Not an actual bunny, I hasten to add – no, no, no, for one thing my son would never forgive me! No, this was what’s known in some writing circles as a Plot Bunny, although I’m sure there are other names for it. When someone says or writes something in your vicinity and it sets off a whole cascade of mental and creative fireworks, as the story takes shape around the most brief or innocuous of comments and you just have to run off and make at least some preliminary notes, if not whack out a chapter or two, just to fix the concept in your head and give you something to work on thereafter. Or not, possibly. That’s the thing with bunnies. They have a tendency to hop away as quickly as they hop in, or at least they do for me.
Anyway, I got given a Plot Bunny recently. A friend made a comment on a news story on Facebook, and off I went – after talking her down from some potentially stupid actions, although I’m glad to say lots of her other friends rallied as well. Or at least, I thought I was heading off: I mapped out a story plan, started developing some characters, sketched out the basic ideas behind it all that I wanted to explore. I even started writing – as I write this, I’m around 10,000 words in, I would think (I haven’t counted, no). Then, and only then, did I pause and do a little rather vital research, that I really ought to have done before I set a single word onto electronic paper.
Ever seen a train crash? Where the coaches and stuff just go slowly off the rails as you watch, and plough into the dirt and mud, flinging it everywhere before it all eventually comes to rest? That’s what the results of my little enquiries did to my Plot Bunny. Bugger, thought I. That’s a major flaw in the whole story, which is of a type where if I don’t get it right, the thing will be simply laughed at and ridiculed. OK, I’ll admit that this could happen anyway, no matter what I write! But when you’re trying to do a police procedural you do have to at least try to get it right. There are far too many brilliant ones out there as it is, and whilst I freely admit that I could never compete with authors who write nothing else, I’d like to at least not be shamed back into my obscurity!
So I sat and thought about it for a day or two – and then came up with a completely different format for the book, one which will let me use the proper results of my research, and will examine similar issues from some rather different angles. But the probability is that I won’t be able to salvage any of the previous writing, and whilst it’s true that I write primarily for fun and don’t have any deadlines to meet or publishers to satisfy… to throw away 10,000 words…
Even then I’m not sure that this new format is going to deliver the book I want it to be, either. Is it possible that some stories, however fantastic they might seem in our heads, are simply un-writable? Or are some Plot Bunnies better off never being chased at all, and being left to hop around the meadow of our imaginations, where minor irritants like plot format, consistency and having some sort of actual narrative, can be happily and legitimately ignored?
I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this, long-term. I have my novella for The Book Club’s charity auction nearing completion, and then the second round of work starts on the next instalment of The Sisterhood so that it’s ready for release in November. I have family commitments, to which I’m looking forward hugely, and there’s the minor issue of going to work and keeping my share of the bills paid to shoehorn in there too. I’ve just finished writing Sisterhood 8 (I think it’s volume 8, I’m rather losing count!) and I’m aware that this very blog has been getting neglected again, poor thing. Oh, and I have an actual reading pile at the moment, too! Great horrors but it’s busy…
So although I probably will keep at it, there is a good chance that this particular bunny might have to simmer in its pot for a while. More progress will be reported as and if it happens!