Tag Archives: plot bunnies

When Rabbits Grow

When rabbits grow, they multiply.  And not like 7 x 6 = 42. 

More like 1 x 1 = a litter.

My back yard is full of bunnies.  They eat my lilacs, poop on my sidewalk, and chomp away all the buds from my perennials.  They are a royal pain in my back side. 

Which reminds me of a WIP that is quietly hanging out in the TBRevised pile. 

Sometimes we get carried away with story lines and we let those plot bunnies multiply.  We think it adds tension and drama and depth.  And to a certain extent they do.

But sometimes, we end up with a whole litter of them and they run out of control.  They take over the main conflict, nibble at the important story lines and out number the MC. 

I should have let DH shoot them when he had the chance.  But no, I’m a sucker for those fuzzy little ears and milky white paws.  And their noses….  Be still my heart when a baby bunny twitches his little nose my way.  I’m a sucker for bunnies.

Sadly, my TBR manuscript shows it.  One agent suggested it might be too issue heavy.  What I think she meant was prolific. 

I’m going to don my farmer’s overalls and chase down my plot bunnies.  And the next time two of them shack up under my shed, I’m going to let DH give them the boot. 

One plot bunny is nice.  I think I’ll keep it that way.

Do you have a problem with runaway plot bunnies?  How do you balance the population in your manuscripts?  And how do you decide which plot threads add to your manuscript and which ones eat away at the gist of your story?

Hoppin’ Hares

With Easter right around the corner, I couldn’t help but think of rabbit.  In case anyone is wondering, our backyard vermin is still eating my plants.  It survived the winter and is plump and ready for the pot.  Over the weekend, no less than five attempts were made on its life to capture it and put it out of harm’s way.  Until we succeed, I will have to settle for passing on a bit of Rabbit Lore in Literature.

 Beatrix Potter likely created the most popular literary rabbit of all times.  Peter starred in many a tale as he battled his way to fresh lettuce while avoiding Mr. MacGregor’s stewpot.

So what is hassenpfeffer?  It is a traditional German stew made from the left over pieces and parts of a rabbit or hare–those that were too small to roast–braised with onion and wine and thickened with the creature’s blood. 

It makes me wonder if the references to hassenpfeffer stew would be so palatable if readers and writers knew the original ingredients.  Yet, rabbits (and the meals they make) remain a staple in literature.

To name a few:

  1. From Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit to Bhuddism to Native American lore, rabbits have played a prominent role in stories for both young and old.
  2. Then there’s the Velveteen Rabbit who goes from toy to real rabbit all because of a boy’s love.  It’s the vermin version of Toy Story–told decades earlier. 
  3. And who can forget Watership Down, often touted as the book that brought rabbits to the forefront of literature and created awareness for the impact of land development on wildlife habitats?
  4. For other titles, including Br’er Rabbit, check out this list of famous hoppers. 

Over the years, I have read many books that star our furry friends.  Others simply reference them as a means to an end.  For instance, rabbits are a main staple in survival books including White Fang, Hatchet, and The Hunger Games.  They are used as an abject lesson in Mrs. Mike, are sacrificed in horror or are often the creatures that skitter through the underbrush to scare the bejeebies out of the MC in thrillers.

Rabbits are as prolific in literature as they are in real life.  They also represent a univeral symbolism for busy writers tapping away on their keyboards, as nothing indicates creativity quite like a plot bunny.  In certain circles, they are revered and called upon as a blessing.

“May your plot bunnies be prolific.” 

During the course of NaNoWriMo, I have actually seen these happy hoppers, both in my dreams and on the internet.  They are as real as Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit and twice as cute.  The only thing they don’t do is deliver Easter eggs.

The Easter Bunny was first created as a sign of spring and fertility in Alsace and Southwestern Germany as early as the 1500’s.  The first written record of it appears in the 1600’s, and it was brought to America as the “O_ster Haws_e” in the 1700’s.  In the 1800’s, Germans made edible chocolate rabbits in addition to their traditional hassenpfeffer stew. 

My quick search this morning shows that rabbits have been hoppin’ across the pages of literature for centuries.  Their prolific nature makes them the perfect symbol for abundance, renewal and joy.  (Okay, I made up the joy part, but who can’t be happy when they’re hoppin’? )  Which is why the hare will be my 2010 writing mascot. 

Now if only I could catch that darn thing…

What is your favorite literary bunny?  Have you written a rabbit into your writing?  If so, how?

Clean Lines-in books and in bedrooms

For Christmas, Dear Hubby and I exchanged bed sets. 

We replaced our old and ratty one for a shiny, new one.  It was time.  The mattress was sagging, the dressers were nicked up and the night stand was really an end table masquerading as a place to put our lamp. 

Our new bedroom is dark, heavy and full of clean lines.  There is nothing extra in our room and, in fact, we purged a chair, some pictures, candles and other “things”.  We also replaced the dingy, four-kids-and-a-dog, white carpet (not our choice) for a yummy chocolate flecked, low nap piece that will wear much better.

It was a great exchange and reminds me of my latest edit project.  Getting rid of favorite words, phrases and scenes can be extremely difficult.  Obviously I wrote them for a reason.  I loved them.  I wanted to keep them forever.  But somewhere along the way, they got worn out. 

Like the carpet, they didn’t withstand multiple readings.  They became faded and matted down.  No longer exciting to walk on.  Chapters became catch-alls for extra words like our dressers collecting trinkets.  Shiny baubles that we thought spruced up the place.  In reality, they did nothing but clutter.

Thanks to two outstanding critiquers, she-who-shall-remain-nameless and my cyber buddy, my chapter book manuscript has been pared down to the essentials.  I ditched the pretty baubles and replaced them with strong, active words that moved the story along. 

Monday I finished up my “final” edit and have since fallen in love with my story all over again.  Just in time.  An agent I queried last spring requested a full.  To non-writers, that means, the agent wants to read the entire manuscript before deciding whether he/she wants to represent it.  It’s a huge step in the endless cycle of submissions. 

So how can we ensure our manuscripts have clean, uncluttered lines?  In theory, the process is simple.  In practice, it can be hard–if only because parting with things we created can be gut-wrenching.  Here’s how I edit.

  1. Print out a paper copy of the rough draft and attack it.  I cut entire chapters, add new ones and generally do a lot of road work–filling in plot holes and connecting the story arc to make sure my road gets from point A to point B.
  2. Fix story discrepencies, fill out characters, watch for typos (always) and pay attention to things like pet words (that, suddenly, etc), dialogue tags (adding action rather than he sighed, she harrumphed) and weak verbs (replacing was going with things like ran, trudged and snuck).  Beta readers are helpful at this stage.
  3. Read the manuscript from front to back to “listen” with my reader’s ear. 
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until I have replaced my old and ratty manuscript for a shiny, new one.

How do you exchange your rough draft for a clean-lined, ready to submit manuscript?  What kinds of things do you find cluttering up your metaphorical dresser?  What wears down your writing like foot-traffic on a carpet?

Happy editing~ cat

P.S. As a side note, agents and editors are like interior decorators–no matter how perfect our manuscripts might seem to us, they have an eye for finding a better color combo, a great accent piece and the forgotten plot bunnies hiding under the bed.