The not-entirely-random thoughts of Chris Brecheen about writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I spent my day getting my ass kicked by Leela Bruce (who is really good at it, by the way). I'm currently in bed looking up cures for Dim Mak on Reddit.

I learned some important things, which I will tell you all about when the chi strikes she did to my arm fade and I can feel my fingers again. Typing with my nose "es no bueno."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Inspiring Music

It's been eighty hour weeks around here since I got back from caring for OG. Rather than fall behind and do catch up jazz hands all weekend, I'm just going to write a short post today, relax a bit to get my steam back, and try to catch up so that I can round the month out with some real power hits. They're in here. I just need a little more time to get them cooked up.

SO....I'm going to just leave you with a little something I often turn on while I'm writing. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do. Part I and Part III are good too, but this one is my favorite. Though there is a part in there that makes me miss World of Warcraft from before they made all the sucky changes.

Here's another good one.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

F.A.Q. Will I Do Freelance Work for You?

Question: Do I do freelance writing?/Will I do freelance writing/editing for you?

[A few people have asked me to do some freelance writing for them lately. Those I already knew have been wonderful and gracious. I mention this mainly because those I want to draw a clear distinction between those I didn't know who were less than gracious, and to make sure that my friends don't think they were pushy or obnoxious, hectored me or were in anyway the impetus for writing this question into the FAQ.  

This post will go in the F.A.Q. and everything in the brackets will disappear after a few weeks.]

Short Answer

Yes, if you pay me enough.

Longer Answer

You don't want me.

You want a professional freelance writer or a professional editor. Writers have overlapping skill sets but the places we are different matter greatly. If you're looking for someone to write a snarky writing advice listicle, I can't recommend me enough. Otherwise, I'm probably not the right tool for the right job. (I'm like using a crescent wrench to pound in screws.) If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am the poster child for the difference between knowing a grammatical rule and being able to spot the error in flowing text. And while I can write freelance (and have), you'll get better faster results, that are probably more like what you're imagining, from someone who does it every day.

The thing is, I still charge what I'm worth, even if you put me to work doing something I'm not that good at. I start at $25/hour for friends or very easy jobs and I go up from there. I've billed out as high as $50/hour (a miserable job doing the kind of writing I never want to have to do). So for a few dollars more (or maybe even less) you could get someone who is a much better fit for the kind of writing you want done.

I will not work for free exposure. Never. Don't even ask. If you are a tiny blog/artist/company/something that really can't pay and you want to corroborate for mutual exposure, I might be into that if you ask nice and don't assume I'm a gullible suckah who you can Pied Piper into slave labor with the promise of ground floor opportunities and the magnanimous blessing of your approval. If you can't pay me in money, I work for Tim Tams, oral sex, iStore credit, and Starship Reunion Tour tickets. But if I can tell you're just being cheap, there is no way. I may even write a blog entry about the breadth and scope of your suckatude.

I currently write for two blogs besides my own. One has given me a free t-shirt. The other, after fifteen or so articles, didn't even do that. (I got a coupon for $5 off a regularly priced t-shirt.) So I've got about all the "free exposure" I can handle afford. If I want to write for no money, I'll do it for myself.

Got that writing for nothing thing covered. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Call From The SciGuy

"Good Morning.

"I'm Chris Brecheen, head writer and C.E.O. of Writing About Writing. Today I'd like to talk to you about a new form of monetization that many bloggers and social media presences are using--"


"--are...um...using called Patreon. My question to all of you--"


"is um....whether or not you think that Patreon would be something you'd find more--"


"Excuse me just a moment will you, dear reader. Cedric was supposed to hold my calls....

"WHAT? Yeah, I'm in the middle of a post. Could there BE a worse time to have this conversation Sci-? I was asking them about Patreon. I'm thinking of using it to crowd fund.

"Wh- Yes, of course I know we were hacked yesterday. Yes, I read the post. I thought you were going to-

"Wh– Yes I saw that Evil Mystery Blogger is having trouble getting past the firewall. Okay so I guess you did do your job. I SAID YOU DID DO YOUR JOB. No I'm not going to say it louder one more time and look into the camera.

"Okay okay. We already know it was an inside job. Look SciGuy, it's not that I blame you, I just... Well, why can't you figure out which computer inside the compound it came from.

"Well why is it so hard?

"But I don't wanna do that! Talking to every member of the staff sounds....really uncomfortable. Most of them will yell at me for even insinuating they had something to do with--

"Yes, I know I have an evil twin living in the basement.

"Okay, look, you take care of your shit and I'll take care of mine. I'm going to get to it. I just need time.

"Speaking of that what?


"Can you run that one past me one more time.

"Yes, I know you're trying to rebuild the Pretentitron. No. No, trying to perfect the cloning process sounds very smart. But why the hell would you start with a FUCKING VELOCIRAPTOR.

"I don't care if it's 'contained' on the third floor. No it doesn't matter that we don't go up there much."

"You gave it a what?

"Why would you ever do that? WHY WOULD ANYBODY EVER FUCKING DO THAT???

"Answer the question, SciGuy! Why would you give an Eye-Trak head mounted laser system to a velociraptor and let it loose on the third floor?

"'For science' is not a goddamned answer!

"You know what...I have to go right now. I'm angry beyond the capacity for rational thought. I appreciate that your firewall is working. Maybe not quite as much as I don't appreciate the laser armed velociraptor on the third floor. But I can't really complain when you're making three dollars a week."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Trope Skinny

The worst best advice about how to add tropes to your story to make it the best story ever. 

Dear Mike:

You asked a question last week and I almost feel bad that I wasn't able to hack into the Writing About Writing signal at the time. Unfortunately the firewall has been quite impossible to get through, and this is my first opportunity to lay some genuine wisdom on you. I'm sure whatever Chris planned on posting today, it was crap filled with drivel and everyone will be better off having me piggy back my own post off of his.

The truth about tropes is that they are wonderful ways to add a desperately needed sense of the familiar to a world that is constantly scrambling for something new and innovative. But look at this culture–take a good, long, post 9/11 look. We don't want new and innovative. We don't want interesting. We don't want fresh. Fresh is new. New is unknown. Unknown is scary.

We want safe. We want familiar. We want comforting. We want to be assured that our world view has been right all along and that humanity exists exactly the way we think it does. Stop with all the intellectual stimulation and challenging ideas. That's not what art is supposed to do.

In short, deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you WANT tropes on that wall. You NEED tropes on that wall.

Take Trope St. down to Trope Ln. and take a left until you get to Tropeville.
When I'm done with you, you'll be wearing gold diapers.
Let's talk about a few tropes you absolutely must be adding to your writing if you really want to get that major book deal. The more of these you add in, the better your story will be.

  • Have a major metropolitan area be devastated, and no one can do anything to stop it. But they can go get grisly, violent revenge. For some reason, this has been exceedingly popular in all forms of media for the last 14 years (and four months). I can't imagine why.
  • What do you mean your protagonist has ties to this world. At the very least, they should be an orphan. What is this–amateur hour?
  • Boring story? Add zombies. Or vampires. 
  • Dads should always be clueless. Especially if they're doing women's work.
  • That Latina maid seems a little boring. Let's make her sassy. In fact, let's make her sassy and spicy if you know what I mean!
  • You know that alien race's culture seems a little flat. Let's model them after a single racial stereotype. Jews are always a big hit. Space Jews.
  • Wait, you're actually worried about accusations of racial stereotypes? In that case make everyone white.
  • Stalking is romantic! Don't let anyone tell you that women don't love guys who break and enter.
  • To make that villain just a little more evil, let's make him cultured and a bit effeminate. 
  • Trouble making that romance click? Make one of them adorkable and the other crazy hot. Social anxiety never held anyone back in real life.
  • There isn't an evil empire so powerful that a rag tag team can't take it down in a way that everyone's unique skills are absolutely vital.
  • You know what your fight scene needs? A few more "perfectly timed" strikes.
  • What do you mean there's no chosen one in your story? Do you want to fail?
  • White guys need to go native if you want to take their story seriously. And they must be better at the culture they join than everyone who's been doing it all their lives. Otherwise why would the natives make them the leader?
  • Plot twist! Let's have that massive artificial intelligence running most of the world decide to enslave/destroy humanity for its own good.
  • Women must be physically bad ass to be strong female characters. IT IS THE ONLY WAY!! 
  • That alien probably wouldn't want to commit genocide if it just GOT TO KNOW one of the humans.
  • Have the turncoat tell the protagonist not to trust them earlier in the story. Who will ever see it coming?!?
  • Your story needs a dark lord. And you know who's great at stopping dark lords? FARMBOYS!
  • Make the fair race good and the bad guys dark skinned uggos. Everyone GETS that.
  • If you didn't describe their skull being cloven open and brains dripping out to be crushed under-boot, they're not dead. Period.
  • Your hero is pretty good looking. Better make the matriarch leader of the man-hating culture fall for him. Hard.
  • The most brilliant scientific minds on the planet should be written as total airheads. That keeps the plebs from getting uncomfortable that your characters are smarter than they are.
  • Your hero needs valuable lessons. Wouldn't it be great if the people of color sacrificed themselves so the hero could grow and learn. Sacrifice is so noble. Man, how post racial of you!
  • Have your hero stroll away from an explosion heedless of the organ mulching power of concussion waves and shrapnel or the way flame blasts will suck up all the oxygen around them. That'll prove what a badass they are.
  • You should hypersexualize your people of color. Making them all totally hawt shows people how you like diversity and are past all that racism stuff.
  • If you're having trouble conveying which side of your conflict is "right," have the being of pure energy not exactly side with it, but definitely stop the bad guy's side.
  • But that being of pure energy can't stick around and help its friends. It has to transcend that petty shit.
  • Put lots of apostrophes in your na'mes. They make the or'dinary totally ex'o'tic. C'ris Brech' un.
  • You know if your story needs a black guy, you should add in a ripped paragon of a noble, warrior race. 
  • That society needs a government. I know! Model it after Ancient Rome.
  • Elite forces are only elite until they encounter your protagonist's less trained, smaller, poorly armed force. Then they make enough stupid mistakes to be crushed.