Writing Excuses 8.12: Project in Depth — Deus ex Nauseum

Brandon, Dan, and Mary interview Howard about how he assembled “Deus ex Nauseum,” the bonus story that appears at the end of Schlock Mercenary: Emperor Pius Dei.

Howard begins with the story’s genesis, which was sort of a science-fiction Sherlock Holmes story, but which wasn’t working very well. He explains why it wasn’t working well, and the point at which he decided to change it completely.

Then the questions begin. We have a fascinating discussion about deus ex machina as a literary device, and how this story plays to that type, and plays against that type.


Take one story and discard every other page. Use that as framing material for a second story.

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by John Joseph Adams with stories by Robert J. Sawyer, Christopher Roden, Michael Moorcock, Anne Perry, Neil Gaiman, Anthony Burgess, and Laurie R. King, narrated by Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik.

7 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 8.12: Project in Depth — Deus ex Nauseum”

  1. Man, writing sounds *hard*. What is this about Howard having greater and lesser strengths; I thought he was just a genius. Thanks for blasting my mistaken ideas. Okay maybe he still is a genius.

  2. You despised BSG??


    And actually, I think Les Miserables in space would be awesome. Someone needs to write that, pronto.

  3. One thing I noticed about that story is that John didn’t finish solving the mystery at the end because we don’t know why the humans are on the gate station, or if it really was the Shull that were behind this… is this in some way connected to Mister Aliss of Mall One?

    ARRRG MYSTERIES! Also Petey clearly knew something and John didn’t want his help… What did Petey know!?

  4. Hey, I was actually kind of wondering what you think of Homestuck and Andrew Hussie’s writing process? It seems like he’s *way* in the deep end of the discovery writing pool. I’m interested in hearing the opinions of fellow webcomic / ridiculously prolific writers.

  5. First off, congrats on the Hugo nominations. Both of them.

    Anyway, I imagine you’re way too busy to get through Homestuck’s archives; the comic currently is about as long as Lord of The Rings, and doesn’t really get going in high gear until act 2 or so.

    That said, if you find this summary by the author appealing: “There was only one sure thing I knew when starting HS. That was that this thing would go batshit insane in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine. In fact, it was practically the mission statement,” and have a hundred or so hours that you aren’t spending on something more meaningful, I’d encourage you to give it a shot.

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