Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Plot Bunnies Play: Writing for Different Audiences

Overheard on twitter this morning from fantasy and paranormal romance writer Ruth F. Long (@RFLong):

“Wait, I don’t write picture books. So why do I now have an idea for one? Out, d*#* plot bunnies, out I say!”

Has this happened to you?

Last summer, I was driving home from the library when an awesome idea for a thriller seeped into my head. With many experts advising writers to stick to one target audience, I decided someone else’s muse must have gotten confused and whispered in my ear. So I ignored her. Sort of. But the story is still there, spinning around and occasionally bumping my brain when I should be focusing on a draft of a picture book.

What do you do when you get a fabulous idea for a book that is not in your marketing category? Do you write the story, share it, or walk away quickly and quietly? Please leave a comment to let us know what you do when the plot bunnies play.


  1. Wow, Laura, this happened to me yesterday in the kids' car line. I thought of a storyline with a sci fi twist, but I don't see myself writing in that genre long term.

    When you have it figured out, let me know. lol.

  2. Laura,

    Since I am currently unpublished, I don't really have a genre to protect, per se.

    However, that being said, my mind is in a constant state of turmoil over this plot idea, or that plot idea, this genre, or that genre, this readership, or that one.

    I don't have plot bunnies running around in my head. I have plot chihweenies (a cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund - I saw them in a pet store and two of them were in a crate chasing each other around and around and around, bouncing off the walls, the ceiling, everywhere...).

    Crazy, I tell you!

  3. Thanks, Kristin. It looks like John Grisham is not afraid to expand his audience.

    Tim, I had to google the chiweenies. They are hilarious.

  4. I say write it! When something like that comes in my head, I go for it. Maybe I write it as a blog, or turn it into a fun illustration, but I don't like leaving it in there--I hate to lose good ideas.

    If actors can switch things up and become rock stars and authors, why can't we write or illustrate for different genres and audiences?

  5. I treasure it and file it away. If I think I might forget, I take notes, and hope I don't lose them.

    I have a different problem. I have all these snips from life. Many of them characters, that could be expanded.

    For instance, a friend and I were hitch hiking in Ontario, and we were arguing about something, what I don't recall. We argued almost non stop. This is about 1976, so quite a while ago. These 2 guys who are also hitch hikers yell to us, "If we get you high, will you stop arguing? We can't stand to listen to it anymore."

    Turns out they'd just gotten out of prison, and they were from Three Rivers, Quebec. Nice enough guys, we didn't ask them what they'd been in for. Seemed like all the other hitch hikers we ran into were also from Three Rivers.

    The venue? A field just outside of Marathon, Ontario.

  6. Anonymous-- Glad you are alive and well to tell that story. Maybe you could keep a character journal to jot down the colorful folks you encounter.

    I love the boldness. When I was in high school I attended Broyhill Leadership Conference. One of the quotes they taught us was Napoleon Hill's "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." That's always stuck with me.

  7. I have this happen all the time! When a plot bunny decides to run across my mind, I take a few minutes to jot down whatever I can about the idea, and then I file it away (I have a label in my Gmail account for plot bunnies) and try to forget about it.

    Then, when I finish with whatever project I am currently working on, I go an read through all the emails with the Plot Bunnies label (unless I have another project I need to work on right away) and decide what to write. A lot of times I skip over those ones that fall way outside of my normal focus, but I think someday I will be ready and able to write them.

  8. Plot bunnies! That's very funny. Yes, this happened to me once--I got a fabulous, high-concept idea for a YA (I don't write young adult). I started writing it, wrote about 50 pages, got stuck and haven't been back to it since. But it's still a great idea.

  9. Heehee! I love writing in different genres. I have some picture books, a chapter book (finished, I think!) and lots of poetry and mag stories in my drawer. I also have a mystery story (not for kiddos) that I have YET to finish...but I'm thirty pages into it so far.

    I love it when a plot bunny leaves its "calling card" in my brain! I don't leave it there long for fear it will roll away or rot. If I start working on it right away, it usually turns out to be very cool beans. (yes, I just used cool beans in a sentence. So shoot me.) :) :)

    Great topic!


  10. Oh, this is a scary question. All my life I knew I wanted to write paranormal and romance for YA and a more mature audience. I've also discovered a thirst to write a couple humorous "chick lit" novels. Now what to do when your 1st foray is a kid's chapter book? Take a page from Jayne Ann Krentz? Oh, I will be bald once this dilemma is solved!
    ~P.S.~ I like what you write about in your blog! It's like a field of myriad wildflowers!

  11. No harm in jotting it down at the very least, right? Keep it, save it, fiddle with it as a warm-up to the writing you do write... Sometimes stepping into unfamiliar territory stretches me in a good way. (Love the idea of plot bunnies!)