I’m not free that day. Do I have to wait a whole year?
I’m afraid so!

What about running the event twice a year?
We did run an out-of-season special “Novella in a Day” version in June 2017, but that was specifically to make up for not running the event in October 2016, and there are no plans to make Novella in a Day (or additional full-length events) a regular thing at this point.

How do you plan the stories?
It starts with an idea, which exists initially only in my head. I try to keep this basic essence of the plot to about two paragraphs worth, and it has to cover the following: Protagonist, Objective, Obstacle, Escalation and Ending. That’s right, I make sure all my stories are pooee.

I’ll then mull it over in my imagination for a while to check it hangs together as a narrative, and that it keeps my interest. In order to be used for a NiaD, the plot has to satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It wouldn’t require anyone to get stuck with a large chunk of exposition instead of action.
  2. The pacing works well. Ie, each part of the story should be fun to write.
  3. It’s not something I’ve already read somewhere else.
  4. It’s a story I’d really like to read.

I throw away a lot of good ideas because they wouldn’t work in this format.

Once I’ve lived with the story for a short while, I’ll open up Scrivener and use the Corkboard to start playing with key plot points and elements (I have a template set up specifically for this purpose). This includes the necessary steps on the original plot line, plus any fun scenes I think of. Chances are the ‘fun scenes’ will expand into sub-plot lines as I move them around on the ‘board. In 2012’s NiaD, Lunar520, one of these ‘fun’ set pieces got large enough that I threw out the original plot and just used that.

At this point, the index card synopses are just one sentence markers, such as “The Doc tries it on”. I’ll then expand these to be two or three sentence versions. At this point I’ll either combine or split these points into sensible chapter breaks.

Once I have a set of chapter blurbs that work, I’ll take a short break (a couple of days) so that I can come back to it afresh. I’ll compile a one page sheet that just lists the synopses in order, and read through that (making any changes that are necessary). At that point, I’ll start to turn each synopsis into a chapter brief.

After all the chapter briefs are done, I’ll add the other sections in the briefing packs (the ‘This has already happened’ type elements), and re-read to make sure it all hangs together and that I’d be happy if I received any of those chapters to do myself.

If you download the Scrivener project file for 2013’s NiaD, Made Man, both the two sentence synopses and the more worked up chapter briefs are stored as Snapshots, so you can get a better idea of what I mean.

For more info on the various steps I take to planning a NiaD, visit: pigfender.com/index.php/2016/03/how-to-plot/

Who owns the copyright on the finished work?
Everyone retains the copyright in their artistic contributions to the books. So, you will retain the copyright in your own chapter, for example. Similarly, the copyright in the story / characters etc remains with me.

All participants grant an irrevocable license to me to use and distribute their contribution as a NiaD book (including the Scrivener project file), which will in turn be made available under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommerical - NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licence. In other words, anyone will be free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit) the book under the following conditions:
Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified
by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that
they endorse you or your use of the work).

Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

In addition, by taking part you are granting Literature and Latte Ltd an irrevocable license to use your work in marketing, educational and other activities as long as they do not sell it.

Where can I read other participants’ chapter briefs?
After the event has finished, the Scrivener project files will be made available for download. The projects contain all of the chapter briefs, so you’ll be able to work out just how much of each chapter was in the brief, and how much was added by the authors.

Every year I’m amazed to see how each of the writers take the opening premise in a completely different direction to what I would have done myself. I find it fascinating to see just how much writers inject their own style and imagination into a piece. It illustrates so well just how little a part “having an idea” plays in the finished piece. The author’s creativity comes out in every single word.

Can I have a practice chapter?
Yes! Just download one of the Scrivener project files from a previously run event, pick a chapter brief from there at random and off you go!

I want to take part but am scared to share my work!?
You do need to have a high degree of confidence in your writing to take part. It’s going to be read by a lot of people! That said, apprehension is normal; it’s how you know you care about getting it right.

If you don’t think you’re ready to share such a rapidly produced piece of work with the general public, the answer isn’t just to take part under a false name. That’s not fair on others taking part, or on the people reading the books. Instead, I’ll be more than happy to assign you a chapter and send it out at the same time as everyone else. That way you can take part at the same time, but without being included in the final published work.

Will I be stuck with a sex scene?
No. None of the books contain any scripted sex scenes so nobody will find themselves obligated to get all EL James in public.

Although I didn’t think there would be any oil-soaked nudity in the first one and Michael proved me wrong.

What if I’m uncomfortable with violence / grisly scenes?
Some years will contain chapters which lend themselves more readily to a little bit of violence and grisliness. Experience dictates that some people prefer not to write these sections and others seek them out, so it makes sense to make some allowance for that in the allocation of sections. If you have a preference then indicate it when you sign up.

Will anyone have a chapter with only one person in it?
No. I try to make sure that all chapter briefs have plenty of opportunity to flex the creative muscles. Of course, if by some twist of fate you find yourself with fewer character sheets in your briefing pack than you’d like to use, then by all means create whatever characters are necessary to make your section work.

What is the policy on swear words / graphic imagery?
Unlike movies and computer games, there is no age restriction or classification on books. As such, I have no policy on swear words / graphic imagery.

Read the previous books and you’ll get a feel for the norm. You can then use that information as you see fit.

How are chapter briefs allocated?
It’s basically random.

I say ‘basically’, because there are a couple of constraints:

  1. I’ll take account of individual preferences to either seek out or avoid grisly scenes.
  2. From time to time participants who know each other IRL have asked to make sure they have different chapters so they are guarantees to be able to compile a version that has both / all their chapters in it.
  3. I reserve the right to punish Jaysen by whatever means are available to me.

I don’t like my brief. Can I change / switch?
No. If you’re not comfortable with someone else telling you what you need to cover in your chapter then you’ve signed up to the wrong event.

Can I do a cover instead of a chapter?
I usually do these myself because I have a template set up ready that gives us a consistent look across all the NiaDs, and it also means I don’t have to worry about breaching someone else’s copyright. That said, if you’re amazing at this sort of thing then by all means contact me and we can talk about it.

Do I have to write in a particular style?
As long as you use the locations and characters provided (assuming any are provided - I won’t unless it’s critical) and you hit all the plot point marks, you can write your section in any style you choose. By all means turn the chapter into an action extravaganza that would make John Woo think of turning down the pace a little. Equally, if you want to play the same scene as a calm discussion over a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg, that’s totally up to you.

Can I use a pen name instead of my real name?
Yes. In the previous books you will see a mixture of real names and pen names. I’m not telling you which is which.

Where can I read previous years’ books?
There is a post on this very forum with all the relevant links. Let me know what you think!

Will sections be edited?
Work on the assumption that you’re responsible for all your own editing, including spellchecks, grammar checks, making sure you’ve remained consistent against your brief.

Depending on how close to the deadline you submit your chapter I will either:

  1. Skim it and let you know if you’ve grossly deviated from the brief, or
  2. Just chuck it in there and hope for the best.

We are relying on everyone’s self-editing to ensure the book is readable so you should be confident of your writing standard before signing up.

I’ve read my brief and I’m panicking. Is this normal?

What if I’m in a different timezone?
All of the deadlines are in UK / London time. So if (for example) you are living in France (which is an hour ahead of the UK) you’ll get your brief at 1am instead of midnight. Some people believe this system gives the Australians an unfair advantage.