Could you write a novel in a month?

By Jordan Stier

Any fan of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series will understand how long it can take for an author to write a novel.

There are some authors out there, however, who need only a month.

Among the list of popular novels allegedly written in only a month are Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Erin Morgenstein’s The Night Circus, and Sara Guren’s Water for Elephants. All of these successful authors took part in the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, which is held worldwide every November.

But the latest group of aspiring authors to have completed the feat did so in July, which coincided with their university vacation. Among them is Jonathan Edwards, a Rhodes University student, who has given his completed novel the working title Alchemy Bay. Despite hammering out 45000 words in the month of July, he says he found the task easy.

“The main theme is: ‘Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary,’” Edwards says, quoting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Rainy Day”. “It’s basically a tragedy about what people can’t get.”

The novel follows the story of four chemists who are trying to create the philosopher’s stone, but with tragic and ironic consequences. Each chemist narrates one act of the novel, and their deepest, darkest thoughts are revealed.

Edwards read Artbeat an extract of his novel:

The novel is Jonathan’s third, the previous two being the first installments of a trilogy. He hopes to finish the final installment of the trilogy over the course of this and next year. He had taken more than two years in total to write the last two, and so writing a novel in a month was an entirely different experience for him.

“It certainly got the work along really quickly,” he laughs. “The rush does help you maintain the storyline, but I think the best time period for writing a novel would be two months. I did feel a little rushed, if I’m being honest.”

Despite this, Edwards advises any and all aspiring authors to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge. “It just helps you write, and the more you write the better you get.”

Divergent author Veronica Roth also encourages aspiring authors to take up the challenge with all their might. “Consider getting desperate,” she advises. “Desperate to get that story on the page. Get so desperate that you will try anything to make it work. You have a deadline.”

“You can do it. But you might have to throw all your preconceptions about yourself and your writing out the window.”

Mistborn author Brandon Sanderson, who had written thirteen novels before finding anyone to publish even one of his works, advises young authors to persist in the face of defeat. “Because this thing you’re doing isn’t about publication, bestseller lists, or reviews. It’s about you, your story, and the victory inherent in completion.”


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