Last week, I was taking a shower. When I can, I take showers after the kids leave, so I can take a long one that is not interrupted. I usually have work right after I drop them off, so it doesn’t happen often. When it does, I hang out until the water becomes warm instead of hot.
That was the case last week. I was standing under the water spray, musing on who knows what, when the plot bunny ran up and banged his head against the shower door. Before I could even say what the hell, about twelve more arrived. They ran noisily about my bathroom, chattering and tumbling and falling over one another.
Not always being one to take the signs and go, I got out of the shower, kicked the closest bunnies away from me, and got on with the day.
But there they were. In the rear view mirror on the way to work. In between patients. While I was driving in between appointments. All day, the bunnies hung around. And they went from the twelve or thirteen that I began with to oh, say, forty or fifty.
For anyone who is not familiar with the term ‘plot bunny’, let me elaborate. It’s a term that I first came across while reading fanfic, and while this is not fanfic, the idea applies.
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” –John Steinbeck
A plot bunny is a story idea that refuses to go away until it is written. The term’s origin is unknown but is known to predate NaNoWriMo. Because plot bunnies tend to multiply quickly, the term is thought to be related to the oft-quoted John Steinbeck quote about ideas and rabbits.
So yeah. There I was, with this thing right behind me, dogging my footsteps.
I gave in. I started writing. I started Saturday night, and last night, Wednesday night, was the first night I took a break (in between all the real life responsibilities) and went to bed at a decent hour.
For any of you that do NaNoWriMo, it’s fifty thousand words in thirty days. I have written over thirty thousand in four days. Finally, the plot bunnies have scattered a bit, and there’s only a couple grazing round the laptop table. Languidly, so I’m not really in fear for my life at this point. Or my brain frying and falling out of my ear when I’m not paying attention.
But Lisa, you ask, what did the plot bunnies want? Was it any good? Was it fanfic?
It wasn’t fanfic. It’s a whole ‘NOTHER story. As you all may remember, I am editing Novel #1. I have Novel #2 nearly done. I have started plotting Novel #3, which is the sequel to Novel #1, and then here come the bunnies. So what I have worked on for the past four days is Novel #4.
I used to read posts from people making crazed statements such as the paragraph above, and think, you’re full of crap. I am struggling with Novel #1, how in the hell do you manage four at the same time?
Now I know. It’s because the plot bunnies take up residence, and refuse to leave or move on until you write it down.
Is Novel #4 good? I don’t know. I am on Rough Draft, which means all I have corrected is the spelling as I have gone along. It’s not my normal genre, either. It’s women’s lit, chick lit – basically a romance? I write urban/contemporary fantasy. This is a new one to me.
Bunnies aside, I love this story line. And scenes that might usually give me some fuss just fell right onto the screen. For good or ill, this thing had to be written.
If a plot bunny should sneak up on you, go on. Ride it. See where it takes you. I’m in an editing class right now, and one of the exercises we recently did was to write uninterrupted and sans editing for twenty minutes. I did all right. When I chatted with the instructor, I told her I wasn’t sure of the quality, but I’d rather start with something on the page to edit than be sitting there staring at a blank one.
So the next time a bunny parks itself next to you, demanding some writing time, go ahead and see where it goes. Worst case scenario, you trash the scene. But you never know. It may just be awesome.
UPDATE: I am currently reading this story, Novel #4, to my critique group. They are enjoying it as much as I am enjoying writing it. So the moral of the story is, go with the bunnies and see where they take you.