The Danger of Plot Bunnies

I don’t trust plot bunnies.

A long time ago, I was trying to write an early Victorian/late Regency romance about two sisters (of six sisters, for the sake of series potential and the nod to Jane Austen.) Elder Beatrice was trying to make a good marriage in all the usual places in the London Season, and younger Alice was impersonating her twin brother in order to prevent the property from going to an uncle while gambling to keep them in funds.

One day the inspiration wasn’t all that hot, but I had the itch to write anyway. I asked for a writing prompt from a friend who asked me to write about a particular fanfic pairing and coffee. That two word prompt sprawled into a 120k fanfic about a piano prodigy who leaves the shelter of his religious cult to study music and falls in love with his roommate, a cellist with an anxiety disorder and an obsession with rope bondage. (I’m not joking.) it’s a huge mess narratively but my most popular story, with close to 50k hits on Ao3.

Beatrice and Alice never even made it to Almack’s.

My plotbunnies have an evil sense of timing. They wait until my manuscript feels like that roommate who leaves their discarded clothes on the bathroom floor and drinks milk straight from the carton. That’s when I usually get an idea, a shiny enticing neat idea that’s so much better than that slobby idea that leaves dirty socks on the floor.

Here’s the dilemma. If I follow the bunny, I leave partial manuscripts behind. But when I scribble them down and leave them in the bunny folder, the idea doesn’t have the life it had when it was tempting me away from a manuscript that wasn’t all wine and roses.

I can’t afford to linger with the idea that tries to tempt me away from finishing a book. But I’ve never had another story like the one I wrote when I threw away my orderly plan and ran off with the idea that came when I was struggling. When that plotbunny comes, I am so tempted. I wish they would behave a little better and wait their turn instead of flashing those big soulful eyes in the middle of a project.

~ C.L. Polk

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