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FAQs

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:19 pm
by pigfender
Hi y'all.

To celebrate the opening of a new NiaD sub-forum I thought I'd pull together a list of FAQs about the event. Note, that I’ve taken some pretty generous liberties with the definition of ‘frequently’.

What is Novel-in-a-Day?
Do I have to be a professional / published writer?
Is there an age limit on participants?
English is not my first language, can I still take part?
Do you check participants’ writing standard before accepting them?
Can you tell me the genre in advance?
What if I’m late with my submission?
I'm short on my word count, is that okay?
Can I get help / collaborate on my chapter?
Where did the idea for NiaD come from?
Who comes up with the stories?
Do I have to use Scrivener?
What format should I provide my submission in?
Are there foreign language versions I can take part in?
I’m not free that day. Do I have to wait a whole year?
What about twice a year?
How do you plan the stories?
Who owns the copyright on the finished work?
Where can I read other participants’ chapter briefs?
Can I have a practice chapter?
I want to take part but am scared to share my work!?
Will I be stuck with a sex scene?
What if I’m uncomfortable with violence / grisly scenes?
Will anyone have a chapter with only one person in it?
What is the policy on swear words / graphic imagery?
How are chapter briefs allocated?
I don’t like my brief. Can I change / switch?
Can I do a cover instead of a chapter?
Do I have to write in a particular style?
Can I use a pen name instead of my real name?
Where can I read previous years’ books?
Will sections be edited?
I’ve read my brief and I’m panicking. Is this normal?
What if I’m in a different timezone?
Why can’t I know the rest of the story / my place in the story?
Do I have the first chapter?
Do I have the last chapter?
Can I ask for more information on the day?
Is there a place I can hang out and banter during the day of the event?
How will I receive my brief?
Why does pigfender continue to do this every year despite moaning about how much he hates it?
Can I see the Scrivener project used to create the book please?
How are the books compiled?
Are the books produced using the Mac version or the Windows version of Scrivener?
I don’t recognise the authors names from their forum handles. Can you provide a map?
What do I get in an information pack?
How prescriptive are the chapter briefs?
How much detail is given on the characters?
Can I make up my own characters?
That all sounds brilliant! Where do I sign up?
Hey! I also wrote a NiaD! Where can I get one of those sweeeet forum badges?
Is there any merchandise available?

What is Novel-in-a-Day?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:21 pm
by pigfender
What is Novel-in-a-Day?
Novel-in-a-Day is an annual event where a group of writers from across the planet get together and write a novel. A whole novel. In a single day.

There is a well-known saying that if you give a monkey a typewriter and infinite amount of time then it will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

In 2003, the staff at Paignton Zoo gave a computer to six crested macaques and categorically proved that what you actually get is five pages of the letter ‘S’ and a broken keyboard. Time, it seems, is no substitute for talent. But can talent substitute for time…?
-- from the introduction to 2011’s NiaD, The Dark


The event differs from other collaborative novels in several ways. The first is that our aim is to produce something that has a coherent plot which is actually enjoyable. Sure, each writer brings their own style and voice and there will inevitably be one or two small continuity blips. Overall, though, the expectation is that the piece will follow a story with a recognisable start, middle and end without any of the ego, random plot twists and exponentially growing character lists that affect other works in the collaborative genre. This is achieved by having the basic plot structure worked out in advance of the event, and then broken down into bite sized chunks for the participants to work on.

The second difference also has an impact on the readability of the final piece: Quality, not volume, is our goal (this isn’t NaNoWriMo). Each participant has a ‘target’ of a very manageable 1,500 words (submissions received vary from there to around 4,500). What’s more important than the quantity of words written is that the authors produce something they are proud of. Proud to show their friends, and proud to share with the world. 1,500 well written and edited words that invoke genuine emotion are far better than 10,000 ones that a reader would skim over.

The third difference lies in the challenge faced by the participants.  In exchange for removing a lot of the normal and familiar issues that writers have, we provide the participants with a completely different set of new and unnecessary pressures: An unfamiliar genre. Unusual time pressures. No control of the wider plot. Oh, and here’s an important one: No knowledge of what happens in the story outside of their own chapter, nor of where their chapter fits in the narrative. Each participant only gets the information they need to write their own section: Character sheets, location sheets (if required) and a brief outline of the plot points they need to cover.

Participants receive their briefing packs electronically at midnight (UK time) on the day of the event. They then need to produce at least 1,500 words and email them back by 8pm the same day so that they can be compiled and turned into a book. The full book will then be made available in epub, mobi and pdf formats, as well as a Scrivener project file by midnight the next morning.

Do I have to be a professional / published writer?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:22 pm
by pigfender
Do I have to be a professional / published writer?
You don’t need to be a professional writer to take part (although some are), but you do need to be committed and confident. Committed, because there are no back up writers, and no time to make good on missing sections. If you don’t deliver, you leave a hole. Confident, because there will be only very limited editing done. Topping and tailing if you overstretch your brief and some really basic formatting / spell checking. You need to be comfortable you are able to produce work in a time-pressured environment that you are happy with people reading.

Is there an age limit on participants?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:22 pm
by pigfender
Is there an age limit on participants?
Not directly. If you are sufficiently in control of your own life that you can guarantee that you’ll be able to dedicate the day to it (this applies as much to anyone who is married as to participants who live with their parents), and your writing is of a sufficiently high standard… sure.

Basically, I’m not going to ask your age. By volunteering to take part you are self-certifying that you have all necessary permissions to read the kind of material that will be produced. There will most likely be some grisly parts.

English is not my first language, can I still take part?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:23 pm
by pigfender
English is not my first language, can I still take part?
I have no problem with people whose first language isn't English taking part. Given the nature of the exercise, however, you should be comfortable that a native speaker would have no idea that English wasn't your first language.

All the events held to date have had chapters submitted by people for whom English is a second language. In some cases, individuals have shared their chapter with someone else to do a quick review before submitting the final draft to me for inclusion in the books.

Do you check participants’ writing standard before...

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:23 pm
by pigfender
Do you check participants’ writing standard before accepting them?
Yes. If you’ve never taken part before, and haven’t posted a lot on the forum, then I’ll ask you to send me a link to something you’ve written. A blog, a page from a WIP, or just a few paragraphs of free prose written specifically for the purpose will all do the job.

This is one of my favourite activities in the run up to the NiaD, as people have sent me all sorts of diverse and fascinating blog articles and stories. :D

Can you tell me the genre in advance?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:26 pm
by pigfender
Can you tell me the genre in advance?
nom wrote:Nah-uh!! That question got answered this year: whoever runs the show, picks the genre, no-one else knows until the day. We all grumble about it, that's what makes it a good rule.

You can read the discussion behind this decision here

What if I’m late with my submission?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:27 pm
by pigfender
What if I’m late with my submission?
Three things will happen:
1) Your chapter won’t be included in the final book.
2) The book will instead just contain a short apology and the chapter brief instead.
3) You’ll attract the ridicule and scorn of a disappointed world.

The deadline structure will be decided closer to the event, but usually contains a ‘soft’ deadline for submissions followed by a later ‘hard’ deadline which still enables us to say we wrote a book in 24 hours, but will push the compilation and posting of the completed work to a little after midnight.

That said, if you’re pushing up against the deadline, and have let me know that you’re going to be a few minutes late, I’ll probably defer to two old sayings: “don’t cut your nose off to spite your face” and “better late than never”.

I’m short on my word count, is that okay?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:28 pm
by pigfender
I’m short on my word count, is that okay?
The “minimum” word count is 1,500 words. There is no upper limit. On the previous events, chapters have ranged anywhere from the minimum up to about 5,000 words. If it comes to it, though, I’d rather receive a 1,000 word response than no response at all.

Please remember that quality and not volume is our goal; this isn’t NaNoWriMo. What’s more important than the quantity of words written is that you produce something you are proud of. 1,500 well written and edited words that invoke genuine emotion are far better than 10,000 ones that a reader would skim over. This said, the chapter information you have been given is just the minimum amount of information you must convey. Add as much extra sub-plot and colour as you like, as long as it falls within the stated start and end point for your chapter.

Can I get help / collaborate on my chapter?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:29 pm
by pigfender
Can I get help / collaborate on my chapter?
Yes that’s fine, although you are responsible for making sure that you own the copyright in the chapter you submit. So ‘help’ doesn’t include lifting large sections of text, etc, from pre-existing works.

Please don’t quote song lyrics or anything else in your chapter which you either don’t own, or isn’t undisputedly in the public domain.

Where did the idea for NiaD come from?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:33 pm
by pigfender
Where did the idea for NiaD come from?
The idea came about in 2011 when someone made a post on this forum moaning about an article on how to write a book in three days. In a testosterone fuelled moment I responded:
pigfender wrote:Three days in nothing. It’s rubbish. Easy.
Three days is the slow option. The one taken by wimps and amateurs.
The trick is MANPOWER…

Enthusiastic responses from the likes of michaelbywater, nom, KB and AmberV got the momentum going before I could change my mind and I’ve been trying to back out ever since.

You can read the original post here.

Who comes up with the stories?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:33 pm
by pigfender
Who comes up with the stories?
All the stories are original tales written specifically for NiaD by pigfender.

Do I have to use Scrivener?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:34 pm
by pigfender
Do I have to use Scrivener?
If you’ve found this forum as a result of the NiaD event and haven’t tried Scrivener yet I’d strongly encourage you to give it a try. It’s a great environment for writing and for planning out your section.

I use Scrivener and Scapple extensively in the preparation and planning of the event, and of course Scrivener is used to compile all the finished books. If you want to check out how the stories are put together (for example, to read the briefs that led to other people’s chapters) you’ll need to use Scrivener to open the project file.

What format should I provide my submission in?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:34 pm
by pigfender
What format should I provide my submission in?
I’m not overly fussy about what file format I receive chapters in, as long as I can easily get that text into a Scrivener project (luckily Scrivener is able to import a wide range of file formats). An RTF file is probably about as easy as it gets, but you can just copy the text into the main body of an email if that’s what works for you. The one to avoid is PDF.

The briefing packs will include a short “style guide”, but basically don’t worry about font and such the like as I’ll take care of all the formatting and layout in Scrivener when I import and compile. Please defer to whatever is in the style guide in your pack, but this usually just consists of:
1) Use “double quotes” for speech
2) Use British English if you can.
3) Don’t use blank lines between paragraphs. Please indent instead.
4) If you want any blank lines or scene breaks in your section, please indicate this with three hash signs (###). Any blank lines in your submission without these marks will just be removed.
5) If you want italics in your text, please just use italics to indicate that. Bold and underline formatting will probably be stripped out, but italics will be preserved.

Are there foreign language versions I can take part in?

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:35 pm
by pigfender
Are there foreign language versions I can take part in?
We haven't confirmed any yet, but there has been some interest in running a Spanish version. You can read more about that and show your interest here. The more interest, the more likely it'll become a reality!

If you would be interested in running or taking part in a NiaD in any other languages please let me know by starting up / commenting on a language specific post in this sub-forum.