|page one of King's book|
I've got a couple myself: three complete novels, actually, that never went anywhere. The first, Telegraph Road, was about a rock band who has to drive a baby from Seattle to Philly in their van. Ann Patchett, my teacher at the time, said, "This is just a list of band names." Ouch. Too, too true. The second is a crime novel, Born Again, that I wrote in maybe 2004? I still kind of like it, but I am the only one, apparently, because many an editor passed. It was to have been only the first mystery featuring the overly tall, overly selfconscious campus-cop-turned-homicide-detective Malcolm Friend. (I still have two complete plot lines in reserve in case I take him up again someday.) And then there's 2009's The Document, a novel about an annoying person's every annoying thought, to which my agent said, "I'll send this to your editor if you really want. But I think you should shelve it." I shelved it, and wrote him a new one.
I hope Rhian weighs in--several of my favorite things she has ever written are abandoned novel bits. I don't think non-writers realize how difficult it can be to actually finish a coherent long-form narrative--even the very best concept can be utterly destroyed by a host of factors. The novel I just finished, Familiar, was an abandoned book for eight years before I took it up again--the problem, it turns out, had been that I'd chosen a topic I lacked the maturity and experience to properly explore at the time. And even now it took a couple of false starts and a major, major overhaul to crack it. (At least I think I cracked it: time will tell).
Let's hear what you've got in the orphanage.