What to do when you've got too many ideas.
Well, folks, Andrés Cruciani of Toho Publishing here, and today's post comes to us from Parker Hilley, an intern here at Toho. She writes about the nefarious plot bunny, which perhaps (like a few of us here), you've never heard of. Enjoy! (Here's Parker.)
"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." — Commonly attributed to John Steinbeck
I used the term “plot bunny”once in a creative writing class in college and was surprised that I had to explain what exactly a plot bunny is. For those of you who didn’t have a prolific fanfiction phase in middle or high school (or later in life—hey, I’m not judging! I still read and write Harry Potter fanfiction well into my twenties!), plot bunnies refer to story ideas that hop around in your brain until you write them down. Sometimes a plot bunny is small and sweet, maybe just an idea for a short story that you can quickly jot down to return to later, if you have the time. But other times, a plot bunny seems more like a plot bear—roaring its story so loudly you can’t even think about working on anything else. And that means pushing aside other work (much like I did to write this post!) to take care of that monster plot bunny in the only way you can: by writing the story it wants you to tell.
If you’re like me (i.e. easily distracted), these monster plot bunnies can be endlessly infuriating, especially when you’re trying your hardest to stay on task. But what would happen if you were to follow one of those bunnies down the proverbial rabbit hole? What new ideas could that bunny lead you to? Alternatively, how could chasing that bunny positively affect that story you were eager to begin but that stagnated because you lost interest?
Some bunnies could (and will) lead to dead ends, so it’s best not to give them too much freedom to hop around. (There’s actually forums where you can abandon/adopt a plot bunny!) But you won’t know which bunnies will prove useful until you start to explore the directions they can take you.
Embrace the plot bunnies!
The next time you find your mind overrun with plot bunnies (or even with just one particularly aggressive plot bunny), take a few moments to jot all those ideas all down, even if that means putting something else on the back-burner for a few minutes (but only a few minutes, lest the bunnies begin to multiply). If nothing else, you will have rid yourself of those pesky creatures for a moment. But maybe something bigger will happen. Maybe you'll discover your best idea yet.
Parker Hilley is an Atlanta native—a restaurant general manager by day and a tortured writer by night. She majored in English at Georgia State and was the Editor in Chief for Underground, its undergraduate literary journal. She currently mentors at The Wren’s Nest.