Entering stories into Twisted 1, was, for me, quite a leap of faith, not in the competition, but in myself. I’d done no creative writing since school, and that was a long time ago, but have always been an avid reader of fiction, including horror fiction, so thought it was time to try.
I am so pleased I did, because it’s fun! I wrote and submitted four stories in the final days of T1 – nothing like leaving it until the last minute – and with each one, I learnt something, through trial and error on my own part, or from the comments each story received once posted.
And the fourth story – the fourth I have written since my schooldays –was fortunate enough to be selected for Twisted 50 Volume 1. I believe I’ve learnt a lot from the Create 50 site in the relatively short time since I joined, and for what it’s worth, here are a few observations:
Don’t get lost in the advice.
Advice on how to write, what to write, how to use characters, ‘show-don’t-tell’, passive voice, and so on, is available in abundance, and it’s easy to be swamped. I was. And whilst it is good to know the ‘rules’, they are not absolute (no-one says they are, but it’s possible to believe they are).
For example, ‘show-don’t-tell’. ‘Showing’ makes for a more interesting read, and draws in the reader as they see an emerging image, rather than having it presented to them on a platter. However, it also uses more words, and sometimes it suits the story and the tone for something quite simply to be told. Telling also gives the writer an opportunity to comment directly to the reader. So ‘show-don’t-tell’, or ‘tell-don’t-show’; use what suits, but understand why, and that applies to all the advice and guidance. (If I had to pick one ‘golden rule’, then definitely the winner is ‘Arrive late, and leave early’.)
Write something you would like to read.
I’m a finicky reader, and soon lose interest if a story does not interest me; I won’t persevere, as I’m reading for pleasure, not for a degree. Long descriptive passages bore me, and too many names become confusing (especially when combined with the relationships between the characters), so I choose not to go in for these things. But I’ve read a lot, and widely, in my time, so I knows what I likes etc., and if I’m writing a story which does not interest me, then how likely is it to interest another?
You are the boss.
You’re in charge, and it is your story. Don’t compromise the story, style, or tone for what you perceive others may favour, but tell it the way you want to tell it. The beauty of Create 50 is that other people will read it and comment, and it is your choice as to what you do with it next. That said, even if you are in the driving seat, if enough passengers are screaming for you to steer away from the cliff-edge, then they are probably right. However, one nervous passenger who thinks you’re a bit sharp with the brakes can probably be ignored.
And … just do it!
Write something, make it as good as you can, pay your entry fee (a fiver for T2), and bang it in. Be happy with your submission, and wait to see what happens. Use the feedback to fashion the next draft, and think about your story in the meantime. Does every word/sentence/scene contribute? Could it be terser? Is it clear? Does it say what you want it to say?
Just do it.
I’m glad I did.
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