Abandoned Projects – 1

Not every idea comes to fruition. Sometimes it’s not the right time, sometimes it just doesn’t pan out the way that you want it to. Since they do nothing but sit unread on my hard drive, I have decided to share some of these abandoned opening chapters from projects that I’ve toyed with over the last year (easily 100k words worth). I figured that they may be of interest to other writers, and might prove a good point for discussion of how opening chapters can feel like they’re working.

The first that I’m going to share was written around November/December 2017. I got 5 chapters into this novel, then decided that it wasn’t working. Here is the first chapter as a PDF, about 3,200 words.

Abandoned Novel 1 – SERPENTS – First Chapter

If you want to read it, scroll down for some of my commentary on why this story ultimately didn’t get any further than chapter 5.


The key issue with this story turned out to be the setup for the main character.

The story relied on the character being “Unseen,” a kind of social class that made him both the lowest caste in society, but also therefore allowed him a measure of freedom by being beyond consideration.  However, that very premise presented a key issue in terms of enabling the character to do anything that he needed to. There was a requirement for constant excuses as to why the protagonist was able to go where he wanted to, and also put up a significant barrier between the protagonist and those whom he needed to interact with. Whilst it made for an interesting conceit, it was also, ultimately, too problematic.

Despite all that, the writing of this proved useful in developing a number of other ideas. Certain characters such as Jin are ones that I will use in other work, and overall the concept of the murder investigation is one that I may revisit. The narrator keeping things from the reader is also not something that I usually do, but I felt that it worked well here.

Anyway, it’s fun to think that at least somebody might read some of this and get a small kick out of it.

Best of luck writing.

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Published by EdMcDonald

Ed McDonald is the author of The Raven's Mark series of novels. He currently lives in the UK. Find me at www.edmcdonaldwriting.com

2 thoughts on “Abandoned Projects – 1

  1. I think it shows how different we all are cos what made you stop on that project is the sort of thing that would make me keep going (in fact, feudal Japan, low class detective, unreliable narrator…).

    My problem with that chapter (and I suspect you would have addressed it later) in a critical-writer-what-would-I-do way is that there’s no real hook. It’s an interesting world, the writing is good, but it’s slow. I suspect if you’d carried on maybe you’d have started it at the moment they get to the body that’s hacked up cos this is your WTF moment.

    “Asagi was dead. There was no doubt about that. There was a reason that Voice Jin had come to Isaan for his expertise and not the surgeon, the physician, or Lord Tashaan’s clutch of herbologists.”

    Prior to that it’s all very pretty but I’m not sure we need to know any of it. That said, I really liked it and would say it’s a thing worth going back to. (I might do this too. It’s really interesting to see the ‘didn’t quite make its’)


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    1. Very valid comments, and entirely reasonable. The impact of the chapter is of course the last line, but to get to that line there needs to be a suitable amount of ‘non-impact’ going on before we get there so that it feels like it matters. That in itself is an issue in terms of a first chapter – really that impact needs to appear in the first line, the middle and the last line, rather than requiring the reader to push through some quietness and world building.

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