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What was first story you ever trunked?

I was in my forties when I decided I wanted to be a writer. Not that I was totally inexperienced. After all, I’d written quite a few songs (which is a kind of storytelling – or can be) and I’d been making up stories to tell my young son on the way to school pretty much every day for quite a while, so I figured, how hard can it be?
That was just the first of a great many mistakes I’ve made. I soon learned that it’s one thing to come up with a story idea which I thought folks might enjoy, and quite another to turn that idea into a saleable piece of writing.
The smart move for any new writer is to begin with short stories, right? That way, you get to hone those writerly skills until you’re ready to take on (what to many writers is) the ultimate challenge of writing a book, so naturally, I decided to start on a novel.
I had two book ideas: One was Fur-Face, which, after dozens of rewrites and quite a few story changes, went on to find a home at Echelon Press. The other was called Die Laughing. It’s about a comic/magician named Mickey McGee who’s about to break into the big time, with scheduled appearances on TV talk shows etc.  Sadly for him, everything starts falling apart.  It starts after he picks on a guy in the audience for being the only one not laughing, only to find that the man died of heart attack ten minutes earlier, then a dead woman turns up inside his ‘Box of Death’ prop. Now someone’s trying to kill him. To make matters worse, Jay Leno just cancelled the magician’s appearance and booked Mickey’s most hated rival in his place.
The outline (if you can call it that) and first draft of the opening chapter currently gather dust at the very bottom of the writing trunk in my basement, along with the rough outlines, one-para summaries and partial drafts/opening chapters of a great many other stories which never quite made it past the ‘Ooh, this is going to be great!’ stage.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not worried that my unfinished story pile is so high. If there’s one thing I learned from my songwriting days (aside from ‘Use the whole stage, it’s harder to hit a moving target.’) it’s that most ideas really aren’t worth seeing through to the bitter end, and that’s perfectly okay.  
I might get back to Die Laughing one day, but for now it stays at the bottom of the ‘Good idea, but…’ pile.
How about you?
What was the first story you ever trunked?

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( 87 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 11th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
that's a hard one to answer, because I often bring story ideas back out of retirement and rewrite them, so I consider 'trunked' to be synonymous with 'temporarily retired' until I have an idea that may fix the story or make use of certain elements. Therefore, I never consider any story permanently trunked. Some just don't inspire me for the time being, and sometimes they don't inspire me ever again, but I can't decide this at the time I move a story into retirement.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
I've got a fair few ideas which I think of as 'One of these days' stories, but deep down, I know I'll never get back to most of them.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC)
Egads...how about everything I wrote up to Beyond the Gate (which is technically trunked but only temporarily.) That would be...22 full novels.

I might do something with the two YA novels, because while there is some gagstastic writing in there, they're pretty good, if I do say so myself. They deserve another shot. The others? I consider them my education. They are what they are and that's all that they are, I'm Popeye the sailor...oh, wait...what was I saying?
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
Lol, I don't know, but it certainly didn't seem to be about the first story you ever trunked :) You really miss those sparkles, don't you, Terri :P

Aug. 11th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
I once said to myself I'd write Real Literature TM about a teacher who helps a boy deal with the way he's teased in class. The teacher herself remember how she was teased in the past and her sympathy for the boy is slightly too big and it spirals into a Mrs. Robinson situation with heavy themes of Oedipus and conformism. You understand why I've trunked it. Not that my current work is light-hearted. But my view of Real Literature TM has changed a lot over the years.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)
Shame, it sounds like potential Oscar material for a movie :)
(no subject) - nathreee - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - asakiyume - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nathreee - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 11th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
If only I could remember. When I junked my boxes of floppy disks there were over 400 discs, and some of them had a lot more than one idea on them. Then there was the small mountain of paper resulting from 15 years of writing before Cathie bought me a computer. Sometimes I wish I could remember some of them but if they were worth remembering I would.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
I don't know about that. Earlier this year I went through the 'trunk' folder on my PC and found the basic idea for Dead Doris, now one of my current WiPs.

I'd made those notes four years ago and had completely forgotten them until then.
(no subject) - martyn44 - Aug. 11th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
I do not trunk stories for any reason. I might tweak them, or use them as the basis of a collaboration... But I refuse to trunk them. It's just a question of finding the right home!
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
Lol, I can just imagine you in fifty years. You'll be the guy whose front door won't open because of the pile of flashdrives in the hall ;)
(no subject) - bondo_ba - Aug. 11th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mmerriam - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
Man, I don't even remember. I hated school when I was growing up, so as early as first and second grade I was sitting in class writing stories instead of paying attention. I'm sure most of them remained in the margins of notebooks and died there.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
There's a moral in there somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is :)
(no subject) - misha_mcg - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I love talking about trunk novels!

My first trunk novel was a science fiction book that was both the best book in the world and the worst book in the world. Sometimes on the same day. This was the first book I ever tried to sit down and write, but after 71,000 words, I gave up. I can't remember why now. I think the story was actually decent and wouldn't mind taking another look at it.

Don't know if I could sell it, though. The book leans towards sci-fi romance, but at the time, I didn't realize I wrote romance. It's definitely a love story, but there's not a female POV and I'm pretty certain editors require that. *shrugs*
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
Plus lots of those waves-on-the-beach/flickering fireplace scenes, which aren't so easy to write about in space :)
(no subject) - sandy_williams - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jl_johnson - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sandy_williams - Aug. 11th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jl_johnson - Aug. 11th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
I think I must've been in high school when I got about thirty pages into a science fiction novel and then decided to scrap it. It involved spaceships, a space bar, evil space bugs and talking green space tigers.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Sounds good to me. Why did you stop?
(no subject) - hildebabble - Aug. 11th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 11th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
I guess you could call the first novel I ever wrote a trunk novel. I wrote it in my late teens and sent it to one publisher (back in those days--I'm your age, more or less--you could send a novel to a publisher, with a query letter, so long as you provided the money for them to send it back to you). They sent it back, and I didn't have the energy or interest to look for a second publisher :-P

I haven't trunked the two that I wrote since returning recently to writing, but I don't have especially high hopes for them.

I've trunked a number of short stories, too.
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Even if we never do anything with them, they're all part of the journey, so the effort's never wasted..at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;)
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
OMG, I really had to think back on this one.

When I was 19-20 I started a scifi novel about a young girl who's rural town was attacked by villians. The girl and her best friend begin a journey to the city thinking they're the only survivors. I got about twelve chapters written and realized there was no real plot to this, so I scrapped it.

That was when I learned I had to plot out my stories. I'm not an 'organic' writer. I HAVE to know how the plot works itself out.
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
'I'm not an 'organic' writer'

Me neither, I like to know what's going to happen before I write it. Of course, things don't always turn out like that :0
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
I wrote my first novel when I was 12. It will NEVAIR see the light of day. It's about a young girl who encounters another world on the other side of the mirror.

It's pretty damned horrible.


Aug. 11th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
It must be fun to look back at it now, though. Even if some parts might make you cringe, I'm sure there are plenty of good ideas in there still.
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
I've a very very long "Jake" novel that went through many drafts and yet I've trunked it. I opted for "Jake" short stories instead, and I'm not sure I have a valid reason for that. Since it was written nearly twenty years ago, I don't really want to go back, though when I saw the first chapter not long ago, I realized I did have plot, and character, and things that make up a novel, lol.

I love the opening outline for your trunked novel. Maybe one day ... There's just always so much else stirring the imagination; sometimes it's hard to go back.
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
'...sometimes it's hard to go back'

I always feel like I should move forward, but every now and then I look back to find an old idea trailing me still :)
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
That is a tough question to answer. But honestly? I think it was the novel I just finished! I began this, as a novella, nearly twenty ears ago, and worked and worked on it, and got all sorts of praise and criticism - but the consensus, in the end, was that it didn't quite work. Too much inner monologue, not enough action, and I wasn't clear enough about the characters or confident enough in my writing to pull off what I wanted to do. I put it away and went on to other things. Then, nearly three years ago, I decided I'd try to write this novel - and I didn't even look at that tired old novella. The starting place, focus, pov - everything except a couple of the characters and the universe the story took place in were entirely different. And it was much, much better. That novella really wasn't very good. But I was able to use what I learned from it to make something much better.

That said, there IS an unfinished novel in my drawer that I think will never, ever see the light of day in any form. Too arch and too twee! But I have one promising character in it. Maybe he'll make his way into the story I'm starting now.

Interesting question, Jon!
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mary. It's interesting to read about everyone's experiences. I like that your novella became a springboard for something even better.
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Aug. 11th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Hehehe, I have the first drafts of (what I like to call) medieval sci-fi novels in the trunk. They won't see the light of day either, at least, not until I learn a heck of a lot about worldbuilding and completely rewrite them :)
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever trunked a story, but I have lost more than my fair share either through computer crashes or format changes. My sister had a dedicated word processor that I had written stories on. You saved the data on 3.5 diskettes. The only problem was once they were formatted you couldn't use them on real computers. When the word processor died, so did those stories.
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
Ouch! Did you have print copies?
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Aug. 11th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mary_j_59 - Aug. 11th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Aug. 12th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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