terribleminds: Analysis

Overview

For this case study, I am analyzing the blog “terribleminds” by author Chuck Wendig. This blog typically covers writing advice and promotion of the author’s books. The blog’s URL is http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/

wendig1

Analysis

The header of the blog is the terribleminds logo with a short bio of who Chuck Wendig is and what he will write about on his blog (he is a writer who will talk about writing, pop culture, and family). He also notes that the site may be not safe for work because of language. The top left of the page has a button that pulls down Wendig’s detailed About Me page. This lists notable books he wrote, as well as some of his upcoming books. His bio also tells his work history in screenwriting and game writing. It then closes to show where he lives with his family, and some flavor about his character.

Above the logo and this bio is a menu section where you can select the pages for the blog, free stories he has written, merchandise, a bibliography of his work, a list of his upcoming appearances, and his comment policy. The right-hand side of the blog features a search box, a field to subscribe by email, and covers of his last three book releases where readers can click through to find more information about the books. The bottom of the page includes small links to his Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr accounts. Wendig is very active on Twitter, and always links to his blog with tweets.

Many of Wendig’s articles are about writing advice, and this certainly includes his most popular posts. His site doesn’t list the most read posts, but googling “Chuck Wendig blog” shows two likely popular posts: “So, You Wanna be a Professional Writer? Some Considerations!” and “A Very Good List of Vital Writing Advice – Do Not Ignore.” His posts sometimes include a photo of himself or a close-up photo of an object like pens or toothbrushes. But usually the images used are of books he mentioned in the article.

His blog titles are generally compelling in the sense that he often seems like he is shouting at the reader, such as one post titled “A HOT STEAMING SACK OF BUSINESS ADVICE FOR WRITERS.”  He also posts flash fiction prompts, and those posts will always be structured by “Flash Fiction” and the prompt, such as one post titled “FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: THE SUBGENRE SMASH-AND-GRAB.” Wendig also makes space for other writers to write advice articles and promote their books. These post titles will always be structured as “Author: Their Title” so you know it is a guest post. By including guest posts and this community content, Wendig has a new post almost every day.

Wendig’s writing style is conversational and peppered with swears and colorful euphemisms. Reading Wendig’s blog posts often feels like being a bartender asking the drunk customer for advice. Wendig is intelligent and funny, but I think sometimes his style goes over the top. I like Wendig’s Twitter presence, but I don’t read his blog regularly unless a post is trending and seems like a must-read. Reading his blog sometimes feels exhausting, and I often feel like his point is lost in the jokes.

On the other hand, a list of 25 tips for writers where tips number 12 and 13 are “Eat Bees” and “Don’t Eat Bees” helps to keep the post fresh and different from other advice blogs, and it helps to poke fun at the idea of there being a one-size-fits all list of instructions for writing success.

wendig 2

Wendig’s blog reminds me of a film critic who blogs for Birth.Movies.Death who goes by Film Crit Hulk. His gimmick is that he’s the Incredible Hulk and writes very insightful film critique in ALL CAPS. It certainly makes his writing stand out, but it also makes it nearly impossible to read. Wendig’s style is similar – the constant barrage of swears and bizarre metaphors clutter the writing.

Wendig has a loyal audience and comment section. The community is active on every post, and he encourages community activity with his Flash Fiction Challenges. The fun atmosphere of his comments section is maintained through heavy moderation by Wendig. He has a comment policy page where he explains that he has a strict “no jerks” policy, and he has no hesitance to mark annoying or mean posts as a spam.

Conclusion

I think Chuck Wendig engages his audience well with his blog, and has clearly developed a following. His conversational and loose style allows him to speak directly to the reader and makes his advice more interesting than an old grammar textbook. However, this can also make his blog off-putting at times, and it may not be for everyone. His blog is also a successful platform for selling his books since readers satisfied with his writing advice would be interested in his work and fans of his work would be interested in his writing advice. His blog and social media presence has built up his brand well to make him a very popular writer.

 

Pro Wrestling: A Better Date Night than the Theater

Most pro wrestling fans have been marks (wrestling slang for “fans”) since they were kids. Especially if they are kids. But my wife and I took a different path to fandom.

Three years ago, on the day of WrestleMania 31, my wife and I were driving home from an award ceremony at her grad school when we noticed all the LA comedy podcasts we listen to were talking about WrestleMania. It was held in San Diego that year, and a lot of podcasters were going for a laugh. We couldn’t escape it on social media. My wife suddenly asked the immortal question: “how do we watch WrestleMania?”

We signed up for a free trial of the WWE Network and promised each other that we’d cancel after WrestleMania…unless we ended up watching every month. And wow, do we watch every month.

The moment we became fans for life.

That first WrestleMania created an obsession that hasn’t faded. It wasn’t long before we watched Monday Night Raw each week and went to live shows. As we found a community of other fans online, we learned about independent wrestling and discovered New England has an awesome local wrestling scene.

I only watched a little wrestling when I was a kid, and my wife never watched. Because of this, everything we learned watching wrestling, we learned together. It became a collaborative obsession and an unique bond in our relationship. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon became #relationshipgoals.

It helped that we got into wrestling just in time to see the “women’s revolution” unfold. A new generation of talented female wrestlers were hitting the ring, and neither they nor the fans would stand for two minute “bathroom break” matches. We watched women like Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and the Bella Twins break the glass ceiling on TV every week. At indie shows with companies like Beyond Wrestling and Chikara, we watched wrestlers like Kimber Lee and Heidi Lovelace go even further as they took the fight to the men in mixed gender matches.

Aside: I really want to watch GLOW, Netflix’s new show about female wrestling that released today, but it would be a real heel move (wrestling slang for being a bad guy) if I watched it before she got home from work.

We also learned that wrestling had a little something for each of us. I got into wrestling video games, digging through bargain bins to find the legendary N64 game WWF No Mercy. She binged the Total Divas reality show. But it’s the live events that became our favorite part of pro wrestling because we enjoy that together.

I always tell people that going to a wrestling show is like a cross between a sporting event, a rock concert, and live theater. A wrestling show has unbelievable athletic feats, pyrotechnic spectacle, and compelling characters and drama. Every time my wife and I go to a show, we see something that we’ve never seen before. We’ve seen things we never thought possible. The way a match blends reality and fiction evoke emotions unlike any other forms of storytelling.

Every show is a different experience. Sometimes it feels like an arena concert and sometimes it has the air of a punk rock show. We’ve watched wrestling in the legendary Boston Garden, baseball fields, bars, and elementary school gymnasiums. We’ve sat in the nosebleed section, we’ve watched matches with our hands on the ring apron, and we’ve had to abandon our ringside seats as a 300 pound man dove towards his opponent cowering in the crowd.

Selfie party with wrestler Heidi Lovelace (now WWE’s Ruby Riot) at a Chikara show.

My wife and I have been together since high school, and I love that even after 15 years we can find new hobbies and fandoms to share. Discovering wrestling in our 30s is even more fun because it was unexpected.

But there is nothing as unexpected than watching an undead bride bite the ref, escape the ring, and pour drinks at the bar while the heroine tries to protect the crowd. That’s a thing that happened. We saw that live. And we saw it together.

Rachael Ellering faces off with the evil corpse bride, Su Yung.