I seldom lose my cool when I see those glaring plot holes in books and movies. If the book has more than a few, I feel completely turned off and may even DNF the book. Many of us do that and it is not wrong to DNF.
Earlier this month we were discussing about some of those plot holes that would affect the story’s flow. These can be the inconsistencies in terms of
- The actual plot and story line
- The character development
- The world we built
I realized these inconsistencies are much more common than I realized and I decided to explore more on it. In order to make it easier to find and fill those damn holes, I will try and classify the holes in terms of plot and story line into groups.
1. Illogical and impossible scenes
I hate it when in the movies the actor gets shot in their chest with a gun, continues to fight the villain and deliver a fatal blow , yet a single bullet can explode moving cars every time. Don’t you?
For me the simple measure to group these illogical scenes in a plot is to ask myself if they make go ‘But how did he/she?’. More often than not, those questions are rhetorical because we know that couldn’t happen, unless there was a miracle. And if your story is about magic and miracle, please elaborate on how it happened. If not, that is a hole for you to fix.
Let us see some examples shall we?
- The highly frustrated curly girl in me, wants to mention about how easy the makeovers are – removing the glass and straightening the hair.
- Oh my favorite! How is there not even an adult whenever the young protagonist survives every damn disaster? My mom won’t even let me go to a sleepover without a chaperone when I was a wee teen, and these kids survive a zombie Apocalypse.
- Another one about the bullets. A single man (the protagonist) can shooting 20 men has more chance in destroying them than 20 of them shooting him. It always happens in the movies.
2. Contradictory scenes
Y’all how much I love reading Whodunnits and attempting (and failing) to solve it. But you know what irks me the most there? Plot holes!!
Why does the person who left town in the third chapter return in the final chapter? Please do not say he is the murderer, that is too convenient. Don’t we hate it when luck and coincidence solves them all? Okay maybe I am moving away from the topic. Do not let your events contradict.
Here are some more that would just make me pull the hair off my head.
- A person who is trapped in a dungeon appears from nowhere at the last moment to defuse the bomb. He WAS TRAPPED!
- You were beaten black and blue in a fight earlier, but without any more new reinforcements you win him the next day. What changed and how?
- How did you know land the bull’s eye if you never learnt archery? At the least tell me in advance that you were good at darts. Look out for those events that could not have happened because of something else that happened in the book and kick them off.
3. Unresolved conflicts:
I cannot emphasis too much on this one at all. I mean am sure no one would like to wait for eternity to know what those smaller characters did next in your story. Of course I hate cliffhangers, but I am not talking about them.
While love having
lots of a few just the right number of side plots and characters in a story but only when you intend to make them reach their destiny er.. I mean solution. Why else would you include about them, except perhaps to add some conflicts just for the heck of it?
I know some of these might sound a bit over the top but they do happen. As a beta reader I do point out such inconsistencies in the manuscript but it saves a lot of time and your efforts to fix them when you revise your manuscript before you send it to the beta reader or the editor.
Just remember, if it doesn’t make sense to you, your readers won’t understand it either.
What is the most blatant plot hole you have come across in a movie or a book? Do you find these gaps in the plot annoying or they completely obtrusive? Do share with me.
There comes a time when every author has to put an end to their writing and start seeing their work objectively. Their objectivity would go a long away in making their manuscript, or book if I may, appealing to the masses. Of course the beta readers and editors would do their jobs but you would be glad you did your part before sending it off to the professionals.
Much like typos and grammatical errors, a glaring plot hole would turn me off from reading the book completely. When we say plot hole we generally think of the inconsistencies in the storyline or the plot itself, but it is much more than that, don’t you think?
In fact anything that would make your readers go ‘what just happened?‘ in a not so expected way is just the plot holes we are talking about.
As an author you are expected to have already fixed the plot holes when you send your book off to editing and critiquing, but there are some plot holes that are sneaky and may not be visible to your eyes, especially after repeated readings. This makes the use of a beta reader indispensable.
A plot hole is a collective term to all the sneaky inconsistencies in the narrative or a character development of a book or a movie/television programme, to paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary.
This does not include those apparent inconsistencies that will be solved in the oncoming chapters or books. We can divide such inconsistencies into three heads based on where they may be found.
Inconsistencies in the plot
Plot holes refers to any inconsistencies in the plot or any event in the story line. Plot refers to anything from the place, time and events that take place in those places and times.
Inconsistencies could be illogical, contradictory or ignored. Let us examples of each of these cases.
Illogical plot hole:
A character who is terminally ill gets well miraculously just to be a part of a love triangle.
A character that living 2000 km away from his lady love, drives back to her hometown in a single night to save her from the villain.
A plot that is ignored or forgotten:
A character that goes missing (i.e forgotten) all of a sudden for no reason.
2) Inconsistencies in the character development
We are never gonna hear the end of how Lily has brown eyes, when we all knew she and Harry had the same blue eyes. Or why Buzz has to pretend freeze around humans if he thought he was a real space ranger.
And that is exactly what we are talking about.
Anything that character does or does not do as the reader has been told to expect of him is an inconsistency and thus a plot hole.
Some examples of such holes are:
- A mighty super villain has a change of heart about destroying the planet just after a small setback.
- A protagonist that never grows, changes or is affected by the plot.
3) Inconsistencies in the world building
This is a major one, especially in the fantasy genre. The fictional world that we write for includes why things happen the way they do and why the characters react how they do.
We need to know the reasons and motivation behind the character’s actions before we can relate to them and continue to root for them. But when these fails, the readers stop caring about what happens to the characters and the plot.
Some examples of issues in terms of world building:
- An antagonist whom we fail to see as powerful enough.
- Sub plots that are not closed.
- Why the lead falls for the female and why is it different from the other times?
While these plot holes may not be apparent to you, your readers are definitely going to find them out and it is critical that you should too. You could always reach to a friend, a fellow writer or a professional beta reader requesting them to give a read to weed these out.
Aside, I am considering to write more on these series, what do you say? Should I continue these writing topics? Let me know in the comment section.
Are there plot holes that do not fall in these headers? Do you plot holes turn off from reading further? What is the most annoying plot hole issue that you have read? And authors/writers, tell us about the plot hole you had and how you fixed Let us chat.