Sunday, 15 January 2017

Zombie plot bunnies

Are you ever bugged by a baby plot bunny that won’t die, but that won’t come to life either?  A zombie rabbit, cute as a button and a great idea except for the fact it’s dead, dead, dead?

I have these all the time.  If you don’t, I envy you.  They sit at the back of my mind, nibbling their own feet and fixing me with their sunken-but-glittering eyes from time to time, as if to say “I could be a fabulous bunny if you just leeet meee liiivvve!”  I listen to them, I try to help, but they’re still undead and I can do nothing for them.

I’ve had some of them for years.  Decades. Seriously.  They are both dead and, it would seem, simultaneously immortal.  The Muse needs to breathe life into them, not me, and she simply hasn’t. Maybe one day she will.  Maybe never.

One of the ones I’ve tried several times to bring to life is an idea about what happens to an uprising against an oppressive regime, when their leader and main commanders are massacred at a fake peace conference.  Just two of the senior members of the uprising escape, both badly injured and rescued by separate groups of sympathisers.  They recover, and find their way back to the remains of the rebellion.  They try to rally the troops, bring on new commanders, and fight back.  But it becomes apparent that there is now a mole amongst them; one of the two survivors is in fact a spy.  But have they been turned, or is something else going on?  Are they an inadvertent spy, carrying some horrible undetectable new kind of implant?  And, of course, which of the two is the mole? It would be a science fiction story, quite a gritty one, and I’ve always thought it was a nice idea.  The problem was that there was no plot.  I had a situation, I had characters – characters I liked – and a dramatic opening with the massacre and the two survivors, injured, hidden in two very different refuges.  But I then had absolutely no idea what was going to happen to them.

Another plot bunny was inspired by Return of the Jedi, and could be summed up by the single question “What Emperor worth his salt is without a son and heir?”  Star Wars is by no means the only SF universe to have an evil empire, and anyway, since I planned to make it an original fic, I’d be inventing my own, wouldn’t I?  But again, it was too incomplete to live.  It had a situation, some characters (who were rather cardboard, since I was only 17 when I dreamed them up), and a few Big Scenes – the Big Fight Scene, the Big Love Scene and so on.  The rest of it was just the rabbit undead, twitching mouldy nose and all.

It looks fairly likely now that the new Star Wars trilogy (VII, VIII and IX) is not going to use “Palpatine has a son and heir” as a plot device. I was reminded of this plot bunny in December 2015, when I went to see The Force Awakens; and at the end of last year, seeing Rogue One, I was reminded of the other plot bunny.  And out of the blue today, I’m starting to feel I could do something about them.  Because if I can mesh the “Son and Heir” and the “Two survivors” stories together, I might have enough plot from those two conjoined to make something worth spending time on.

This cheers me up enormously.  The Plot Bunny Undead Are Coming Alive And They Need To Feed!!

I suppose I ought to review Rogue One, and for that matter some of the other good films and theatre I've seen lately.  The quick Rogue One review would be to say "I am now writing fanfic for it".  But there's a lot more I could say, and it's late and I'm tired; so I'll do that another day.   

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