Is Your Plot Bunny Leading You on a Wild Goose Chase?

thurschilbadgejpgA weekly blog hop
where writers get together
to talk about what inspires them.

This week I’m inspired by plot bunnies. Those marvellous story ideas that turn up at the most inopportune moments, dazzle you with their clever brilliance, and then bound off at speed, so you have no choice but to follow and see where they end up.

In my experience chasing a plot bunny is by no means a sure thing. Sometimes you follow a character, a twist or an idea that leads nowhere. When the initial excitement wears off, you realise it’s chewed up a big chunk of your writing time and hasn’t taken the story anywhere.

But at times, and what times they are, the plot bunny delivers an unforeseen twist that grabs a floundering story by the lapels and infuses it with new life.

For me, the most enjoyable plot bunnies include unexpected characters. Characters that were supposed to have a small role in the story, but manage to shoulder their way into the action and demand the story take a whole new course. Usually with them centre stage.

I was seduced by one such character a few months ago. She wasn’t supposed to have a big role, but at one point I seriously considered telling the story entirely from her POV. For a heart-stopping moment, a considerable part of the WIP was in danger of being shelved, all because this character couldn’t possibly have been involved in it.

This time, caution won the day and I indulged her by writing about six chapters in a row entirely in her POV (unusual for me). Although I love this new storyline, once I got it out of my system, I can see how it will work just as well woven into the larger story.

I think.

The verdict is still out.

But what a fun character…

More recently I‘ve been struggling with a stalled plotline. Where I’d planned myself into a corner.

No matter how I hit this particular point in the story, the result was sleep-inducing scenes. And when you’re putting yourself to sleep, what hope does the reader have?

Honestly, I was a wee bit desperate. To the point when I wanted to send ReGi McClain’s plot ninjas in to cut off everyone’s head. You know how it goes: Josiah stands up to dedicate the Sanctuary, a ninja swoops in – zwhack. Marcus is crowned, and both head and crown hit the ground. Stella flirts with Artemis, surely she won’t lose her head over him… Sorry I know it’s bad, but you get the idea. Things were pretty dire.

Fortunately another true blue plot bunny turned up.

Follow me, it seemed to say. You know that insignificant scene you wrote about the dedication? The one you were thinking about cutting – well maybe there was something in that look. Maybe that one little look started a whole chain of events leading to kidnap, blackmail and opening up a whole can of emotionally charged worms. Maybe the bad guy isn’t as bad as you thought. Maybe he was manipulated by someone… er, badder?

Really? I answer casually, reaching for my notebook. Badder you say? Tell me more. I’m totally prepared to step away from my carefully plotted, but at this point totally uncaptivating outline, and explore this new path… (Notice the calm tone of voice – in my experience plot bunnies are very easily scared off).

So have I found my story equivalent to the Rosetta Stone? The telling moment that might pull everything together? Or am I off on another wild goose chase?

Who knows? But all of sudden my WIP is looking exciting again. And if some of the twists and turns leading on to my (already planned) out ending are shrouded in the mists of wait-and-see, I think I can live with it. Because the muse is up and hopping again!

If you want to know more about plot bunnies, and the myriad of forms they come in – check out this awesome, funny and scarily true post from wikiwrimo, entitled simply Plot Bunny. You may be more familiar with them than you realise…

Many thanks to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet for hosting this blog hop. To join in, or check out what’s inspiring the other participants click on this linky.

Thursday’s children according to the rhyme, have far to go. This week I’ve travelled all the way into Friday to post this… so wishing you all the love and best wishes Friday’s child can deliver. Happy writing!

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35 thoughts on “Is Your Plot Bunny Leading You on a Wild Goose Chase?

  1. Great post! I’m scanning the horizon now for a plot bunny and they seem to be in hibernation. I’m eyeing two thuggy types and thinking they might have more interesting things to do than call one of my MCs insulting names. We’ll see…

    1. Perhaps they are merely watching you from the safety of that marvellous Maine fog… Thuggy types often come with interesitng plot bunnies. Ones with tatooes and all!

    1. I prefer to sleep my way into a new day… but the future is fine. (Or in my case a little overcast). Check out that wikiwrimo post – apparently they’re lurking everywhere – and most abundantly when you’re in the shower or sans pen.

    1. I hope you like it – I laughed. That kind of tinged with hysteria, because you recognise the truth of it in your own writing life. And of course I spent too long mulling over the different types…

  2. I’m not sure I’ve encountered a plot bunny before but working on my WIP the other week, I wrote a whole extended scene before deciding I didn’t like it and deleting it. It just didn’t fit well with my characters – I was going off on a tangent a bit and it wasn’t believable. So I had to go back to being a bit more sensible about it and picked up where I had been before.

  3. Oh wow! You really had a blood bath brewing for a moment there. Good thing that cute, squishy little fuzzball (with fangs, given a few of her suggestions) came in to save the day! And I like your arch-villain so far. 🙂

    1. I know some of those cute looking little bunnies actually have glowing eyes and an unexpected evil side. Great for stirring up the plot though!

      I do think your ninjas are fun though. And much healthier than binning your entire MS…

      1. Yes, much better than throwing out your book. I might have had to get Seraph’s Daddy to fly over there and intimidate you into picking it back up. Some of us are looking forward to reading it, you know. 😉

      2. Ooo Seraph’s Daddy huh… sounds interesting! And thanks to random plot bunniness (?) the WIP finally looks like it’s getting moving. Hoping transitional plot bunny will turn up at some stage to smooth over the jump in direction. One day you can read it… one day…

  4. How timely is this. Just chased a dang plot bunny for an hour. Although I didn’t hate where the bunny hopped, he had Bolin acting completely out of character for the circumstances. Methinks me bunny has been hitting the ale.

      1. Dang plot bunny had Bolin making a jest. Can you imagine?!!? Of course, he did it totally deadpan and everyone, including me, looked at him with jaws dropped.

  5. Great post! All my plot bunnies have run away. I really need to lure them out from wherever they’re hiding.

  6. I just love this post, Raewyn. 🙂 Plot bunnies turned up when I was writing Time Shifters and did their magic, so much so that there’s now the potential for a couple more books (a trilogy sounds good!) and for elements of the next book to be set way in the future as well as the past. Oh, and a calm tone when talking to plot bunnies is a must. 😉

    1. LOL – I’m glad you get it Kate. And I’m very excited to read the Time Shifters (series) when you’re done with The Butterfly Storm! I must say I find it easy to keep calm around plot bunnies – they’re much more managable than my kids sometimes!

  7. LOL! My plot bunnies must have been dunked in mutating goo. Yours seem skittish but mine are monstrous, bat-winged, fiery-eyed demons yanking me away. Every time I manage to claw my way back to my WIP, they come at me again!
    Some ONE in my writing group would say plot bunnies are fractions of our deep selves surfacing when the wind blows just right, holding a bridge from where we are to where we want to be.

    1. Wow I’ve yet to come across the mutant hell-bunnies. Mine in comparison seem quite coy and harmless… that’s how they seem, not sure it is the reality when I’m off down some unforeseen rabbit hole!

  8. Interesting. I rarely encounter Plot Bunnies, maybe because I’m a plotter… But it’s true, when they do show up, they can be super helpful (if you can keep them under control 😉 )

    1. I know – I’m typically a planner too, but you know what they say about the best laid plans… Although in my case it’s all about trying to figure out what the plan actually meant.

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