The Trunk Novel — What It Is and Why New Writers Need Them

Mason Sabre
3 min readApr 30, 2019

All new writers need a collection of trunk novels before they publish. Here’s what it is and why.

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I first heard this term a few years ago when I had the pleasure to meet Author Kelley Armstrong. If you don’t know by now, she is one of my favourite authors. I devour her books (I used to … but time *hangs head in shame*). Anyway, I was a keen member on her site and part of her writing group. I remember the days of posting chapters and then eagerly waiting for responses from other members. Because of this, when I met Kelley, she actually knew who I was. I was so shocked. Like … wow, you know my name.

We got talking about writing, and she told me about trunk novels. I asked what they were and she told me that these are novels that never see the light of day. They are that story you write … you know, when you finally decide to do it. You have some fun, write away like your ass is on fire (she didn’t say that part), enjoy the learning experience, because believe me, it is one hell of a learning experience and then …

Put it in a trunk and leave it there. Yep. Those bastard books should never see the light of day. I think she might have three of them, she said? Maybe. I don’t know. But I was like wow, really?

I had a trilogy at this point and then a two-part story I had written. I had edited them to death. Rewritten them and every time, they got better, but were just never right, you know?

I realised that these were what Kelley was talking about. Trunk novels. They were my fun and practice. They were that thing you write, enjoy, and then never let another soul read. I still have them of course, and I have opened them occasionally and laughed at the writing. I can see how much I have grown.

I am sure, though, that in another ten years, when I look back at my work now, I will laugh again, and think wow, they really were a pile of tosh. I hope so too. It will mean I have grown as an author.

In the indie world, I see so many people have published their first novels. (I think you can tell) It makes me glad that these opportunities weren’t around when I was writing, or I would have published those trunk novels, and I think the bad reviews would probably have put my ass in the corner where I would have curled up and cried and never written again … it saved me. I guess.

Do we all need to write those trunk novels? Maybe. I think so. At least write a few books before one goes out.

The series I have out now, The Society Series, some of those books I wrote a long time ago. Since then, I have deleted and rewritten them.

I just wasn’t experienced enough back then to tell their stories.

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Mason Sabre

Mason is an author and a teacher. He loves to write and read and will always be a life-long learner. https://www.patreon.com/masonsabre