Missoula's Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention

MisCon 32: May 25 - 28, 2018 Missoula, Montana

Brandon Sanderson

MisCon 32 Guest of Honor

Brandon Sanderson was born in December 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested for him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This all changed in eighth grade when an astute teacher, Mrs. Reader, gave Brandon Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon thoroughly enjoyed this book, and went in search of anything similar. He discovered such authors as Robert Jordan, Melanie Rawn, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card. Brandon continued to be an avid reader through junior high and high school. He liked epic fantasy so much that he even tried his hand at writing some. His first attempts, he says, were dreadful.

In 1994 Brandon enrolled at Brigham Young University as a biochemistry major. From 1995 to 1997 he took time away from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brandon often says that it was during this time in Seoul, Korea that he realized that he didnít miss chemistry one bit, but he did miss writing. Upon his return to BYU, Brandon became an English major, much to the dismay of his mother, who had always hoped he would become a doctor.

Brandon began writing in earnest, taking a job as the night desk clerk at a hotel because they allowed him to write while at work. During this era he went to school full time during the day, worked nights to pay for his schooling, and wrote as much as he could. He says it made for a rather dismal social life, but he finished seven novels during his undergraduate years. Brandon submitted many manuscripts for publication . . . and accumulated quite a pile of rejection letters. In spite of this he continued to be a dedicated writer.

Scheduled Panels and Presentations:

Key: panel=On a Panel moderator=Moderating game=GMing


  • panel Fri 6:00 - 6:50 PM, Sanderson's Three Laws of Magic, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Panelists: Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon Sanderson explains why magic needs rules and what those rules can look like.

  • Break Fri 6:50 - Sat 11:00
  • panel Sat 11:00 - 11:50 AM, Digging Their Own Grave: Character Agency, Monster Tent (1)
    Moderator: J.A. Pitts; Panelists: Eric Scott Fischl, Michael Hodges, J.A. Pitts, Brandon Sanderson

    Readers want to read about characters who dig their own graves. Character agency propels your story forward and keeps your characters from becoming too passive. How can you give your characters agency?

  • Break Sat 11:50 - Sat 1:00
  • moderator Sat 1:00 - 1:50 PM, Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: Brandon Sanderson; Panelists: Brenda Carre, Eric Scott Fischl, Guy Pace, Brandon Sanderson, Tex Thompson

    Taken from Brandonís Writing Excuses podcast, in this panel weíll talk about how you take a first draft written through discovery and retrofit structure into it.

  • moderator Sat 2:00 - 2:50 PM, Economics in Story, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: Brandon Sanderson; Panelists: Julie Frost, Jason A. Holt, Brandon Sanderson, Danica Winters

    Are there exciting ways to make money a tool in fiction and worldbuilding without becoming Monopoly?

  • Break Sat 2:50 - Sat 4:00
  • panel Sat 4:00 - 4:50 PM, Art and Suffering, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: Rhiannon Held; Panelists: Rhiannon Held, Rory Miller, Lee Moyer, L.F. Patten (Laurey), Brandon Sanderson

    Some say art gets better with suffering, some say it definitely doesn't. Rather than try to argue that question, why not consider why art and suffering got linked in the first place. How can someone harness that impulse without the suffering part?

  • Break Sat 4:50 - Sat 6:00
  • moderator Sat 6:00 - 6:50 PM, Creating Interesting Nations, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: Brandon Sanderson; Panelists: James Glass, Jason A. Holt, Joseph Malik, Lee Moyer, Brandon Sanderson

    We talk a lot about worldbuilding but what about the smaller-scale stuff like nations and nationstates? How can you build a new and unique nation for your story? How can you incorporate politics and culture and national identity in interesting ways? And, finally, how do you connect the characters to this nation?

  • Break Sat 6:50 - Sun Noon
  • panel Sun Noon - 12:50 PM, Squeezing in Backstory, Monster Tent (1)
    Moderator: Peter Wacks (pjwacks); Panelists: Spencer G. Ellsworth, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Michael Hodges, Brandon Sanderson, Peter Wacks (pjwacks)

    How can you squeeze backstory into every line of your story from start to finish? How much of your character's� backstory should you know before you start writing?

  • panel Sun 1:00 - 1:50 PM, Honing Ideas, Ballroom C
    Moderator: Kamila Miller (EM Prazeman); Panelists: Kamila Miller (EM Prazeman), J.A. Pitts, Brandon Sanderson, Tex Thompson

    Some writers work with concepts while they're conceiving a story. Others focus on tag lines and log lines for book covers only to figure out that their story is unfocused or doesn't have a point. Learn how to hone your story idea before you write a single word.

  • Break Sun 1:50 - Sun 4:00
  • panel Sun 4:00 - 4:50 PM, Brandon's Book Guide, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Panelists: Brandon Sanderson

    How does Brandon Sanderson plot a story when an idea first hits him? Let’s have Brandon take us through his step-by-step process to fleshing out a book.

  • panel Sun 5:00 - 5:50 PM, Have You Got Rhythm?, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: D.L Solum; Panelists: Carol Berg, J.A. Pitts, Brian Rathbone, Brandon Sanderson, D.L Solum

    What is story rhythm? It could mean the pulse of words and sentences or it could mean the beat of the action. It might have something to do with the narrative or character movement. What does it evoke for you and how do you know when you've got it right?

  • Break Sun 5:50 - Mon 11:00
  • panel Mon 11:00 - 11:50 AM, Maps for Writers, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Panelists: Lee Moyer, Brandon Sanderson

    Let's talk maps. What are some things you have to keep in mind when making a map to accompany your book? How do you draw one? Do you have to know a lot about geography? Are there any good books or software that might help you?

  • Break Mon 11:50 - Mon 2:00
  • panel Mon 2:00 - 2:50 PM, The Moral Pendulum, Dragon Pavilion (1)
    Moderator: Larry Bonham; Panelists: Dave Bara, Carol Berg, Larry Bonham, Brenda Carre, Brandon Sanderson

    Real people have real flaws, which often means they swing from one end of the spectrum to the other (even if only in their minds). How can you make your characters their best through hiding and revealing this moral pendulum?