Remembering the 3-Day Novel Contest

The Weaklings – Our Photo For The Grand Rapids Press

It started out as the most outrageous statement I had ever heard. “So we need to try this sometime. Can you imagine writing a novel in three days?” thus said Matthew Landrum as he discovered the annual 3-Day novel contest over Labor Day Weekend. I took it as a sort of joke at first. After all I had been working on a novel for three stinking years. There was no way I could do that, I thought. Could I?

Then I was creating an outline. My writer’s group The Weaklings (a play on C.S Lewis’s and Tolkien’s Inkings) began to discuss logistics. Where would this take place? What would we eat? How long would we have to write to complete it? What would we write? Slowly but surely each member looked at this Mount Everest of novel writing contests and began to believe that it was something we could finish.

The three day novel contest is exactly that: Start at 12:01am on Saturday and write until 11:59 on Monday evening. You cannot type a single word before or after that time frame and a person must sign and date a form saying you have not. Outlines are okay, but other than that, its just dreaming up as much of the novel in your mind ahead of time before you begin.

Obviously the novels composed during this weekend are not your average novels. No eight hundred page tomes are penned, but eighty to 100 pages are within reach if you are prepared.

The 3-Day Novel is a juggernaut. Once you are in it there is no stopping. And after that brief moment of despair or trying something new you cannot allow yourself to think twice about it, you must highlight, delete, then begin a new sentence in one continuous action.

Through the contest we went on walks, shared the occasional meal, and for motivation I called my wife, talked with a fellow Weakling for a moment or read the article that made it into the Grand Rapids Press and on the Mlive website.

During the two years I did compete, I wrote two novels. The first is titled For the Glory of Nequam. It is my attempt at exploring the evil in my world and how it began. It is the story of a promised young boy who seeks fame, fails and then attempts to restore the glory of his city no matter the cost. 

The second novel is titled Dacia. It’s about a language expert who is commissioned to travel to Romania to help sway them to join England’s cause during WWI. He falls in love with Katia, a native Romanian and after she goes missing while hiking, discovers a society of werewolves that have lived in the Balkans for centuries.

The contest was so much fun that I am getting filled with the thrill of competing in it once more. Not this year though, but perhaps next. Now I am focused on getting published.

Please enjoy other 3 Day Novel memories below:

If you are participating this year, good luck!



6 thoughts on “Remembering the 3-Day Novel Contest

  1. Pingback: Why I Love the 3-Day Novel Contest (and Why I’ll do it again next year) « Tell Better Stories

  2. Andrew Rogers

    Great post, Bob. I remember when we started talking seriously about the 2008 3-Day Novel in the spring of that year. Crazy! It was so much fun. We have to do it again. But press on with your current work. I know you’ll go far with it.

  3. Julie Catherine

    Bob, I remember reading about that – it was the first post of yours that I’d ever read, and it really intrigued me, so I’ve been following you since. The sheer guts, stamina and willpower (and perhaps some insanity?) it must take to participate in a 3-Day Novel contest must be as daunting as it is thrilling; what an adrenalin rush!

    And no, I’m not doing anything like that! LOL! I’m already swamped with article deadlines, packing for a move deadlines, and more writing projects than you could shake a stick at, hehehe.

    Have a great long weekend, Bob, and happy writing! 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on Josh Mosey | Writer and commented:
    These are the 3-Day Novel Contest memories of another fellow Weakling, Bob Evenhouse. Bob is the reason that I am a blogger and he is the one I mentioned who was already 3 years into a novel when the suggestion to participate in the 3-day novel contest began.

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