On the Proper Care and Handling of Plot Bunnies

By Prof. B. Ard of St Francis College, Camford.
 
The Plot Bunny, Lepus Fabula, or Plunny in the vernacular is a strange but loveable creature! No two are alike in size or looks and each one exhibits such different and contradictory behaviours and needs that offering this advice seems somewhat foolhardy.  And yet it must be offered because becoming the owner of a Plot Bunny (or Plunny for short) can be overwhelming – especially to those who are new to ownership – since they can turn from docile to rabid in a matter of seconds.
 
They require careful handling even if you believe yourself to be experienced in their ways and have owned many before – it is in their nature to surprise, even at the very end of their lives.  This should not, however, put the novice – or anyone else – off ownership. Plunnies may be hard work but when one flourishes under your care there is no better feeling in the world and the joy they bring to both their owner and anyone their owner chooses to share them with is, as far as I am concerned, unparalleled in this earthly life.
 
So, onto the important questions:
 
1. Where do I find a Plunny?
 
Finding a Plunny is, in my experience at least, the easiest part of the ownership process. Plunnies are intensely curious little critters and will appear almost anywhere, hopping into sight at the slightest provocation. They have been spotted almost everywhere; on the edges of quarries and deserts, loitering in the entrances to derelict buildings, frolicking in woods and glades, snoozing in train carriages, and creeping out into the middle of bustling city streets. They seem particularly fond of conversation and seem to be drawn to eavesdrop on any and every situation imaginable. They also seem to be strongly attracted by the thoughts one has as one is attempting to drop off to sleep. There have been many nights that – just as I’m on the cusp of sleep, drowsy and warm – I’ve become aware my pillow and duvet are positively covered in the little blighters. These nocturnal Plunnies seem to be the hardiest and most fertile of the species, but are often the most difficult to catch, given that you have to rouse yourself to do it and in the process scare them away.
 
2. So, how do I stalk and capture a Plunny?
 
Here opinions vary and it could almost be said that there are as many ways to do it as there are Plunnies; an infinite variety of methods. However it would seem prurient to suggest that the method employed should reflect the nature of the Plunny you wish to own. Hunt for your Plunny in the area that you find most inspiring, for then you will be compatible from the start. When you’ve spotted a likely looking one you need to get it close enough that you can describe it properly. I normally tempt them closer with some sort of treat – nuggets of interesting information seem to work on the type I tend to favour, as does the promise of a well-stocked library, but on occasions a latte and a quiet corner to sit in for a while has been all that is needed. Please note that Plunnies have absolutely no genes in common with Dragons and it is therefore very rare that the promise of gold generates a hardy Plunny that you would wish to work with.
 
Once the Plunny is close enough for you to see it clearly, you can capture it. In this you must act fast – jotting down, in whichever way works best for you, a basic but full description of it. This will bind the Plunny to you, for a while at least, because as well as being inquisitive, they are vain animals, and will stay with you for as long as they think you are interested in committing their attributes to paper. 
 
3. Great so I’ve captured my Plunny. Now what? What does it eat? And what can I do to keep it healthy?
 
Again, no two Plunnies will need exactly the same thing but in my experience what all Plunnies thrive on is Narrativium – the magic of the written word. To keep a Plunny happy, one must continue to describe it – and its actions – in ever more detail. Take the time to note down even what appear at first glance to be its most inconsequential character trait or most ridiculous behaviours. Lavish time and attention on it. Make it feel wanted and loved. It does not matter if the words are not polished, not the best words you have ever committed to paper, all the Plunny cares about is that you have committed the words to paper.
 
Plunnies need you as much as you need them, and if they are neglected for any length of time they become frail and insubstantial. Ignore them for too long and they will leave you altogether, hopping off in search of someone else who will love them.
 
If you fear that you have been neglecting your Plunny do not despair! Providing it has not left you completely there is the possibility of reconciliation. Like any companion, if you acknowledge your mistakes, are truly sorry, and make the effort to repair the damage that your neglect has caused – take the time to get to know it again – you can return to your old closeness. It will not be easy, the Plunny may have changed significantly whilst you have not been paying attention to it, may have new ways and new interests, but it will be worth it in the end. You may end up with a Plunny very different to the one you thought to capture at the outset, but you will not be disappointed.
 
It does not do to keep your Plunny housebound either. Take your Plunny on adventures; let it sit on the table in restaurants and coffee shops so it can hear the conversations going on around it; take it to museums and art galleries; let it roam the shelves of your local library and pick your next book; talk about it to your friends; share anecdotes of its behaviour on line.
 
In other words welcome your Plunny into every aspect of your life. In return it will brighten and make magical every element of your world!
 
4. Are there any downsides to Plunny ownership?
 
Plunnies can be all consuming. You may find yourself unable to talk about nothing but the Plunny, think about nothing but the Plunny, find interest in anything but the Plunny. This can cause problems if you have a day job, or a partner, but balancing the Plunny and the rest of your life is a skill that will come with time and is most definitely worth the short-term hassle.
 
You can also not always tell at the outset whether the Plunny you are stalking will remain small and easily manageable or if it will grow into something overlarge and hairy that sheds on the furniture and scares away the postman. Again, this is a small problem compared with the joy of Plunny ownership but one that needs bearing in mind, especially if you have limited time and resources to devote to a Plunny.
 
However there is one warning I feel I must issue:
 
Plunnies – like their common or garden cousins the rabbit – can reproduce at a speed that may leave you feeling somewhat overwhelmed and (if you have been seduced by the overwhelming cuteness or fascinating attributes of the baby Plunlets into jotting down their descriptions) unable to provide for them all in the correct manner. I have found it beneficial, when this has happened to me (it happens to every writer at some point), to share the excess Plunnies with likeminded friends. This should not be done too often, however, for fear of stretching the friendships to breaking point. Plunnies are not to be taken lightly and prevention is often better than cure – do not capture a Plunny if you do not think you have the time or space to take care of it.
 
I hope this has been instructive and illuminating and I wish you every success in your next venture into Plunny ownership. If you have owned or are currently a Plunny owner, please leave your tips and tricks in the comments!
 
*******
Narrativium is not my invention – that honour goes to the late, great, Terry Pratchett, who was one of the best owners and breeders of Plunnies in the world. It should also be noted that Prof B. Ard may have a small amount in common with Prof. D. Trefusis, who was created by Stephen Fry.

This is another post written for the Get Your Words Out forum and shared here because … well, just because!

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