He Who Dares Writes… A Screenwriters First Steps Into Writing Twisted Prose by Ben Marshall

My journey with Create50 began with the Impact film project, submitting several scripts over several months. “I’m a writer working hard to lift my words from page to screen” I said in my profile.

Cheesy but true. I was lucky enough for one of my scripts to make the final 50. As the bubbly and dust settled I was already missing the adrenaline rush of the Create50 emails…”you have a new comment on your screenplay”. My moods had become hooked on those emails. I’d been keeping half an eye on the Twisted shenanigans and reminded myself how keen I’d been on horror movies as a kid. I grew up with posters of Freddy Kruger over my head.

I love stories but mainly through watching film – the lazy way some may say? I’m a screenwriter first and foremost and prose is just not something I do (or did). I rarely read (except to my kids) and I dropped English as a subject at the first opportunity. Would my attempt at prose even be insulting? Imagine a novelist attempting to write a feature having barely watched any films? Absurd.

If Create50 teaches you anything it’s to have a go – and Twisted 2 was screaming at me. I posted a question on the forum, asking for tips on how a screenwriter should approach a short story. What’s the main difference? As ever I received nothing but sound advice and warm encouragement.
I entered 2 stories and both have been shortlisted – so I’m “chuffed to bits”! A phrase I like to use to confuse our Create50 family over the Atlantic.

My first story was “Tilly and Tom Go Trick or Treating”. At the time I was reading a number of simple stories for first time readers with my daughter. Exploring my dark side I imagined the sinister content which could be added between the lines as my daughter struggled to sound out each innocent word. I’m on to something I thought. Mess with the reader’s senses, like one of those master-chefs who serves chocolate cake with custard only for it to be a savoury beef cheek with fancy sauce. So I wrote a simple tale for a first time reader which ended with horrific adult only consequences.

My second story was “The Bunny Killer”. This time I asked myself what is the most twisted and disturbing scenario I can imagine – and then how could that really happen? For me, a horror story which can really happen packs a greater punch. I asked friends to read it and some went very quiet by the end. “What is wrong with you?” others asked.

Story telling is our shared passion, whether prose or screen. The bonus I found with prose is not having to worry about how someone might actually make the story. I indulged in the freedom to tell my stories, not so obsessed with showing it. I’ve lost count of the number of classes I’ve taken in screenwriting, writing by the dos and don’ts. So with prose I really felt the shackles off, going by gut whilst learning heaps through the process. “Why did you break the fourth wall half way through?” or “So who’s the narrator of your story?” are questions I’ve learnt how to answer.

When the book launches I will be there with all fingers crossed. Unless it’s the last weekend in January, because that is when I’m shooting my first ever film – for the Impact. Like I said, if Create50 teaches you anything it’s to have a go.

Ben Marshall

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