Notes From the Front: the 96 Hour Novel

Yes, yes, I took an extra day on it. Still, I think writing a full short novel… 25,000ish words, a hundred pages… in a four-day weekend is something that I can be happy about.

Trust me, I wasn’t happy about it Saturday afternoon, and I can’t discuss how I felt Sunday without adding some sort of plug-in to WordPress that will randomly cuss every sentence. But by Monday, I was forging on ahead and writing at a 20 page per day rate. That’s about two and a half times my normal rate, and the effect it had on my creative brain (wringing it dry, breaking it down, and leaving nothing but the story intact) is something that has to be seen to be believed. Though, I think my next project will be a 100-hour short novel… perhaps I’ll try that back to back during NaNoWriMo since my hero, Agata, claims she has more stories to tell me.

Tuesday evening I had an interesting bit of exhilaration. I’d not opened my copy on my desktop since Sunday morning, and when I looked at it I realised I’d written 50 pages in a little over two days. It made me feel dizzy for a moment.

Anyway, my report is that everyone should try this once, and I myself am going to try it again in a few weeks. I wouldn’t write a literary novel this way, and perhaps not even one of my beloved surreal horror stories, but for something that proceeds at a frenetic pace (the action in this story, tentatively called “Agata and the Broken Train,” takes place over the course of four days) it’s a perfect method. I’m also curious to see what happens to this in rewrite… will I trim it to an under-90-pages length and streamline it, or will one of the characters/ plotlines jump out and demand equal treatment, adding on another ten, or twenty, or fifty pages, even as I tighten and refine what I’ve written?

If anyone’s interested in reading, well, probably not my rough, but my first clean copy, let me know… it will be prepared in a week or two. As for my other stories, I’m still more or less on track for my story-a-week project, and I’ll be putting the first refined story, up here next week for your edification and enjoyment.

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