(Click here to read the original Adventures in Editing, though I've since revised it and need to post the updated version.)
Adventures in Editing: Revenge of the Plot Bunny
The cursor of death blinks at the writer, taunting her with the ideas she cannot put into words.
No, actually this is worse. There are no ideas to put into words. The way the cursor blinks reflects what is going on insider her head. An idea will appear, and just as quickly it will be shot down by idea assassins. No idea seems to fit this gaping plot hole, and the bodies of dead ideas are doing nothing to fill it either.
Behind her, the plot bunny she purchased back in December shuffles around the room. Since abandoned after getting her manuscript back from Chadwick’s, it has taken to the shadows; hiding in corners, making strange noises, and leaping out on occasion to bite ankles, haunting the writer’s house like a poltergeist.
The writer swings her feet up onto her desk and gazes around the room to find the little bugger. She thought for sure she’d use this one, find it a story. Now it doesn’t look like she will. Perhaps she’ll take it to the plot bunny adoption center.
Her eyes catch movement behind a potted plant. There it is. Its smoky fur used to be silver, almost pearlescent. Now the sheen has faded, the fur lengthened, and it hangs on the bunny like cobwebs. Wispy, and gathers in corners.
Plot bunny hair gives new definition to the phrase “dust bunnies.”
“What am I going to do?” the writer asks the rabbit. “Mr. Darcy isn’t going to go on this quest by himself, but that’s the only way the rest of the story will work.”
The bunny pauses in its shuffling, and turns to meet her gaze. Even its eyes have changed. Once sky blue, they are now a dark, almost sea-green-blue, like the ocean during a midnight storm.
Ridiculous metaphor. One cannot see the color of the sea at midnight.
For the first time in weeks, the plot bunny comes out of the shadows, and hops into a patch of sunshine. It locks eyes with the writer. Static electricity snaps between its ears, and an idea sparks in the writer’s mind.
She puts her hand to her mouth. “Oh. Ohhhhhhhh….. That makes sense.”
On the ground, the bunny begins to glow.
“But it would take so much work.” The writer shakes her head. “I’d have to rewrite so much.”
The plot bunny hiccups, causing the writer to look at it again. It’s never made that noise before.
It catches her gaze again, and this time the writer’s mind is flooded with ideas.
A new character. A different plot twist. A metamorphosing sword.
A revision that would leave nothing the same. And everything much, much, better.
“A complete rewrite…”
The sparks between the bunny’s ears grow stronger, and from its head rise two knobs. The writer sits up in alarm.
“What’s going on? This has never happened before!”
The knobs grow and stretch, splitting and branching again and again, like reverse lightning.
The fur of the bunny is an altogether different shade of grey now. Patchier, speckled, shades of shadow and mist and fog and night. Its eyes catch the sunlight and sparkle like emeralds.
Sitting on the writer’s floor, is a plot jackalope.
The pencil in the writer’s hand slips to the floor. A plot jackalope? She’s fairly certain that this doesn’t happen to plot bunnies very often. She’s never heard of a plot jackalope before.
But nonetheless, one is now sitting on her floor, looking smug. Or, as smug as a rabbit can.
“The rewrite would make things so much better.” She looks back at her manuscript. “But I’d be starting almost from scratch. Well, not scratch, but still…”
The plot jackalope hops around on the floor in what is possibly a rodent break dance.
The phone rings, and the writer grabs it. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Jake. Are you all right? You sound… freaked out.”
“Jake, my plot bunny turned into a plot jackalope.”
The writer nods, then realizes Jake can’t see her. “Yes, a plot jackalope. What do I do with a plot jackalope?”
On the floor, the jackalope cocks its head.
“I… uh… I just got off work, and I wanted to know if you wanted to talk about edits some more, but forget that, I’m coming over. I have to see this thing for myself.”
“Okay. Good. See you soon.”
They hang up.
The jackalope catches her eye again, and ideas come once more. The writer grabs her pencil and starts scribbling notes.
Before she realizes how much time has passed, a knock sounds on the door. She throws down her pencil and bounds to the door, the plot jackalope at her heels.
Jake takes one look at the thing and freezes. “That’s…”
“A plot jackalope.”
“Yeah. I’ve never seen one of these. How’d it happen?”
“It hopped out of the shadows and just… metamorphosed! I’ve seen them disappear before, when the idea is used up, but never metamorphose like this. What do I do with it?”
The plot jackalope gives her a disgusted look.
Jake rubs the back of his neck. “Treat it like a regular plot bunny, I suppose.”
“But plot bunnies usually only last a few days. This one’s been hopping around for a few weeks now, since I haven’t used the idea, and it’s going to take me forever to enact all the ideas it’s given me.”
“You abandoned a plot bunny?”
The writer curls her toes and looks to the ceiling. “Yeah. It was stupid, I know. I’ve heard they’ll get revenge, but this is just…”
“Yeah.” He pauses for a moment. “I can’t help you on this one. I assume it’s going to poof just like regular old plot bunnies do when you use up the idea.”
The writer drops her arms. “It gave me ideas for a whole new rewrite. It’s going to be around forever.”
“Then I guess it’s just going to hop around until you finish the ideas.”
“Oh, dear. Do I have to feed it?”
“You don’t usually have to feed regular plot bunnies. I guess you’ll just have to see what happens.”
They stare at it for a minute.
“Would the folks at Chadrick’s know about this?” The writer waves at the jackalope.
Jake shrugs. “They might. It’s worth a call.”
The writer pulls out her cell phone and dial’s Chadrick’s.
“Thank you for calling Chadrick’s Editing Counselors, my name is—”
“Rosalind,” the writer says, “I have… um, does anyone there know anything about plot jackalopes?”
Rosalind doesn’t respond.
“Let me transfer you to Eastwood. He’ll… probably be able to help.” A beep comes through the speaker, and hold music starts playing.
A few seconds later, a gruff male voice says “May I he’p you?”
“Hello, I’m one of the writers at Chadrick’s, and my plot bunny just morphed into a plot jackalope.”
“A plot jackalope? I ha’n’t seen one of those in decades. What’d you do to it?”
“I sort of abandoned it, and then it started sparking…”
“Brand new novel idea, complete with one fleshed out character and a couple of intriguing world building details? Oh, and a murder?”
The writer shrugs. “Well, there is a murder, but this is all for a complete rewrite.”
“Oh, you really made it mad, didn’t you? Is this rewrite a good ‘un?”
“Well, yeah. It’s better than what I’ve currently have. What do I do with it?”
“What do you mean, ‘what do I do with it?’ It’s not a disease. You treat it like any other plot bunny. It’ll go away when you have finished its ideas. Although…”
“Well, from what I’ve heard all my years of plot bunny wranglin’, plot jackalopes are a bit more… friendly, than yer regular plot bunny.”
“What do you—ow!” A blunt pain knocks into the writer’s leg. She looks down, and sees the plot jackalope butting her leg with its antlers. Then it twists its head sideways and rubs its noes against her leg, like a cat. “I see what you mean. So I just treat it like a regular plot bunny?”
Eastwood laughs. “You can try, but plot jackalopes have more… personality than plot bunnies. And no two are alike.”
“Is that all you can tell me?”
“Yep. If you have any trouble, call again and I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, good luck. Oh, and you might give it a name. Plot jackalopes like having names.” The phone clicks as he hangs up.
The writer summarizes the conversation for Jake.
“Okay, so what do you want to name it?”
The writer looks at it. “Well, is it male or female?”
She and Jake exchange glances. The jackalope cocks its head and hiccups.
“How about we pick a gender-neutral name?” the writer says.
They both stare at it. It stares back. They glance at each other. It hops over to the writer’s desk and rubs the space between its antlers on the desk leg.
“…Jordan?” the writer says.
“Jack? It did high-jack your story.”
The jackalope snorts and shakes its head.
The writer raises an eyebrow. “Apparently it doesn’t like those.”
“Well, it’s grey. Shadow? Dust? Mold? Grey? Greyhound? Baskerville?”
“Spot? Spotted. Speckled. Mottled. Dappled. Dapple isn’t bad.”
Again the creature snorts.
Jake scratches his head. “Fuzzy? Fuzzy the Green-Eyed Monster of the Rewrite?”
The jackalope turns and headbutts Jake’s leg. Hard. “Ow! Okay, you’re not a monster.” The jackalope snorts and goes back to the desk to continue rubbing its head. A piece of paper falls off the desk and glides to the writer’s feet. She picks it up. “Enthuzimuzzy and Skilamalink.”
Jake does a double take. “What?”
“They’re Victorian slang. I read a thing online about it recently, and these were two I liked. We could name it Enthuzimuzzy Skilamalink. Muzzy for short.”
The jackalope turns around, hiccups, and tosses its antlers.
The write exchanges glances with Jake, then looks at the jackalope. “Do you like Muzzy?”
It hops over and rubs its nose on her leg.
Jake shakes his head. “I think it likes it.”
“Muzzy it is, then. Hello, Muzzy.”
The rabbit picks up the pencil she dropped in its mouth and prods her in the leg with it. “Ow. No need to cause injury.” The writer takes the pencil from Muzzy, who then begins nudging her toward her desk. Another storm of ideas floods her mind.
“I have to write these down,” she tells Jake. “Did you bring your laptop?”
Jake plops down in a chair. “Sounds good to me.”
Hope you enjoyed! I need to write more of these. They're so much fun.