Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Controlling the plot bunny population

Spay and neuter your plot bunnies!

Good luck with that. Now that I'm reaching the end of Disciple, I've been suffering an explosion of plot bunnies. In case you didn't know, "plot bunnies" are story ideas that pop out spontaneously -- usually branching off an existing story. Good stories tend to inspire a lot of plot bunnies. Plot bunnies interbreed freely and can lead to some wild stuff, especially on the porny side of things.

I picked up the term from the fanfic community. I wasn't a writer of it, but I did read a fair amount.

Since Disciple's my own story, these aren't fanfic ideas so much as potential future stories -- but not all of them are going to work, necessarily. Some are quite vague. Some would set precedents that I don't necessarily want in this universe. Some are openly non-canon and I'm not going to go there at all. Some are more or less porn, and... well, okay, I've written some of those already but nobody needs to know about that.

Plot bunnies are a good thing, in the long run. The headline is a joke -- don't try to control their population. Let 'em breed. I write them down once they're at least a sentence long. I check on them every so often. They mutate when you're not looking. Cannibalize each other. I've been working on Disciple for a long time, and facing its completion... and knowing I'll soon be tending my plot bunnies... it's bittersweet. A bit disconcerting. But I thought I had it under control.

And then I was assaulted by a completely unrelated tribe of plot bunnies. After starting to write this post, I watched this episode of NOVA (there's a link to the video there) and had to beat the plot bunnies off with a stick. The strongest absorbed the others, got his teeth into me, and I had to add him to the Brainstorm Zone -- which is a whole Scrivener file I created for ideas.

It brought to mind a recurring writer-interview question, since I've had to write a lot of those recently: where do you get your ideas? Good Lord, where don't you get ideas? And I've never quite understood why people are so protective of ideas. They're a dime a dozen. It's execution of the idea that takes work, talent, and ought to be protected. And charged for access to.

So watch the episode. Your plot bunnies will be different from my plot bunnies. Your final story, if you write one, will be different from mine, if I write it. No worries.

How do you manage your plot bunnies?


Daniel said...

Fun article! I love the concept of plot bunnies. This is the first time I've seen the term.

If I have a big idea for a story that doesn't fit into my WIP, I write it down in a "story ideas" document. If the idea sticks in my head for a while to the point where I start developing it, I create a new project for it and let the ideas flow until they are exhausted. Then I go back to my WIP.

It took me a while to figure out that technique. I used to try not thinking about new story ideas so I could stay focused on my WIP, but the ideas have a way of distracting me until I write them down. Once I do, my brain seems to think it's safe to move on.

mooderino said...

I try to keep mine in a pen but they keep escaping. And mine have pointy teeth!

Moody Writing

L. Blankenship said...

Pointy teeth? RUN AWAY! Where's that holy hand grenade?

>ideas have a way of distracting me until I write them down

Yes, absolutely. Plot bunnies will get underfoot until you put them in a pen with the others. And I'd hate for them to get lost.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wish I had more plot bunnies. I get excited when just one attacks.
Although definitely not like the Holy Grail bunny.

Liz said...

Plot bunnies? Do those necessarily come from the story you're writing? Because I get story ideas all the time from watching TV or reading others' stories.

I don't steal. The story will do something that I disagree with, and I imagine the way I would have liked to see it go. Does that count?

L. Blankenship said...

Yes, that would be how fanficcers use "plot bunny" -- "Oh, I got a dozen plot bunnies from last night's episode! And I already have so many!"

Non-canon bunnies, crossover bunnies, slashy bunnies... all the flavors of fanfic.

Vanna said...

Plot bunnies, hmmm, I never heard those random ideas about world, plot, characters, scenes, etc. be called anything.

What I do is write them down on little pieces of paper. It's terribly messy and I'm still looking for a more organized way to deal with them. Your idea for a Brainstorming doc in Scrivener sounds like something to try!

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