Thursday, 24 September 2015


Today I welcome Rayne Hall onto my blog in a continuing series of writer's craft blog posts.

Rayne is the author of over fifty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages.

With a sweet black cat snuggled between her arms, Rayne writes fantasy and horror fiction. She lives in a seaside town in the south of England.

Follow Rayne on Twitter.
(Rayne follows back readers and writers)
Visit Rayne's Amazon Author Page

'Fiends Ten Tales of Demons' edited by Rayne, with a story by Kelda, is currently free on kindle and (22-25 September 2015)

by Rayne Hall

The five main senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.

This sense is the easiest to use, but it can be boring if used a lot. Choose details which characterise the place and show only what the point-of-view character would notice. To create atmosphere, describe the source and quality of the light. Examples: Blossoming dittany spilled over the slope.  Black clouds smeared the sky. Punchbags hung like giant misshapen sausages from the wall.  Tiny lizards darted across the broken floor tiles, tongues flicking. Golden sunlight dappled the lawn. Sundown bloodied the horizon.

Sounds make a story exciting. Use this sense a lot when writing a ghost or horror story or a scary scene and whenever you want to increase the suspense. Include the sounds of footsteps, of furniture, of doors opening and closing, and of background noises. Can be used anywhere in the story, especially during suspenseful moments. Examples: The door squealed open. Her high heels clacked on the pavement. In the distance, a motor howled. The receptionist's keyboard clicked, the water dispenser gurgled, and from next door came the hollow whine of the dentist's drill.

This sense is a powerful tool in the writer's hand, because a single sentence about smells creates more atmosphere than a whole page of seeing.  This is perfect if you want to keep your descriptions short but effective. Mention smells at the beginning of a scene, and whenever the point-of-view character arrives at a new place. You can also use it to describe a person.  Consider mentioning two or more smells in one sentence.  Examples: The air smelled of hairspray and bubblegum. The air smelled of boiled cabbage and disinfectant. The air was thick with charcoal smoke and diesel fumes.  She smelled as if she had sprayed on all the samples from the perfumery counter.

Use this only if it suits your story, for example, if the PoV is eating or drinking something.  Examples: The curry was just as he liked it: hot and spicy, with a strong coriander flavour. The soup singed her gums with its sour taste. The coffee had that sharp-bitter taste of a too-often reheated brew.  I savoured the iced coffee on my tongue, with its blissful blend of cold and creamy, bitter and sweet.

This includes what the PoV touches with her/his hands, and also how the ground feels underfoot, how garments feel on the body, how wind or rain feels in the face. In the widest sense, it can encompass temperature, balance, hunger, thirst and pain.  Examples:  Needles of hail pricked her cheeks as if she had dipped her face into a pincushion. Hot sweat soaked into her shirt, her knickers, her bra.  The doorknob felt icy in her hand. She groped her way through the darkness, her fingers sliding across sharp-edged stones and damp sticky walls.

To make your writing vivid, I recommend using at least three of these senses in every scene.

Any questions? Leave a comment, and I'll respond.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Flurry of Sales, Maybe Even a Plethora of Sales

This is the way it goes. Nothing for ages, and then you get five sales in two days. I'm pleased to announce the following sales:

'Acting Private Tantus Jackson' an orginal story to SNAFU:Future Warfare
'Regretful in the City of Promises' original poem to FAE anthology
'Drink Deep and Long the Circean Poison' reprint story to The Overcast
'LightBringer' reprint story to Great Tomes
'Sea is in My Blood' reprint story to Dark Lanes III

Is that a plethora?

Monday, 7 September 2015


Today I welcome Rayne Hall onto my blog in a continuing series of writer's craft blog posts.

Rayne is the author of over fifty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages.

With a sweet black cat snuggled between her arms, Rayne writes fantasy and horror fiction. She lives in a seaside town in the south of England.

Follow Rayne on Twitter.
(Rayne follows back readers and writers)

Visit Rayne's Amazon Author Page

By Rayne Hall

I like characters with weaknesses, because they're like real people, and their flaws make the story vivid. What would Charles Dicken's tale 'A Christmas Carol' be without the sour stinginess of Scrooge, or Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' without Mr Darcy's boorish arrogance?

Unlike those dull characters who are already perfect at the novel's start, flawed heroes need to learn lessons, often difficult and painful ones. They have to wrestle their weaknesses, make harrowing choices, adapt and mature. The selfish person learns consideration, the hard-hearted one compassion, the coward courage and the miser generosity. I can grow with them, without suffering the actual anguish and embarrassment, from the comfort of my armchair.

Many novels feature the main character's journey of growth, sometimes between the lines, sometimes as the main plot.  This journey fascinates me. The character cannot begin to change until he acknowledges his weakness. When he changes, he is tested, often to the extreme.

The classic novel 'Four Feathers'   by A.E.W. Mason  is the story of a coward growing and redeeming himself. Henry Feversham (spelled “Faversham” in some movie versions) is afraid of fighting in a war, and also frightened to admit to his father that he doesn't want to follow the family tradition of becoming an army officer. About to be sent into battle, he resigns his commission. Shunned for cowardice by his family, his friends and his fiancĂ©e, he redeems himself with acts of courage in the face of dangers and hardships far greater than those he had sought to avoid.

'The Kite Runner' is also the story of a coward who grows and redeems himself.  As a young boy, Amir failed his friend, witnessing him being raped rather than coming to his aid. Shamed by his cowardice, he frames his friend for a crime, so he would not constantly be reminded of his shameful cowardice. When he realises the full extent of his betrayal and seeks to make amends, it's too late: Hassan is dead. Then a situation opens up which replicates what had happened in childhood, but on a much larger scale. The danger and suffering he must undergo to rescue Hassan's son from the clutches of a Taliban paedophile are so great that few humans could bear them, but he is determined to do what it takes. As readers, we root for him that this time he'll get it right.

The character needs to find the will to change within himself, but another person's love and trust is often the catalyst. Especially rewarding are the stories in which the love of a good woman gives a flawed man the courage to change. In real life, bad men seldom change, and they often drag the good woman down with them. But in fiction, we can see it happen. We root for those characters and cheer for them.

In 'Storm Dancer' I matched two flawed characters, Dahoud and Merida, each with their own growth journey and lessons to learn.

Dahoud is a troubled hero with a dark past. As a siege commander, he once razed, raped and killed... and he enjoyed it. Now he needs to atone. He has sacrificed everything to build a new identity and a life of peace, and he devotes himself to protecting women from harm. But Dahoud is not alone. Inside him lives a devious demon, a djinn that demands he subdue women with force. It torments him with pains and tempts him with forbidden desires. How much of it is the demon, and how much is the dark psyche? How can he learn to control the evil inside him? How far must he go to redeem himself?

Merida lives by firm principles, values and rules, and seeks to convert others. Imprisoned in a sadistic ruler's harem, where her definitions of right and wrong no longer apply, she needs to rethink her values. Which principles will she hold on to, and which ones will she sacrifice?

Their fates intertwine in a tight knot, their partnership is not a love match but an alliance for survival. They need to learn to trust each other... and more importantly, they need to learn to trust themselves.  At the end of Storm Dancer, each has completed a journey through the darkness of their own soul and grown.

Do you like to read about flawed heroes? If yes, what attracts you to them? Who is your favourite flawed hero in fiction?

Leave a comment, and I'll reply.