Plot Bunnies–Learning How To Finish

Plot bunnies are much like real bunnies in that they are not only wildly aloof but also rather cute and cuddly like the shiny toy in the window you just have to buy because if you don’t buy it now someone else will and then they’ll get to have all the fun.

Running out of ideas is never my problem.  I have tons of them waiting in the wings.  So many in fact that there are about thirty blank word documents on my flash drive with nothing but a very cryptic name and a blinking cursor.  Sometimes just the sheer volume of undeveloped ideas can be rather overwhelming.  I mean there are only so many days in a year and so many years in well life (and cheating death can get exhausting I’m sure).  So how do you stay focused while at the same time maintaining enough enthusiasm for the projects you’ve yet to tackle?

I’ve been grappling with this lately.  I’ve accepted the fact that my first two, probably three books will have a very selective audience.  Not everyone will get them; not everyone will like them.  I’ve come to terms with that, for the most part.  But see there’s this trilogy rolling around in my head, something sort of contemporary, something sort of YA but with a psychological twist.  The content is the closest to on trend as I’ve ever been and I just think out of everything I’ll have put out there, it will be the easiest thing for people to connect to.  So if I know that I have this great idea but I still have so much work to do on other projects do I stick to my prior commitments or do I make a business decision and try to focus only on what I know will sell?

It’s a rather icky question when you think about it.  Even if I never made a dime I would still write.  That’s the truth.  But if the goal is eventually to write full time should I only be pursuing projects that I know will get me closer to that goal?  Or should I just keep writing whatever I want when I want? For me, so far, that’s where the magic has been—in those spontaneous writing sessions where I’m exploring something I’m completely obsessed with, every word and plot twist completely fluid and unbridled.  But I’ve been experimenting with outlining lately and looking at writing as more like a business and just wondering if there’s a different way, a better way to go about all of this.

One thing I think I’ve realized though is that chasing ideas that I think will sell is not going to make me a better writer.  And that’s the ultimate goal.  Not to be rich necessarily or to build a huge cult like following.  But to just keep growing.  And the only way to grow is to challenge yourself.  And the most challenging times for me as a writer are when I’m in the middle of a story and I have no idea how to get where I’m supposed to be going.  Plowing through the second half of a book is always the hardest but that’s always where I learn the most and regardless of the genre or the subject matter or the characters there will come a time in the writing of every book where I’ll get stuck.  There is no magic formula that is going to make writing an 80,000 word novel a breeze. I will have to fight my way through every single one. And the only way I’m going to get better at fighting is if I learn how to finish.  This is the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far.  So that bestselling trilogy can wait.  I’ve got some very impatient Colombians waiting for their next move.

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6 thoughts on “Plot Bunnies–Learning How To Finish

  1. Laura says:

    Getting through a book once you’ve become really stuck is definitely one of the hardest things I find about writing. Let me know if you have any tips on fighting through! I could definitely use them!!

    • Tom Rippon says:

      I’ve found that skipping around is not only good fun, but helpful. If I get stuck, I like to ditch that chapter/idea/part of the novel for a few days and work on something new (but related, even if only loosely).

      It’s nice and refreshing 🙂

    • Totally agree! I’m still trying to figure things out myself but as I’m currently in the midst of writing my 3rd book I’ve got to say the trick this time around has been momentum. The more I write, the more I want to write, and the more I want to write the more I actually sit down and do it. I’m nearing the halfway mark now so hopefully this keeps up but I’ll be sure to keep updating on my progress here!

  2. tracycembor says:

    I have a lot of trouble with rogue plot bunnies. They pop up when I am trying to get real work done. If they keep pestering me, I write them down to satisfy their nagging, then try to get back to my work in progress.

    My files look similar to yours with odd file names and random bits of text. One of my files is Autumn Leaves. Seems okay, maybe a little generic. I opened it up, and this is the text: The boy has a cloak made of rustling leaves. The girl rides a horse and runs away from the meteor… Yeah, I thought that was worth saving. I have no idea what it means. Maybe meteor is a typo…

    • Hahah I really hope that wasn’t a typo because that sounds amazing!! My plot bunny affliction is so severe I’d say it’s on the verge of schizophrenia. Which is scary. Ideas will literally wake me out of my sleep so there I am frantically jotting down a line of dialogue or a really kick ass description of someone’s teeth on my phone in the middle of the night before I forget. Because unfortunately I, too, have lots of notes that today make absolutely no sense because I tried to short hand a book’s entire plot. Insane.

      • tracycembor says:

        Sometimes I fantasize about gathering up all my plot bunnies that don’t live in a particular world I’ve created. I’d like to invent a world just for them (like the Island of Misfit Toys), then dump them into the gladiatorial arena and let them duke it out. May the strongest plot bunnies win! Huzzah!

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