Good horror doesn’t just come from a creepy idea, it comes from an emotion: fear.
One of my greatest fears is that my degenerative disability will progress to the point where I’m no longer able to enjoy even the limited quality of life I have right now and I’ll be forced to stay in relatively the same place forever.
This is where the idea of Mr. Bentley came from, someone who lures people to his home with promises of fame and success and then inflicts this awful punishment on them for the sake of his art.
You could argue that there’s also an underlying message about how the world of actors and moviemakers is often a glamorous façade for mundane or even sinister things, as well as the message that pursuit of fame can lead people to become a hollow shell of what they used to be, but mainly this story is about a desperate young woman whose ambition is her downfall. We follow Gemma deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole with an ever-growing sense of dread and, even though we know it’s unlikely things will turn out okay, we stick around till the end just in case.
I made sure people were emotionally invested in the character because I feel like too many horror stories treat people like props, objects to be chewed up and spit out by horrible monsters, without any real identity. I wanted to give my readers something real and relatable. Something human.
From writing for Twisted50, I learned to utilize my resources to my fullest extent. Before submitting, I asked my most brutal beta readers to give me their thoughts, and then, after making some minor adjustments and patching plot holes, I sent it to an editor at my university for a final review.
I highly advise other writers to do the same. Yes, you could submit your roughest draft and then make adjustments based on what other writers say on T50 and then resubmit updated versions, but you should put your best foot forward as soon as possible. Plus, there’s no telling when you’ll get feedback from your fellow T50 writers, so you might end up scrambling to make adjustments last minute and that’s stressful.
One more piece of advice: this is your moment to showcase your writing and your twisted mind, so don’t waste it writing what you think they’ll want to hear. Write what you want (within the guidelines, of course).