…In which I explain the joke and therefore rob it of all power.
“The Rabbit’s Last Stand” is a small project that hopped out of my control, and good thing too. It started off as a lark, turned into a writing prompt, and ended as a story with an actual end.
Flying Blind With Earplugs In
As a reminder (something I mention in episode One), this whole thing began with post on Facebook: comment on my post and I will write you as if I were introducing you in a novel. It was first come, first characterized. My friend Katrina wrote in first – bam! She’s “The Rabbit.”
It was a lark at most; a party trick where I could write a paragraph or two and move on. As I went on, I got the idea to make all of these posts part of the same world. That is where I differed from other people doing this. I was introducing them all as being part of the SAME novel.
Normally, I only write stories with a set outline. This outline may get tossed out of the window at some point. A story has to breathe, after all, and one of the fun things about writing is your own creation surprising you. But to me, an outline forms a foundation of what I am trying to say – the raison d’etre of the whole thing.
There was no outline here. I started the whole thing at first with just barely connected paragraphs that switched scenes with every appearance, then with the idea to write select scenes only – sort of like making an entire movie out of trailers that suggest the form of a story.
By the time I got to episode Three, I realized a story was forming despite my best intentions. I was getting an idea of what people’s motivations were. As more people submitted their names to my Facebook post, the dramatis personae grew. Connections were forming between people that I didn’t anticipate.
From that point on, it became a story with some connective tissue. I had no idea how to end it, had no idea what people were going to do, and no idea if there was even a point to this.
All I knew was that I wrote a story that passed the Bechdel test with flying colors, where the protagonists were all women, and created an action story with gun battles where not a single person dies. Legs may have been harmed during the creation of this story.
I even took requests! The real Amy wanted a whip. She got a whip.
It was glorious chaos.
A Problem Appears
The exception was episode Nine. Oh, God… episode Nine. It took me about a week to grind out a fairly small episode.
You see, towards the end I had an idea of how it was all going to end. I also knew that I didn’t want to write any more than ten of these. So I imposed a limit: episode Ten would be the last. Period. That’s when I had to leave the playground.
Episode Nine was the set up for episode Ten. I had to get the right people to the right place and give them a reason for being there.
I actually had to write connective tissue for a change.
For some reason, everytime I looked at the screen, I was overcome with exhaustion and keenly aware of a list of all of the things I would rather do than write this. The list was very long.
I personally don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve advised in the past that if you think you have it, just write rubbish. It’s like not being in the mood for “leg day.” Doesn’t matter – you have to get up and do it. After it all your writing may be profoundly crappy, but you wrote something.
I wrote nothing.
It was uncomfortable to write. When I finished it, I was immensely relieved. I mean, in normal circumstances I describe myself as “hating writing, loving having written.” In this case, I loved seeing the end of that episode and didn’t even want to think of having written it.
Ten just flew out of me. I could finish the joke and move on to other things.
Whither the Agency?
I got between 20,000 and 30,000 words out of this little lark, with enough room to beef this up into a small novel of at least 60,000. I am taking a small break to work on other things and then will decide what do with this.
This isn’t even counting the multi-part “Short Career of Doug McDuff” series, which I purposefully left open ended with a lot of room to fill in the blanks. It was written in the same spirit. The protagonist was based on someone I cannot stand, and the Darlene character based on someone I adore.
Since I am currently working on three other stories and have about ten short stories percolating in my brain, I need to decide if I want to pursue this or just let it be. I need a break from that story – not because I don’t like it. I enjoyed it immensely. I just need some ideas to percolate for a while. Stories grow in the dark.
When it’s all tallied at the end, I took a shot at writing a story with no outline, no idea what to say, no point, and no method. It was a writing prompt that grew into something I had little control over.
Whether I succeeded or not is up to you, but I had a good time.