Three-Day Novel Contest

Three-Day Novel Contest

Three-Day Novel Contest

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The Three-Day Novel Contest is an annual Canadian literary contest conducted in September of each year. The contest, which is open to writers from anywhere in the world, gives entrants three days to write a novel. Writers are permitted to plan and outline their novel in advance, but the actual writing cannot begin until the contest's opening date, which is traditionally on Labour Day weekend.

The entries are then judged by a panel, and the winning novel is published by a Canadian independent publisher.

The contest began in a Vancouver bar in 1977, where a handful of writers sat around bragging about their literary prowess. The tough-talk eventually led to a challenge: Go home and write an entire novel in three days. None of them managed to produce a book that first year, but the next Labour Day weekend the challenge was thrown down again, to an even larger group. The challenge was repeated the following year—and this time it produced a novel worth publishing: Dr. Tin by Toronto playwright Tom Walmsley. From that point forward, a small publishing house named Arsenal Pulp Press ran the contest, took it international, and published one winner every year.

In the late 1980s, Arsenal Pulp passed the torch to Anvil Press, which, 15 years later, passed it on to another small press. That publisher folded the same year, which seemed to mean the end of the contest. But a couple of fans of the 3-Day Novel agreed to rescue it; they put in hundreds of volunteer hours to set it up and...
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