This week I’m inspired by plot bunnies. Those marvellous story ideas that turn up at the most inopportune moments, dazzle you with their clever brilliance, and then bound off at speed, so you have no choice but to follow and see where they end up.
In my experience chasing a plot bunny is by no means a sure thing. Sometimes you follow a character, a twist or an idea that leads nowhere. When the initial excitement wears off, you realise it’s chewed up a big chunk of your writing time and hasn’t taken the story anywhere.
But at times, and what times they are, the plot bunny delivers an unforeseen twist that grabs a floundering story by the lapels and infuses it with new life.
For me, the most enjoyable plot bunnies include unexpected characters. Characters that were supposed to have a small role in the story, but manage to shoulder their way into the action and demand the story take a whole new course. Usually with them centre stage.
I was seduced by one such character a few months ago. She wasn’t supposed to have a big role, but at one point I seriously considered telling the story entirely from her POV. For a heart-stopping moment, a considerable part of the WIP was in danger of being shelved, all because this character couldn’t possibly have been involved in it.
This time, caution won the day and I indulged her by writing about six chapters in a row entirely in her POV (unusual for me). Although I love this new storyline, once I got it out of my system, I can see how it will work just as well woven into the larger story.
The verdict is still out.
But what a fun character…
More recently I‘ve been struggling with a stalled plotline. Where I’d planned myself into a corner.
No matter how I hit this particular point in the story, the result was sleep-inducing scenes. And when you’re putting yourself to sleep, what hope does the reader have?
Honestly, I was a wee bit desperate. To the point when I wanted to send ReGi McClain’s plot ninjas in to cut off everyone’s head. You know how it goes: Josiah stands up to dedicate the Sanctuary, a ninja swoops in - zwhack. Marcus is crowned, and both head and crown hit the ground. Stella flirts with Artemis, surely she won’t lose her head over him… Sorry I know it’s bad, but you get the idea. Things were pretty dire.
Fortunately another true blue plot bunny turned up.
Follow me, it seemed to say. You know that insignificant scene you wrote about the dedication? The one you were thinking about cutting – well maybe there was something in that look. Maybe that one little look started a whole chain of events leading to kidnap, blackmail and opening up a whole can of emotionally charged worms. Maybe the bad guy isn’t as bad as you thought. Maybe he was manipulated by someone… er, badder?
Really? I answer casually, reaching for my notebook. Badder you say? Tell me more. I’m totally prepared to step away from my carefully plotted, but at this point totally uncaptivating outline, and explore this new path… (Notice the calm tone of voice – in my experience plot bunnies are very easily scared off).
So have I found my story equivalent to the Rosetta Stone? The telling moment that might pull everything together? Or am I off on another wild goose chase?
Who knows? But all of sudden my WIP is looking exciting again. And if some of the twists and turns leading on to my (already planned) out ending are shrouded in the mists of wait-and-see, I think I can live with it. Because the muse is up and hopping again!
If you want to know more about plot bunnies, and the myriad of forms they come in – check out this awesome, funny and scarily true post from wikiwrimo, entitled simply Plot Bunny. You may be more familiar with them than you realise…
Thursday’s children according to the rhyme, have far to go. This week I’ve travelled all the way into Friday to post this… so wishing you all the love and best wishes Friday’s child can deliver. Happy writing!