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!

Cheers,

Bob

Work In Progress Challenge

I was recently “tagged” by Shannon Howell in a book interview of sorts. I am glad to have this opportunity to share about my work in progress and thanks to Shannon, and Eric, and to all those down the line who continued to pass this challenge along.

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

Yikes. Writing this down is sort of like cementing a message in a sidewalk. Once it’s there, it’s there. The pending title is The Tale of Calelleth. I originally got the idea to call it a “Tale” from John Gardner. See the link to my post here.

2. Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

It came from being witness to a sudden and vicious storm. Also, from the book How the Irish Saved Civilization see this post Where Do Ideas For Novels Come From?

3. What genre would your WIP fall under?

It would be fantasy. However, I could categorize it under high adventure fantasy, because it is a mystery and my characters do not have super powers nor are there fantastical creatures…yet.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Interesting question. I figure Russell Crowe back in his Gladiator days as my antagonist and recently, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as my protagonist. I know strange protagonist choice, but did you see the Dark Knight Rises? He was excellent.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

The Sage in Waiting Hailea and her bodyguard Custos discover a terrible secret just as an innumerable army arrives on the steps of the city. Will they be able to solve the mystery and save the city? See a full synopsis here.

6. Is your WIP published or represented?

Certainly no publication yet and no representation yet. I am working on that now.

7. How long did it take you to write?

Seven years to develop and write. I have already started on the second book (about 2/3rds done) and have the others plotted out. See my 3rd draft post here.

8. What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

Right there with you Shannon, not sure, still looking. Thought Stephen Hunt’s Secrets of the Fire Sea is close.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

C.S. Lewis, Jules Verne, and I know silly, but J.K. Rowling. I really like the coming of age stories set in a time of nobility and chivalry.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

My story contains all of the elements you are looking for in a YA book. My target audience is 13-19yrs. Meaning there are episodes of first kisses, rival dormitories, daring sword fights, an obstinate but charming horse named Aleutian, teachers, libraries, struggling students, young love, broken hearts, death, terrible sadness, and reluctant heroes.

One last thing…

Tag, You’re It:

As a final step of this Work In Progress blog post, I’m supposed to tag other writers who are then “it” to make a blog post of their own.

Here’s my list:

Josh Mosey

Andrew Rogers

Wo3lfMad

Julie Catherine

Three Benefits of Writing to a Schedule

While I finish a week of banishment from the internet, a result of my recent move, my friend Josh has graciously agreed to write a guest blog on Parttimenovel.

Josh is a fellow member of my Weaklings writer’s group who is in pursuit of publication. I hope you find this post insightful. I know I did, as I also listened to Andrew’s presentation at Baker Book Store and was inspired to start a blog. Please visit their blogs at Josh Mosey Writer and Tell Better Stories.

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My good friend Bob Evenhouse was the one who inspired me to start my blog, but it was another Weakling  who gave me some helpful tips about how to actually do it.

A while back, I had the pleasure of co-leading a seminar at the Breathe Writer’s Conference with my friend and former co-worker, Andrew Rogers. Andrew and I met through working at my bookstore, but it wasn’t long before his talents were stolen away by local (yet global) publisher, Zondervan. The session we led at the writer’s conference was titled something like “Marketing 101: What bookstores and publishers want from authors”. It was supposed to be an hour long session with the last 15 minutes reserved for questions. We were each going to take a few minutes to introduce ourselves and our platforms and then speak for about 20 minutes on our individual subjects. Much of what I said, I’ve included in my Bookstore Symbiosis posts, but Andrew talked about online marketing tools and the author’s brand and other cool things. By the time he was done, people didn’t want to wait for the appropriate Q&A time and I ended up with about 10 minutes to go through my presentation. But I wished he would have continued without having to stop for me. It was so good.

Among the things he said was one nugget that stuck with me, even though it would be a few years before I started my own blog. He said that when just starting out, write to a schedule. Make a plan for your posts and stick with it. My personal blog schedule started out like this: Monday – Autobiographical, Tuesday – Character feature from one of my novels, Wednesday – Book Review, Thursday – Writing Tips or Inspiration, Friday – Links and Report Card, Saturday and Sunday – Relax.

When I scheduled my posts like this, my previous concerns about starting a blog and then not having anything to say proved to be unfounded. All I had to do was come up with a post that fit the theme of that day. With a little direction, I had no trouble coming up with content. So the first benefit is always having a prompt.

Another thing I noticed with my post schedule was that I was allowing myself a variety of ways to relate to other people. By choosing a different prompt each day, I could allow people to see something about my past, my writing, my taste in books, and what I found interesting enough to link to. I was allowed to be well-rounded.

Last, by having a schedule, I forced myself to be consistent in my posting. In blogging, I’ve found that sporadic posts mean a low readership. It is difficult for people to build reading your blog into their routine when they have no idea when to expect a new post from you. And if you decide to post a whole string of posts in one day, there’s a good chance that your followers won’t follow for long since no one likes being force-fed for long. It doesn’t matter as much whether you post daily or once a week, as long as people know what to expect. By setting a schedule, you’ll know what to expect of yourself, and your readers will know what they have to look forward to.

Thanks for reading!