Monday, May 13, 2013

Junk in Your Trunk

Recently, I hit a point of, not really frustration, but resignation with my first WIP. I've been editing it, but it felt like something was missing. When this resignation hit, I started thinking perhaps this WIP was my trunk book.

By OCAL, clker.com
What's a trunk book/novel? It's that dirty secret so many novelists have, that novel they wrote that turned out  to be something they didn't want to see the light of day. It's the novel that couldn't or shouldn't be published.

I started wondering how and when you decide your WIP is a trunk book. How do you know this book isn't going to go anywhere? Or is no book truly a trunk book? Perhaps it's just the book that someone gave up on too soon. How do you avoid that mistake?

I've entered WIP #1 into two writing contests previously. In both instances, I was within a couple points of making it as a finalist, but I never made it that tiny leap into finalist territory, which tells me it wouldn't have won even if it had. But that means it can't suck completely, right? It wasn't panned across the board, but had some flaws that needed to be attended to.

Jeffrey Carr, clker.com
I've been having trouble getting back to it to edit, though. I'm what I call an oooo, shiny girl. I'm highly distractable (apparently not a word). I have so many ideas swirling through my brain all the time that I simply can't keep up. I have to write them down, and I have such a strong urge to drop what I'm editing and jump into the next story, because it's begging to be told. However, I don't let myself do that, which leads to frustration. I have blue brain. Blue synapses? Either way, I think you know where I'm going with that (my apologies).

Here's the thing. Once I let go of it and decided that perhaps it was time to trunk that sucker, I had a bit of a breakthrough. It will take a lot of work, something I hope to hit over the summer, but I may be able to salvage it. If it doesn't pan out, if I'm not happy with it, perhaps my WIP will find it's way into the figurative trunk. It's not there quite yet, though.

Do you have a trunk book (or more than one)? How did you know it was time for the trunk? Did you get tired of it or just finally decide it wasn't going to happen?

May you find your Muse.

P.S. Part 21 of Andrew Leon's Shadow Spinner series is free today! You can find it on Amazon - Part 21: The Chase. If you haven't been following his serial, I highly recommend it! And today you can pick up several of them for free, including the first one (which is always a good place to start).


44 comments:

  1. My "trunk book" is in a Leinenkugel's box under my desk, in the cave of shame. It's not horrible. Engaging characters. Lots of witty repartee. No discernible plot. I still love the characters, though, so who knows? Maybe someday I'll go back and rescue them. I also had to write a vampire novel that will probably never see the light of day, although I just realized if I set it in the reality of my latest novel, I might be able to give it wings after all.

    I, too, suffer from "shiny." The new idea is always more interesting.

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  2. I have poems that I've trunked, as well as several unfinished stories and novels. I think my main reason for trunking them was that I got bored. I must have a short attention span or something... :)

    Have a wonderful week!

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  3. Oh yes, I have a trunk book. It's not terrible, either. It just wasn't great. I fell out of love with it, and when it started to feel like a chore just to look over it, it went into the trunk. I may yet dig it up someday. Good luck with yours, whether you tough it out or store it for safe keeping!

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  4. I have a couple novels sitting there, waiting for rewrites and edits. They just aren't up to par...yet. Lol

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  5. I can't imagine how any books got written and published before computers. Writers sat there at their old typewriters, or wrote by hand, in pencil or ink, or even way back with quill pens. What happened to their trunk books, who edited the books they published, did they, after all that work place a manuscript in a trunk?

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  6. I have a number of trunk - or closet - mss. Some I know won't ever see the light of day with good reason, but there are a few that I know have something - a spark, a character, a voice - and will be re-worked one of these days.

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  7. No, don't have any, always return and try to resuscitate! :0) Good luck with your ventures.

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  8. I do have a trunk book. It almost finaled in the one contest it entered. It had been requested by four agents. But in the end, it just wasn't marketable. Great premise, but I'd mixed markets in a way that it fit none. Writing it helped me see that I wanted to write for the YA market instead. And it hurt to trunk, but a YA idea came to mind so I was excited to pursue that avenue.

    The second ms I wrote, I refused to trunk. I felt in my bones that it was worth the fight. I querying it for over a year before signing with my agent. I did one major rewrite (R&R) and many little revisions along the way.

    So I think it depends on how strongly you feel for it and why it's being rejected (if it is).

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  9. I don't think any book is truly a trunk book. You just set it aside for later. I had one of those and eventually rewrote it - CassaStar.

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  10. Whatever ends up on paper is part of us, a search for meaning of sorts.

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  11. Thinking of the author of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo who had a few unfinished and his trunk was "discovered." We need to think of maybe someday... (I have tons unpublished and in a trunk) (actually in a plastic tub)

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  12. Nope. I don't have a trunk book but one on my trike and I load it up for my journeys to write about. Its all the same though... junk in my trunk.
    KaTy Did at: Life's Ride As I See It

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  13. I'd suggest getting a second opinion if you're up to that (before you give up- put it aside but don't hide it).

    I signed up for a mentoring program with my writing org. The first mentor they matched me with gave me a very negative review-questioning the believaility, etc. of my suspense novel. I complained to the org that mentoring isn't a one-shot deal under the guise of a critique. They agreed and I was assigned a replacement who has pointed out all the positives and restored my sense of purpose. The other woman had no positives at all for me.

    What a difference a different person can make. Sheesh - a roller coaster for the writer trying to improve their skills. Wish you could address this in one of your conferences. Writers deflate easily.

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  14. I have 2 trunk books. I take them out and work on them from time to time, much like the cross stitch projects that lived under the couch for 10 years. Perhaps they will be finished when I'm 80 - or be discovered after I'm gone, and a descendent will finally finish them. I wonder what would happen if we all got together, put our trunk books in a heap, and each selected someone else's to finish. Wouldn't that be cool?

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  15. I don't believe in trunk books. What I believe in is a loss of vision due to the feedback of others. You can always break the book down into what attracted you to that story to begin with and start over.

    That being said, some people shouldn't write. Or should learn how to write before trying to write a novel. Which is nothing about you but everything about something someone asked me to review. And the guy has an English degree... except his writing makes me think he dug it out of someone's trash.

    Thanks for the plug!
    (How far have you read, by the way?)

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  16. Oh do I have a trunk. I knew it was time once I revised 10 times, had 300 rejections. It was away for 7 years. It was published at the start of this year.

    I say put the book away when you're tired of it, and write another, and then another, and when that trunk starts calling, pop that lock and free it.

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  17. I wanna see MB's vampire novel. MB, how much would a look cost me?

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  18. I have one WIP that really should be considered a trunk book. I haven't looked at it in years, and possibly never will look at it again. But, who know? Maybe one day I'll go back to it.

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  19. I have to series in the 'trunk'. When I let them go to move on, I became so much more productive and learned a lot. Someday, I'll get back to them, but for now I'm glad I took that turn in the road.

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  20. I have a half-dozen or so chapters of a book that is borderline trunk. In my case, I think it's because my pantser half derailed my intended plot and left me treading water trying to decide which shoreline I could swim to easiest. I'm still treading water with it. :-)

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  21. I hope you do get back to it. I'm sure there's a lot going for it. It can be quite frustrating when it seems like there's an insane amount of work to do on a book to bring it to what we want it to be. And the more months/years you leave it the harder it is to get back in the zone with the story. I've been guilty of that, but I also think some books such as our early ones are only meant to be learning experiences.

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  22. I have lots of books sitting half-written in my file cabinet, languishing...maybe someday they'll turn into full-fledged novels. We'll see...

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  23. I can -so- relate to this. My current WIP might just become my first 'trunk novel', lol....we'll see how it goes, though.

    "Blue Brain"....LOL...I'll have to remember that one. :)

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  24. Hmmmm. I don't have a trunk book, not yet.

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  25. I actually have several in my box under the bed. Some aren't even complete. I figure if I lost interest in it the reader would too. But still I keep them in the hope of one day going back through the box and waving a magic wand make it publish worthy. It might happen but I doubt it.

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  26. I would like to believe that nothing deserves to be in a trunk, hidden away forever... but I have far too many things I've hidden away or destroyed because I didn't like it when I was done. Just write for yourself and from your heart, and you'll know when its time to show the world what you created.

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  27. I still love my "trunk book". And I've learned a lot since I finished it. I can't wait to get back to it with revisions and try, try again.

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  28. I feel you when you are really talking about not living up to your expectations. If that is what I am getting out of this post.

    BTW, distractable is totally a word...I found it in the 3rd Edition of the Shannon Lawrence Writers Dictionary. So there's that!

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  29. You can sue me but I am so stealing "oooo, shiny girl" that's my new thing, "sorry but I'm a oooo shiny girl", it should be a bumper sticker. Thanks for the giggle:)
    You should follow what you really feel is right, follow your gut and be fearless.

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  30. You can sue me but I am so stealing "oooo, shiny girl" that's my new thing, "sorry but I'm a oooo shiny girl", it should be a bumper sticker. Thanks for the giggle:)
    You should follow what you really feel is right, follow your gut and be fearless.

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  31. Lately I think everything I write is a trunk story. I get a good start, shut down for the night, and never start again. Grrhhh.

    .....dhole

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  32. Here's the cut and paste from the info about google+ from the post where you asked the question. *Heads up all who use google+, many of you may not be aware and wonder why folks aren't returning your visits and comments. Google+ has a setting now that does not allow others to comment, in some cases your blog isn't even visible unless people register with google+. You are losing people without knowing why, as many of you don't have means of contact. I've been able to alert several, who did no know of the problem and change in settings; some have been able to fix the problem. If you're one who's fixed the problem, please leave the instructions on the fix so that we can pass along the information to help others. Please leave it here the comments and or email me directly at sandycrochet at gmail.com*

    Your's is ok, but a big percentage of folks are having trouble because no one except google+ people can comment. Generally speaking people aren't going to keep joining something just to leave a comment, but the difficulty is, people where unaware it happened, so I'm trying to spread the news. And suggesting that people leave the url to their blog vs their google+ page, just like most bloggers leave the url to their blogs vs their dashboards where people have to look for their blogs. When we insert the hypertext here in the comments vs me this time round leaving it just google. Would love if you could share you're settings, since you're comment section isn't a problem.

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  33. If you have the vision and wherewithal to put all that work in, then godspeed! Certainly most trunk novels need the labor. Mine was so far gone it was almost a picaresque. I'd like at least a couple more novel-writing experiences under my belt before I try to resurrect it. To more expertise, the greater acumen we have to fix these things.

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  34. I've trunked two novels... and mainly because I realized they were practice novels. I think it's good to know when to put something away! But sometimes a project is worth the rewrite... :D

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  35. I know what you mean. Yep, I have set my first novel aside for the time being. I envision coming back to it some day, by who knows for sure :) I know I learned a lot from it.

    Thanks for stopping by my site.

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  36. Oh, yes, I have two books that cry out for something. One I will answer. The other is a sloshy romance novel I wrote 33 years ago. I got pregnant while writing it. It will stay in its box.

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  37. My older trunk books didn't find representation or a home anyplace.

    These days I'll trunk a manuscript because in my gut I know something is missing. I'll put it away to rewrite it or combine it with a new idea.

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  38. I have never attempted to write anything close to a book. I write blogs. If they suck, they never see the light of day because I delete them and come back later.

    Visiting from the A-Z Road Trip!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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  39. Hah, I was gonna say I don't think I have one, but then I remembered. It's in a tote bag, but still. I think you just *know*. God, it's *awful*. LOL :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

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  40. Blue brain, I love it! Its so hard to admit that somethIng you've put so much effort into is just not working. Even with blog posts, I have some that just sit in drafts because I can't make them work. I guess that's the downside of writing, as opposed to the times when you come up with something amazing!

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  41. I have several. Some may yet get pulled out and re-done (one is in process now; the jury is still out on whether it will fly, though my first beta reader says to go ahead). My very first novel, which is still love in so many ways, will stay a trunk book.

    I think.

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  42. I trunked all of the books in the first series I wrote with my Atlantic City characters. I just realized, from the vantage point of my thirties vs. being 11-13 years old, that they required far too much editing, revising, rewriting, and polishing to merit transcription. At least those books (novella-length, really) gave me these great characters I've been with for over 21 years now and literally grew up with.

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  43. Wow, nope, I don't have a trunk book yet....I do however have works half completed waiting till I finish this present WIP before I can get to them. I'm enjoying myself so much at the moment with the editing, it's going to be a bit before I get to them. It's not a bad thing, as I'd been going through the blah's till I realised I could change things, and it was okay to do so...as if I didn't like the changes, I still had the old version floating around...Best of luck with your WIP

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  44. I'd like to believe there are no trunk books. Just books that you set aside until inspired to work/re-work. There was obviously something there that worked for you and got the juices flowing at some point.

    For myself, just starting to write again, I've not anything complete enough to even categorize this way. If I trunked anything I got frustrated with or his a road block with I may as well stop now while "ahead" lol

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

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