Friday, February 24, 2017

Mutating Plot Bunnies

I wrote most of a totally different post before deciding I didn't like it at all. That happens sometimes. And not just with blog posts.

Sometimes I'll have an idea for a story. That first initial seed that sprouts and grows leaves and subplots. It grows into a beautiful rose bush or maple tree or potato plant or whatever. Knowing me, probably the potato. But sometimes it's a strawberry plant, which sends out a runner, that grows its own roots and becomes a whole new plant, leaving the old one behind.

What the hell am I talking about? That's a great question.

I recently wrote a short story based on the prompt, "A stranger gives you a handgun. 'You'll need this.'" Fine, no big deal. Except that my 2015 NaNo novel, A Conspiracy of Ravens, was based on the same prompt. It spawned this whole idea that an ordinary guy found himself caught up in an assassination plot. He gets framed for it, has to find unlikely allies, etc. But by the time I got the plot semi-figured out, the event of a mysterious stranger giving him a gun no longer made sense. So I left it out. And then used it later, because I recycle.

Now, I'm in the middle of cooking up this murder mystery. It started with the desire to write an ontological mystery. That is, some people find themselves in some place, with no memory of how they got there. But the more I've thought about it and added to it, that particular element seems to be out of place. So I'm probably going to drop it. Which means I'll just have to recycle it into some other story.

The one thing that made the concept of lost time work for this story was that it would be possible for the murderer in their midst to not remember doing it. So literally anyone could be the killer. I'm not dead set on the idea, but if I really wanted to use it, I could always drug everyone one night, and then they'd wake up with a dead body and no recollection of the evening before. It could be done, if I wanted to do it.

See, sometimes, the seed of inspiration mutates and turns into some crazy hybrid. Next thing you know, you're harvesting purple tomatoes. Or potatoes with ears instead of eyes. It happens.

The story we end up with is not always the story we start with. Who knows where we'll be by Tuesday…

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