Last night, staying up much longer than I probably should have, I read in full my two incomplete novels, about 70,000 words in total. There were some parts that made me very happy…and some parts that made me cringe. After looking through, and considering that both documents represent efforts that I have yet to exceed in terms of how complete they are, I want to revisit them. Not necessarily because they are going to be publishable, or even that easy to polish, but because they both represent good exercises to myself. I think looking at what is most complete gives you a better perspective on what’s missing.
The near-complete novel, Fratricide, has a premise that is utterly unbelievable, and a mid-story tone shift that’s even worse. That being said, there’s some interesting character development, and a nice juicy gap near the end of the book that represents where I deleted something so utterly over the top it had no place in even my already unbelievable story. Filling in this gap is going to help me reconsider writing relationships, because the non-central relationship that needs resolution is still one of the better ones I’ve written.
The failed NaNoWriMo attempt is shorter, but has way more potential. It’s equally silly as the first one, but is much more tightly written and has fewer WTF plot moments (it still has a few, mind you, but could at least be optioned as a high-budget action movie). And it’s completely unfinished. At 18,000 words, I barely get into the inciting action, and still haven’t dug myself into a hole deep enough that I wouldn’t want to at least try to come out. It’s also the most honest rendition of my spy/mercenary/rhetorical wish-fulfillment agent character that has shown up now and again in my writing since high school (and in a less direct way also showed up in the first novel).
As I said, neither of these are all that good…they’re first attempts, and I’m unsure if there are enough interesting ideas in there to make them worth the time to edit, even if I finish writing them. Still, based on how much I enjoyed the reading time I took last night, I’m at least succeeding at writing things I’d like reading, even if as an unpublished writer that’s a very low bar.