Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog Tour: Writing Scary Scenes, by Rayne Hall

Writing Scary Scenes, by Rayne Hall

Are your frightening scenes scary enough? Learn practical tricks to turn up the suspense. Make your readers' hearts hammer with suspense, their breaths quicken with excitement, and their skins tingle with goosebumps of delicious fright.

This book contains practical suggestions how to structure a scary scene, increase the suspense, make the climax more terrifying, make the reader feel the character's fear. It includes techniques for manipulating the readers' subconscious and creating powerful emotional effects.

Use this book to write a new scene, or to add tension and excitement to a draft.

You will learn tricks of the trade for "black moment" and "climax" scenes, describing monsters and villains, writing harrowing captivity sections and breathtaking escapes, as well as how to make sure that your hero doesn't come across as a wimp... and much more.

This book is recommended for writers of all genres, especially thriller, horror, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. It is aimed at advanced-level and professional authors and may not be suitable for beginners. 

File Size: 292 KB
Print Length: 143 pages
Publisher: Scimitar Press (July 6, 2012)


1. Flavours of Fear
2. Instant Hooks
3. What Lurks Behind That Door?
4. Dark and Dangerous
5. Sounds Build Suspense
6. Total Isolation
7. Strip to Tease
8. Keep the Clock Ticking
9. Feel the Fear
10. Pacing
11. Euphonics
12. Peaks and Troughs
13. Structuring a Scary Scene
14. Choosing the Location
15. Using the Senses
16. Cliffhangers
17. Villains and Monsters
18. Captivity
19. Chases and Escapes
20. Violence And Gore
21. Humour
22. Backloading
23. The Story's First and Final Scenes
24. Black Moment And Climax Scenes
25. Genres
26. The Wimp Effect
Sample Story: Druid Stones
Sample Story: Through The Tunnel
Sample Story: Only A Fool

Book Trailor:

My Review:
Who knew there could be so much information on how to create a scary scene?  Apparently Rayne Hall does, and she spills it all in this writing guide.

Whether you are writing thrillers, mysteries, romance, or children's books, there is good information in here for you.  Hall breaks down the different types of fear and goes into detail on how to achieve each emotion.  She shares excellent information on the use of euphonics, senses, and sentence structure and how to temper your descriptions to match the genre you are writing for.

I had never heard of most of the issues she talks about, and I eagerly gobbled up every word.  She clearly explains each concept and provides helpful examples.  I can easily see how best selling writers utilize these tools to manipulate the emotions of their readers.  It also made me rethink some of my own writing and wonder if I had unknowingly made one (or many) of the mistakes she points out.

I would recommend this book to anyone writing a novel, middle grade on up.  The information in this book is mostly universal and can be applied to any writing style and genre.

* Side note: Hall writes in British English, so some of her spellings and vocabulary are slightly different than what you may be used to.

Guest Post:

Does your novel-in-progress contain a scene where the heroine escapes from danger, with the villain chasing after her? Excellent. Readers love the these scenes.

Here are some techniques to make your escape scene exciting.

1. Point of View
Stay in deep Point of View. If possible, write the scene from the fleeing person's point of view. This means showing only what this person sees, hears and feels. If the PoV character runs for her life, she won't pause to watch her pursuer, so don't describe what the pursuer looks like, or how the distance between gradually closes. However, you can describe the sounds the pursuer makes: boots thudding on the asphalt, clanking armour, yells, curses.

2. Pacing
Chases are fast-paced, so use fast-pace writing techniques: short paragraphs, short sentences, short words. But if the chase or escape spreads over more than a few paragraphs, try to vary the pace. This will make it more exciting. When she runs fast, use very short sentences - even sentence fragments - and mostly single-syllabic words. They create a sense of breathlessness and fear. When she's hiding, when she's struggling to climb up a facade inch by inch, when the pursuers have trapped her and when the policeman handcuffs her, use medium-length sentences and words.

3. Reader Sympathy
The reader's sympathy always lies with the fleeing person. You can increase this effect if several people are hounding the refugee. Nothing stirs reader emotion more than a situation of many against one. If possible, build tension by introducing the other pursuers gradually. At first, she runs only from one foe. Just when she thinks she may get away, one of the villain's henchmen comes from another alley. And then a third. In addition, you can give the pursuer advantages over the refugee: physical health, weapons, technology.

4. Danger from the Surroundings
Increase the tension by shifting the action to increasingly dangerous ground. As your heroine flees from the evil villain, she moves towards quicksand, a crumbling bridge, a cliff edge or a ravine. Now she must decide rapidly which poses the greater danger – pursuer or location – and take the risk.
5. Stumbling
When a person runs from danger, a cocktail of chemicals gets released in the brain. It includes adrenalin and other substances which dull pain and give stamina but also impair motor skills. Your heroine's movements won't be as coordinated as they usually are, so she may miss her footing, stumble or slip. This is all the more likely because in her hurry, she won't examine the ground where she's treading.

6. Physical Symptoms
The running person is probably out of breath, struggling to get enough oxygen. Her chest may feel like it's about to burst. Her heart thuds loudly, not only in her chest but in her head. This thudding continues even when she stops running, and while she's hiding, the heartbeat in her head may be the loudest noise she hears.

7. Put up a Fight
When the pursuer catches up with her, she puts up a fight. She does not need to win, but readers will respect her if she manages to inflict some hurt on him before he overpowers her. This is better than if she surrenders meekly, or if she faints and comes to again in the dungeon.


If you're a writer and planning or revising a scene in which your protagonist flees from danger and want to discuss your ideas, please leave a comment. I'll be around for a week and will respond. I love answering questions.

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About the Author: 
Rayne Hall writes subtle horror and outrageous fantasy fiction. Currently, she tries to regain the rights to her out-of-print books so she can republish them as e-books.

She is the author of thirty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies.

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has settled on the coast of southern England in a small dilapidated seaside town of former Regency grandeur.

Rayne holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Over three decades, she has worked in the publishing industry as a trainee, investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, production editor, page designer, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more. Outside publishing, worked as a museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, trade fair hostess, translator and belly dancer.

She edits a series of themed short story anthologies and teaches online classes for writers ('Writing Fight Scenes', Writing Scary Scenes', 'Writing about Magic', 'Edit your Writing' and more).
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