I’m delighted to be taking part in the virtual book tour for indie author Rayne Hall’s Writing Scary Scenes. This is a very useful writer’s guide, packed with hints and tips to make your own horror writing better. Rayne Hall has a very engaging, easy style and you feel like you’re at a very chatty lecture, where you’re learning whilst being thoroughly entertained. The introduction sets the tone where the author honestly tells us that she never ‘meant to become a horror author’. After trying various genres however, she found that this was the one that both best suited her and for which there seemed to be most demand. This is the mark of the successful indie – flexibility and an eye for the market. In a few sentences Rayne Hall thus establishes her credentials and you can instantly see that you’re going to learn something from a ‘been-there-done-that’ teacher, the best kind.
The book is neatly divided into short, to-the-point chapters. What you see is what you get with them: for example, ‘Instant Hooks’ is about precisely that – ways to grab the reader’s attention. ‘Strip to Tease’ reveals an interesting way to make characters feel vulnerable – get them to take their clothes off! Other of the 26 chapters are ‘Cliffhangers’, ‘Violence and Gore’ and ‘The Wimp Effect’.
The book concludes with some sample stories, a truly inspired touch. This really is putting your money where your mouth is – proving that you can do what you say you can.
I heartily recommend this book to all indies, not just would-be horror writers. It’s has hints and inspiration for all writers and makes for an absorbing read.
Now, here is an article by Rayne Hall written especially for this website as part of the virtual tour. I’m honoured to host it. Thank you Rayne.
WRITING CRAFT: THREE WAYS TO END A HORROR STORY
by Rayne Hall
You’ve created a suspenseful beginning and a terrifying middle for your story – now what?
Choose from one of these three endings.
1. The hero defeats the monster. This is satisfying for novels and long stories as well as genre-crossing pieces. Give it depth by involving a loss or sacrifice, e.g. the hero’s mate dies.
2. The monster defeats the hero. This works well in short stories, for extreme horror fiction and for heroes who deserve punishment.
3. The hero defeats the monster, but… This makes a story memorable. You can have fun coming up with a “but” to surprise or shock your readers: The monster’s big brother is still alive. The monster’s mate swears vengeance. The hero regrets killing the monster. The hero metamorphoses into the monster’s successor. The alleged hero is the real monster while the alleged monster was a brave rebel who sacrificed himself.
Once the reader has seen the monster, keeping the fear-level high is difficult, but you can increase the emotional tension.
Avoid anticlimactic endings in which the danger is revealed to be non-existent: The monster turns out to be the hero’s long-lost loving mother, a pet dog or a friendly alien, or the dangerous situation was only a simulation exercise, a computer game or a dream.
Although I’ve used the male pronoun in this article, the hero and the monster can of course be female, male, human, animal, paranormal, alien or anything else you choose.
If you’re a reader or writer and want to discuss horror story endings, please leave a comment. I’ll be around for a week and will reply. I love answering questions.