In House: 3-Day Novel Contest

Ready, set, WRITE! Anvil Press gives us the historical deets on how the International 3-Day Novel Contest was established as a way to encourage writers to push their boundaries + how YOU can take part in this years contest, set to take place over the upcoming Labour Day weekend!


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The Spring and Summer of 2020 have certainly called for creativity, flexibility, and perseverance — traits that participants in the International 3-Day Novel Contest share. How else would they be able to produce engaging, well-written, and clever novels in 72 short hours?After over a decade away, Anvil Press is happily stepping back into administering the world’s most notorious literary marathon. Over thirty years, Anvil has firmly established itself as a publisher of progressive, contemporary literature with an entrenched urban sensibility. We’re known for our quality books and unconventional literary work, so the frenetic, enthusiastic, and often off-beat quality of a novel written in only three days is a good fit for our aesthetic.The contest was hatched in a Vancouver bar in 1977, where a handful of writers sat around bragging about their literary prowess. Amongst the bar-talk was the rumour that Voltaire had written Candide in only three days. The tough-talk eventually led to a challenge: Go home and write a novel in 72 hours. The first winning entry was published by the original Pulp Press, who continued to administer the contest for the next 15 years, as well as publishing the winners. 

Winner of the 39th Annual 3-Day Novel Writing Contest,

Attack of the Lonely Heartsby Mark Wagstaff (Anvil Press, 2017)

The 3-Day baton was originally passed to Anvil Press in 1992 and Anvil continued the “trial by fire” for the next decade. 3-Day fatigue set in and two freelance editors associated with Geist magazine stepped up to tend the flame. Efforts continued for the next eight years, mostly under the guidance of Melissa Edwards and 3-Day Books. The contest then took up full residence at Geist magazine with Anvil again stepping in to publish the winning entry. After several years of freelance administration, the contest has returned in-house to Anvil Press commencing with the 2020 contest.The 3-Day Novel contest has built a community over the past four decades. Many participants have been writing every Labour Day weekend for years, and have built forums and groups online to stay in touch about their writing throughout the year.As we approach Labour Day 2020, many of us are already working from home at cluttered desks, staring down long weekends without travel plans. So why not harness this time in as an opportunity to create, sweat some tears, and to push your comfort zone and your writing skills?
The 43rd annual event will be taking place over Labour Day weekend, which is September 5-7th, 2020.For additional information on the contest, please visit the 3-Day Novel website at, or contact Senior Editor Jessica Key at

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A big thank you to Anvil Press for joining us in this edition of In House and for sharing details on the upcoming International 3-Day Novel Contest!Read more from ALU’s In-House column >>