Hello Friends,

It’s time for Post #4 of “No Edit / No Read”, (Plot Holes).

No matter how tight our writing feels in the first draft, plot holes are bound to occur. As writing warriors, it is our duty to future readers to seek out and vanquish the dastardly story killers!

What exactly is a plot hole?

There are different types of plot holes. Here are a few:

  1. Characters doing things to move the plot along, without good reasons.
  2. Things written early in the story that don’t jive with things that happen later.
  3. Dangling ends, aka, unresolved storylines.
  4. Your character is in trouble. You contrive a fantastically difficult way out – even though there is another obvious solution.
  5. Characters solving problems with sudden skills never before acknowledged.

How can we resolve some of these plot hole issues?

  1. Characters doing things without explanation:
    1. Great scene ideas pop into the writers’ brain from the realm of the unknown, a lot. Sometimes they can cause problems if the writer has not made the situation or character actions relevant to the story. Set up a reason that the character is suddenly doing what they’re doing.
    2. If something external has caused the character to be in the situation but this external catalyst was not mentioned earlier, you will need to go back and at least give some clues that what is happening was a possibility, in the first place.
    3. Thirdly, if this scene or character motivation cannot be explained, you may have to cut it out.
  2. Early story does not meet up with later story:
    1. Naturally, stories evolve as we are writing, Often times, without us even realizing it, they have changed in ways that differ from the originally planned path. Read through your story, beginning to end, to see if this has occurred.
    2. If you realize a divergence you will need to fix this. Most likely you will make adjustments to earlier parts of the story so they come together with the storyline you wrote later.
  3. Dangling ends:
    1. In the beginning of your story you introduced your readers to problematic situations, characters, symbols, love triangles, etc. By the end of the story these things should all have come to some level of satisfactory explanation and closure. Read through your story when completed and find the loose ends. All things, people, and situations should be taken care of. If not, you will need to do some work to weave this information into the story and tie off the dangling ends.
    2. It may help to map out all the subplots being managed as you go along, so you are well aware of how, what, and when you close off each rabbit hole.
  4. Characters don’t solve problems logically/or ever:
    1. If you sink your character into a difficult situation and force them to claw their way through the most difficult route possible, plan on ensuring there was no other easier way. Readers are thinking and struggling with your character. They will quickly identify obvious solutions. If you have not explained why the obvious solution is an impossibility, you may lose your reader.
    2. The flip side is a situation where the character does not have any means of getting out of the trouble. Of course, we want things to be tough on the character, seemingly impossible, even. But if there is absolutely no logical way out for the character – then something has gone wrong in the writing. We should always equip our characters with the necessary resources to make it through their problems, even if it is only something hinted at somewhere early in the story.
  5. Unexpected abilities:
    1. This plot hole has a tunnel connection from the last plot hole. Never, ever, get your character out of trouble by giving them sudden knowledge, skills, or powers that the reader never had a previous awareness about. If the only way out of certain death is by using a magic wand or throwing a fire ball – or bowling ball – there should at least be a clue that they have that ability somewhere earlier in the story.
    2. If there is no such hint you will have to go back and plant the seed somewhere. You don’t want to make it so blatantly obvious that it is the only evident solution either.

These are just a few simple ideas for helping resolve plot holes.

Say ‘Hi” to my cat Otis 🙂

Until next time – Happy Plotting!!

Joan

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