There's a Reason It's In The Trunk

by | May 24, 2014 | General | 8 comments

Some of our constant readers may remember my monthly
contributions titled: Writing This Novel.

The idea was based on a quote by Poppy Z Brite that a writer
doesn’t learn how to write novels. Instead, they learn how to write this novel
as they’re writing it. My articles followed my thoughts and struggles while
writing a novel of erotic horror titled The Night Kreatures. 

I completed the novel and submitted it to a publisher. They
(rightly) didn’t care for the first two chapters and asked me to rewrite them. At
the time, I was working on the second novel for a series (under a different pen name)
and didn’t have time. I put it aside and figured I’d get back to it eventually.

Two years passed.

Several weeks ago, I submitted the third novel in that
series to the publisher and was looking for something to work on when a friend
mentioned that an agent would be interested in seeing my work. Ulp! I don’t have
anything to show an agent! I haven’t written a short story in over a year. Aha!
I thought, this is the time to grab out the trunk novel and fix it.

While reading through the completed third draft of the novel
I wrote in 2012, I was grateful it wasn’t published yet. I still love the creepy story,
but I hate where I started it (thus the problem with the first two chapters). The
sequence of events through the middle third makes no sense, although I remember
feeling it was vitally important to do things in that order as I wrote it in

*eye roll* Writers, right?

Why do we make those arbitrary decisions, and why do we get
so stubborn about them? Those decisions often turn out great for me, which is
why I’ll follow that instinct every time, but other times I mystify myself. Why
would I struggle so hard to bend a story to an idea that clearly isn’t working?
Every effort to force it showed so clearly on the page when I went back to read
it. It was painful to slog through. 

Have you ever gone back to a novel and tried to fix it? Were
you able to? Or did everything you tried only make it worse? Do you have a
trunk novel you’d like to get back to? What’s stopping you?

Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean’s stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Haunted Hearths, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, and She’s On Top in print. Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites have also featured her stories. Writing as Jay Lygon, her stories can be found in Inside Him, Blue Collar Taste Tests, Toy Box: Floggers, and the novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons. Read more about Kathleen Bradean at:


  1. Annabeth Leong

    I agree with your title. I have some older stuff lying around, but anything more than about two years old is such a "cold crime scene" that if I still wanted to tell the story, I would probably throw out the draft and redo the whole thing.

  2. Kathleen Bradean

    Annabeth – I'm wondering now if I would have been better off to start from a clean slate. It's as much work to rewrite the entire thing as it is to go from scratch.

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    I *wish* I had a trunk novel I could pull out LOL.

    However, I agree with you 100% about forcing things. It always ends up showing. I've been trying to let instinct take control lately, but it's surprisingly hard to stop micromanaging my plots and characters.

    BTW – what ever happened to that scifi novel I edited for you, ages and ages ago? There were lots of great ideas there… I'd love to see it in print.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      Oh, gosh. I loved the way the story explored the idea of celebrity and fame, and an anti-hero who was really evil. But it might never be a sell-able work.

  4. Jean Roberta

    Kathleen, one of your "Chaos Magic" novels explores the idea of celebrity and fame (character actually bcomes a God of Fame) – & it's brilliant & hilarious. If you have something like that in your trunk, I would like to see it in the light of day. 🙂

  5. Jean Roberta

    I actually have a trunk novel which I think still has potential. It was available as an e-novel from British website/publisher Amatory Ink from 2002-2006, when the company closed shop. More recently, M. Christian generously offered to help me republish out-of-print stuff. I mentioned my Amatory Ink novel but didn't send it to him because I want to revise it. It's so old that parts of it seem out of date, not only because my writing style has changed. (For one thing, my central character "comes out" by going to the local gay bar, where many of the regulars chain-smoke – no longer legal OR socially acceptable). I haven't found the time to go through the whole file (56,000 words), but I think this needs to be done. IMO, it's too good to abandon completely, but not good enough to republish as is.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      Technology is another big issue. I wrote one short story where I had the character using the phone in his hotel room. When I polished it for publication four years later, I realized they would use their mobile.

      I have a smoker in The Nigthkreatures, and I really wonder if I'm going to cut it. The movement feels right for the character, but it seems so old fashioned.

      Let me know if you do rewrite it, and if you decide to start from scratch.

  6. Renee Rose

    I have a beast in the trunk. It's 100K and still no ending. At one point I had a plan to revamp it, but now I'm not sure that plan is the right solution either…

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