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Book: Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall

Book: Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Writing a Book, Authors, Writing Horror, Suspense, Creative Writing, Editing, Revising, Scary Scenes, Excitement, Improve Your Writing, Writing Craft


Rayne Hall

Rayne Hallabout this book: I love scaring readers. Don't you?

This book will teach you practical tricks for turning up the suspense. Make your readers' hearts hammer with terror, their breaths quicken with excitement and their skins tingle with goosebumps of delicious fright.

Are you working on a ghost story, a horror novel, a thriller, a paranormal romance, an urban fantasy or a romantic suspense? Whether you're planning or revising your scary scenes, whether you aim to tease your readers with mild tension or to send them on a rollercoaster ride of fear, this book shows step-by-step how to create the effects you want.

I never meant to become a horror author. As a novice writer, I fluttered from genre to genre, penning everything from funny poems to tragic love stories – but the stories that won contest prizes were always the scary ones, and most of the yarns accepted for publication were horror.

I set about mastering the craft of scary writing by studying the masters, authors who treat their readers to first-rate fear: Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, E.F. Benson, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Lisa Gardner, Tanith Lee and many more. I studied their techniques, practised them and added them to my own writing craft toolkit.

My fiction has become better. When I look at a story I wrote years ago, I see at a glance what needs changing to turn up the fear. Other writers and publishers come to me for help. I offer freelance consulting, teach classes on how to write scary scenes, edit anthologies of horror fiction and continue to write my own scary tales.

Whenever I try to write something different, the story quickly turns into something dark and scary.

Some years ago, I started a light-hearted historical romance novel about a handsome smuggler and a governess. At first, the story progressed as I intended, with funny situations and witty banter... but then I discovered there was a centuries-old curse on the family, the hero had a guilty secret, and the housekeeper was on a serial killing spree. I just could not keep the horrors out of the book.

Another time, I conceived an adventure fantasy about a swashbuckling hero who fought evil... but as I wrote, it turned out that the evil he was fighting was inside him. The book quickly filled with war, rape, torture, demonic possession and human sacrifice.

Clearly, I'm meant to write dark and scary stuff.

My preference is for horror without much violence - no chainsaw massacres, no dismembered bodies, no lakes of blood or mounds of gore. Although I've written scenes of torture and mutilation, my preference is for psychological horror. I like observing how characters feel and act in the face of fear, and I want my readers to share that experience. Often, the characters in my stories have brought the fate upon themselves, or the boundaries between good and evil are blurred. What is more scary than our own evil side?

Whatever kind of fear you want to create – with or without gore, psychological or graphic, mild or intense – this book will show you how.

Most of these techniques will suit many different scenes, but you may choose to use some and discard others. You're the CEO of your writing; your vision counts. Choose the techniques which suit the story you're working on and your individual author's voice. You can dip into and out of this book, picking up the skills you need right now, and leave others for a future project.

Writing Scary Scenes is a book for advanced-level and professional writers. It equips authors who have already mastered their craft with specialist skills. If you're a beginner, I recommend you start with a book on the basics of fiction writing.

I write in British English. If you're used to American English some of the words and spellings may look odd, and the punctuation and grammar may surprise you, but I'm sure you'll understand me anyway.

When talking about characters, I'll switch between "he" and "she". Everything I say applies regardless of gender.

I hope you'll enjoy my book and will apply the techniques to your own writing. Create scenes which are so suspenseful, so exciting, so scary that they stay in your readers' mind. Scaring readers is fun!

Rayne Hall

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