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.

22 Comments on “A Novel in a Weekend?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, father of pangolins

    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?

  4. 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.)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. ‘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.

  14. 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.


  15. 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.)

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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