Illustration by Brennan Bova

November is the month to take on a novel

HAVE YOU EVER dreamt of becoming a modern-day Agatha Christie? Or how about the next J.K. Rowling? Well, aspiring novelists don’t have to look any further to make that dream a reality. With the 48-Hour Novella-Writing contest and the National Novel-Writing Month happening this month, U of O would-be authors have the opportunity to write either a novella or novel and even see their works published.

48-Hour Novella-Writing contest

Students who are hesitant to tackle the daunting task of writing a novel might want to look into the 48-Hour Novella-Writing contest, hosted here at the U of O.

“Students basically have one weekend to produce an 18- to 25-page novella, and the best novella wins a small cash prize of $50,” explains Lisa Marie Smith, vp communications for the Undergraduate English Students’ Association (UESA).

“As well [students have the opportunity to] get their work published by the UESA under an official ISBN.”

Winning entries are also printed and distributed around campus and some local book stores. Any U of O student can apply—they just have to make sure they register and submit their final work by the deadline.

“[Students] can choose to write wherever they like, but they have to sign up for the contest … Within a two-hour time slot. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. this Friday, [students can] come to the [UESA] office,” says Smith.

To deter any possible cheating or students working in advance on their novella, the UESA has come up with a new rule this year.

“In the past we’ve worked … On a trust system. We’ve never had any problems in the past where we’ve suspected that students have previously written the work that they’ve submitted,” she says.

“This year we are adding in a [new] criterion. The students who sign up for the competition aren’t going to know the criterion until they sign up [on Friday],” adds Smith.

Why would any student be interested in slaving away on a novella for a whole weekend during the middle of the school year? Smith assures that the contest allows students to be creative.

“I think the purpose of it is to … Provide an incentive for students to be creative. A lot of the time in university we’re not given the opportunity to be creative and this competition is giving them a little incentive because if they do complete the 48-hour novella, they have an opportunity to get their work published.”

National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

National Novel-Writing Month kicks off this November, and many people across the country are participating by trying to complete a 50,000-word novel-writing challenge by the month’s end. While the contest may seem daunting even to seasoned writers, U of O student Swadhi Thanagalasingam thinks the time limit is just part of the fun.

“A bunch of people try and write a [their own] novel in a month. That’s basically the whole premise. You really don’t get anything out of it at the end except you have a book written for yourself. So it’s kind of rewarding in itself and you can go on further if you want and try and get it published,” explains Thanagalasingam.

The U of O third-year English major, who heard of the event through Facebook, plans on trying to complete her own novel this month. Through online forums, participants are directed toward other writers in their own regions. Community-wide “write-ins,” which allow participants to meet one another and write their novels together in a room, are also created and hosted.

“We’re all just going to go [somewhere for the write-ins] and write for hours,” says Thanagalasingam.

Currently a write-in at Café Alt is in the tentative stages of planning. Potential authors don’t have to go to the write-ins; they can write wherever they please.

“You write on your own time, but most people say they get a lot done during the write-ins … There is something about the whole community aspect,” Thanagalasingam says.

While there are no guidelines, cash prize incentives, or publishing prize

s to be given out at the end of the month, Thanagalasingam says NaNoWriMo emphasizes writing as much as you can over the quality of the work.

“It’s kind of quantity over quality. All people are editing themselves while they’re writing and they’ll never finish a novel, right? So the idea is to get it all done and then you can edit after you’re done.”

To sign up for the 48-Hour Novella-Writing contest visit the Arts Building room 321 on Nov. 4 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information about the National Novel-Writing Month, visit Nanowrimo.org.

—Sofia Hashi