Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trunk Novels

The term writers use to describe books that never worked out for whatever reason is "trunk novels."

I've got my share of them.

The first time I ever tried to write a book, it was ridiculously autobiographical. A young woman, fresh out of college, moves to a small town in Iowa all by herself and teaches English. There were a few dates here and there, but mostly there was no one her own age, so she spent a lot of time alone watching movies and reading books. It was pretty damn boring. And I only got about 1,400 words into it. Which is... nothing.

Around 2007(?), around the time I started this blog, I tried NaNoWriMo and got a little more serious. I may have actually reached 50K with that book. It was dark, about this girl who dies in a car accident at the beginning and becomes a ghost. I still kind of like the premise, but it's been done to death by this point, and the book has all the mistakes of an amateur writer. The main character woke to the sound of an alarm clock, brushed her teeth, described herself in the mirror. It was around that time I started posting snippets of things on Absolute Write. I made a lot of friends there, many of whom are now published YA writers. So that book wasn't a waste. It was a learning experience.

After that, I wrote DRAWN TO YOU, which was a fully formed, terrible novel with a premise that I still like. It was about a girl whose drawings came true. So she could do something like draw a pimple on someone she was mad at, and it would magically appear right on that person's forehead. The problem was, many of her wishes manifested themselves in unexpected ways, and she ended up in a terrible predicament, having caused something truly terrible to happen to her worst enemy. I actually queried this book and got some requests, but the writing and story at that time were just not polished enough to result in any offers. Still, it was a stepping stone in the process.

I've got tons of other snippets of things saved in odd places on my computer. Cool lines, premises, characters that I keep meaning to return to but for whatever reason haven't yet. The awesome thing is that I can pull these things out at any time and incorporate them into whatever I'm currently working on. I once described my creative process as playing with legos, how you take all these random pieces of things (words, images, character traits, "what ifs") and fit them together until they're something whole, something awesome.

So the moral of the story is that everything you do, everything you create does ultimately serve a purpose within the context of your life and work. It may not become immediately apparent, but eventually everything will become clear.


Crap, I totally forgot about UNFATHOMABLE, which I wrote the summer after I got my agent. I still love that story. Need to do something with it.

1 comment:

  1. I always tell people that about my fishing. I take all these random little ideas and eventually I stumble onto something that works. The problem is that I seldom remember where the ideas come from.