Plotbunny: A tempting idea for a story that hares off into strange territory upon pursuit. Known for breeding rapidly and dividing a writer’s attention to the point of achieving nothing at all. (unword.com)
I think we all know the scene. We’re working away, dutifully writing our current WIP, enjoying the character development, the fight scenes and the build towards a showdown between the forces of good and evil (or the showdown between dog and cat for that matter – it’s your story). Maybe you take a break, listen to some music or read a book.
“What ifs?” explode all over your brain. The entire plot for a new book arrives in a blinding vision of glory. Characters start yabbering away inside your head, telling you everything their life story and all the intricacies of their conflicts with each other.
And it won’t. Go. AWAY!
The plotbunnies have got you. aka Teh Shiney!
You try in vain to continue on with the book you’re writing. You try to ignore them, telling them that if they’re so very very shiny they can come back later, when you have time.
Yes, this has just happened to me. So I’m going to hold forth try to explain what I’m doing about it and why you cannot trust plotbunnies further than you could throw them.*
Plotbunnies are instruments of evil sent to torment us and keep us from the one true path of… bad. This is why:
1) “What ifs” explode all over your brain – but generally don’t give you answers to their questions. Oh no, that’s for you to work out. You’re the writer.
2) The entire plot for a new book arrives in a blinding vision of glory – and will fade as soon as you try to do anything with it until you’re lef there going “Well, there was this elephant… and a girl… and the disintegrator gun… and General Eisenhower…
3) Characters start yabbering away inside your head, telling you everything their life story and all the intricacies of their conflicts with each other. – These characters always seem to suddenly get very shy or find something else really important to do as soon as you give them any attention. They are passive agressive characters. They lie.
I am writing a YA Urban Fantasy with romantic elements. I love it. It is awesome. So when I went to take a break I decided to read something completely different. What could be more different than Lisa Hamilton’s Queens Consort ** – biographies of the medieval Queens of England (review here)? And being a history book, a non-fiction book, and a delight to leap in and out of at will, the perfect thing for me to read while writing without fear of impacting what I’m writing.
Wrong. I’d only got as far as Matilda of Boulogne when they started to ambush me. By Isabelle of Angouleme I was in deep trouble. By Isabella of France I knew for sure that I was doomed!!! And Philipa of Hainault just did for me.
So now I have a side project. Aha, you might say, a historical novel. Historical fantasy perhaps, or alternate history or some such thing.
No. It’s a freaking Space Opera with Steampunk elements thank you very much. Yes, I know. Really. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
What I’m doing, as a way of staving off the inevitable is this. I have made a rule (which my brain, obstinate to the last is sure to ignore sooner or later) that I cannot let this monster near the computer until GA is finished. I have a fairly lengthy blurby type overview. I have two scenes. But they are confined to the written word (although a shortened form of the blurb made it onto the Romance Divas boards – damn! Sound the alarms, we have a breakout!). And once I have made wordcount (or more) for the day on GA, done a bit of beta reading and other writerly things, I can play with this.
I only hope it works.
Oh yes, and this is on top of all the plotbunnies for May Queens sequel. They have their own notebook. The two must never be brought together in one place and time or it could be the end of us all. *sobs*
So, my question today is, what do you do when plotbunnies attack?
*I do not in any way advocate throwing real bunnies. I have friends who would never forgive me.
** Despite the trouble it has caused personally I heartily recommend this book.