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Slam that Trunk Lid

You may or may not be familiar with the term "trunk novel" ... it's what writers call those early manuscripts we never managed to sell. Imagine a big fat typewritten manuscript buried under some spare blankets and old sweaters in the bottom of the trunk. (Whew, thankfully we don't have to print stuff out in double-spaced courier anymore.)

I have at least three trunk novels under my belt, though something tells me I'm forgeting one and there are really four. They're not just unsold. They're too malformed to even consider showing anyone.

The weird thing is, this morning I woke up at 4am and tossed and turned, and even considered getting up for the day until I talked myself out of it by saying, "It will ruin EVERYTHING, don't do it!!" So as I was trapped in bed and wakeful, one of my trunk novels popped into my head. I don't generally think of them, ever. And I started telling myself about this one as if I was describing it to someone, and I thought, "Wait, all these characters are pretty cool." The setting (Dustbowl Kansas) was cool too. So were a few of the backstory reveals.

But believe me when I tell you, that book sucks.

A few years ago I thought I might have developed the chops to edit into something saleable. Then I looked at it and scorched my eyes. It wasn't just hokey dialog and clunker sentences, it was awkwardly paced everywhere and not engaging whatsoever, despite whatever cool ideas were in there.

So with my idle mind, I began thinking about whether it would help to take this or that character out. Whether I'd change the big reveal. Whether I needed that climactic fight scene or another would be more interesting.

Luckily I also came up with a good idea for the story I'm currently working on. Now I can stick my dustbowl story back in the trunk where it belongs.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 8th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC)
Funny you should bring this up. I'm actually attempting to edit the first novel length piece I ever wrote. And MAN are you right...for me it's VERY passive voice, head hopping GALORE, I think the story starts in the wrong place, - I think the story & the character themselves have value - I just think if I wrote it today - I would write it almost completely differently - so I'm contemplating that...

So Thanks for this post.

Apr. 8th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
Never heard the term but understood it instantly. Too funny! I have academic papers like that. The "back of the filing cabinet" papers.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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