Monday, October 14, 2013

Shivers, Chills, and Goosebumps: How to Write Scary. Entangled Publishing's Halloween Hop

Hi everyone, this is Aleah Barley! Hope you're having a spooky October.

I write funny (I hope) contemporary romances. My first book Too Hot to Handle came out last year, and my next book Leaving Las Vegas is available for presale now.

I don't write horror, but both of my books are quick paced and suspenseful with car chases, standoffs, and explosions. So, how do I write scary?

Scary is visceral.

Scary isn't about saying that June is scared.

Scary is saying:

June quivered nervously.

Scary incorporates the senses:

The taste of bile rose in her throat. The smell of gasoline from was heavy in the air. She couldn't see much, but she could hear the killer's footsteps as he crossed the cramped garage, disturbing centuries old dust.

Scary is about what happens next. What might happen next.

She held her breath, praying to some unknown god that her childhood allergies wouldn't choose this moment to act up. There was a familiar itch at the back of her throat. She couldn't sneeze now.

Scary is about the details. Scary is being surprised!

The killer walked to the door. For a moment, she thought that everything would be okay. She was safe. He turned slowly at the last instant, his mouth pulled back into a wicked smile. White teeth gleamed in the darkness. He pulled something out of his pocket. Her eyes strained to see what he was doing. There was no hope, not in the thin light coming through the cracked window.

He struck a match.

That's how I write scary. What about you? Got any tips? Leave a comment below, and I will pick two at random to receive copies of my first book Too Hot to Handle.

And, while you're at it, check out Leaving Las Vegas. When Luke and Glory meet it's hate at first sight. She thinks he's stuck up. He knows that she's cheating at cards. When gun thugs invade their poker game, they end up stuck together on a car chase across America. Can these two gamblers risk everything on love?

Find it now at Amazon or at Barnes and Noble!


  1. I love your comment about the senses. It is so true! Everything feels enhanced when you are afraid. When I write scary I try to think about normal people being thrust into possible situations that we hope we never find ourselves in but can all relate to.

  2. Hey Aleah, good composition for scariness.
    I hope that your books do well. .

  3. That was fabulous fear, I hope to read one of your books soon. I'm been reading and thing I could since I was about 13 and already you have caught my attention and that ia very good for any author .. That moment that as not only the character holding their breathe but the reader as well.

  4. Scary is seeing what could happen in your mind's eye. That's always more terrifying to me than the reality. :)

  5. I don't have any tips but I love your post!
    kydirtgirl68 AT gmail DOT com

  6. I think you're doing quite well with your writing. Scary isn't all about horror. Sometime scary is worrying that the character is in danger. To worry about the character, we have to be invested in that character's fate. Many horror authors get so caught up in creating gore and guts, they forget about the characters and the plot. I just read one such book. It was simply a bunch of scenes stuck together to create an expectation of a book. To me, it failed miserably. It lacked a plot; I cared nothing for the characters (and forgot who they were half the time), and tired quickly of the needless gore. I'm all for murders, gore and violence. But I need reason. It sounds as if you have your act together. That can create fright just as soundly as the most profound horror novel. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love this: Scary is ... What might happen next! Love your covers! ;)

  8. Great post!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  9. I try very hard when I write to never say my character "feels" anything. I always try to find better words to describe to pull the reader more into the story.

  10. I try very hard when I write to never say my character "feels" anything. I always try to find better words to describe to pull the reader more into the story.

  11. love a scary element to a great book!! Just something about it!!

  12. You are right, to me scary depends on surprise!

  13. I rarely read horror stories because, well, I get so scared. But I do like those elements in a story where the character is so scared that I feel it too.

  14. Woah. Very nice job on writing about scary. This is actually a great advice for newbie writers. :D

  15. I feel the same way about scary making things change for you hearing, seeing. breathing smelling everything about you changes when you are scared

  16. your a new to me author and I have to say you have my interest peeked with how to write scary ty so much for the post I really enjoyed it will be addingyou to my wish list

    ,mortalsinn AT yahoo DOT com

  17. Hi! Great post! Your book sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing! Happy Halloween!!

  18. Such a great post, I love scary books! I think unexpected creepiness is always a good way to scare readers.

    librarianlavender @ gmail . com