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

8 thoughts on “11.20: Horror as a Subgenre”

  1. As I listened to the podcast I got the message “You can plug horror into every genre, as a spice, for character development, or for contrast,” which is true, but it needs to be used very sparingly in a story that is not ‘supposed to be’ horror, or you can lose your audience. Some people HATE horror. I am one of them. I have enough horror in my day to day life–I read to escape it–so if I start to dread what is coming, it doesn’t make me want to keep reading, it makes me put the book down and I rarely get around to picking it back up. So while horror can be a good tool, you need to know your audience/genre and make sure you’re not using too much horror when your audience is expecting another genre. Yes there can be horror in romance, but if there is too much, horror takes over and you lose the audience members that didn’t sign up for horror.

  2. A good example of plugging horror into an adventure story was in the video game Fable III. For about a half hour in this slapstick-y, almost parody action adventure game you find yourself in a very dark, atmospheric cave with a very effective monster. It definitely gets the dread thing down, too! Spoiler alert (for a years-old game) no one dies in that particular sequence that I recall but it definitely is an effective way to introduce a “greater scope villain” into the story that had up until that point been relatively low-magic as these things go.

    Man, I’m going to miss Lionhead.

  3. This is only semi-related to this post, but I’m having trouble finding the transcripts for these (really any) episodes on the mobile without going to Google and searching the season/episode I want.

  4. I had a true moment of horror reading Brandon’s Words of Radiance.

    Spoiler ahead–stop reading!!!

    Dalinar is one of my favorite characters and I really thought he was going to die while fighting Szeth because he’s no match for him. I literally had to stop reading a minute!

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