Monday, April 10, 2017

A to Z: Holes in the plot

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.



Nothing ruins a good story like plot Holes.  You're busy writing a scene and thinking ahead to the next and the next after that. Perhaps you're consulting a carefully planned outline, or you're going off a rough idea in your head. Maybe, like I often am, you're pulling words from the ether, wondering where the hell your story is headed. In any of those cases, it's easy to get ahead of yourself and miss resolving or explaining something along the way.

As a certified pantser, my preferred method of combating plot holes is two-fold. I don't have an outline to start with, but after the first draft, it's time to make one. Going through each scene from chapter one to the end and writing down what happens, how it's resolved and the motivations of your characters along the way is a great way to make sure you've filled in those holes before the story moves on to other eyes.

Even then, you've probably still missed a few things.

It's hard to believe that is possible, knowing the story you've spent months/years with like your best friend, but yeah, it happens. Why? Because you've spent too much time with your best story friend to see the flaws.

Step two of the plot hole filling process: shipping your best story friend off to a pair of fresh eyeballs who are bold enough to tell you what is missing. Meaning, probably not your mom or your actual best friend. This is something that would be caught in a developmental edit, but if you're hoping for a publisher, it would be in your favor to catch this stuff before your story goes into submissions or it may never make it into an editor's hands.

What's the biggest plot hole you've discovered either in your own work or a book you've read?

14 comments:

  1. Yes, that fresh pair of eyeballs is so important to the process. I am forever grateful to my critique partners and beta readers who perform this vital task for me.

    I think my biggest plot hole was one story that started off set in Massachusetts but by the end, everyone was living in Maine. I still can't believe I needed someone else to point that out to me. :)

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    1. That is an impressive hole! Crazy how that stuff happens and we don't notice.

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  2. I liked your post. I am current doing my research so I can try writing a piece of speculative fiction, it will be my first time writing in the genre. I read it often, but have never tried to write it. The idea of plot holes is certainly one I will have to watch out for. I like your advice about sending it to someone who will give it fresh eyes and credible feedback. I also like to take a few months break from a piece and return to it with my own fresh eyes, I find this has helped me catch things too.

    Stopping by from A to Z:
    H for Hungry


    Shari

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    1. Welcome to spec fic and thanks for stopping by. :)

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  3. Hi Jean - as I don't write stories that part falls by the wayside - but if I'm reading something that doesn't match up - then the book is put down and I'm off on another track ... definitely something to not let happen if at all possible ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/h-is-for-horse.html

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  4. A frank response is worth a lot. I had three pain in the rump students who were friends with the principal's granddaughter. They had to behave; but, they picked me to death. From then on out, I used the same worksheets. They were error proof.

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  5. Post-draft outlining as you describe it has helped me many a time to ensure the actions hang together and that events flow logically. The biggest plot holes I've seen in my CPs' manuscript have come from failing to understand or develop character motivations, so conflicts erupt that don't make sense. Motivation is so key.
    https://laurelgarver.blogspot.com/2017/04/h-happiness.html

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    1. Yep, motivations are sometimes really clear to the writer, but not at all to the reader.

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  6. I'm normally a planner, although that does not preclude the possibility of plot holes! It's amazing how many holes can appear in the most well-constructed plan when it comes to filling in the details :) My best friends definitely need the second set of eyeballs! :)
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

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  7. "Because you've spent too much time with your best story friend to see the flaws." —Too true! Your idea of outlining after the fact for pantsers is fantastic. And you are so right about beta readers—cheerleaders are nice, but someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, good, bad, or ugly, is indispensable.

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  8. These are hard to find when editing and easy to find after you've published the book and can't do anything about it!

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  9. As well as a big plot hole, a lot of minor ones can really conspire to make the thing come apart at the seams. It's essential to get those other eyes on it because I find it hard to get perspective, even after taking a break.

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  10. Being a pantser, I know exactly what you mean. I count on my husband and my first draft review to catch them. I also find myself picking movies & TV shows apart for all the plot holes they have. LOL!

    I: Isla Mujeres & Indiana
    DB McNicol, author & traveler
    Theme: Oh, the places we will go!

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  11. My stories always seem to evolve into a holey mess during the course of the writing. Largely because I often leap ahead to scenes that interest me (having a very rough outline in mind) and then I have to fill in the gaping hole in between :) Having a fairly detailed outline at some point in the writing process is, I think, essential, whether it's up front or after the fact.

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