26 March 2017

Using Bunnies in Epic Fantasy

My writing colleagues often declare a state of "writer's block" or else request help in deciding what happens next in their stories. Just as often I suggest introducing a magic bunny. And rather more than I would like, my suggestion gets a polite chuckle and goes nowhere. It's sad, really, because bunnies (or, rabbits, in their scientific designation) offer so much in the twists and turns of a story's plot, especially in an epic fantasy.

In the early days of social media, when everyone of my friends were posting pictures of their dogs and cats, I reached point where I was feeling saturated. Then, as luck would have it, I happened to see a picture of the most cute, most perfect itty bitty bunny wabbit ever! (Look to the right->) And so I posted it, simply for its cuteness - and with contemplation of that cuteness came a certain lessening of my stress level. Little by little I sought out cute bunny pictures and posted them. I soon became known as the bunny guy, both loved and loathed - mostly loved.

Then came the dramatic tome known as EPIC FANTASY *WITH DRAGONS, which I have discussed at length here and here. Also here. (And here, if you are still curious.) Even though there are dragons in this mighty tale of daring-do, I found places where a magic bunny could make a significant contribution. After all, rabbits have a long history of portents in medieval people's lives - perhaps even further back to the dawn of bunnydom. Rabbits also have meaning associated with animal totems and sometimes serve as messengers of the gods ("More treats, please!"). Some of us place great meaning on the simplest of acts, such as "What Does It Mean When a Rabbit Crosses Your Path?" while conveniently forgetting a time long ago when mankind lived in fear of rabbits

But I digress.... 

I choose to use rabbits, nee bunnies, in much more wholesome roles in my Epic Fantasy novel. While always appreciated and adored, I've found bunnies work best as plot point prompts. In that capacity, they may be either a source of nourishment (if one is near starvation) or a harbinger of the future. They may also be recognized as symbols of fertility! (Recommended use: Have a bunny hop across the grass outside the bedroom chamber windows as your hero and the seductive queen begin their love making.) For further bunniness, I recommend this earlier post on this blog.

As a source of nourishment:

After some time on the trail, our hero and his cohort pick up a couple of rogues. The food they have to share is not too delicious.

    “I wish we had some drake walk across our path tonight,” said Gorral. “I need some meat. Real meat. Not this...this grandfather food, food for old men with no teeth....”
Corlan smiled at the boy.
“You need a magic bunny,” said Tam.
“What’s that?” asked Corlan. “A magic bunny?”
“Chef always said that. Whenever we would run out of food at the palace, he would pray for a bunny to appear in the garden. By magic.”
    “Did it work?”
    “Sometimes a bunny arrived just in time for dinner.”
    Corlan laughed and licked his fingers. “That would be magic.”

As a harbinger of the future:

At one point in the journey our hero and his cohort seek help from an old magus and body-stitcher, an ancient woman named Urma.

“I remember you talked about Yvella, but never said anything about Dreva. How are your powers now?”
“I haven’t gone up in flames yet.” Urma started to chuckle, then stopped herself. “Magic powers grow stronger as we count down the years. I have one-hundred-fifteen years now, with only fourteen more to live. So says the rabbit in my visions. I didn’t listen at first—who would take a rabbit seriously?—so I didn’t believe. Then she hopped ahead of me on a long trail and at each bend of the path sat a stone with my name on it, written in Luvali. Counting the stones, I came to the final number. The tally was complete. I knew then what day I shall be done with this life. That’s both a blessing and a curse.”

Furthermore, the qualities of the bunny can shed light upon a difficult situation:

In one of the interludes that together comprise a separate novella woven through the novel, we follow the adventures of a little princess and her faithful tutor as they flee the cruelty of the queen.

    “Some people, especially in the north and the east, believe we are born and we die, yes, then we are born again in a different body. It’s a great mystery. We say such people have twice-beating hearts. You could be one of them, little majesty. You are young in age yet much older inside. I have always felt that way about you, little majesty.”
    “Oh,” was the princess’s reply. “I always thought I was a bunny. I thought it was only a dream.”
    “Perhaps you were a bunny in a previous life,” said Jabuli.
    “If it’s true, I don’t remember it much. Vegetables is all. Lots and lots of vegetables.”
    “Do you still like vegetables?”
    “Oh, yes!”
    “Then perhaps it is true.” She smiled. “Now you are a princess.”
    Adora pouted. “I think I prefer being a bunny.”
    “Unless a dragon comes to eat you,” said Jabuli.
    “No, not then.” The princess watched the hillside, marked the city in the distance, the strait and the island beyond. “This is the farthest I have ever been from my slumber chamber. I never knew a world like this existed. It was only written on parches.”

In an earlier work of mine, THE DREAM LAND TRILOGY, I also used rabbits. In Book III, at a time of warfare, the opposing armies used giant war rabbits and battle hamsters, ridden by pilots and laser-archers. The beasts truly won the field that day! However, it is best to keep rabbits to a normal size and healthy disposition. Or else we might all succumb to the terror of the Middle Ages.
Not quite as I depicted them in THE DREAM LAND Book III, but...still impressive!
Therefore, when stuck in one's writing, always consider a bunny to liven things up. Fear not the hubris of old nor the salivation of culinary quislings, for it is only with the Zen of Bun that one may go forth with renewed vigor to face the world, a world which is often inhabited by decidedly unbunny-like dragons!

(C) Copyright 2010-2017 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. A warm bunny is a comfort to the beleaguered author.

    I rarely suffer from writer's block. I suffer from squirrels... random, brilliant, sidetracking ideas to nowhere that emerge in the form of flash fiction.

  2. You can never have too many bunnies. Unless you do have too many bu--squirrel!!!!