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My review: This handy writing resource will be a hit with writers of all genres.  With a plethora of suggestions and examples, Writing Scary Scenes will help you add tension to your manuscript.  How can you employ film-making techniques to raise the stakes?  How will you raise your reader’s pulse just enough to be powerful?  These questions and more are answered in this great book.  No matter what genre you write, you will benefit from Writing Scary Scenes.

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by Rayne Hall

Suspense is a feeling – the feeling of excitement, of tension, of fear, the feeling of needing to know what happens next. As writers, we aim to create suspense, because our readers love it.

Here’s a quick trick for increasing the suspense:  Let your protagonist walk through a doorway on her way to danger.

Film makers use this technique frequently. Next time you watch a thriller, cop drama or horror movie, observe how the camera lingers on the door before the hero enters.  Subconsciously, the viewer perceives the door as a barrier: if the protagonist crosses it, she is entering a danger zone. The viewer screams inwardly “Don’t open that door!” Of course, the protagonist opens it and enters. By now, the viewer is sitting on the edge of her chair, frightened on the hero’s behalf, needing to find out what happens next.

You can use the same trick in your writing: Put a door between your protagonist and the danger, and linger for a moment before she or he enters. Any kind of door serves: a front door, a garden gate, a gatehouse, a trap door, a stile, a cave mouth, even  a gap in a hedge. This works whether your  heroine is  a police officer on her way to confront a serial killer, or a governess tempted to explore the mansion cellar’s secrets, whether your hero accidentally stumbles into a werewolves’ lair or whether he gets dragged into the torture dungeon.

Slow the story’s pace for a moment and linger at the door.  Describe the door: Is dark oak, grimy glass, gleaming steel, or splintering hardwood with peeling paint?  Are there any danger clues, such as knife marks, smashed glass, ominous stains, thorny plants, perhaps even a sign “Visitors Unwelcome” or “Keep Out” nailed to the centre?

Describe the sound of the doorbell, or the weight of the keys in her hand. Finally, describe how the door opens:

The door swished open.

The door opened with a squeal.

The door whined inwards on its hinges.

The door rattled open.

By the time your protagonist steps through the door, the reader’s suspense is turned to high volume, intensely anticipating what happens next.

If you want to increase the suspense further still, describe the sound of the door as it closes behind her. For example:

The door snapped shut. 

Behind her, the door groaned shut.

The door thudded closed.

The door clanked into its lock.

This suggests to the reader that the protagonist has just walked into a trap, and that her escape route is blocked.

By making your protagonist walk through a door, you can add a lot of suspense to your scene with just a few words.  Try it out, and enjoy.

Any Questions?

If you have questions about this technique or want to discuss your ideas for using a door in your story,  leave a comment. I’ll be around for a week and will reply. I love answering questions.

Non Fiction – Writing Craft
Title: Writing Scary Scenese
Author: Rayne Hall
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.

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Rayne Hall

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 and Writing 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.