Worldbuilding: On Plotbunnies and Frustrations

Given I’ve finally gotten a week or so out from roughing out the last sticky scenes in Seeds of Blood, my plotbunnies are just beginning to make the first tentative twitches toward “what should be the next origfic idea”. Tentative. They’re still pretty flattened in post-fight-scene exhaustion, and RL hasn’t let up any.

Still, the twitches are there, so I was poking what I might like to write, with the view that it ought to be something I’d like to read. And preferably fluffy. The Net of Dawn ‘verse is a lot of things, but it’s not that fluffy, and I could use some.

…So of course at 11 at night when I’m trying to go to sleep, my brain hit me with a shred of an idea. It… is not exactly fluffy. Maybe lighter than the Net ‘verse. But unless your idea of fluff involves corsets, possible wandering demons, and steamy implications in a library….

I have no idea how to write a paranormal romance, especially given just about every one I’ve read makes me want to throw the book against the wall with, how can anyone let their (ahem) nether regions’ reaction of “He’s so hot!” override, “Um, he’s Evil.” Trying to search the subject on Amazon either brought up things with lousy reviews or Kindle books. I still don’t have Kindle, and I wouldn’t want to use it when I’m trying to poke ideas for a book. I need quiet and no lit screen!

ATM my best idea is to hit up TVTropes and see what they say shows up in the genre, so I can either invoke, avert, or mock the tropes involved. And aim it as much toward the urban fantasy side of the genre as possible.

Because there aren’t many details in the bunny yet, but it came up with a title. A title that is a horrible pun.

…I’m doomed.

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38 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: On Plotbunnies and Frustrations

      1. Do you mean misunderstood as in still evil, and still needing opposition, just in ways different from what is first apparent, or misunderstood as in an antagonist that is actually a good guy?

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  1. Hrm, on the urban fantasy side, I’m rather fond of Tanya Huff’s books being basically good people attracted to one another(and evil being evil, though it’s played with sometimes for comedy.) Both the Blood Ties series(the first four, I personally feel it went off the rails sometime after that) and the Summon the Keeper series is good, though fairly light hearted for most of it. Also of note for the Keeper series, it actually has one of the heroes be a genuinely nice guy, if in a rather Canadian way.

    Sadly, it’s not something I read much myself(I mean, I liked the early Anita Blake books! Awesome evil fae and vampires. Then it was all sex, all the time, bleh) Hrm, Diane Duane’s Cat books, maybe? Which might work just for the fluffy, though they’re actually the more serious ones in the series.

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  2. Romance might possibly be divided into a) research pornography and b) research Georgette Heyer.

    You may recall how heavily several of the MGC crew have recommended Heyer.

    What are the characters’ goals regarding the romance aspects of their life? If they are pure hedonists, that would push things more towards the pornographic end. If other things are important to them, you can put more attention on those, and have the other elements offscreen, or even deferred until the characters think it is an appropriate time. I think ‘Sweet Romance’ is the term for the latter subgenre.

    In theory, paranormal romance would let one play with mores shaped by very different societies. Like perhaps predating modern contraception, STD transmission barriers, and STD treatments. I’ve not yet seen any do so, which may be merely that I’m not well read in the genre.

    I think it possible that PNR is influenced by the ‘Manhattan tastes have narrowed the market’ hypothesis. America has a wider range of social world building possibilities than a district of a major city, and PNR can make for wider still.

    In conclusion: character goals, social world building, Georgette Heyer, Sweet Romance.

    (The original fiction bunny I had yesterday is an AU which assumes that the sexual revolution was more social than technological, and takes place in a world where it largely didn’t happen. (Along with many many other changes.) It should have at least a romantic subplot.)

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  3. Well you could do a Taka sequel/companion novel. Maybe have Lady Morie doing research for one of her novels and getting inspiration from the all the lovey-dovey couples around her. Yuri and Criosol; Sarai, Marai, and Reuele; whatever it is that Kae and Taka have going on. These are just suggestions, but I’ve been wondering for months what one of Morie’s novels would sound like.

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    1. I’ll have to think about that. It’s possible it could indeed be in the same universe. ATM the bunny seems to be leaning toward centered around a library at a “more sane version of Miskatonic University”.

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      1. Is this fandom Miskatonic or original Lovecraft flavor? Because original Lovecraft flavor has some pretty awesome heroes and bits to steal.

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      2. My questions are more a) where in New England b) founded when by whom and funded how c) what is the local culture d) what does the mystical worldbuilding say about Indians?

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    2. Oooh, I was going to comment “hey, maybe have a paranormal romance that actually involves people falling in love with someone it makes sense to be in the same room with for five minutes, much less a lifetime” type story.

      …and I’d honestly kinda like Morie to get a life outside of…well….

      Although that might work better as a sub-plot; she might be a little overwhelming as an MC.

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      1. That would be fun. And huh; apparently Amazon has a subset of their romance books classified as “Clean and Wholesome”. Now if you could just search that by category instead of relying on their “most popular”….

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  4. I’d recomend A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer and Sunshine by Robin McKinley.
    Kate Griffin, Ben Aaronovich, Eileen Wilkes, and Ilona Andrews write interesting paranormal series.
    Martha Wells’ Raksura series is also good.

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      1. Sunshine also has a nice example of a “good” villain in Constantine. He is hated and feared for what he *is* (a powerful vampire).

        One easy way to have a “good” villain is to have the protagonists on two sides of a war. There are a lot of “honorable enemy” stories. Then there are redemption arcs (my favs). Blackkat has written some wonderful stories in the Naruto universe redeeming both Obito and Oroichimaru (and giving sorta/kinda reasonable explanations for why they became mass murdering psychopaths in the first place). Sometimes she even gives them a happy ending. The nice thing about redemption arcs is you get the fun of making your villains really magnificent bastards before they take a turn for the better.

        I liked your bromance in Taka because it developed over time. It made sense. The “lust at first sight” in most paranormal romances is a major turnoff for me. About the only PNR author I read these days is Ilona Andrews. She tells a good story and does slow burn well.

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  5. Depends on if the character knows the love interest is Evil. They could just be a jerk, and if you’re not looking for commitment and they’re attractive, well, one can put up with the jerk for the… other perks. -grin- Or they’re Evil but mannerly, in which case why not give them a spin oh wait vampire out to kill one… Oops.

    Or it’s a case of mistaken identity, and Love Interest is just brooding and has terrible people skills, while getting blamed for everything else going on.

    (Also, I second Summon the Keeper, though I will say no one sleeps with or is even attracted to the Evil characters, save for a literal angel and demon being confused at one another.)

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  6. I honestly don’t remember the books very well, but it was a person marries EVIL… and (as I remember the story) ‘corrupts’ him into being good in the end. It’s Michelle Sagara’s first work. It was in a fantasy world, not a PNR, but maybe it could shake a few ideas loose? ..erm ..titles would be helpful, would they?
    Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light
    Children of the Blood
    Into the Dark Lands
    Lady of Mercy

    Others that may be readable and helpful:

    Mostly I dislike PNR, although I did enjoy Kat Richardson’s first Greywalker novels. My husband liked Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson shapeshifter Paranormals, too. I just finished Amanda Green’s (from Mad Genius) first couple Nocturnal Lives >/i> which are shifter paranormals with a strong romance and family thread.

    Non-romanc-y Neumeier’s Black Dog set is shifters, vampires, whatnots, wherein there was a war between the vampires and Black Dogs (non-moon-bound werewolves) and the Dogs brought in normals and won. POV characters are mostly Mexican teens immigrating to Vermont to unknown kin after parents murdered by very bad Dog. In the others the POV characters vary in background and other cultural stuff, The first one was in paper. The rest I’m not sure about as I have switched to e-books due to manual problems. Lots of awareness of ‘not human’ and the author has a biology background and has worked out genetics and stuff. If you’re interested and low on funds I could mail you the paper copy of #1, as I won’t read it again.

    There’s an oddball trilogy about shifters, that is NOT romance, if it’s about anything it’s immigration and assumptions and the damage an apparently small time bigot can do by Alma Alexander, first one being Shifter . I’m still trying figure out how to review it.

    I like the idea of a library at the more sane Miskatonic U. 🙂

    p.s. kindle screens, if you have the paperwhite model, are only as lit as you want them. I don’t like glowy screens for reading either.

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  7. ….by show of hands who here is surprised the steamy scene will be held in the library?

    -cricket cricket cricket-

    Its unanimous. You are a bibliophile. Congratulations. In other news water. WET!
    Suggestion, vampires and werewolves(self controlled or lunar) are overdone. Maybe something different? Half-fae?(could make for a blend kinda like Spock but less the logic and more the fae-ness…)

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  8. I like the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews. Her Kate Daniels series is interesting, not fluffy but interesting. And it takes like, three to four books before the characters get to a point where their relationship starts to become a relationship and then a whole book before the side character engineered misunderstanding is sorted. (And it’s not even annoying. What sorcery is this?)

    And they continue to have a real relationship. With arguments, agreements, supporting each other, communication.

    But, no. Not fluffy in the slightest. The Parasol Protectorate is also a good series, very British humor. I love it, because nothing happens onscreen that couldn’t be in a PG-13 movie. Like, in the first book the main character is offended that a vampire tried to suck her blood without even asking. Because there is no Masquerade in this world. It’s, the fluffiest I’ve got off the top of my head.

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  9. Anne Bishop tends to do a good job of avoiding the usual tropes. I’d start with her Emphera series or maybe The Others. Her Black Jewels is really good too but I’d saved that till you’re full up on fluff

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