Tag Archives: Horror

11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre

Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then drill down a bit and look at how we can incorporate this in our own work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 


Practice your cliffhangers! Experiment with the placement of chapter breaks, new questions, and big reveals, and work on each of these methods as a way to satisfactorily encourage that page turn.

Planetfall by Emma Newman, narrated by Emma Newman

11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond

Steve Diamond joins us for our third and final Elemental Horror episode as we field your questions about this particular building block. Here are the questions we selected from your submissions:

  • If I want to make peanut butter terrifying without being silly, how do I do that?
  • What is your personal line between horror and “gore-nography?”
  • How do you avoid going too far with graphic elements?
  • Soundtracks are huge for horror movies. How do you set the mood without this tool?
  • What’s the best way for a thriller writer to edge into writing horror?
  • How do you decide when to show the monster, and how does it change the story when that happens?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 


Outline a story in which your character must choose to do something horrific.

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, narrated by Robertson Dean

11.20: Horror as a Subgenre

Steve Diamond joins us again to talk horror, this time about using elemental horror as part of our stories’ elemental ensemble. We discuss how the sense of dread can be a page-turning motivation, and how it can complement the other “keep on reading” motivations we set out to invoke.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 



Write a scene twice: first, write it so that there’s humor, and then horror. Then write it so that the horror comes first, and the humor is last.

Swan Song, by Robert McCammon, narrated by Tom Stechshulte

11.18: Elemental Horror

Steve Diamond joins us to kick off our month on the elemental genre of horror. We explore the emotional components that readers seek from horror, and then drill down into the ways that we can create those reactions in our readers.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 



Take one of your favorite triumphant moments from a something you’ve read or watched, and rewrite it so that this triumph is the false victory that makes everything worse.

Residue, by Steve Diamond, narrated by David Stifel

Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil’s Only Friend

Spoiler Alert! We’ll be discussing the latest John Cleaver book from Dan Wells with author, podcaster, and unrepentant bacon-lover Dan Wells! If you haven’t read it, and you want to be surprised by it, stop listening and grab a copy now!

If you have read it, we apologize on Dan’s behalf for any emotional scarring you may have experienced. Now… give the episode a listen, and learn how Dan managed to do that to you.


This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an orbital communications array by Alex Jackson.


We are on a ship. Set a story that doesn’t really fit on a ship onto a ship.

The Devil’s Only Friend, by Dan Wells, narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Writing Excuses 10.3: Lovecraftian Horror

Cherie Priest joins us for our “wildcard” episode on Lovecraftian horror this month. We’re still doing the master class format, and part of that format is that once per month we’ll have a guest, or otherwise step away from the month’s topic a bit.

This episode talks about what Lovecraftian horror is, its influence on genre fiction, and the tools it offers for modern writers.


Take a character, and from that character’s point of view, describe their reaction to something horrific and awful, but do so without describing the thing itself.

Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest, narrated by Johanna Parker and Roger Wayne.