I like to categorize things and make up words. Macro Holes are those really big problems in your story: plot holes, loop holes and technical problems. These are all technically plot holes but I like ordering plot holes by severity in my mind. This post is the greatest issues to the smallest.
A lot of writers ask me to keep a notebook when reading their work. I think it’s important that they do so when they are writing a book. Here are some tips and examples of things I’ve run across on my beta reading journey.
These come in many different forms and the examples would be a mile long. Here are a few that I’ve seen.
-A dead character is suddenly alive and kicking
-An impossible situation is overcome in a way that isn’t logical
-Character development doesn’t make sense or they just disappear
-A subplot drops off without a resolution.
Almost every manuscript has one issue somewhere. Plot holes in my mind are really big, glaring issues with the story. The severity that I’m talking about doesn’t usually happen but when they do, it can be huge.
I’m a nerd. I read science fiction and fantasy. Some strange part of me thrives on finding a loophole. It’s like I’m running around like Charlie with his Golden Ticket.
Even though it makes me feel very clever for finding it, the more loopholes in your writing the weaker it is. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. And the best works are very minimal in this department, unless it’s a movie — that’s another topic not meant for this blog.
Some examples of loopholes:
-Going past the set “laws of physics” in your universe. If you establish limitations to the world, the magic, the technology or anything and you want to reach past it without explanation don’t. Readers notice. Especially loophole hunters like me.
-Writing something that throws a back story out of the window
-Forgetting about a character or a story element that could solve a problem more efficiently without taking that advantage away somehow.
The list is long and loopholes are plot holes just a little more technical but not as technical as my Technical Holes. These are my favorite and least favorite form a plot hole can take. Sure, they don’t stop resolution but they make the resolution unbelievable.
Even smaller than a loophole and more of a mini-hole… the type of thing that is forgiven all the time is a technical hole. Only the most adept of us in the nerd world can catch these subtle critters but they are worth a mention. As I said before, death by a thousand cuts. One or two of these can be forgiven, a ton of them can feel like you’re living in Superman’s universe. (A place where there are constant new powers and forms of cryptonite to conveniently further your plot)
What are these tiny holes? These tiny holes that somehow make it into the BRB Macro Universe?
-Geography is strangely fluid with no fixed points. The world doesn’t change on a dime. Make sure you know where everything is.
-Super weapons that have a random new feature that could have been used earlier in the book
-Magical powers that were described to have a limitation but don’t in one scene, it’s small enough to ignore but big enough to notice
How do you avoid this?
I always have a story map plastered somewhere while I’m writing. This is great for knowing the sequence of events. If you add a scene to your story it’s important to go back to that map and insert it in so you don’t forget about it later.
There is another thing in my process that helps. I do chapter-by-chapter breakdowns. Any turning points, character development, etc. Same rule, if you add something to the story — go back to your outlining and summaries.
Now, you may say, “But BRB, I don’t plot my story. I just write.” My advice to you is the same. The only difference is that you aren’t doing it during the writing process. During one of those rewrites, you may miss your plot holes because you are so used to them. Writing down an outline of everything really helps you keep it straight even if you do it post. Oh, and an awesome beta reader! (And those other people that will look at it, I guess.)
I have another post in the same area of discussion:
If you want to check out any other posts in my Story Elements Series, look at my archives page!