(More than) 20 Minutes with Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfusscrafter of the on-going epic fantasy saga told in “The Name of the Wind” and “A Wise Man’s Fear” – joins us for the special Roundtable Podcast Showcase. We were fortunate to have a little more than 20 minutes with Pat and indulged in some marvelous explorations into his perceptions of the collaborative writing model, his experiences with “The Story Board”, his approach to “writing for your readers”, and his greatest strength as a writer. An epic conversation that is just a PLAY button-click away (we’ll have Patrick back for a full-on Showcase-Workshop cycle in future episodes… promise!)


PROMO: Geek & Sundry’s “The Story Board (hosted by Patrick Rothfuss)

Geek & Sundry's "The Story Board"

Showcase Episode: (More than) 20 Minutes with Patrick Rothfuss

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

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Episode Breakdown

01:50 – “The Story Board” has a fabulous premise: inviting a quartet of remarkable authors to discuss the writer’s craft. What has been your own experience with collaborative writing or the shared world writing model?

  • 02:05 – I’ve always thought of myself as a “feral writer”
  • 02:15 – I’ve known people who’ve indulged in it, but I’ve never had a community of people that were doing it seriously.
  • 03:05 – Collaboration is a whole step beyond just a writing community, where you’re building the same house, so to speak
  • 03:30 – It’s fascinating and terrifying to me at the same time because I’m such a control freak when it comes to my writing
  • 03:45 – I probably revise more than anyone else in the industry (I hope to streamline my process in the future)
  • 05:00 – To go from that to suddenly sharing that with another person… I worry that I’d have an episode


05:20 – Have you found that the discussions on “The Story Board” have impacted your own craft

  • 05:50 – Actually meeting other professionals or readers has been a real pleasure
  • 06:20 – I love that discussion, I could do it all day (and I have)
  • 06:55 – It takes a while to digest… the longer you do this, the more you become sure of yourself
  • 07:15 – If everyone agrees in a discussion, everyone’s happy, but it’s kinda boring
  • 07:45 – You need people to be willing to disagree
  • 08:25 – If you don’t disagree then there’s no dialectic and you lose some potential coolness of the discussion
  • 09:00 – Most of the authors I’ve run into have figured out a lot of good ways of writing, but no one believes they’ve found the ONLY way to do it
  • 09:25 – There IS something in the writer personality that leads to a certain megalomania
  • 09:40 – The act of creating worlds and telling stories is almost an act of ego-centrism
  • 09:55 – You need a little ego, I think, to even endeavor in that
  • 10:05 – But everyone I’ve run into has been graceful and intellectually articulate and willing to discuss the craft
  • 10:20 – It’s the best parts of being a published author


10:40 – Artists look at the world differently. Are you aware of any processes that transform input into storytelling fuel?

  • 10:15 – Neil Gaiman talked about the writer’s mind that – even in the middle of a car wreck – he could look at blood on broken glass and think he could put that in a story
  • 12:00 – That’s a fair way to demonstrate that process but it’s a little Hollywood
  • 12:15 – It’s different for me. When I started writing, everything in the world was potentially of more use because it could be woven into the world I was writing.
  • 14:05 – I can almost think of it as a sort of love for the world
  • 14:15 – When you first fall in love, everything in the world becomes something you can share with your lover
  • 14:35 – It’s the same way with your book


16:10 – PROMO: Geek and Sundry’s “The Story Board” (hosted by Patrick Rothfuss)


  • 17:30 – I think some writers refer to it as “the junk yard” in terms of a collection of perceptions and ideas that other people wouldn’t necessarily value
  • 18:10 – When a writer is rummaging around, building your world, you may need those perceptions and ideas
  • 18:20 – Some say there’s a difference between “writers” and “novelists”
  • 19:00 – I’m not sure I agree with that… it might be the difference between fiction and non-fiction
  • 19:55 – Scott McLeod’s “Understanding Comics” changed the way that I thought about stories and storytelling
  • 20:45 – Either your experimenting with “form” or “idea” (or a combination of both)


22:10 – When you write, do you have an idealized “person” to whom you are writing?

  • 22:50 – I DO think about my audience, about “The Reader”
  • 23:20 – How do you cope with the fact that a 14 year-old or 70 year-old can pick up your book?
  • 23:40 – I try to write to a broad audience, but I assume that audience is smart
  • 24:00 – I don’t want to coddle them but I don’t want to be obtuse either
  • 24:25 – I always wanted people who have read fantasy and gotten bored with it to be fresh ad new to them
  • 24:40 – At the same time, if someone had never read fantasy, my story would be interesting to them
  • 24:50 – So I was writing for two audiences and put different things into the story for both of them
  • 25:05 – I took me ages to try and get it right (and there was a fair amount of luck in there)
  • 25:10 – Some readers read because they love language, so I’ll put some beautiful language in there, but not so much that it would turn other readers off
  • 25:40 – I wanted a cool world, and good action but also to balance everything for the readers that came for other things
  • 26:15 – I’m not a role model, you don’t want to follow in my particular footsteps
  • 26:30 – I was kind of a sad bastard and my fiends made fun of me… as they should have
  • 27:00 – It probably would have been smarter to be like Brandon Sanderson who wrote 11 books before he got published
  • 27:55 – I got very lucky with the timing, finding the right publishing house and the right editor
  • 28:35 – When you get your lucky break, you better have something to capitalize on it with


29:00 – What is your greatest strength as a writer?

  • 29:25 – If I had to pick something that was mine, it would be that obsessive tendency towards revision
  • 29:40 – “The pursuit of perfection in the face of sanity”
  • 29:55 – I would like to try to make something perfect, even if that is not entirely sensible
  • 30:10 – Don’t know if that’s my superpower or my Kryptonite
  • 30:20 – That’s the beauty of “Story Board”… eveyone gets to come on and present their perspectives on stories and storytelling