I visited a writer friend a while back. She gave me the privilege of naming one of her baby rabbits.
I named it Plot.
There’s a writerly saying along the lines of: may you have great plots, and may they multiply like rabbits. I struggle with this, because I don’t see story as being plot-driven. I see it as being character-driven. So I’d put it another way: may you have great characters, and may they multiply like rabbits.
Just no on-page multiplication, please. Keep it family friendly, yeah?
My friend understood immediately. That’s the beauty of writer friends: they understand your unique brand of madness, because they share it – and, more likely than not, they can introduce you to other people who share it, too. Writers know writers who know other writers who know other writers… and so the madness and the friendship spread.
NaNoWriMo, f’rinstance, is a whole lot of people sharing this madness and this however-distant friendship.
The most important lesson NaNo ever taught me was this: just. keep. writing. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Just put the next word down. If it doesn’t fit, delete it and write a different word. Repeat until the word fits. Then write the next word. And the next. And if the finished sentence doesn’t work, you can fix it later. Write the next word. Words make sentences. Sentences make paragraphs. Paragraphs make chapters, which make these wonderful, terrible things we like to call books.
NaNo also taught me that momentum breeds momentum. Write 2,000 words a day for three weeks and you’re not going to want to break the habit the fourth week. The months after NaNo taught me that inertia breeds inertia, too. You finish a manuscript and you stop writing 1,667 or 2,000 or 3, 4, 5,000 words a day, and you don’t write anything for a month or more… and suddenly it’s harder than ever to pick up the keyboard and put words on virtual paper.
The good news is that ideas breed ideas. My first NaNo project was a 50,000 word Sherlock fanfic. In the final few days of November Year One, a kernel of an idea came to me. Hey, that would make a good book. That kernel grew into my first original manuscript, Whitu, which I wrote in November Year Two after months of letting the initial seed lie fallow. While editing Whitu the next year, it sprouted all sorts of interesting
appendages ideas, which I duly lopped off and stuck in preserving jars to observe more closely, er, wrote down and developed. Chorus, the sequel to Whitu, was written in November Year Three. The ideas continue to propagate, as you’ll no doubt know if you’ve been following this blog.
I’m currently planning the series to be mumbletwentyonebooksmumble, and I have a few non-related books percolating on the back-burner of my brain. Me, ambitious? Naaah. Book One in a 21-book series as a debut through a traditional publisher? Totally normal. Totally. Happens every day.
Anyway, I can’t help it if the whatsits breed like rabbits; it’s in their nature. And because I like lists: here, have a list.
Ten things that breed like rabbits
- rabbits (do I even have to say this? I’d be worried if they didn’t breed like rabbits, to be honest)
- words (…sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books)
- conversely, inertia
- Sweet Eru, ideas
I know, it’s not really ten things. It’s either nine or thirteen, depending on whether you count the things in the brackets or not. Shhh.
Actually: rabbits. What else would they breed like?
…don’t answer that. Or at least not without some brain bleach nearby.