Plot Holes,  Revision,  Writer's Block

Mending Your Plot Holes & Preventing New Ones

Hi Lizard. What do you do about plot holes? I see a big plot hole in my work in progress right now, but I don’t know how to fix it. Should I just go with it or do you have any advice on mending the hole?

So plot holes are one of those inevitable things in writing almost everyone comes across eventually. They are going to exist. Some readers might happily just read right over them, but sometimes, they’re a little to glaring to go unnoticed. It’s that lapse in judgement, or that moment where a reader might ask, “well, why didn’t they just do this instead?” And while that question isn’t always a problem, it can become a problem if you as the writer are thinking, yeah, why didn’t they just do that instead?

Plot holes are moments within a story where suddenly an illusion is broken the reader is pulled out of the action. It’s a moment where the reader is questioning the authority of the author.

So what can we do to keep plot holes from forming?

The answer is pretty simple: make sure you’re not just telling a story, but following your character through their actions and emotions. Take in the world of the story and create the scenes of your story as viscerally as you can. When the world is clear to you and your characters are clear to you, you won’t have readers asking why they made this choice or why they didn’t do something else instead. You’re in the world of this story. You know exactly how your characters would act, in what ways they’ll do what anyone else would do, and in what ways their decisions are completely their own.

I have plot holes already? How do I patch them?

Patching plot holes can be done a few ways. The easiest is to go back and rewrite the scenes where you see problems beginning to form. Find the moments where the character makes a choice that might not make immediate sense. For instance, when your protagonist’s best friend shows up with a dead body in their backseat, why doesn’t the protagonist call the police? The answer might be obvious to the writer, but not necessarily obvious to the reader. Talk it out. Explain the protagonist’s logic. Get into his head and let the reader see that this was always the only choice he was going to make.

Also, it doesn’t hurt for them to talk about calling the police anyway, even after that was something you know your characters weren’t going to do. This is one thing that helps settle a reader. It’s a reassurance, when you are thinking, “why don’t they call the police?” for the characters to just mention why they wouldn’t or don’t want to.

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