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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Novel challenge for writers
Book writing
Authors will have one month to write their book
Writers from across the world are gearing up to take part in the fifth annual National Novel Writing Month, which begins on 1 November.

Participants face the challenge of having to complete a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30.

The contest, known as NaNoWriMo for short, was started in the USA in 1999 by Chris Baty.

Only 20 people took part in the first contest, but by last year the number of participants had risen to over 20,000.

A number of writers from the UK have taken part in previous years and are expected to do so again this year.

The 2002 contest had 2,100 winners - a winner being anybody who manages to reach the 50,000 word count - compared to six in 1999.

There are no real prizes, although every winner receives a special certificate.

"The prize is enduring pride for each winner, knowing they climbed the mountain of words and came out on top, and had a lot of fun along the way," said a spokesperson for the contest.

One of 2001's winners, Jon F Merz, went on to secure a publishing deal following the contest. His book, The Destructor, was published in March 2003.

Two participants from the 2002 contest have also sold their manuscripts to publishers.

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