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What was it like writing a story in the Magic the Gathering universe?

It was great. I don’t get to do a lot of collaboration on my own—most of what I do is quite solitary, sitting in my basement and working on books. In this case, I got plenty of opportunities to call in to the team, and I felt like I was really a part of the group. It gave me a little glimpse of a different world of storytelling, one more like the writer’s room on a television show might work. A place where you’ve always got someone to bounce ideas off of, and where cool things are constantly happening in the setting that you can play off of with your own stories.

My editor—Nic—and I decided early on that the way to approach a Brandon Sanderson story in the Magic Multiverse was to give me a lot of freedom. Rather than taking an established character and telling the next chapter in their story, I wanted to section off my little piece of a Magic setting and build my own story, characters, and lore—something that built off what they’d done, and which fit with the rest of their stories, but which gave me a great deal of narrative liberty. So the first step in this process was me sending them my book guide for the story—this is a kind of outline I build for all of my stories, explaining character, theme, setting, and plot. It’s less an outline in the “Heading A, subheading B” style and more like a Hollywood treatment—me trying to capture not just the story itself, but the themes and characters.

When my editor got this document, he got very excited and said that the creative team really liked the idea of me designing a Planeswalker, particularly since they had a “blank slate” character in the files that was going to be relevant in later stories, but who right now didn’t have any lore or backstory, other than a few broad concepts. So my outline, and their need, wove together nicely—I took over design for this character, doing phone calls to explain who he was, what his backstory was, and brainstorm with the team about how he should look in artwork.

The character himself is someone I’ve had brewing in my mind for years, and who had been inspired by some Magic lore I’d read in the past, so it was a perfect fit. As for who he is…well, I’d rather leave that for the story to explain. But I have to say, it was a true pleasure to be able to do this. A few years back, Wizards had some celebrity game designers each design a card for the set (Notch, from Minecraft fame, did a mining-themed card.) This was kind of the same thing for me—but as a character and story creator, rather than a game designer. It was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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