Plot Bunnies & How to Trap Them

I’ve been reading a lot of Shakespeare lately (though I was reading Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, and Coriolanus before class began, most of it is now due to my LIT319 class – which happens to be my absolute favorite class to date). One of my favorites of his plays is Henry V, so I was delighted to find it was assigned for last week’s reading. You want to talk about honor? Let’s chat about Henry V sometime.

But I’m not here to talk about Henry V right now, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or The Taming of the Shrew (which is this week’s assigned reading – just finished it last night). (Seriously, if you haven’t read these, add them to your TBR pile!); this post is about

Plot Bunnies.

Screenshot 2016-04-29 00.14.00.png

I like to imagine mine would look a lot like this guy, except a lot smaller. Tiny, like fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand tiny. And fluffy. Very fluffy.

If you’re a writer or story creator in any form, you know what a plot bunny is. But for those who are scratching their heads in wonder at my batty appreciation for these little Lagomorphs, let me explain. Plot bunnies are basically spontaneous ideas that pop into a writer’s head with such vivacity that said writer must stop whatever it is they are doing (be it dishes, tasks at work, sleeping, etc.) and write them down. Sadly, they are not actual bunnies. BUT they are quick little buggers – if you don’t write them down RIGHT AWAY, there’s a good chance you’ll forget the whole thing when it “hops” away. Don’t take that chance.

But seriously – how cool would that be? Every writer should have an editorcat; why not have a plotbunny, too? (Totally kidding, by the way. But also not.)

Here’s my editorcat:

Screenshot 2016-04-29 00.37.21

Awww. Actually, sometimes he annoys the crap out of me, because he’s pushy. If I’m working on a story – or even homework, he’s not picky – he sits by my chair and paws and paws and paws at my thigh until I acknowledge him. It’s a routine. I try to ignore him sometimes, but he almost always wins. Alright, fine: he always wins. Then I slide my chair back just far enough for him to make his leap and settle in my lap. Sometimes he climbs around behind me and watches over my shoulder, like this:

Screenshot 2016-04-29 00.43.47

But usually, you can find him demanding lap space, keeping me at a slight discomfort in trying to reach my keyboard:

Screenshot 2016-04-29 00.43.59

Ah, sidetracked again. So sorry. So, so sorry.

PLOT BUNNIES! They can hit you out of nowhere like a wall of fresh air electrically charged with a fantastic idea for a scene, or character, or … well, plot. Sometimes you’ll come across something that you see every day and it never stands out to you, but for some reason, in that moment, it hits you like a water balloon with a brand new idea. For example: You walk from your car into work when you happen to glance up at the sky and a cloud shaped like a dragon catches your eye, and suddenly you are imagining a giant beast sweeping through the skies raining down hellfire… or something.

When this happens… WRITE THAT SHTUFF DOWN!

It happened to me today. It’s been a while since I’ve been blessed with the visit of a plot bunny, and somehow I believe all this Shakespeare reading is to blame. Want to see what it looks like to capture a plot bunny? (Experiences may vary depending on individual.)

I wrote this tonight when I was supposed to be writing a discussion post for class. I was racing the clock (deadline is 11:59PM EST Thursday nights for first discussion posts, or late penalties will be incurred) as it was, but true to the nature of plot bunnies, I had to snag this one while it was still fresh in my mind. I haven’t even begun the first draft of the story this belongs to, yet!


I went there, to the place they said it happened. The wreckage had long been cleared, but the fresh dark tire marks etched his harrowing last moments on the asphalt, unwashable but by the long passage of time and God’s graceful rains. I traced them with my eyes several times from the side of the road thinking if I could just peel them up we could rewind these last few days and change everything. But I couldn’t. It was as if a leash were tied to my esophagus and he gently tugged on it from the other side, begging me to not leave him out there all alone. My knees wavered for a few moments when I thought he would pull my heart clear out of my chest, but Mom was there to hold me up.

The tree itself wasn’t very big at all. That was disheartening. It should have been a massive tree whose branches reached a hundred feet into the sky, whose trunk one person could not enclose their arms around – a tree worthy of taking a life. But it was neither. This – THIS was a pea shoot in the grand scheme of things. And because of that, I was angry.

‘How could you?’ I thought, sniveling at the tree, because the tears were blurring my vision and the edge of a sob hung in the back of my throat, and because I needed something else to blame. I wanted the tree to be dead, too. But it lived on with its roots firmly in the ground, bearing nothing more than a measly gash of missing bark where Lincoln closed his eyes for the last time. But that gash would heal, and that made me hate it all the more; some years from now, no one would remember what this tree saw two nights ago. I wrestled my arm from my mom’s hold and marched up to the trunk and let loose, pounding the tree with closed fists, kicking what bark was left on the bottom square with my heels, trying my damnedest to chip more of it away. Mom waited a few minutes or seconds or hours before stopping me; time didn’t register anymore. I was outside of time; knocked off the platform without him while the rest of the world went round and round. Lincoln would be a passing memory in the few who kept him close, robbed of the beautiful life that was meant for him.

My throbbing hands stung with fresh blood, but I didn’t care. If this was the worst I had to endure, it wasn’t enough. If not for me, for what I did, Lincoln wouldn’t have crashed into that stupid tree.

He would still be here.


Did you like? Let me see one of your plot bunnies!! Or a scene from a piece you are working on. I’m not picky. I love creatives!!




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