To Trunk or Not To Trunk?

Posted by on May 11, 2012 in super secret projects | 2 comments

A recent article in Romance Writers Report discussed “under the bed” manuscripts (what I would call “trunked” manuscripts – as in, stored in a trunk).  The article pointed out that many authors are publishing their trunked works, using the wonders of Amazon, B&N, and other purveyors of ebooks to reach the audience that their treasured never-sold manuscripts had not yet found.

I have five trunked novels — two traditional fantasy, two category romance, and one mystery.  I’ve fiddled with one of the fantasy novels off and on over the years — it has some wonderful things going for it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s plot is irrevocably broken.  I looked at the category romances recently, and they’re not ready for prime time — they’ve got decent category bones, but they’re too full of adjectives and adverbs in virtually every sentence.  They’d take a *lot* of line editing to make decent.  As for the mystery – the best thing about it is its title.  Enough said.

That leaves the other fantasy novel.  The first fantasy novel that I ever wrote.  I have two versions of it — one that I circulated via an agent for years and a shorter-by-20% version that resulted from an editor who was interested but ultimately left her job before I could finish my revisions.

Last night, I took a peek, to see if there’s anything salvageable there.)  The long version was as broken as I’d feared it would be.  Like the category romances, it suffered from way too many adjectives and adverbs.  It also had huge pacing problems — the first chapter was an interminable council meeting, where no fewer than twelve (12!) nobles are introduced, all to let us know that hey, we have to go to war.

I almost didn’t read the trimmed version.  But I did.

And you know what?  It isn’t terrible.

It isn’t publishable – not now, not in its current state.  But if I reworked it a bit…  If I emphasized that aspect…  If I trimmed more of that one…

This wouldn’t be a quick edit — there’s both structural and line work to be done.  But the novel wasn’t terrible.

I’ve got plenty of work on my plate for the next couple of months.  But after that?  Who knows?

(And I have to say – I was astonished by how many of the sentences were still absolutely, completely, 100% familiar, 15 years after I last read them.  I really poured my heart and soul into this work once upon a time, fighting to make it the very best novel I could write.  That required a lot of revisions, word by painstaking word…)

Mindy, musing (which usually only happens when she reaches the final quarter of a work in progress…)



  1. Of course they were familiar! How could a mother not know her own children? Have I read this fantasy?

  2. Karen – Nope – I finished the trunked beast in question years before Apprentice…