Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
During the writers conference at Life, the Universe and Everything (LTUE) in February, Lesli Muir (LL Muir on her book covers) gave a wonderful, inspiring workshop on How to Write a Novel in Three Days. Some of us who attended came out of curiosity, but came OUT as Believers. So, Welcome, Lesli—How did you first happen to come across such a radical concept as writing 60,000 words in only three days?
I read Michael Moorcock’s instructions and wanted to see if I could do it. I also knew I needed a little more energy in order to do it, so I talked my writer friends into doing it too.
And you have successfully tried this how many times?
Three myself. Many of the writers who did it have done it a second time since that first great success.
Could you give a brief run-down on the preparation necessary before the Three Day Event?
Make some short lists of things you expect to google. Do that kind of stuff ahead of time if possible. The point is to have a list to glance at if you get stuck. You don’t want your fingers to stop moving for long. You also need a very brief structure—kind of like a frame to hang your story on. It’s not really a plot. Just a list of scenes you are certain you want to have. It’s a simple list of 24 chapters, divided into four sections of 6 each. The last chapter of each section should have a killer twist. Each section also has a goal for the character to work toward. The twist is what will determine the goal for the next chapter. Once you start assigning your scenes to the chapters, the blanks almost fill themselves in.
What are the steps within the Three Days themselves?
You have to know how fast you write—words per hour. Divide the ultimate goal of 60k words by your production rate. That tells you how many hours of writing it will take. Divide that by three days. Whatever hours you have left over will determine how much time you get for meals and sleeping. It’s good to have a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon to keep the blood pumping to your brain.
What kind of shape is your manuscript in by the time you get to the end of Day 3?
ROUGH, rough draft. I have to do a lot of polishing, but having a finished first draft in so little time is worth an extra run-through, isn’t it?
Perhaps I should also ask, what kind of shape is the Writer in at the end?
Day one is exciting. Ending up a little ahead of schedule at night is the surprise bonus. That high gets you up and moving the next morning. Seeing all that writing behind you keeps you pushing through the day. The second night I’m always ahead of schedule as well. Day three is the trick. You want to reach out to other humans. You want a reason to have to stop, but you can’t let that happen. Day three is the test. But at this point, you’re already over the summit and headed for home. The home stretch is a great place to be. You just have to tie yourself to the chair, keep the keyboard in front of you, keep the distractions out. Stay in the book. The writer is freaking exhausted and unable to leap small words in a single bound, but you can always celebrate on day 4, with other humans around. It’s quite the reward—a book that didn’t exist on Thursday night is a complete being by Sunday night.
How many books had you written to completion before your first Three Day attempt?
Wow. I had written two screenplays and six novels and two novellas. My fastest first draft, prior to that, was 4 weeks. But you don’t have to be an historically fast writer to do this successfully.
How many have you written in Three Days?
Which of your books, Three Day or not, are published? Please tell us their titles and where they are available.
Lord Fool to the Rescue and Not Without Juliet (a three-day book) are on Amazon.
Where to Pee on a Pirate Ship, Blood for Ink, Christmas Kiss, Going Back for Romeo, Wicked, and Somewhere Over the Freaking Rainbow are available just about anywhere.
Bones for Bread (the latest three-day book) is still in revisions. If you’d like to know the genres, etc., you can see them all on my website at www.llmuir.weebly.com.
(You can tell Lesli has a great sense of humor, just by reading her titles!) Will you continue to write whole novels in Three Days? Will you still write any novels in other ways too, or are you a complete believer in this method?
As often as possible. Sometimes the giant chunk of time is not an option and I just have to push my daily word count as high as possible. I’m hoping to get nearly a million words written in the next 12 months. If I hit half that, I’ll still be doubling what I wrote last year. The key is having another writer with similar goals who can play “push me, pull you.” This is just a way to get the clay. We need clay before we can start the real work of writing. Why drag it out?
Thanks, Lesli, for taking the time to enlighten us! I’m sure to give this another go this November when the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) comes around again . . . and may try it again as early as August, when they have the next “Camp NaNoWriMo”. This method certainly suits my preference, which is just to get in there and “get ‘er done.”
See you day-after-tomorrow for Wednesday’s WIPs! And, as a Bonus, on next “Tuesday’s Tutor” I’ll give you more information on the Michael Moorcock information Lesli referenced at the beginning of this blog, plus info on another writer’s methods: Lester Dent and his Master Plot Formula.