Tag Archives: Horror

Writing Excuses 4.6: Pacing with James Dashner

This episode was recorded live at Life, The Universe, & Everything 28, The BYU Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy, and features, among other things, our largest audience ever.

Oh, and James Dashner, our friend and the author of The Maze Runner.

It also features what has to be our roughest start ever. We don’t get to actual content until around four minutes in. Seventeen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re pretending this was an object lesson. Also, we love picking on our friend James.

Pacing! What do we do so that people keep turning pages? Which useful tricks do we hate? Which subtle methods do we prefer? And most importantly, what does James Dashner do? We talk about reveals, punchlines, cliffhangers, chapter length, and the “Brandon Avalanche.” Also, we talk briefly about the look on my face, and the roof of James’ mouth.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Ender’s Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition by Orson Scott Card

Writing Prompt: Someone opens a door, and finds a wet, seeping cardboard box on the doorstep.

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Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 7: Genre Blending

You’ve seen it done… “Zombie Apocalypse in Space.” “Perry Mason in the Armed Forces.”  It’s genre blending, where the author takes themes prevalent in two different genres and combines them to create something new.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. We call down a few examples of both, and offer you listeners the sage advice you need to blend genres successfully. Summary: like the vegan barbecue chef, one of the secrets to your success lies in letting no-one know what that hamburger is made of. No, that metaphor is not in the podcast. I just thought of it now.

We finish with a discussion of the genres we’ve blended in our own work, and Brandon tells us about the science fiction story he’s decided to work on.

This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery. Pre-orders close this Wednesday!

Writing Prompt: Combine “Horror” and “Western” and don’t make it look like either one.


Writing Excuses Episode 26: Horror

What is horror? Why is it scary? HOW is it scary? Forced by their grandfather’s will to spend an entire night in his spooky mansion, our podcasters gather to discuss the nuts and bolts of what horror is (and isn’t) and how it works behind the scenes. Here’s a hint: as with pretty much everything else in writing, the secret comes down to compelling conflicts with engaging characters. Be warned: Howard is going to say something scary, so don’t listen to this podcast alone and/or in the dark.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by something close to Dan’s heart.


A descent into madness written from the first person point of view. You are going to descend into madness, your writing will become gibberish or something horrible will happen, and then Brandon will scream.