I am sure Alice found Wonderland down one of these. I sometimes find rabbit droppings, or, more occasionally, rabbits. Fortunately, not here on Flinders Island, as we don’t have rabbits… but I daresay if went down enough holes here you might encounter a wombat’s bottom… (they have a very tough thick skin pad on their derrieres – which they use block their holes to unwelcome visitors, like dingoes, or possibly Alice.) They also produce very odd rectangular droppings, so while you’re down there you could investigate the shaping of these. It must require an odd orifice!
Maybe the wombat’s world domination plan was to convert vegetation into small building bricks?
Ok, so that is a ‘rabbit-hole’ illustrated. A side-track in the course of (possibly needed) research, often in a direction which has nothing to do with what you were researching, the book you’re working on, or even the saner parts of the universe. The internet has made it possible to spend weeks down these ‘wonderlands’ – even if some are full of nothing much but… oddly rectangular objects. Marsupial Lego.
I’m a regular at it. I keep telling myself it is vital research, in the hope I’ll believe it eventually.
Seriously, it’s very much a part of my ‘process’ although I admit I really do let it get way out of hand. Part of what any worthwhile writer does is to link up disparate pieces of information and to incorporate these like bright strands into the ribbon of the story. You can’t do that unless you HAVE the bright strands. Even the stuff you ‘make up’ — if it is worth reading and entertaining is ‘made-up’ from the materials of your research and your experience. I laughed a lot at one of the literati – the dahlings of the modern literary establishment, telling us you didn’t have to understand any science to write sf. Well, bless your heart, dearie. Of course you don’t, if all your audience are equally ignorant and dim (or possibly more, although that stretches my imagination). Otherwise, yes, it goes with the territory.
But like all things it is more complicated, and thing of balance. You can spend your life moving from one link to the next… and not writing. Do I have to explain that this probably not a good thing? Ok, there are exceptions, but most of those ‘writers’ invest more time on politics and attacking other writers, than rabbit holes or writing.
And then of course there is outcome, translating rabbit-holes into the bright threads in that story ribbon. This is where most of us (me too) go wrong. There are so MANY bright threads. We gotta use them ALL.
Trust me – you don’t. You end up frustrating and irritating a lot of your readers, who want the ribbon of story, not a tangle of bright threads competing for their attention.
But the opposite holds true too. Writers (Simak and DWJ spring to mind) who just let those bright threads be sparks, brief and never catching more than a few seconds of light – and the reader keeps feeling that 1) the author tossed out brilliant ideas, each a story in itself, by the hundred in one story ribbon. And none of them were really allowed to run. I can remember getting to the end of several of these, enjoyed the story enough, probably read another by the author, but… I wish they’d expanded those threads, and bound them back into the story. It would have made it so much richer. It would also have made (Simak) 50 novels 250k novels.
Which may simply not have been a paying proposition. But sometimes I want to re-write them, weaving those threads in, I must admit.
Anyway, I have a rabbit-hole to follow, and many links to go before I sleep…