Brandon Sanderson: Epic Fantasy’s Fastest Writer


Caroline Li, Staff Writer

Brandon Sanderson (affectionately dubbed “Brando Sando” by his fans) is an epic fantasy writer famous for his intricate worlds and legendary writing speed. Clocking in at up to 16,000 words a day, Sanderson has published over 54 books at the age of 46, won numerous awards and accolades, and broken the record for Kickstarter’s highest funded project at 41.7 million dollars to publish four new novels in addition to the many series he has going.

Sanderson started writing in high school, at the age of 16. Unlike most authors, he wasn’t much of a reader in his younger years; fortunately for his fans, a shrewd teacher introduced him to epic fantasy, with which Sanderson instantly fell in love. Although he says that getting published was a discouraging, decade-long ordeal, his passion and practice shone through in the end and finally landed him a deal for his debut novel, Elantris, the sixth out of the thirteen books he’d completed throughout high school and college. Later on, he was invited to complete The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan after Jordan tragically passed away.

Since his debut, Sanderson has produced several more award-winning titles, carving out a place for himself in the ranks of unforgettable fantasy authors. In addition to writing four to sixteen hours a day, he teaches a creative writing course at Brigham Young University and manages his own company, Dragonsteel Entertainment LLC, which owns the copyright for several of his books.

Sanderson novels almost all take place in a shared universe called The Cosmere, which makes for some interesting crossovers and Easter eggs in addition to the main storyline. One of his most popular ongoing series, The Stormlight Archive (TSA) is expecting its fifth installment out of ten to hit bookshelves in fall 2024. With Game of Thrones finished, fans anticipate that TSA will be the next big fantasy series to get a TV adaptation, but only once it’s finished—and as each book weighs in at around 300,000 to 500,000 words each, that can take another decade or so.“Brandon Sanderson is an incredibly hardworking author,” said junior Emily Luo. “He’s always challenging himself and shows the value in consistent practice and determination.”

All throughout his twenties, Sanderson worked tirelessly on his books, growing increasingly discouraged by continual rejections. After a lot of soul-searching, Sanderson says that he came to the conclusion that he would be okay with never getting published; he genuinely loved to write for the sake of writing—becoming famous and all that would just be a cool side perk of getting paid to do what he loved.

“I try to write what I want—people tell me it’s not good enough,” Sanderson recounted while talking about a series of past rejections and requests to write more like George R. R. Martin. “I try to write what they want and [my books] still get rejected, plus they’re just terrible books. What am I doing?… Why am I writing these books? Is it because I want to be a famous novelist? I realized I sincerely loved writing these books…I realized at that moment if I never sold a book…and I had written a hundred unpublished novels, I was a bigger success in that case than if I’d given up.”

“The thing I like to keep in mind is that success is a spectrum,” Sanderson said, explaining that even a small portion of people choosing to spend their precious time enjoying his books was still an accomplishment. “A hundred is still infinitely more than zero, which is what you’d get without ever writing anything.”

So what’s the secret behind Brandon Sanderson’s success? Some believe it’s his simplistic writing philosophy. Others say it’s the sheer amount of experience and practice. Regardless, Sanderson’s contributions to the realm of epic fantasy are widely recognized and respected; he holds the hearts of a sizable chunk of the reading community, remaining to this day a pillar of admirable work ethic and spirit.


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