Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Rabbits are funny creatures. They can fight and be quite vicious, if they choose to, but most of the time they just run. Or if they are in a cage they will just sit there, though breathing very heavily when they are scared. They are built for sprinting, so in an open field it is possible to chase a rabbit until it can’t go any farther. It will run out of energy and out of breath. It will just lie there catching its breath while its captor approaches.

Do you ever feel that way? You have your eye on the prize. You run and run and run, but then you reach the point that all you can do is just lie there and try to catch your breath. We either want to cry or break something and we know that neither will do any good. If we keep lying there, we’ll die or we’ll fail or live out our lives in a miserable state. Whatever happens, we won’t reach our goal if we don’t change something.

We don’t enjoy being in that position, so why should I bring it up? It isn’t because I have some profound advice on how to get out of that situation. No, I find myself in that position all too often, but as writers we should embrace that awful feeling because that is where our story begins. If I told you that a dog chased a rabbit until the rabbit could run no longer and the dog is approaching, don’t you feel a since of urgency, wondering what’s going to happen next?

If we had begun our story earlier, with the rabbit eating clover and the dog chained to a fence post, would you have the same interest in the story? What about later when the rabbit is safely hidden in a hole and the dog is running toward the voice of his master? No, we don’t care about that. Stories are about change, so we must always begin by telling the reader what the protagonist (or someone) needs to change.