March 21, 2014

Survival Guide: #4

The Honour System: Does It Work and Why?

The most asked question of any 3-Day Novel Contest is: How do you know I wrote it in three days?

Well, we do. And we don’t.

In the early days of the contest this dilemma came up firsthand. Judges were suspicious when George Telford, a feisty senior from Nova Scotia, submitted his 1,000 page manuscript Dreadful Things. It was easily proven that no one could write a thousand pages in just three days and an angry Mr. Telford attempted to save some face by claiming to have misread the contest name, believing it to have said the 3-Year Novel Contest.

Experience has shown that an average 3-Day Novel is from 90 to 150 pages long when completed. Another aspect of the question that can be truly frightening to contemplate is that “maybe some people are honest.” This might seem like pretty heady stuff. God knows, it’s easy enough to spot the George Telfords of the world, and no one will punish you if you cheat. But, as your mother told you, you’re only cheating yourself. The experience of total immersion for three days in your own creating is, truly, not to be missed.