Eight signs your story has been taken over by plot bunnies

plot bunnies
Do you know what plot bunnies are? I didn’t – until today. Apparently, plot bunnies are subplots or elements that we love and leave in our stories though they contribute nothing to the story and may even lead us way off the path of the plot. I’m not sure why they’re called plot bunnies but I’m thinking that it’s because they are apparently, warm fuzzy things that you dear writer, hold dear, and just can’t kill. Or maybe it has to do with the speed with which bunnies multiply?

I digress. If you think you may be guilty of populating your stories with plot bunnies, the following may tip you off  or whether or not you’ve lost the plot:

1. You name all your characters after people you know and/or from the list of baby names you’ve had since you were twelve in case you ever have babies.

2. The steamy sex scene between your main character and the UPS man, meant to show the character’s problem with sex addiction, has now become a major plot point. And the story has turned into a Telenovella but without the subtitles.

3. A secondary character you particularly like has more dialogue than your hero/heroine and you just can’t bear to edit it out.

4. Your story is intertwined with stories of things that actually happened to you but aren’t really funny, monumental or even very interesting to anyone other than you and your BFF.

5. You find a way to save a character you should definitely kill off and sacrifice for the good of the story – but you just can’t. Because you love him.

6. You just can’t, can’t, can’t cut out that dialogue because you love it so much and laugh every time you read it. Even though it has jack to with the story, characters, theme or anything germane to the story.

7. You bristle whenever a beta reader makes an unflattering comment about a plot bunny and write a 10 page response, justifying its existence.

8. You threaten bodily harm to any reviewer who spots your plot bunny and gives your story one less star because of it.

I have to go now because I’ve bought ten pounds of carrots to ferret out my plot bunnies. Wish me luck. Where is those wily wabbits?

How about you? Do you protect your plot bunnies to the end, or do you just make rabbit stew?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

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24 thoughts on “Eight signs your story has been taken over by plot bunnies

  1. Well, I’m not sure. I’m still at the “furiously drafting” stage. Although #1 does worry me…but as I discussed with a friend recently, the character makes the name, not the name making the character. If that makes sense?

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  2. Only number 5. I have learned to be pretty vicious on all of the rest. I cut my first masters thesis, a 460 page novel that in one week lost 31 pages. Dream sequences, while cool, don’t always help, as it turns out.

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      1. Number 5. Sigh. In my current project, rewriting Xena Warrior Princess in poetry I am unkilling a number of characters who really should never have been killed. TV is a harsh medium, 16-hour days 5 or 6 days a week. When Joss Whedon kills a character, he’s been planning it for 2 years, but on XWP, I feel like the writers were a bit sloppy. The trouble is, when you undo one bit it ripples into the rest of the episodes, so I am doing considerably more rewriting than I expected. Sigh.

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      2. Wow, sounds like formidable project. Yes, the ripple effect drives me bats too. I am currently tearing apart the last third of my book and of course that means going back to the beginning and catching all the ripples. LOL, gotta love the writer’s life, right?

        Hang in there, you’ll make it. I have confidence in you. 😀

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  3. Plot bunnies are a dangerous predator species. I do battle with them all the time, but they keep coming back for more. They must really like my carrots! Excellent post, Annie 😀

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    1. You know, I’m not sure either. Maybe it’s more if you use real people as your characters. I’m new to the whole plot bunny universe. On the legal side, you do have to be careful of using other people’s names too. It’s so easy to get sued for just about anything these days.

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      1. Of course none of our characters bear any resemblance to people living or dead (childhood bully! hottie who rejected me in junior high!). I think a good name is a good name and maintain that bunny or biway is a separate issue.

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  4. I used to feel this way about “beloved” tidbits, but now I’ve learned that just because something seems cool to me does NOT mean it works for the story. Just save the tidbits–you never know what future story will need them!

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