Trunk novel. Somehow I had never come across the term, only seeing it for the first time these last few days. Don’t know how it eluded me. If you’ve never heard the term, you’ll certainly be familiar with the concept.
A trunk novel is an old, unpublished manuscript stuffed away in a trunk (or drawer, or closet, or box, or whatever), in most cases because it’s terrible. You pull out your old trunk novel, read it, and remember how bad you were.
I can relate to that!
My trunk novel — and dear god I hope I don’t build up more than, say, three of them — was an epic fantasy, the first book in (naturally) a trilogy. The delightfully bland title was The Fortress of Stone, and in a shocking twist it involved a young man being forced to leave his comfortable little village and travel with a group of mix & match companions, their quest key to stopping great evil from coming into the world.
Yes, it was that stunningly original.
Even better was the overblown purple prose, laborious descriptions of every tree and rock on their journey, painfully stilted dialogue, and complete lack of real characterization. And that’s not even considering the boring, uninteresting story.
It currently rots away in a box … which is right where it deserves to be. It’s never been read or pitched, and it never will be.