“There is a well-known saying that if you give a monkey a typewriter and an infinite amount of time then it will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.
In 2003, the staff at Paignton Zoo gave a computer to six crested macaques and categorically proved that what you actually get is five pages of the letter ‘S’ and a broken keyboard. Time, it seems, is no substitute for talent. But can talent substitute for time…?”
(From the introduction to 2011’s NiaD, The Dark)
Time is no substitute for talent
Novel in a Day was an annual event where a group of writers from across the planet get together and write a novel. A whole novel, in a single day.
The event differs from other writing events in three ways:
1) Our aim is to produce something that has a single coherent plot that is actually enjoyable as a work of fiction! The basic plot structure is worked out in advance of the event, and then broken down into bite sized chunks for the authors to work on.
2) Quality, not volume, is our goal. Each participant has a ‘target’ of a very manageable 1,500 words (submissions received vary from there to around 4,500). We’ll be writing something you’re proud of. 1,500 well written and edited words that invoke genuine emotion are far better than 10,000 ones that readers skim over!
3) You get to test your skills in a new and challenging environment: Unusual time pressures. No control of the wider plot. Oh, and here’s an important one… No knowledge of what happens in the story outside of your own chapter. You only get the information you need to write your section: Character sheets, location sheets (if required) and a brief outline of the plot points you need to cover. That’s it!
How it works
You receive your briefing pack electronically at midnight on the morning of the event (UK time). You then have until 8pm the same day to write and email in your chapter so that they can be collated and turned into a book. The full novel is made available in epub mobi and pdf formats, as well as a Scrivener project file by midnight the next morning.
You don’t need to be a professional writer to take part (although several are), but you do need to be committed and confident. Committed, because there are no back up writers, and no time to make good on missing sections… if you don’t deliver, you leave a hole. Confident, because you need to be comfortable that you’re able to produce work in a time-pressured environment that you’re happy with people reading.
Why you should take part
Apart from simply being great fun, NiaD gives you a unique opportunity to benchmark yourself as a writer and get a better sense of your own strengths, voice and style. You get to see your work lined up against others produced in the same time constraints, with the same level of preparation and on the same story. Reading what others come up with in the same environment highlights what makes your writing voice distinctly you… and it only takes a day!
How to take part
Historically the events have taken place on a random Saturday in October, and the sign up sheet usually goes up about a month in advance. We have also run special short notice events (like April 2020's Special Novella-in-a-Day Edition). There are currently no plans for additional events, but if you'd like to be notified about any future activity, get in touch via the contact page.
While you’re at it, follow us on Instagram and Twitter (we also have facebook and YouTube pages, but they're not very active at the moment). You can also check out the FAQs.
Note, when you do sign up, you'll be asked to provide the following information:
1) The name you'd like to be credited by in the book (can be your real name or a pen name, but note, it will be used for the credit and the copyright information).
2) An email address (this will be used to send out the briefing packs and keep you updated in the run up to the event, so make sure it's one you check regularly - we don't spam, or share your details with anyone).
3) A link to a sample of writing (can be a short story, a sample chapter, a blog... anything that gives a sense of your craft so we can make sure you're up for the challenge!)
4) Confirmation on whether you'd prefer to avoid being given chapters to write which might lend themselves to more 'grisly' interpretations.