So I don’t know if plotters deal with this, but for me as a pantser, I am well acquainted with plot bunnies. Everyone believes that bunnies are these cute, fluffy, little things that are the perfect companions for animated princesses. But don’t let the cuteness fool you. Plot bunnies are very dangerous creatures and one must be on a constant look out for them. So here are three ways plot bunnies can sneak in and how to deal with them.
- The subtle sneak
So this is the first and hardest type of plot bunny to detect. These ones usually appear when the writing flow is going well. You’re in a groove and the words are just flowing onto the page, ideas flying at you so fast that you can barely keep up. This is where the subtle sneak plot bunny hops in 😉 They subtly throw you off track by subverting you to an idea that still belongs in the book but is not relevant. For example, my character Lirim is a terrible fry snob. So with a subtle nudge from the plot bunny, I spend half an hour writing about his fry ranking system before realizing that it has zero plot relevance. (Thankfully, this has not happened but this is the subtle terrible power that these particular plot bunnies wield).
So how can you counteract this evil scheme? When the writing is going well, every twenty minutes or so, take a quick break and assess what you are writing. I know that this can be hard when you are in the middle of a writing flow, but it can save you having to edit out irrelevant material that you spent literally hours writing. It may slow you for a minute, but it’s the only way to save time in the end.
- The ‘Let’s go find out what made that noise’.
This is also known as the pointless plot bunny. For me, these bunnies especially like to show up when I’m tired or over-caffeinated. These are the ones where you go back when you’re well rested and wonder what in the world you were drinking to think that that was a good idea. These usually occur when the story is stalled and you’re looking for a way to get the story moving again. When you are desperately looking for a way out of the corner that you’ve written yourself into, this is when they whisper their insidious ideas. For the record, ideas like having the main character’s long dead Aunt Maeve appear to them in a dream or having them have an illogical amazing breakthrough while they are microwaving peeps is usually a sign of their presence. (Disclaimer: No peeps were hurt in the writing of this blog post).
So how can we avoid these soulless plot wreckers? One way is to simply avoid writing until you get some rest. They find it harder to prey on well rested minds. Also, consider having a sit down with your characters. When my novel is stalled, it is usually because I am trying to force one of my characters to do something out of character. Usually with a bit of backtracking and dialogue with my characters and I am able to write without any problems.
- The semi-helpful plot bunny
These plot bunnies are like the brownies of the writing world. Although often kind and helpful, they can often have their mischievous streak. They help writers by letting them see things differently from what they have planned out. The quietest of the three, you have to listen for their whispers of “What if?” For example, what if Aletta was the one who was a food snob instead of Lirim? What if Lirim hated eating anything green, despite drawing his strength from nature? These can be helpful in fully exploring your story and sometimes bring critical breakthroughs.
So how are these creatures dangerous? Like in the movie “Gremlin” where the Mogwai turned into Gremlins by being fed after a certain time, these plot bunnies must be carefully monitored. Just as brownies can turn into boggarts, so can these plot bunnies become pointless plot bunnies if allowed free rein. (See number two above for how to deal with these.)
So, listen to them, but always keep your plot firmly in your mind. Most writers have a point A and a point B and a general idea of how to get there. These plot suggestions from the bunnies should help fill out some details, but should ultimately not alter the final destination that is point B.
Hopefully these tips help you deal with your plot bunnies. If you are overwhelmed, don’t give up. Remember, plot bunnies are easily bored and the odds are good that they will get distracted and leave you alone eventually.
So how do you deal with plot bunnies when you are writing? (Even if its writing a blog post or an informative piece 😊)