Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blog Tour: Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall

Non Fiction - Writing Craft
Date Published: 7/06/12

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. 


My Review:
Let's face it, some authors could really benefit from a lesson in writing scenes in which the readers feel the fright a bit more for the characters. I think overall Rayne Hall has done an amazing job putting together a how-to for beginners. 

There were some chapters (lessons) in which I felt didn't really have the desired effect, but mostly her lessons were spot on. 

I also think that this story can benefit from authors who are not trying to write a truly horrifying scene. There are some lessons in which every writer should learn! 

Buy Link


by Rayne Hall

Of all the senses, the sense of hearing serves best to create excitement, suspense and fear, so use it liberally.

Mention and describe several sounds, and insert those sentences in different sections of the scene. This technique suits all stories in all genres. It works especially well if the scene is set in darkness, because the sense of hearing is sharpened when the vision is reduced.

Action Sounds

Use the sounds of the ongoing action, especially of the threat: the villain's footsteps clanking down the metal stairs, the dungeon door squealing open, the rasp of the prison guard's voice, the attack dog's growl, the rattling of the torture instruments in the tool box.

Background Sounds

In addition, use the background noises which aren't connected to the action. Think about the noises of the setting.


A shutter banged against the frame.
A car door slammed. A motor whined.
A dog howled in the distance.
The motor stuttered and whined.
The ceiling fan whirred.
The wind whined.
The rope clanked rhythmically against the flagpole.
Computers beeped, phones shrilled, and printers whirred.
Waves hissed against the shore.
Waves thumped against the hull.
Thunder rumbled.
Rodent feet scurried.
Water gurgled in the drainpipe.

Extreme Suspense

A few 'sound' sentences work wonders for the atmosphere of your scary scene. You can insert them wherever it makes sense - and even in random places.

The most powerful use of this technique is to make a suspenseful moment even more suspenseful.
By inserting a sentence about an irrelevant background noise, you can slow the pace without lowering the excitement. This turns the tension and suspense up several notches.

Here's an example:


The knife came closer to her throat. And closer.
She squirmed against the bonds, knowing it to be useless.
The cold edge of steel touched her skin. She tried not to swallow.


The knife came closer to her throat. And closer.
She squirmed against the bonds, knowing it to be useless.
Somewhere in the distance, a car door slammed and a motor whined.
The cold edge of steel touched her skin. She tried not to swallow.

Collecting Sounds

Whenever you're away from home and have a few moments to spare, listen to the noises around you. Jot them down in your writer's notebook. (If you don't have a writer's notebook yet, get one: a small lightweight one with ruled pages is practical.)

If possible, describe what the noises sound like, using verbs (a car rattles up the road or a car whines up the road)

By observing and noting the noises of one place per day (365 places per year), you can build a fantastic resource which will come in handy for future fiction projects. This is also a handy way of killing time, especially in boring meetings, at the laundrette, at the railway station, in a queue, and in the dentist's waiting room. Use the time constructively for writing research.

You can even swap noise notes with other writers. Your writing buddy may be working on a scene set in an abandoned mine-shaft - and you may have notes about the sounds in such a place. Or you may write a scene set in the Brazilian jungle - where she took notes during her trip last year.


If you're a writer and want to discuss this technique, leave a comment. I'll be around for a week and will respond. I enjoy answering questions.

Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), Six Historical Tales Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes andWriting Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).
She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic, Undead: Ten Tales of Zombies and more. 
Twitter: @raynehall


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