1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    What methods do you use to avoid plot holes? (Or do you not worry about it?)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Flying Geese, Mar 27, 2015.

    One thing that gets under my skin is plot holes in my story. But I've done some research and it turns out that plot holes are even in critically-acclaimed stories like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

    I would like to think that my story is consistent enough to where there are no obvious plot holes, but I can't help but think that if even the greatest stories have them, maybe having plot holes is just a part of the human condition of being a writer?

    That said, there are some plot holes that are simply unforgivable. What measures do you take to ensure that your story is consistent all the way through?
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    The problem with plot holes is that writers are not immune to forgetting or overlooking details. I am pretty sure no one intentionally leaves plot holes unless a sequel is being planned.

    I try to minimize the possibilities of plot holes be thoroughly considering all of the characters capabilities in solving any given major problem.

    For example, waiting 4000 years to revive a character's murdered sister through a convoluted genetic manipulation program and then transmigrating her soul into the replacement body sounds like a nice plot and all, but why wait that long when said character also happens to possess a sword that can control space and time?
     
  3. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate plot holes. A lot of what is released (particularly Hollywood sci-fi) is far more hole than plot, and this winds me up beyond measure. Especially where time travel is a mechanism (I find many movies with this device unwatchable).

    I would say that inconsistencies are a sub-category of plot-holes. Technology or magic is so often inconsistent and its power fluctuates, or is conveniently forgotten or remembered, to suit the plot. Again this seems to be particularly relevant to fantasy and sci-fi.

    I think it is a product of lazy planning. Just write out some consistent physical, magical and technological laws, which operate in your world and stick to them.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hermione Granger's little gyroscopic time travel device pretty much makes the whole story pointless. Spin it back to when Dumbledore finds Voldemort and kill Voldemort, The End.

    Agreed. I think of a plot-hole more as Thing B that contradicts Thing A. Inconsistencies kinda' answer to the same thing, but only kinda'.

    To answer the OP, I'm a planner. I block things out from large to small in order to avoid such things. This is not a method that works for everyone. Your mileage may vary. :superwink:
     
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  5. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Do you guys think about how some of the greatest writers of all time have left unintended plot holes in their stories. I am very thorough when inventing my magic systems (I think you guys might be interested in hearing about mine maybe), but every so often as I progress toward completion of the story, all of a sudden two things that contradict each other pop into my mind. Then I make adjustments.

    I can't help but consider the possibility that maybe even for all my attention to detail someone will read my book once or twice and see a plot hole. Not that it worries me. I just think it's very interesting that plotholes can be found in so many books
     
  6. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    I heard there were even a few in the bible
     
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  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Each of the red arcs connects two points in the biblical text where passages contradict one another... :superthink:

    http://bibviz.com/


    I don't let it worry me overmuch. The Eagles of LotR are another classic feature that pretty much negate the logic of the Great Journey everyone undertakes. The more magical and away from the realms of reality one goes, the more one must be willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the story. To approach it with too critical of an eye is to subvert the reason for reading such a story.
     
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  8. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    This seems such an odd statement, unless made in jest?
     
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  9. bluehouse
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    bluehouse Member

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    Notice the lower-case "b" at the beginning of "bible". Pretty sure it was made in jest/religious commentary.
     
  10. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    Both the time turner and the eagles are explained on the internet somewhere, although, I can't remember how or if the explanations have any real depth to them.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that whatever I'm working on will be riddled with flaws, so I try to be as thorough as I can. I can only see a certain side of what I do. Like, I know everything there is to know about the characters, settings, plot, etc, but someone else who knows nothing might find holes for me. That, or a lack of proper details.
     
  11. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    It only counts if it is explained in the book or movie. They should be complete, discrete works in their own right.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Guess that's one of the benefits of writing real humans in the real Universe, my biggest plot holes so far have been a character sits down who was already sitting and little things like that. I find them by re-reading and re-writing again and again.
     
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  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me a good friend is the best way to find plot holes. Get a good friend. Chat with him. Tell him your basic outline. If your friend stops you and goes "Wait what?" and you can't answer his question. You got a plot hole. Speaking outloud helps a lot. You may find yourself asking questions too.

    Great thing is if you don't ask the question and there is actually a plot hole there? So what? lol. Like it could be called a plot hole in Jaws when shooting the tank causes it to explode. Real life doesn't work that way. But it doesn't hurt the movie. Plot holes are only bad when they hurt your ability to suspend disblief.

    As to why we create plot holes? It is simple. In real life the natural order doesn't suspend. Gravity can't forget to do its work. In writing. We write the everything and sometimes including gravity. We are going to forget that sooner or later.
     
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  14. jannert
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    I'm lucky, like @GingerCoffee , that I write in the 'real world' - albeit in a historical context - so I don't have the problem of magic to contend with. Of course if your magic can do anything, then you have a problem, as many have pointed out. You MUST come up with a reason why your magic isn't the answer to everything, and that takes thought.

    It's like the Loving God dilemma, if you want to look at Christian religion as a 'magic' story element. The story question—the plot hole, if you like is: if God is all-seeing, all-merciful and all-powerful, and truly cares about us, then why do we suffer? Why doesn't God just step in and sort it all out? He could if he wanted to, if he's all-powerful. So why is the creator making his creations suffer for their lack of perfection—a lack which he created himself? How can this willingness to let us suffer be consistent with the notion that he is a loving god? Well ...the constructors of this religion came up with a humdinger solution to that plot hole—Free Will. Free Will makes God's non-intervention in human affairs acceptable, even logical, to those who believe. It's that kind of thinking that writers who create a magic or religious system for their stories need to come up with, in order to make supernatural things seem believable in a logical world.

    Pantheons of gods can also be believable, because the believeability comes from conflict and the essential imperfection of these gods. All these individual 'gods' have power over the world and over humankind, but they conflict with each other, get jealous, get angry, fall in love, take sides, start wars, etc. So the misery that humans suffer is because of all this conflict they can't control, and humans are just pawns in this conflict. It's not possible for any one god to solve the world's problems, because another one will interfere. But it makes sense for individual humans to curry favour with a god or gods, so they'll have some clout in the big fight. No guarantee they'll win, but at least they'll have powerful beings on their side. This also makes for a believable scenario when constructing a supernatural universe.

    As to how to discover plot holes in your own work ...that's a toughie. I think you have to live with your story a long time and be able to look at it as critically as you can. Why doesn't a character just—do whatever would have made the story's main problem go away? If that issue isn't dealt with in a believable manner, then you have a plot hole. Plot holes are slightly different from continuity issues ...having a character wearing one suit in one chapter, and then wearing a different suit in the next chapter when they haven't had time to go home and change, etc. These kinds of things are usually easily spotted and easily corrected. Either keep the guy in the same suit, or find some way to allow him to change.

    For me, the biggest plot holes come with motivation. Why is the character motivated to do what he or she does? If the character has a personality transplant partway through a story, I quickly lose interest in it, unless there is a good reason why this happens. I think that's a problem that plot-centred stories can have. The writer is so busy plotting out all sorts of exciting happenings that they forget the human element. An intelligent person suddenly starts doing stupid stuff? A loving person suddenly treats people selfishly? A person who is madly in love with another character suddenly starts cheating? All of these kinds of anomalies can wreck a story that might look good in the outline stage.

    There isn't any formula for this dilemma. Removing or avoiding plot holes takes time, attention to detail, a thorough understanding the world of your story, and a willingness to make changes—even big ones—if you discover a hole. Don't think 'ach, nobody's going to notice,' because they will.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
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  15. amorgan3
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    For my current work in progress, I wrote about a 20k word plot outline. As I write actual prose, I refer back to my outline from time to time, often tweaking certain pieces to make my story more believable or to tone down certain fantasy elements to a closer alignment with reality. In doing this, however, I have to keep the entire plot outline relatively fresh in my mind because of the small hooks I have placed early in the story to be used later. It is easy to forget key trivialities like that when you are immersed in the actual writing.

    Not exactly a direct answer, but I keep a master plot outline as a loose guide to make sure I do not leave out key plot hooks that become important later and to make the story more believable as I put pen to paper.
     
  16. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    I talk everything out with my boyfriend, even if he doesn't have the answers talking out loud seems to help. I don't really know what I did before I knew him. Probably talked to myself and/or the dog, or just let the plot holes take their course.
     
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  17. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    I think too many people try to disguise plot holes as suspension of belief. My husband and I watched Interstellar a couple days ago and it was plot hole after plot hole.
     
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  18. jannert
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    Oh, that's disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing that movie. Drat.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I have the rented DVD of Interstellar now, but I already knew there would be some scientific inaccuracies so plot holes probably won't make it any worse. I'm looking forward to the portrayal of interstellar travel as it is backstory in my novel.
     
  20. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    @jannert @GingerCoffee I still enjoyed the movie- I thought the acting was great and I was definitely invested in the characters.

    I probably wouldn't have noticed them that much but my husband kept on pointing things out (he has an aeronautical/astronautical engineering degree) and I just kept on having to say "plot hole" or else he wouldn't shut up about it, lol.
     
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  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's more than just free will, but that is one key. From Google definitions:
    A friend of mine who is an atheist very deep in this stuff wrote a novel with this theme: Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey
    It's on my to-read list. Bob is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and a good writer. He told me he left the questions open to the reader and didn't preach one outcome over another in the book.
     
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  22. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I plot out my storyline.
    I do a lot of thinking and minor revision as I write, and take notes of fixes required.
    I do a lot of re-reading, with an eye toward consistency.
    I have a couple of solid beta-readers.
    I have an editor with my publisher.

    With that, I don't think I'll ever be perfect...but I strive to produce as clean and plot-hole free of a product as possible.
     
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I realised after I posted this that some folks might think I was trying to argue for or against particular Christian beliefs, or get down to exact details of how Christians deal with the loving god dilemma. I wasn't. I was only pointing out that they must deal with that dilemma, in some way.

    As a writer, if you're creating a fictional religion or magical universe, these kinds of issues need to be addressed if you're not going to leave large plot holes. In short, you can't create a situation where magic or a god solves all problems, give your characters the ability to do the magic and/or summon the god, and then give them problems they can't solve!
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I was trying to keep it to the thread topic. It wasn't so much about religion as it was about writing a novel based on plugging plot holes from another book. :)
     
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  25. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've found that researching different types of plot holes makes it easier to spot specific examples. After that, looking for plot holes in others' stories makes it easier to recognize the same kind of plot holes in my own and vice versa.
     
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