Tag Archives: Catharsis

Writing Excuses 7.20: Cathartic Horror

Michael R. Collings and his son Michaelbrent Collings join us live at UVU to talk with us about cathartic horror. In particular, we talk about how the catharsis is part of what makes horror such a delightful genre. Michael leads with an example from his own writing, a novel called The Slab. Brandon talks about the physiological response, and Mary compares the cautionary aspects of horror to the early (read: pre-Disney) fairy tales. Dan cautions us against didacticism, and explains about how the underlying story is usually quite different from what’s on the page. Michaelbrent further explains how our personal catharses empower us to write good stories and invoke similar responses from our readers.

Free Shot: No, Howard wasn’t even in the room for this episode.


Adapt the unadaptable fairy tale Mary introduced us to (the one about the little old lady who catches on fire and dies).

The Slab, by Michael R. Collings, narrated by Andy Bowyer

Writing Excuses 7.1 When Good Characters Go Bad

Welcome to Writing Excuses Season 7!

Let’s start with a trip to the dark side! How do you take a good character and make them evil? And why would you want to do this? Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard answer that second question first, and then walk you through the process of doing this. We cover establishing the character, venturing onto a slippery slope, and connecting these and other elements to important pieces of the story.

We talk about the types of “evil” a character can fall into, using character examples like Oedipus, Othello, Boromir, and Doctor Horrible, and how you might incorporate tragic flaws into their downward-trending paths. Finally, we offer examples where we’ve seen it done poorly. Hello, Anakin!


Come up with a list of three things that are important to your main character. Push one of those things out of alignment so that it will draw your character to the antagonist’s side.

Hard Magic, by Larry Correia, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 31: Tragedy

Tragedy. It’s just TRAGIC. Tragedy is also one of the classical forms that writers need to know how to work within. Why? Well… because the Greeks thought we should be forced to have strong emotional responses to literature.

Writing Prompt: Write a delightful story about happy, cheerful anthropomorphic creatures who all die horribly.

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