bad standalones. So if you leave them waiting for two and three and four years then they've just been reading a standalone and it's not a good standalone, it's only one third of a story. So I prefer books that come out regularly. The more I write and the more I read, the more I realize "That's very important to me." So books coming out regularly is important. On the other hand, I also want stuff that I enjoy. So if I were to really dash it off and write quickly, and I know that there are some people like PirateAba, Wandering Inn, who can write very quickly at a high level, and I've struck the balance that I've struck. If I go too much faster my quality will drop off significantly. So I'm never gonna be writing the ten million words that they've written. 

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    Questioner

    When reading, what makes you say "This is good writing?"

    Will Wight

    When I am reading someone else's book, or watching a movie, or watching a TV show, or playing a game, I go "That was good." when the character does something that is organic to them that is contrary to what you would expect from the cliché. Or something that plays on the viewer/reader expectation in a good way, in a positive way. Not something that necessarily surprises or twists you but something where you go "That makes sense for them, I like that." It's when the characters respond organically, so let me see if I can come up with an example from Stranger Things. I still haven't watched the last two episodes so these won't be spoilers. I thought when we got the backstory from the bad guy of the latest season of Stranger Things I thought that was really clever and well done, because I had seen one thread and I had seen the other thread coming, and I had not seen how they overlapped. When I did that I was like "That was really good writing, that was good story construction, they constructed that in a way for a particular effect in such a way that even if you saw both threads coming, you still wouldn't have ruined the effect of the two crossing. Someone said, "Oh no, you've started a Will rant." That's not wrong. But yeah, I see these things and I go "That's good, I like that moment, that landed really well." Whenever they land a moment, whenever they've got this line, there's sometimes where I think the delivery is even better than the line and I'm going "Man, this line was really elevated by this delivery or this actor or whatever." That's I guess the idea, when I go "That makes total sense for the character, it's organic, and I didn't see it coming."

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    Questioner

    Tell the burgeoning writers why alpha, beta, and editor passes are necessary.

    Will Wight

    I feel like this gets covered elsewhere, but it is a good thing for me to mention because I'm talking about my process a lot. I've mentioned alpha drafts, I've mentioned beta drafts, so on and so forth. The idea behind telling a story is that you are trying to take what's in your head and you are trying to give it to somebody else to evoke an emotional response. That's the entire idea behind storytelling and writing a novel in general. In order to do that, you need feedback from other people. You need people to read your story, you need people to give their honest reactions, you need people to tell you how they responded, and you need to take that and evaluate it in order to understand-okay, because you can never be 100 percent on your own. You have your own strengths and weaknesses, you have your own point of view.

    If you write something, people talk a lot about how their artistic vision can't be compromised, and it's just "gotta be the way I envisioned it originally." The way I envisioned it originally is not sacrosanct, it's not holy. It's the kind of thing that you need to change and you need to alter in order to have an effect on your reader because ultimately it's about the reader. It's not about you, it's not about your experience, it's about the reader's experience. In order to accurately understand the reader's experience you have to be talking to readers that you can trust and who can give you their feedback. And of course you're gonna make mistakes. You're gonna make mistakes, you're gonna need people to catch them, you're gonna need people to see things you can't, you're gonna need people to have perspectives you don't have. It's just important for every reason but I think that's probably the concept and the principle behind it all.

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    Your Benevolent Dictator

    Did you use the method of writing that you did for Wintersteel with this one?

    Will Wight

    I've actually gotten questions like that several times, because I described my writing process for Wintersteel and then of course Wintersteel is a really good book if I do say so myself. I don't, but other people do so I'm glad. I think Wintersteel came out really well and so people want to know, did you use the same writing process? The answer is, I never use the same writing process twice. I try to iterate every time. I really do try to, every time I write a book I try to build on and improve on what I did last time.

    The focus is on not wasting time, and what I mean by that is not truly really wasting it. Truly doing something that does not lead to progress in the manuscript. Anything that I do that is lateral progress or is inefficient or is something where I was spinning my wheels trying to decide if this character's design should be red or blue, that's not helping. Anything that I do that adds to the story and is really developing the story I try to keep. The idea behind that is, prior to Wintersteel I had been writing a lot of wasted words. So I'd write 30 to 50 thousand words that wouldn't end up in the manuscript because I would be going off on a tangent and then realize "Well, that doesn't make any sense." So then I'd cut it and then I'd have to come back and start over or I'd have to write another part or whatever. [I'm] trying to stop that. I've gotten better at that every time so I think probably Dreadgod was my most efficient one so far in Cradle. So it's an evolved version of that. It's all steps on the same journey, I guess you might say.

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    Jonathan

    Do you plan on writing a LitRPG style book at any point?

    Will Wight

    That is something that I've always kind of wanted to do, honestly. I love video games, I love fantasy novels, and I feel like a fantasy novel about video games is my dream, it's the bread and butter. But I don't like LitRPG. I've read a lot of it, I've read all the staples of the genre, I don't like it. It always feels to me like I could go play a videogame right now, why am I reading about someone else playing a video game. So if I were to write a LitRPG style novel I would be writing someone in a real world with a game-like system. But then I go, okay, so I'm gonna take this game-like system and then I'm gonna go within this real world, what would they call these things? What would their terminology be and how would that shape their culture. Then when I pad that out and plan it out I end up with something that doesn't look like a video game at all, it just looks like a fantasy series, so I've removed the LitRPG components. I don't know how to write a LitRPG that is a LitRPG and is something I would enjoy. I just don't know how to do it. I'm just avoiding it for now. Just kinda dodging it. 

    I'm not saying the genres bad, it's just not for me. It doesn't resonate with me, I know sometimes people crap on the genre or whatever, I think there's definitely some good LitRPG. Obviously there's a lot of people interested in it. I think even there are some stories I have read that I think are good stories, they're just not my thing. I don't get it. I haven't cracked the code. I don't have it.

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    Questioner

    Have you ever thought about writing something more parody or heavily trope deconstruction inspired?

    Will Wight

    So like a satire or a parody or a- yes I have. I really have.

    I feel like I would be more suited for that than writing LitRPG, all the time. I really want to write something that is just leaning heavy on the tropes. Okay so the original concept I was going to go with for the story that I was, I've begun writing outside of Cradle, what I wanted to do and I didn't do this, so I'm just going to tell it to you now. I wanted to do people who had saved the world, so basically heroes of previous stories that then finished their story and were then summoned into a team up into a new universe and so none of them were native to the universe, they all got summoned here and they all had completed their story but all- but each universe they came from was a totally different genre.

    So you had somebody who was like from a dark souls, completely gritty hopeless universe and then you had somebody who was from a Saturday morning cartoon, like power ranger kind of universe and I just think that would be really fun. So they're interacting together in a universe that's kind of, that kind of has aspects of all of them and they, they're- it's kind of like Into the Spider-Verse, like the the setup where you've got a spider-verse from the, you got a Spider-Man from Noir you got a Spider-Man from Looney Tunes, you have Spider-Man, and I just think it'd be so cool, that could be fun. So anyway that was more of a, it was too tropey, it was too artificial, couldn't make it work.

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    Andrew

    How did you come up with and design your magic system? It feels very unique even for progression fantasy and Chinese cultivation systems.

    Will Wight

    I could go on about magic systems forever so okay I'm gonna do a little bit of a tangent here. So this is a tangent, what it's like to interact with me on a personal level, like if you and I just sort of hung out, right, like this is what, if you ask me a question like this you would be like buckling your seat belt. Buckle up because I am about to go on a rant for 15 minutes and I've had two of my friends independently mention this about me this week and they both- again these two people have never met each other and they both called them Will rants and I was like yeah that happens. Every once in a while, you get a thing in a story or something that just sets me off and i just have to talk about it forever. And magic system rules are one of them. I'm very passionate about it, I have a lot of thoughts.

    So how did you design the magic system.. I can't, we don't have enough time for that I don't have like a whole- I could go on about it forever. This is this is my tea like Rebecca has Jane Austen and for me it's like magic systems and what else... uh Terraria. And Subnautica.  

    So, uh, how did you design your magic- okay here's the mistake I see a lot of people make when they design magic systems. They've heard that restrictions are what make your magic systems unique and that is very true. So that statement is completely correct, but because they've heard that they then design the restrictions of their magic system first before designing anything about what the people can do. So they've got this big long list of what magic systems can't do and what their resources they require and what things are forbidden and what doesn't work and what rules and we don't have anything that they can do. So as a result they end up with a magic system that doesn't seem fun to use. So it seems like you've got to keep a bunch of rules in mind or it's like okay well you know you've told me all the things you can't do now what can it do? It doesn't seem like- who are they? What do they do? So i find that that's a common mistake people have when designing magic systems.

    So what I like to do is start with the archetype that I want. In this case, it was, I'm going for cultivation novels right so magical martial arts. Anime style big feats, big things you do. Swords that shoot lasers and lasers that shoot swords, right. That's the kind of idea and then I went, okay so then now we obviously we're doing an inner energy cultivation type system. So I went moved with that and I started with the things that I knew I could pin down with the system. And then I started refining it to go now what can the system not do, what are the things that that it can't do, what are the things that people think it can't do, how do they understand this, how do they define the different levels? And then after I did the restriction so I do what kind of magic do you want to use? What abilities do you want them to have? Then restrictions and and requirements and then I do how it practically, like in the real world, how does this work? How does this feel like, what does this look like? To the senses, in a real person experiencing this, what is it like? And then I kind of do that loop a few times until i figure it out.

    So that's it, that's the basic, that's the general gist without going into it for 20 years.

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    Daniel

    How do you write a series with so much fighting without desensitizing the reader? I am constantly amazed the stakes remain high despite how common violence is in the world.

    Will Wight

    Uh, okay so it's mostly this. I'm mainly laughing because of chat's reaction to my previous statement about Charles's question, which- I want everyone to keep Charles's question in mind over the next few days, but Daniel's question, how do you write a series with so much fighting without desensitizing the reader.   Well, in general it's because this is action movie style violence, this is Marvel movie/MCU violence. This is not- if I was trying to go gritty detail realistic violence it wouldn't be fun. So therefore leaning into the anime nature of it right so that's one thing, it doesn't feel like real violence, it feels like fantasy violence because that's what it is.

    And then the stakes remain high despite how common violence is in the world... I think I understand what you mean. I feel like there's something at stake in the fight even though really they're fighting all the time and the answer to that is a fight should always be a debate between two characters and I admit I don't do this perfectly a lot of the time, but a fight should always be about a conflict between two characters. So two characters are in conflict and they are competing over something that they care badly enough about to hurt the other person. So because of that it's not just a fight. It's not just them sitting there with lightsabers for 10 minutes, right, like they're competing over something.

    And when you don't have that, then it's just as boring as a chase scene the last 10 minutes because nothing's going to change. So I try, emphasis on try, to have it not just be spectacled but also be have the characters be doing this for a reason. And so when the characters are doing it for a reason it feels like something's at stake.  

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    Questioner

    Have you considered getting a tiny bell to go with your Eithan scissors so that you can ring it whenever you use the Endless Sword?

    Will Wight

    Obviously I have used that expression a lot, "ring like a bell." People are pointing it out because the Traveler's Gate got rerecorded and they're hearing Travis say it, and it's ringing bells from Cradle. Yes, I do use that phrase a lot, probably too much. I mostly use it in Traveler's Gate to describe the sound of steel on steel because it's unbreakable Tartarus Steel hitting unbreakable Tartarus Steel so I was going "What's a relatable way to describe that? Bells." And then I was going "Okay, when we have Yerin's Endless Sword, it's got to make a certain sound," then I was like "Ah, yeah, rang like a bell." Was the result that I have two series where everything rings like a bell. And then we have Little Blue, who speaks entirely in bell and chime sounds.

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    Questioner

    Will we see more Cradle after this is gonna be the end of Cradle?

    Will Wight

    I don't know. Obviously the way we've constructed the universe, the characters are-unless everybody dies in the final book-the characters aren't going away, they're just moving worlds. Therefore, for the surviving characters, are we gonna see anything from them in the future? That's a good question and I'm not sure, the door obviously is open, it's possible, but I don't know. I'm sure I'll write something about them in the future, there's just too much not to. There's one-I definitely can't get into that, dang it, it's huge spoilers. I was about to go on it, dang it. Well that really killed my momentum.

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    Questioner

    Who has stronger willpower between a Herald and a Sage, since they both require heavy willpower? Or does it just depend on the sacred artist?

    Will Wight

    In general it depends on the sacred artist. In terms of what they can do with just eye contact, Heralds get the muscle and Sages get the technique, so that's just the whole general split. Sages can do cool stuff that Heralds cant do, but Heralds can beef it up.

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    Questioner

    We know 14 of the top 16 competitors in the Uncrowned King tournament, who were the last 2?

    Will Wight

    I don't know. I didn't know you only knew 14, I thought we knew all 16. I don't remember that. I obviously have them in the document, I just thought you would've known all of them. I don't know whose missing.

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    Marco and Grayson

    Is it possible that you can just write about Lindon forever?

    Will Wight

    You know, I'd love to, I really like writing about Lindon, but the thing is, I just really love writing new stories. I just really like it. Any time I'm writing a story and I'm thinking about "Hmm. But what else could I be writing?" So I might come back to Lindon in the future, I certainly could see myself continuing to write stories from Lindon's perspective, but I think it's important that Cradle has an ending to the story and I really want to be able to tell other stories.

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    Taylor

    I meant favorite character in Cradle as a whole.

    Will Wight

    You're probably following up on another question, but I'm going to answer that half of the question. Yikes. I'm a fan of a lot of them. I'm a fan of Fury, I'm a fan of Eithan. I really like Emriss Silentborn. I really like Malice, Malice is cool. I like all of the powerful people, they're fun to write. Northstrider's fun. I enjoy most of them, that's why I write them that way. 

    It's Mu Enkai, nevermind, that was the correct answer. It's Mu Enkai, the guy from the prologue of Cradle 5, he's obviously my favorite character and I don't know why you even needed to ask.

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    Questioner

    Rand vs. a Monarch?

    Will Wight

    I don't know, man. At the end of Wheel of Time, Rand is like Buddha. I don't know how to power scale that. I don't know what Rand can or can't do by the end of Wheel of Time. Can he reverse time? Maybe. He's battling conceptual entities so I don't know. Rand is the protagonist of Wheel of Time so I guess that was a spoiler alert. By the end, he's battling conceptual entities!