How It’s Written breaks down great writing to show you why it works works and what makes it good. This is mostly novels, but will include movies, TV and non-fiction. 

This is not literary criticism. I’m not an authority on any of these works. As a working writer, I approach them as a craftsman to see what I learn and what I can steal.

Most of all, I’m not looking for flaws. I don’t think there’s any great trick in finding them. Everything has flaws and they’re easy to spot.  But a book or a movie doesn’t succeed because it’s flawless. It succeeds because it’s strengths overcome it’s flaws. 

 If you are a reader, How It’s Written is going to help you enjoy reading more. If you are a writer, you will discover things you can use in your work. 

Why subscribe?

If we could hang out once a month, and you would be happy to a buy me a drink because we had a great time and interesting conversation, you should subscribe. Beyond that: 

  1. To support the work. 

  2. To be part of a community of people who are interested in great stories. 

  3. To gain access to additional content and subscriber-only sessions. 

In addition, if you become a paid subscriber,  you’ll get my entire back catalog of books in ebook and audiobook format. Including How to Succeed in Evil, the series I’m currently writing about consultants for Supervillains. Edwin Windsor and Associates try to help their clients be more profitable, but run into no end of trouble because their clients are insane megalomaniacs. 

What People Say About Patrick’s writing:

McLean has a witty turn of mind. Needs to quit his day job and become the next Pratchett.


Normally funny books make me chuckle and that's about it. This book is the first book since 'Good Omens' to make me laugh so hard that I lost my place and then prevented me from reading further by putting tears in my eyes. 


This is truly creative storytelling.

Gao Shan

I love the story. Brilliant and entertaining and fun. I can’t say enough good things about this work.



How to Succeed in Evil (Sold over 10,000 copies, 53,000+ podiobooks download, 4.5 stars on Amazon))

  • Crazy Psycho Murder Tree

  • The Mighty Manligator

  • Brainitar

  • The original How to Succeed in Evil novel - ebook and audiobook

  • The sequel, Hostile Takeover - ebook only

  • A prequel, Consultation with a Vampire - ebook and audiobook

  • PDF of an original promotional comic book that you can’t get anywhere else.

The Merchant Adventurer 

An artful, satire of dungeon crawls and cRPG's, the Merchant Adventurer is part Princess Bride, part Dungeon Pawn Stars and a rollicking good read. Here’s what one Amazon reviewer said: 

This is my most favorite audio book. I have listened to it at least 10 times in the past year. The hero is funny, relatable, and has a noble heart buried under layers of snark. I wish the author had written more books with this character. The author also did the reading for the book and he did an excellent job with the voices. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good adventure wrapped in a sarcastic sense of humor.

The Complete Seanachai Episodes

130+ pieces of short fiction and essays from the award-winning Seanachai Podcast from way back in 2005. It’s a gig of high-quality audio content in delicious, bite-sized chunks. 

The Lucky Dime (4.4 stars)

A companion novella to The Soak, which I can’t give away for free, because it’s traditionally published. This is a period crime piece, a loving homage to Richard Stark. Sure, it’s funny, but it’s definitely got an edge. Here’s how one reviewer described it:

Oh, geez... the writer of the How to Succeed in Evil books has channeled his Inner Tarantino. McLean has written a crime thriller. It is outside his known milieu, but he just nails the genre. I couldn't put this one down and can hardly wait for the sequel.


An audio-only novella that I think has two of the best chapters I’ve ever written. It’s not available anywhere else.