January 16, 2009


The International 3-Day Novel Contest

“It seems to me that the three-day gauntlet forces instinct to the fore; in the absence of conceptual and rewrite time, the writerly subconscious drives things on.”
The Globe and Mail

“A coffee-fueled, plot-weaving literary juggernaut.”
Playboy magazine

“The deformed left foot of the literary world.”
—the Times

Can you produce a masterwork of fiction in three short days? The 3-Day Novel Contest is your chance to find out. For 40 years, hundreds of writers have stepped up to the challenge each Labour Day weekend, fuelled by nothing but adrenaline and the desire for spontaneous literary nirvana. It’s a thrill, a grind, a 72-hour kick in the pants and an awesome creative experience. How many crazed plotlines, coffee-stained pages, pangs of doubt and moments of genius will next year’s contest bring forth? And what will you think up under pressure?


1st Prize: Publication*
2nd Prize: $500
3rd Prize: $100

*The first prize winner will be offered a publishing contract by Anvil Press after the winner announcement in the spring following the contest. Once the contract is signed, the winning novel will be edited, published and released by next year’s contest.

How It Works

The contest takes place every Labour Day weekend (usually the first weekend in September), as it has since 1977. You can read the rules for complete details, but here are the basics:

Entrants pre-register online no later than the Friday before the contest. You are allowed to prepare a brief outline ahead of time. (There are no set rules on this, but the briefer your outline, the better the creative experience.) The contest runs on the honour system—this has always worked well because the contest is first and foremost a writing experiment and so, as the saying goes, cheating only harms the cheater. (Plus we can tell if you cheat.)

Entrants write in whatever setting they wish, in whatever genre they wish, anywhere in the world. You may start writing as of midnight on Friday night, and must stop by midnight on Monday night. Then you print up your entry and mail it in to the contest for judging. (Submitting your manuscript is not required, and many entrants do not, preferring to use the contest as a personal creative tool. We recommend you do, though. We like to see what everyone came up with, and it makes it a more complete experience for you. Plus you never know… even if you don’t like what you produced, the judges might.)

Our panel of experienced judges from the writing and publishing community reads and rereads the submissions and picks the winners. We announce the judging results the following January, hand out some prizes, and e-mail a fancy certificate to everyone who delivered a novel. Then we publish the winner!

The prizes are a good incentive, but the contest’s true rewards go to everyone who gives it their all: forgetting writer’s block exists for 72 hours, bragging rights afterward, an amazing mental kick-start and a shiny new first draft of your novel.

To sign up, read the rules and the FAQ, register online, make a few outline notes (if you wish) and then, you know, just simply write an entire novel over the three days of the Labour Day long weekend. You can do it! Keep energized, stay hydrated, keep your goal in sight and let the momentum of the contest charge your creativity and break through your blocks.

The next contest will take place over the Labour Day long weekend in September. If you have questions or want to join our mailing list, send an email to info@3daynovel.com.

About the 3-Day Novel Contest Administrators

The 3-Day Novel Contest is administered by the Geist Foundation in Vancouver, along with the generous help of numerous volunteer judges and supporters from the writing, publishing and arts communities. Please visit the Contest History page to read about the excellent organizations that began and nurtured this unique literary institution.


Email us with any questions or comments, or with media requests for an interview with a previous winner or an entrant from your area.


Please note our new mailing address:

3 Day Novel Contest
210-111 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4