Look at that sweet bunny. Could you really hurt it?
I coined the phrase "hurt the bunnies" after reading so many stories where there was no problem to be solved, no conflict -- nothing happened. It started when I judged a contest and every single entry was a picture book/short story about bunnies...except one that was about groundhogs (and this one actually had a problem to solve). The bunnies basically hopped around all day holding hands, picking flowers, and remarking on what a wonderful world they lived in. I have to admit that after reading dozens of stories like that, I really did have an urge to hurt those bunnies.
But the phrase "hurt the bunnies" actually is for the writers, to remind them that stories aren't interesting unless we can in some way identify with the main character -- or main bunny -- and feel sympathy for him. We have to care what happens to him. If nothing happens, then we feel as if we've wasted the time we invested in that character/bunny. So the writer needs to "hurt" that character/bunny in some way. The "hurt" doesn't have to be physical. It can be a need, a desire, a wish, a goal...but it can also be a physical or emotional "hurt." A "bunny" without a problem is a boring bunny, and no one wants to read about boring bunnies.
So the answer to the questions that introduced this blog post is: Yes! I can hurt that bunny!