Plot bunnies are evil little creatures. They sneak up on an unwary writer when you least suspect it–like in my case, when I’m taking a relaxing hike out in the woods. Yes, there’s a theme here of me + hiking/walking + music or wandering thoughts = prime plot bunny ambush. I’m used to it; it happens a lot.
First, let’s talk about what a plot bunny is and is not.
Plot bunnies might appear cute and innocent. Like these guys on my Wascally Wabbits Pinterest Board (I like to visualize my subconscious tormentors, but we’ll get to that).
Don’t be fooled. They’re vicious little things. And if you feed them after midnight or get them wet, well…plot bunny gremlins are downright dangerous. I speak from experience. That’s how I ended up writing about a monster under the bed and reanimated teddy bears just last week.
Evil, I tell you.
I think some writers might classify plot bunnies as muses. You know, lovely creatures like Olivia Newton John from Xanadu who come to bestow inspiration upon us mere mortals.
(I’m an Electric Light Orchestra fan, so I had to slip that in. Besides, Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton John dancing–and rollerskating?? Come on!)
Anyway, I envy those writers. See, my ideas? They don’t come from magical muses who bestow it in song or dance or the whisper of the wind. Do my ideas come from music and nature and such? Sure. But I know better than to think my imagination is a benign place where perfectly coifed women frolic in lovely Grecian dresses…ooh, or maybe Dior. (Sorry, shiny squirrel moment.)
My ideas come from bunnies. Rabid little bunnies who multiply like…well, rabbits if you let them. And they love to drive me crazy when I’m in the midst of a new project–which I am, by the way. It’s an awesome pirate fantasy mixed with Sleeping Beauty and sirens! A fun departure from the work I’m editing about a Russian ballerina vampire and a snarky New York detective who snipe more than Beatrice and Benedict. So, I need another plot bunny like I need another pair of shoes. (But I needed those shoes I bought Friday night, honest! It’s not just because they were on super sale and really cute and in a color I didn’t have yet.)
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, plot bunnies. Sneaky, conniving plot bunnies.
Attack of the blood-thirsty plot bunny who wants Shakespearean-level tragedy:
So, I was out in the woods yesterday, minding my own business while I tried to take my mind off of the most recent little plot bunny involving a monster under the bed, pink cupcakes and reanimated teddy bears that I’d just submitted to a magazine. It was the first time I’d actually worked up the gumption to submit something (yah, me!), and I was trying to do something other than hyperventilate and wonder if I’d left a typo in there anywhere. All while enjoying the gorgeous weather that has finally arrived in Minnesota.
I was in a groove, meandering through a state park, listening to epic music I like. Then, that twitchy little fiend struck.
Oh, it had been watching me. Waiting. Luring me in on Pinterest with that innocuous collection of images I’d found involving a Grim Reaper, the Morrigan, and ravens:
I’d told myself it was just a mood board. Yep, lying to myself – shameful, I know. I tried. Yet, the plot bunny knew me well and dangled the carrots that would be the crunchy fodder of my doom.
This unsuspecting writer was walking along, trying not to trip over tree roots in the process as I bee-bopped to my music. Then a seemingly cute plot bunny peered up from the corners of my subconscious as I listened to Brand X Music’s “Purgatory”. I knew the little nose twitch was a bad sign and I should have locked it in a mental closet. But nooooo…
There was an internal dialogue that went something like this*:
Plot Bunny: Gosh, isn’t this really dark, fierce music for such a nice day?
Me: Yeah, but I like it! Besides, then I can be a nerd and pretend I’ll stumble upon elves or dwarves or dragons–you know, like the characters in my epic fantasy I keep promising I’ll return to.
PB: That’s nice. But uh, don’t you think it’s darker than elves and dwarves?
Me (famous last words): What did you have in mind?
PB: Welllll, since you asked…remember that Death and the Raven board you thought was all random? You know, that a certain writer friend asked if it was another novel idea and you didn’t know how to respond?
Me: Uh… *gulps*
PB: Guess what! *the plot bunny hops up and down all excited* This song would be perfect for that Death and the Raven idea. See, if you wanted to turn it into a novel, you could…
The plot bunny had a lot to say after that. A lot. I might have cut my hike a little short and scurried home to find a notebook and start writing down the ideas.
Music and imagery make for great inspiration (and cursing writers who already have too many stories to write). They also contain lurking plot bunnies, so watch yourself. Expect a future post on how to protect yourself against such fiendish hippity-hoppity incursions.
Elaine, who is currently reinforcing her plot bunny containment closet with extra padlocks
[Author’s note: I’m just being silly with the plot bunny conversation above. I don’t ACTUALLY have conversations in my head like that, though I might curse my brain sometimes when it spits out new ideas. Especially when I’m working on another project already. *cough* PIRATES *cough*]