I thought I would look up the actual definition of “plot bunny” online. Google is good for that sort of thing, you just type
define: plot bunny
and back comes a wealth of definitions. Only they didn’t. I got a single, rather bland:
An idea for a story, usually referring to an author having more ideas than he or she can use
So it made me wonder if there might be space online for yet another definition of “plot bunny”.
See, bunnies are famous for certain things. Think about it:
- They’re fluffy and cute
- Bunnies naturally look disapproving
- They breed at an impressive rate
- What do bunnies do other than eat, sleep and poop?
- They’re not obedient
- Bunnies are skittish
1. Plot bunnies are fluffy and cute
All ideas for a story seem like good idea the time. When a plot bunny hops up unbidden (as they usually do) they seem so innocuous and safe. Its only when you start writing and incorporating the latest idea that you find the fluffy coat is full of burrs and tangles. In general plot bunnies should be welcomed and made to feel at home when they turn up. Be that 4-year-old blond baby girl who points and goes, “awww, soooo cute!” or before you know it, the flow of ideas might dry up.
2. Plot bunnies naturally look disapproving
New ideas arriving don’t necessarily mean that the ones you already have are bad. Changes in the flow, in the moment, are OK. Those cute little bunny faces naturally look disapproving, its nothing personal. Don’t get discouraged if new ideas arrive, just keep going. Remember: every plot bunny is cute and fluffy when you first encounter them. Take a moment to dwell on how good the idea was originally, even if new ideas seem to disapprove, or old ideas disapprove of newly arrived plot bunnies.
3. Plot bunnies breed at an impressive rate
Treat them well and your plot bunnies will breed. Ideas beget other ideas. Let the bunny hop around in your brain for a while and its amazing, you’ll return to the cute lil’ fella, and there will be others with him. One of the big down-sides of welcoming plot bunnies into your home, or more accurately, into your brain is that they breed. There will generally be more ideas than you have time to write. Don’t be discouraged. Just like baby bunnies, there are plenty of nice people who will adopt a story idea.
4. What do plot bunnies do other than eat, sleep and poop?
Its so utterly frustrating to be writing and notice a cute fluffy plot bunny arrived. You put down one train of thought to welcome the newcomer and before you know it, the creative juices have dried up. What’s worse is that the original bunny is hopping around, munching on clover, and acting like nothing happened. This is the moment when you realize, truly realize, that plot bunnies aren’t there to help you. Converting a great story/plot idea into the finished product is work. And while you’re working hard, the plot bunny that started the whole thing is happily hopping around a field somewhere in the middle of your cerebellum, and don’t even think that all that eating means they are open to bribery (even using fresh carrots)!
5. Plot bunnies are not obedient
I still remember the first writer who told me that a character did something that they didn’t want. I thought they were mad. Characters are your own creation. Ideas are sparked in your own brain. How can they possibly not be obedient to you? Well, that was before I wrote my first Nano novel where (a) my main character remained stubbornly dead for the first 10,000 words and (b) a secondary character stubbornly refused to stop drinking and was persistently too drunk to help the main character stop being dead. Bunnies are notoriously disobedient and hard to train. Don’t be surprised if you begin bribing characters to do what you want, arguing with them, or even killing them off/writing them out in sheer frustration at their unruly behaviour.
6. Plot bunnies are skittish
Plot bunnies may hop into your brain at any time. They might breed. They may hop around your cerebellum chewing on brain cells before you catch them, but they are also easy to frighten off too. Have a welcoming attitude when a bunny hops up. If you can’t make use of the idea, store it away for later. Unlike real bunnies, plot bunnies are quite happy to be consigned to notebooks, ignored for long periods and left unfed and unwatered. What they don’t appreciate, however, are loud dismissive tones. Remember plot bunnies are cute and fluffy creatures, and easily scared off, and you’ll be surprised at how many plot twists, interesting characters (with quirks!) and new story ideas will flow.