One of the best things you can do as a writer is to get involved in a good writers group. I emphasize “good” because I’ve heard a few horror stories from friends about how toxic writers groups almost convinced them to quit.
The motivation I get from hanging out with other writers is great. Also, the conversation gives me something new to consider. Sometimes, it’s the advice of the members who have more experience. Sometimes, questions posed by new people make me step back and think about ideas I take for granted.
For example, plot bunnies.
In our May meeting, someone asked “What is a plot bunny? I keep hearing that term and I’m not sure exactly what it means.”
I gave an explanation, and I think it was sensible, but in the interest of posterity, here’s a more formal one.
“Plot bunnies” (and they are almost always plural, because bunnies) are rapidly-reproducing story ideas.
- What if it started raining baby octopi in the Australian outback?
- What if Norse gods were planning Ragnarok in Odin, Indiana?
- What if you retold Jane Austen’s Persuasion as dystopian sci-fi?
I think you can see where I’m going. Plot bunnies are the adorable, dandelion-fuzz spore of new stories (or I guess the bleak, inescapable idea-virus, if you write horror). When you’re in your brainstorming phase of the creative process, you want your plot bunnies multiplying like… bunnies, obviously.
But not all plot bunnies are worth capturing, feeding and nurturing into a story (or a subplot, or a whole series). At some point, you have to pick a single one to feed, and love, and call “George.” Otherwise, you just keep chasing plot bunnies around in your head, or on paper, and never actually getting a story written.
So, that is what “plot bunnies” are, and why they are both a good thing and a terrible distraction, depending on what part of the writing process you’re currently in.