Review of Rayne Hall’s WRITING SCARY SCENES

Rayne Hall begins her book with these words:

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. 

Hall keeps her promise. Her book is broken down into succinct chapters that give you all the tools you need to create scary scenes. And the tools are concrete. She shows you the words you can use and the ones to avoid. She looks at pacing and the pattern of building a suspenseful scene. And all of this is done with a plain language approach that makes it feel as if she is dispensing her advice across the table from you at your favourite coffee shop.

The tools Hall provides aren’t just for use by horror and thriller writers. Every story needs suspense. Every author wants his or her book to be the one that readers just can’t put down. No matter what you write, Hall’s techniques can give your book the reader-grabbing polish it needs.  I’m in the midst of editing a fantasy for middle readers at the moment, and I will be starting at the beginning (again!) with this guide beside me. Almost every chapter in Hall’s book made me think about a point in my novel where I could up the ante for my hero and keep my reader more engaged. As Hall states: “Fear comes in many different flavours. For each scene you write, choose one or several kinds of fear.”

Here’s a selection of chapter titles from book to show you the range of Hall’s expertise–and how much I’m going to learn as I work through my novel!

  •  Instant Hooks
  • What Lurks Behind That Door?
  • Sounds Build Suspense
  • Strip to Tease
  • Keep the Clock Ticking
  • Structuring a Scary Scene
  • Using the Senses
  • Cliffhangers
  • Villains and Monsters
  • Chases and Escapes
  • Humour
  • The Wimp Effect (loved this chapter!)

In each chapter, examples from works of other authors bring Hall’s writing tips to life, and in case you think the suggestion is so good that you want to use it all the time, she ends with some words of caution about what happens when the concept is overworked. Hall’s own sample stories at the end of the book are guaranteed to provide the reader with more than a fair share of chills, and are a perfect way to view the techniques at work.

You can find Hall’s books here, including another book in this series, Writing Fight Scenes: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RayneHall

Hall also offers writing workshops: Writing Workshops with Rayne Hall: Take your writing craft to the next level https://sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/

Rayne Hall 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.

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