This has rather turned into an unofficial little blog series regarding the 3 Day Novel, but several folks on social media and my DMs have asked me about the overall 3 Day novel writing process and what I thought of the manuscript that sprang from those 72 adrenaline infused hours.
I gave my initial thoughts back after I finished (within less than an hour of finishing for some friends who wanted to check in on me right away). But now that I have had a chance to go back over the manuscript and evaluate it, I have additional thoughts and answers to the most common questions.
Is There Anything Usable in a Manuscript You Wrote That Fast?
Surprisingly yes. Most of the story’s structure is actually very good. Since I didn’t have much time to be as creative as I normally like, I didn’t argue with myself about the beats of the story or the typical structure. So it does contain a clear three acts with a more simplified style.
The prose itself could use some smoothing out at some points and additional layers of description for the setting. There’s also more nodding, shaking of the head, and eyebrow raising than there should be (those are my perennial weaknesses when adding body language). But those are quick fixes.
How Is the Characterization?
The characters have their nuance to them thankfully, but they too are a little more simplified. I think that for me it may actually work for more commercial styled stories to produce them in such a limited time frame because there isn’t as much time to stare into their eyes and minds and seek out the tiny little details. (And not that these details are bad, but commercial fiction that sells well tends to be more swift in its descriptions and efficient in its prose.)
There is a twist that I am going to keep. That particular twist certainly surprised me as I did not expect the character to be what that character turned out to be. I am debating whether I want to signal it more or keep it about at the level it is.
Did You Rush the Ending?
Oh mercy did I rush the ending…if you haven’t watched those vlogs, you have no idea how much I was rushing.
In terms of how the story actually goes, it’s both yes and no. On the one hand, I felt as if I was rushing. I felt as if I was rushing through the whole process, but the tension and pain of the final 12 hours was the worst (my poor hands were aching and throbbing). But I also made a fairly large miscalculation which meant that I had unintentionally added a couple chapters that actually didn’t need to be written.
When I realized this, I had a few hours left to go and that was plenty of time to actually finish the chapters that needed to be written.
With that said, I think that the very last two are the sparsest and are the most in need of fleshing out. They are also the ones with the most typos. And even there the story surprised me. I am not quite sure how I am going to resolve one of the larger reveals that occurs there, but I do like it.
The fact that it does end on a semi-cliffhanger actually does make it a little better for wrapping it up and feel less like it’s rushed because the reader knows it will continue.
Was It Worth the Cost?
This is one area on which I have zero doubts. Yes, I was in pain and exhausted. My mind was overstimulated, and it felt as if my fingers were either going to fall off or curl up in tight balls against my palms, never to uncurl. When I closed my eyes, they burned until tears streamed down my cheeks. I barely slept or ate during the weekend, and I made it even more complicated by forcing myself to do vlogs after each chapter and post it live because I wanted to confront another set of my weaknesses.
However, it was 100% worth it.
I had to pay in recovery time of course. But I was writing the following day, simply at a slower rate and with some voice software. I also had to spend more time stretching, massaging, and doing the other essential self care tasks which are not particularly fun but necessary.
What Were Your Weaknesses Like in This Format? Better? Worse?
Overall, I’d say that my weaknesses with body language in draft writing were much more apparent as well as my overuse of certain phrases. Deeper details and nuances regarding language, religion, philosophy, and worldbuilding were far less.
However, I think that overall my plotting and structure actually improved. I had to focus much more on my instincts, and I literally did not have time to overthink anything. There was little to no outlining throughout the process except as needed to see if I was going to hit my target. And somehow I wound up hitting more beats and still being quirky than I have in most of my other stories.
From an editing standpoint, this is much easier to fix within the later drafts because the structure is solid. Deeper worldbuilding and culture are fairly easy to lay in unless you create massive changes. And details themselves are meant to be layered. Similarly a good polish tends to remove the overuse of certain phrases and more time allows better choices for body language as a whole.
Will I Publish the Story or Continue Within the World?
Yes, eventually. I really enjoyed the characters and the world itself. I have lots of ideas for the next two books.
Do You Plan on Doing It Again? And Will You Continue The Series in the Contest?
I absolutely plan on doing the 3 Day Novel Challenge again.
I enjoy those challenges where you see how far you can push yourself, and this fits in with one of my greatest passions.
However, I am not sure that I would want to continue within the same series. I have been working on bits and pieces throughout the year as inspiration has struck. And I think that the competition may work best when you’re working raw and by the skin of your teeth. Not only is there more room for creativity but you aren’t scrambling backward to remember old details and worldbuilding that observant readers who might be carrying along might pick up on (yup, if you’re reading this and think it might be you, it’s probably you, and thank you for always keeping me on my toes <3).
Don’t You Risk Burnout With This?
I think it depends really.
I write a great deal every day, and I love it. On average I write about 10k or more a day. However, I don’t do it all on the same story nor do I force myself to finish stories in that amount of time.
I think that burnout comes with other warning signs however. And currently I have not found any additional warning signs aside from the fatigue and pain, but those are rather normal for me and easily dealt with all things considered.
If you are concerned that you yourself might experience burnout, then pay attention to your symptoms and stop if you think it is going to cost too much. Writing a great deal at once is only beneficial if it doesn’t cost you more in the long run. And writing swiftly within a short period does not make you better or worse than anyone. It just tells the period of time in which you told the story. So do what is best for you. And remember that you can always try it to see if it does work for you and then stop if it doesn’t. The entry fee is reasonable for the event ($50), and the organization seems quite nice.
What is the Hardest Part of the 3 Day Novel Challenge?
The hardest part of the 3 Day Novel Challenge is actually finishing the story. The first day or so is blissfully easy compared to the end and knowing that you have to nail the ending in a satisfactory or at least tangible way.
Endings have been my greatest weakness for a long time, and so having a challenge that requires me to not only compete the story but give it a good ending strikes right at a place I want to grow.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I either made videos about the things I was going to do differently in the next 3 Day Novel contest or notes about what I was going to do differently, and I want to go see what those are because, aside from doing more frequent stretches and setting up templates for the vlogs, I can’t for the life of me remember what those tips were.
If you have any other questions about the competition or the process, feel free to message me here or on any of my social media profiles, and I’ll get back with you with my answers.