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Why YOU should enter Twisted50, Volume 3 with a Horror Short Story

by Lucy V Hay​

A Thought-Provoking Question

Someone recently asked me the first time I knew I was a writer.

This great question got me thinking.

After all, they hadn’t asked me the usual question of ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ or even ‘when did you DECIDE to be a writer?’

Instead, the question asked of me was when I first realised I WAS a writer … Subtle difference, but crucial.

My answer may surprise you: I first knew I was a writer when I was eight.

Yup … just eight years old.

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs 

So, back then, over thirty years ago now (!), we were reading and discussing a short story in class, The Monkey’s Pawby W.W Jacobs. It’s a dark and macabre tale about being careful about what you wish for (because you might just get it).

In the 1902 tale, The White Family are visited by a Sergeant Major. The troubled soldier is in possession of a monkey’s paw that has the power to grant wishes.

The Major is quite open about his problem: he has had his three wishes and appears to have regretted them. This does not perturb the Whites, who say they will gladly relieve him of the item so they might have their own three wishes.

The Sergeant Major gives up the paw but again, warns them the wishes may come at a great cost.

The Whites aren’t worried about that and waste no time in thinking up their first wish. They decide they want enough money to pay off the mortgage on their house, £200 (remember it WAS 1902, when £200 was a lot more money than it is today).

Sure enough, the £200 is granted … But unfortunately, it comes in the form of compensation when the son Herbert is killed by machinery at work. Eeek!

But that’s not when I realised I was a writer

I remember putting my hand up and saying, ‘The writer told us what would happen before it happens.’

The teacher blinked and me and said, ‘What do you mean?’

I read from the text:

“Well, I don’t see the money,” said his son, as he picked it up and placed it on the table, “and I bet I never shall.”

I didn’t know the phrase back then, but I was describing the concept of dramatic irony

A favourite literary technique of such writers as Shakespeare, dramatic irony is when the full significance of a character’s words or actions becomes clear to the audience or reader although it is unknown to the character.

In other words, Herbert will never know what hit him!!! (And never see the money either, just like he says). POW! (Download your free ebook of The Monkey’s Paw HERE).

This is why I love short stories … and horror 

Without a word of a lie, that story changed my life. It made me realise not only that horror is an awesome genre, but that short stories can really pack a punch that’s memorable and relatable.

The Monkey’s Paw is why I have written so many short stories myself too, many of them horror. Some have even appeared in the previous Twisted50 volumes! 

Readers out there online love them too

What’s more, I love to read short stories … Even when I lose my writing mojo and can’t make it through a whole novel, there’s always plenty of shorts to read.

Whilst it’s true people like to doom-scroll on their phones, they also love original and absorbing content in the form of short stories. We can find many of them on social media platforms, writers’ websites, sites like Wattpad or adaptations in the form of comics, ‘twitterature’ or TikTok videos.

This is why I always tell my ‘Bang2writers’ they should write short stories, especially as ‘reader magnets’.

Short stories can be a really effective tool to get eyes on your work as a writer. In the Kindle and self-publishing age, it’s easier than ever to showcase your writing talents with short stories, including (but not limited to) …

  • Getting picked for anthologies (like Twisted50, vol 3)
  • Sending them to short story podcasts 
  • Getting them adapted for short film and even features (such as Joe Hill’s The Black Phone)
  • Entering short story contests (some are very prestigious & lead to offers of representation or publishing deals)
  • Going to short story ‘open mic’ nights in real life and reading your story aloud 
  • Packaging up your own collection and self-publishing it on Amazon 
  • Giving them away on your website to build your email list

So what are you waiting for? 

Short stories can be a great way of getting noticed as a writer. They’re also a very good way of trying something new or getting out of the ‘meh’ mindset if you’re feeling frustrated. What’s more, because they’re short, they’re easy to finish as well! 

So get your thinking caps on and start road-testing those ideas for your own short story. If you are not sure where to start, start here … Check out my free instagram mini-training on what I call ‘breaking story’, HERE

Good Luck! 

BIO: Lucy V Hay is a script editor, author and blogger who helps writers. She’s been the script editor and advisor on numerous UK features and shorts & has also been a script reader for 20 years, providing coverage for indie prodcos, investors, screen agencies, producers, directors and individual writers. She’s also an author, publishing as both LV Hay and Lizzie Fry.  Lizzie’s latest, a horror-infused serial killer novel titled The Good Mother is out now with Joffe Books, with her next out in 2024. 

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