When spending so much time working on our stories, it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees.
This is a phenomenon we discussed in our recent article on the importance of gaining objectivity as we edit. When we’re in the thick of revising our stories, we may find ourselves so focused on all the little details that we want to improve that we fail to see some of our stories’ biggest weaknesses. And the biggest of all, perhaps, are plot holes.
What are plot holes exactly? And how can you find and fix them throughout your manuscript? Let’s break down everything you need to know today, writer!
What are plot holes, you ask?
A plot hole is a gap or inconsistency in a narrative that specifically contradicts the flow of logic established in the story. As such, plot holes include:
- Illogical Events. (Example: An all-powerful villain is easily defeated.)
- Contradictions. (Example: A character’s personality changes greatly between two scenes with no explanation.)
- Unresolved Storylines. (Example: A secondary character is given their own subplot, which is later forgotten.)
- Impossible Events. (Example: A character moves too quickly between far distances.)
- Continuity errors. (Example: A character seemingly forgets a vital piece of information they knew earlier in the story.)
Every reader suspends some measure of disbelief. Otherwise, no one would enjoy stories with fantastical elements or question the physics of a crazy car chase. But there’s also a limit to how much readers will accept for the sake of entertainment, and plot holes are often what push readers over the edge.
Finding Plot Holes in Your Manuscript
Readers’ suspension of disbelief may ensure that some of your story’s smaller plot holes go unnoticed or ignored. But generally, you’ll want to take some time during revisions to find and fix the plot holes that could spell disaster for your story.
This may seem like an obvious task, but the trouble comes with the lack of objectivity we mentioned at the top of our post. As writers, we’re often so caught up in the details that we fail to see these big picture plot holes for ourselves, which is exactly what leads us into the first of several tips for seeking out your story’s inconsistencies and illogical events:
#1: EDIT WITH OBJECTIVITY.
The surest way to catch plot holes when revising is to first take some time to gain a little objectivity, to step away from your manuscript in order to review it later with fresh eyes. We talked about even more tips for gaining objectivity in this article, so make sure to check that out.
#2: DRAFT WITH INTENTION.
Every writer’s pre-writing process will look a little different, so don’t feel pressured to outline your novel scene-by-scene before writing if doing so doesn’t work well for you. Generally speaking, however, the more you develop your story before writing, the better your chance of catching plot holes early. See More . . .