WHEN CHARACTERS WON’T WAIT: WRITING WOLFIE THE BUNNY by Ame Dyckman
I was thoroughly convinced that at any moment, there’d be a tough-knuckled knock at the door, a flash of a badge, and a gruff, “Come with us, Ma’am!” before the police dragged me away.
Not the regular police.
The Dirty House Police.
I hadn’t been cleaning because all week long, I’d been struggling to develop one particular story idea.
An old story idea.
A story idea I’d been carrying about in my little pea brain for TWO YEARS:
What would happen if a baby wolf got adopted by bunnies?
But the writing totally wasn’t working. My characters weren’t talking to me.
And our usually Passably-Tidy-If-You-Didn’t-Look-Too-Close abode… wasn’t.
If you’re saying to yourself, “This must be Author Exaggeration, Ame! Your house couldn’t possibly have been THAT bad,” you should know this:
The previous evening, a caravan of nomadic yak herders and their shaggy-smelly charges broke down outside our door. (No, this doesn’t even qualify as weird. We live in New Jersey.)
Seeking shelter for the night, the herders rang our doorbell, took a quick peek inside, and said:
“We can’t subject our yaks to THIS!”
So, shame on you for thinking I exaggerated. Let’s move on.
The next morning, I called a meeting of The Horde: Husband Guy, The Kid, and The Cat.
“Our home’s been rejected by yak herders,” I said. “And there’s no chocolate in jail! Something must be done!”
“You must help me… CLEAN!”
Yes, there were tears. But The Kid dried Husband Guy’s face with The Cat’s tail and we all got to work.
I was carrying the Mount Everest of towels up the stairs when I heard The Voice:
“He’s going to eat us all up.”
“He’s going to eat us all up!”
And once more.
“HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!”
I KNEW I was hearing one of my wolf-among-bunnies story characters at last.
But then, she wouldn’t shut up.
“HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP! HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP! AND WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING THIS DOWN?!”
Whether it’s “READ ME!” or “WRITE ME!”, when a character yells at you, you oughtta listen.
And she was the most INSISTENT bunny I’d ever encountered.
Even more than the dust bunnies.
“I better not go to jail ’cause of you!” I said to the bunny in my head.
And right there, I chose.
“I’m… folding laundry!” I shouted. “You guys… uh, clean DOWNSTAIRS!”
Then I zipped inside our bedroom, threw the towels to the floor, locked the door, grabbed my laptop, and whispered,
“Okay, I’m listening. Say it again.”
And Dot Bunny did.
An hour-and-a-half later, I snuck downstairs with the first draft of what was then called WOLFIE AND DOT (I told you, INSISTENT bunny!), peeked into the slightly-tidier kitchen…
…and found The Horde (even The Cat) gobbling all the cheese in the house.
I pointed at their crumbs. “AHA!” I said.
They pointed at my pages. “AHA!” they said.
(Even The Cat.)
I wasn’t going to jail, but I WAS busted.
Quickly, I did the only thing I could think of to redeem myself:
I read them my story. Dot’s story.
Luckily, they LOVED it. And everyone was happy.
Until there was a knock at the door. A tough-knuckled knock.
But it was just the yak herders again.
“Still a mess!” they said.
“Don’t care,” I said. “I have a story!”
Then I read WOLFIE to the herders, too.
And while they were distracted, The Cat stole their yak cheese.
So really, it was an awesome day.
All ’cause of one patient (albeit, dairy-addicted) family and one insistent little character who FINALLY yelled at me.
And I’m SO grateful for both.
Ame Dyckman LOVES picture books! Sometimes she stops reading them long enough to write a few of her own, like BOY + BOT, TEA PARTY RULES, WOLFIE THE BUNNY, the upcoming HORRIBLE BEAR, and… more she’s not allowed to tell you about yet. Ame lives in New Jersey with her family, mischievous cat, several bottles of blue hair dye, and the characters from her books. Follow Ame on Twitter (
@AmeDyckman), where she Tweets picture book reviews and pretty much everything that pops into her head.
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