3 Day Novel Writing Contest

Sep 10, 2022 by HL Bernabe, in Contests

So I did this crazy thing. It's called the 3 Day Novel Writing Contest. Anvil Press holds this contest over the three days of the Labor Day weekend. The idea is to write a novel in three days. Contestants get 72 hours to write a complete draft of a story. You know, with engaging characters, snappy dialogue, conflict, good pacing, an interesting plot, and so on. In 72 hours. In order to do that, the writer must unleash those creative juices, massage the brain, imbibe a shit-ton of java, prop their eyeballs open with toothpicks, and not die. Oh, and of course, write their ass off. Did I mention this was over the course of only 72 hours?

Sounds like fun, right? I signed up immediately.

When I found out about it, I was like, "Yeesss!" I tried to get some ladies in one of my writing groups involved and they were tempted (not really) but cheered me on from the sidelines, because they are not insane enough to do something this stupid.

Truthfully, this contest should be called the 3 Day Novella Writing Contest, because if you read through all the details on their website, you'll find they say that their average submission is about 100 pages. 100 pages is not a novel. BUT, I crunched the numbers and figured that was about 25,000 words, so that is what I was going to aim for over the weekend.

I have written that much over a weekend before. But, I was adapting a script to a novel format, and so the idea was there, and wasn't having to come up with something off the cuff. For this, however, there was no script to guide me. I did a basic outline beforehand; the rules stated that was allowed. But an outline is just that. An outline. It is not the story.

I wrote close to 19,000 words in two days. Blood poured from my eyes and... no, not really. But I was tiiiired and my eyes burned and I had a massive headache. On the third day, I added to it a bit and edited it until it was approximately 20,000 words.

That was short of my goal, but I don't care. My entire purpose in joining the contest was to give myself the kick in the ass I needed to get a novella written. I wanted one that tied in with my epic fantasy world in Cooking Up Magick and gave my main female character, Paisley, more of a backstory. I did that, and I think it ended up rounding out her character really well.

I've sent the novella to beta and sensitivity readers, and once I get it back and fix anything that needs fixing, I plan to get it proofed and formatted so I can give it out. Anybody who wants a copy when it's ready should sign up for my newsletter, because I will be giving this one away for free!

The ironic thing is that by giving away my novella before they announce the winner, I'm essentially disqualifying myself from being able to win. Only people who have not published their novel yet can qualify to be the winner. Eh, whaddaya gonna do?

BTW—it took two days to recover from that weekend. I didn't realize how exhausting doing something like that could be. I just sat at my desk and typed all weekend, so it's not like I was physically doing much. But the mental exhaustion makes the body just as tired. It's crazy.