Today I am the blog tour stop for WRITING SCARY SCENES by Rayne Hall. The tour is hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, and you can visit out the rest of the stops here. Below my review is a guest post by the author, so make sure to check that out.
Title: Writing Scary Scenes
Author: Rayne Hall
Release Date: July 6, 2012
Source: Author for blog tour
Genre: Nonfiction, How-to
Page Count: 83
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.
If you’ve been by my blog before, you may have seen some of my posts on writing. Writing is something very important to me, and I hope to publish my own work someday. So when I got an email about the tour for WRITING SCARY SCENES, I was curious to read it and see if I could pick up any useful tips.
Although the book is intended to help writers work on scary stuff, many of the tips and tricks within can be applied to any type of scene or genre. In fact, the author includes advice on how you can use the techniques in various genres.
WRITING SCARY SCENES flows in a logical way, starting with building suspense and ending with how to tell if you’ve made your main character into a wimp or not. I found a lot of things to watch out for in my own writing, such as keeping a character from wincing or shrugging too much, or overusing suspense or fear. I’m sure that I’ll refer back to WRITING SCARY SCENES when I need to add suspense or fear to a scene.
There are plenty of examples sprinkled throughout the book, both from the author’s writing and from famous authors such as Lisa Gardner or Tanith Lee. At the end are three of Rayne Hall’s short stories, so you can see her advice in use.
WRITING CRAFT: HOW TO WRITE ABOUT VIOLENCE AND GORE
by Rayne Hall
If your novel’s plot includes violent scenes, then some pain and gore is needed to create realism. However, it does not have to be much. Choose carefully how much gore you want to include, based on on your personal taste, your genre, and your readers’ expectations.
Do you enjoy reading gory fiction, with graphic descriptions of violence, with chainsaw massacres and disembowellings? Then write it, and include detailed descriptions of the injuries.
Does the mere mention of violence repulse you? Do you get sick at the sight of blood? When watching a horror movie, do you fast-forward through the gory bits? Then keep descriptions of violence brief and leave out the gruesome detail. Instead, focus on the psychological aspects.
Some genres – especially thrillers and full-length horror fiction – practically demand violence, because this is what readers expect, so you need to provide it, although not in every scene.
In a thriller, few scenes contain violence, but the violence is graphic. Descriptions of murder victims are graphic, too, often with details intended to shock.
The horror genre spans a wide range. On one end, psychological horror may show no violence at all, although the threat of it is present; the readers know something terrible is going to happen but they don’t witness it on the page. At the other end is slash & gore horror, filled with brutal murders and mutilations, chainsaw massacres and mounds of gore.
In children’s fiction and romance, there is little violence and no gore. Urban fantasy often has some gory bits, but they tend to be brief.
Readers expect a certain amount of violence – a lot, a little or none – depending on the genre, on other books by the same author, the book description and the cover picture. If you give them too much for their taste, they’ll be grossed out; if you give them too little, they’ll be disappointed.
While you can’t get it right for everyone, you need to get it right for your average reader. Visualise the typical person buying your book, and consider what other books she has read and who her favourite authors are. Use those as a yardstick for the violence level in your own writing.
In the age of the ebook, readers download sample pages before buying. Try to include in your first pages a hint of the level of violence to come.
The book’s blurb (short description on the back cover or the product page) can also give readers a clue. Use phrases such as extreme horror, violent, not recommended for young readers to warn potential buyers that this may not be the right book for them.
Striking a Balance
While violence can create many different kinds of fear, gore creates horror, shock and revulsion.
If you choose to write gory fiction, take care not to create a non-stop gore-fest. Mutilated corpses piling up in scene after scene soon become boring. The impact of gore soon wears off. Also remember that the mental states of horror and shock don’t last long; they may give way to indifference. Revulsion is stimulating only if it is brief; continued revulsion puts readers off and sends them in search of something more pleasant.
The trick is to use violence and gore only in some scenes, not all the time. Give the reader the chance to recover between each slaughter, so they’re able to experience the horror afresh.
Think of gore as spice: it enhances the flavour of the dish, but is not a dish in itself. Sprinkling black pepper on a dish makes the food more exciting, but you wouldn’t enjoy a dish consisting mostly of black pepper and not much else.
Using Gore to Create Horror
If you want some shock, horror or revulsion, but not too much, make the descriptions graphic but keep them short, perhaps just a sentence or two.
To create horror, describe the colours, textures, shapes and movements of the corpses, injuries and horrible things. Describe one or two details rather than the whole thing. Show the white maggots wiggling in the wound, the blood spurting in a wide arc from the shoulder where the limb has been severed, the eyeball hanging by a thread from its socket.
You can increase the horror further by mentioning something innocuous in the same sentence as the gory detail: Blood drips from the ceiling and forms dark patches on the baby blanket. Intestines spill across the lace tablecloth.
A related technique is to use similes, comparing the terrible thing to something innocuous: Blood stains her lace shawl with pink and scarlet like a garden of roses. Guts spill from his abdomen like strings of undigested sausages.
My advice: Make the gore graphic and intense, but use it sparingly and keep it short.
If you want feedback for an idea or have questions, leave a comment and I’ll reply. I’ll be around for a week and I enjoy answering questions.