Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reviving a Trunk Novel

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

For those not familiar with the term, “trunk novels,” are the books authors write and maybe try to get published, but eventually put away in a trunk because they were early writing efforts that just weren’t ready for prime time. I’ve even heard it’s what writers must do. The common wisdom is that no one’s early writing efforts can be any good. (Except all those authors you’ve heard of who just decided one day to write a book and blammo, within less than a year, they were published. And even multi-published. These authors are not chimeras. I’ve met them.)

At any rate, I’ve always been pigheadedly stubborn, and I love this book, so despite the fact that it’s been through at least three previous incarnations, I’m giving it another go.

One of the things I’ve been finding surprisingly enjoyable is ripping the guts out of it. I’ve tried rewriting the beginning of this book more times than I can count, and despite the fact that it opens with the reincarnation of a naked woman in the snow who can conjure with a word, the subsequent pages were just…boring, frankly. And I couldn’t figure out why.

Until I outlined it. Even though the rest of the story is full of danger and violence, romance and mystery, lots of heartache, and some shocking surprises, I discovered the first seven chapters were spent with characters meeting one another and thinking. Seriously. I was gobsmacked and more than a little embarrassed.

So I tore out every scene that involved introductions and ruminations. And surprise, things happened. I still have a ways to go to tie everything together, but I think the trunk novel may be coming around.

Here's a little snippet of some of the new material, a scene between two characters from my novella, The Devil's Garden, which is actually a prequel to this story. I'd never intended for them to reappear, but characters often have other ideas.

Cree lay sleeping. Ume curled around her, forming a protective cocoon with the warmth of her body. It was the only time Cree would accept such comfort. Working the docks of In’La had made her tough and self-sufficient, her brusque exterior reinforcing the assumption encouraged by her dress that she was male. That toughness—with a touch of tenderness underneath that Cree tried to cover—was what Ume had fallen hopelessly in love with. The shell of brittle amber had come later.

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