No, I’m not referring to Dean Knootz's hit novel… I am actually referring to today’s post, How to Write a Gripping, Intense scene.
I have years of experience in this, seeing that even before I wrote horror, I wrote intense thrillers. Genres such as these are reliant on elements of intensity and suspense, so it is imperative you implement them in spades in your novels.
Hence today’s post. In fact, I am writing an intense scene in my novel as we speak. I won’t spoil too much, but I will say the police find Diane and the gang in an abandoned warehouse and they try to spook the cops out.
With that being said, let’s get into it! The first essential element of an intense scene is, as I stated previously, suspense. Without suspense, intensity is not possible.
So, to build suspense, you must first draw out the scene for as long as possible, leaving little to no evidence of what is happening next. Because trust me, no one wants to read a novel where they know what is going to happen next.
Instead, they want a novel that will keep them on the edge of their seat and keep them expecting every moment.
To do this, hide what is most important and keep the stakes high. Even more so than that you need relatable fleshed-out characters the audience cares for or else they will not care what happens to them.
It does not have to be life or death stakes and can be as simple as they may fail a test.
After establishing all the above, it is essential you do this to intense music. It will not only set the tone of your piece, but will also help you control pacing and cadence.
If timing and cadence do not come naturally to you. Don't fret, just listen to your favorite thriller or horror soundtrack to do the trick.
Keeping your protagonist or antagonist in the dark (literally if applicable) can also build suspense. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, so use this to your advantage.
Location is everything, too. What sounds scarier? Hearing a killer is on the loose on the news. Or the footfalls of a killer in the attic.
Your location does not have to be scary or foreboding. However, it must set the tone of the scene and have plenty of nooks and corridors for surprises to hide in.
Grammatical techniques can also help you in this pursuit. For example, using em dashes (-) or this technique (...) Or even using short, choppy sentences.
However, I will warn you breaking the rules before you know them is a fatal mistake. It makes you look amateurish and will push away any potential reader.
Therefore, I recommend reading up on this subject. What I just shared should just be the entrance to a rabbit hole of knowledge.
Finally, the location from which you write your story is instrumental. You can not hope to write a creepy scene in a well-lit bedroom or coffee shop.
So get out there! Find your writer's oasis and stay there until you finish the intense portion of your novel.
My last piece of advice that builds off the last is to write distraction-free. Put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off. Because it could mean the difference between half a page and a full page of writing, and that is one rabbit hole you do not want to fall down.
Till next time.
- Matt Gorrell