The Brandon Sanderson Lectures
Even though Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube videos are college lectures, they’re as binge-worthy and enjoyable as any Netflix series.
Sanderson, author of nine New York Times Bestsellers to date, teaches writing at Bringham Young University in Utah. The course is labelled as your basic English Writing course but it is not that. Sanderson is a highly regarded fantasy author and so his lectures are more like food for fantasy fanatics. Sure, the curriculum is staged around character building and plot and even the business side of writing, but Sanderson’s extensive knowledge of fantasy classics, modern trends, and author styles comes through in his teaching.
It’s captivating enough to sit and listen to him explain what worked well in books like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, but he also names lesser-known titles that were turning points for the genre or were particularly genius. If Sanderson sat down against any one of us in a game of fantasy trivia, we’d be whooped.
These classes aren’t enjoyable only to writers. Fans of Sanderson would likely be interested to listen in on the ‘Magic Systems’ segment. In ‘Magic Systems,’ Sanderson talks about how he develops magic in his books, how magic systems can be directly proportional to the satisfying climax of a story, and just where Hollywood gets magic wrong. Sanderson explains that magic can lead a reader to feel a sense of awe or, alternatively, put a clever twist on a story.
The ‘World Building’ segment is another that’s compelling enough to grab the attention of non-writers. In this video, Sanderson says that readers choose fantasy specifically because they want to be immersed in a new place. Setting, then, is the element that gives fantasy its imaginative potential. Tolkien, for example, created his world because he wanted to create a new mythology for England. Fantasy has the ability to entertain, but also to create legends that thrive for decades.
The Sanderson lectures thoroughly explore writing, making the videos quite valuable to the aspiring writer (especially one who is not apprenticing under a widely famous author). More than that, they are one of the few places online to find a true professional dishing out his hard-earned knowledge for free. It’s not only gracious of Sanderson to be willing to share that knowledge with the rest of us, but it gives us fans a place to geek-out over fantasy lore for a few hours.
The puzzle that is a novel is fascinating as a finished product, but it’s a straight-up honor to see a master at his work. If nothing else, go there for his superb t-shirt selections.
Brandon Sanderson’s video courses:
#1: Course Overview
#2: Cook vs. Chef
#3: The Illusionist Writer
#4: World Building
#5: The Box
#6: The Business of Writing
#8: Magic Systems
#9: Guest Host: Brandon Mull
#11: Dialogue and Agents