« How to Hit a Deer | Main | The Place to Which the Good Ship Lollipop Goes »

January 30, 2007

A Novel in a Weekend?

For those of you who find the pace of National Novel Writing Month a little too leisurely, Gabe Chouinard has got your number:

I'd like you to join me, therefore, in the first annual urban drift Novel(la) in a Weekend challenge, if you dare. It will run from (your) Friday afternoon (February 2) until Monday morning (February 5) (I'm here on CST). The rules are simple: dedicate the entire weekend to churning out a Moorcock-esque short novel. Post excerpts of your progress on the forum. Or, just hang out and encourage the participants.

In sum, Gabe's hoping to get a bunch of people to crank out, oh, 12,000 words a day for three days. You know, for fun. You could be one of them.

For the record, I've actually done something close to this when I was wrapping up The Android's Dream; I wrote about a novella's worth of text on that book in the last three days. Will I be doing it this weekend? Well, I don't know about that. I am writing the followup to TAD at the moment; at the very least, I will also be writing this weekend.

If you want in, follow the links and pester Gabe about it. And then stock up on the caffeine.

Posted by john at January 30, 2007 11:35 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Dan | January 30, 2007 11:49 AM

I would like to try, but I know I'd fail seeing as how it's Super Bowl weekend, and I've got obligations. Also, it sounds somewhat daunting in light of the fact that I remember when you were scrambling to put the wraps on TAD. And, insofar as that sort of madness was fun to watch, I don't think I'd willingly put myself through that.

Good job on that though, and I am definitely looking forward to the follow up.

Steve Buchheit | January 30, 2007 12:08 PM

Not that I don't think I couldn't crank out 12000 words of deathless-prose a day, but I have to shower Saturday morning and pet the cat most of Sunday afternoon, so, that's going to put a big dent in my word count. So, I think I'm going to pass on this. My fingers hurt just thinking about it.

Steve Buchheit | January 30, 2007 12:13 PM

And it won't help until I learn to write cogent sentences on the first try anyway.

Chang, father of pangolins | January 30, 2007 12:14 PM

God I can't even squeeze a page out today. Let alone a novel.
And I'm supposed to be packing today for a house move Friday. Da frig?

MWT | January 30, 2007 12:48 PM

There's also an "official" 3 Day Novel contest that comes with prizes and everything. Labor Day weekend, every year. :) I've yet to officially enter, but I did write 18k words toward a novella in 2005. (I'm a slow writer, sorry. That experience showed me that my cruising speed is only 500 words per hour.)

cisko | January 30, 2007 12:58 PM

John, I'm curious... with your Great Leap Forward in finishing TAD, do you feel you had to do more (or less!) revision afterward? (And I don't intend to imply that less revision is necessarily a goal.)

For what it's worth, I couldn't tell you where your last section began or ended. I did read the last third or so of TAD in one sitting -- finishing at 1AM on a Sunday morning -- so maybe I read it in the same way you wrote it.

Tim Keating | January 30, 2007 01:40 PM

MWT: Yeah, I did the Anvil press 3-day novel contest in . . . 2002? That sounds right. Cranked out 26,000 (really crappy) words toward a novel that ultimately got trunked. But it at least demonstrated that I was able to produce a semi-cogent narrative when I had to (evidently, I *can* write my way out of a paper bag), and it was a big part of why I'm still writing.

cathy | January 30, 2007 01:47 PM

Heh. Reminds me of college when I found out the page count for an honors thesis in my department was around twenty pages longer than I'd previously been lead to believe. That was a fun chapter to write in a week. Fortunately I was taking a postmodernism seminar that semester, so my b.s. abilities were at maximum.

gabe chouinard | January 30, 2007 01:49 PM

John, thanks loads for posting this. I'm very excited! Nothing like overloading with coffee and churning out novels.

For anyone with questions, I've posted a sort of 'clarification' on the unruly rules.

I hope a good chunk of people make the attempt!

Pixelfish | January 30, 2007 05:01 PM

Hold on....12,000 words is a novella? Really? (I'm only asking because my latest attempt at writing and finishing something just clocked in at 13000 words, and it sounds more impressive to say I finished a novella.)

Riccardo | January 30, 2007 08:04 PM

12,000 words in three days? That's nothing (for others, not me): Currently on display at the Denver Library is the original manuscript of "On the road": all 120 single-spaced feet of it in one big long roll.
I think Kerouac did about 175,000 words in just 20 days, on a mechanical typewriter.

gabe | January 30, 2007 09:34 PM

Actually, it's attempting to do over 50,000 words in three days.

It's just that many publishers don't consider anything under 70K or so to be a "novel" these days.

Steve Buchheit | January 30, 2007 09:35 PM

*cough* 12000 words per day for 3 days equals 36000 words *cough*

Jim Winter | January 30, 2007 09:37 PM

I did my Nano project in 13 days. However, I also spent 3 or 4 weeks outlining the bejesus out of it.

Not doing that again, let alone writing a novella in a weekend.

Steve Buchheit | January 30, 2007 09:41 PM

gabe, it's your thing, so 50000 is the goal.I didn't see your comment before I posted.

gabe | January 30, 2007 10:22 PM

's OK, Steve. That damn (la) creates some confusion. This is what I get for spur-of-the-moment decisions, I guess!

Well, that and three miserable days in the basement office, suffering from caffeine jitters and exhaustion, and a more than likely unreadable sequence of words arranged to look like a short novel.

Matt | January 31, 2007 03:58 AM

Well, one of the writers of cheeky novels (Sidney Sheldon) died today but he was quite prolific even after a late start. Somehow he had the same formula of cranking out 1200-1500 pages and re-writing again and again. He's got a good advice on writing chapter endings and first hand experience of what he was writing about. Unfortunately, you can't do the latter in sci-fi.


A.R.Yngve | February 1, 2007 03:09 PM

I tried writing a novel in a weekend once... as part of some contest.

I just managed the deadline, but didn't win. The resulting novel was a piece of ultra-violent pulp SF -- basically a 36,000-word demolition derby -- that I didn't know what to do with... so I swore to never take part in a "Weekend Writer" contest again.

Never again! (Though it was fun to try, just once.)

Jenny | February 2, 2007 04:35 PM

I've done the Anvil Three-Day Novel contest twice, once officially and once unofficially. (I got 33,000 words the first time and just over 40,000 the second.) I found that a novel-in-a-weekend pace is good for (a) proving I can do it and (b) churning out a story that I want to write but don't want to devote weeks or months to. I also found that it's not something I can do without a few weeks of psyching myself up (and outlining), though. Not to mention I have a baby shower to go to.

Lee | February 2, 2007 10:25 PM

What is your take on this experiment of group-writing a novel?


John Scalzi | February 3, 2007 12:34 AM

My response: Eh.

Patrick | March 1, 2007 06:40 PM

Those are a lot of words. I've been typing this story that I wrote. So far I've got 12,000 words typed. There's a bunch more to go. As I'm typing I'm remembering just how long it took me to write this story. I could never write 12,000 words in a day unless I was doing freewriting.

Post a comment.

Comments are moderated to stop spam; if your comment goes into moderation, it may take a couple of hours to be released. Please read this for my comment moderation policies.
Preview will not show paragraph breaks. Trust me, they're there.
The proprietor generally responds to commenters in kind. If you're polite, he'll be polite. If you're a jackass, he'll be a jackass. If you are ignorant, he may correct you.
When in doubt, read the comment thread rules.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)