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How to Fix Plot Holes in Your Novel

Guest Writer February 26, 2021

How to Fix Plot Holes in Your Novel

No writer likes to leave loose ends, but when you're deep into writing, the tendency is you will leave some gaps and inconsistencies in your storyline. These lapses are called plot holes. As a writer, you may not notice it immediately since you know the story by heart. However, your readers can easily spot them and leave them confused. Plot holes can result from bad writing, bad editing, or that readers are very meticulous. And all writers face such a problem. This is perhaps the challenge of every fiction writer. Plot holes are seen as something that betrays your audience's trust and lowers your novel's quality.

In reality, plot holes just might make or break your book for some readers, even publishers. Sometimes audiences forgive those lapses and use them to spawn theories. And other times, readers will see this as problematic, especially when they have become emotionally invested in your story. Nonetheless, there's no need to undo all your hard work; instead, pick up the threads and fix the holes. To stand a chance at succeeding in the book industry, your novel must be at its very best, meaning you have to make sure that no holes are left unfilled. Thus, below are some techniques to tie up loose ends. 

Keep Track of Story Details

This may seem like an obvious task for an author, but the trouble comes when there is a lack of objectivity on your side. It is known that you can get caught up in writing that you fail to see the big picture holes. Often, lapses are created simply because the author overlooked a small detail of the story. This mistake is understandable since there can be an overwhelming amount of components that must be kept track of in your novel. Some examples of plot holes are the change of the character's personality, side stories that were never concluded, and illogical events. To fix this, you have to be extra careful of your details and edit your novel. This may take work, but it assures all holes are patched. Moreover, to avoid plot holes next time, you must have a commonplace notebook where you list all the story's small and big details. 

Explore Alternative Routes

You might be dead set on the flow of your story, but try to keep an open mind because not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes your events won't unfold the logical way, which can cause gaping plot holes in the narrative. Therefore, be open to exploring alternative routes. You can add and delete scenes, events, or details to make sense of the plot hole. Plot holes often occur to writers who write a story inspired or influenced by another book. Let's say you are writing a book inspired by the typical high school story on Playing Hurt book. You now have the gist of your story, and when you began writing, you were so engrossed in making it distinct that some of the scenes did not make sense. Hence, examine events in your novel that are problematic and follow alternative paths and see where they lead you. You might not know you'll be able to devise a better, less predictable path for your story to follow, making it uniquely your own. 

Learn to Look with a Critical Eye

Patching plot holes is not a quick fix. Making changes, especially in the latter part of the novel, can have a ripple effect and may potentially create more problems for you. Identifying plot holes and fixing them as early as possible is your best option. But, how can you fix them when you don't know what to fix? This is why you need to have a critical, careful eye at all times. Yes, you know the story by heart, but you need to look at your work from a different angle. Think through your scenes, events, and story details. And ask yourself these questions: Are they logical? Are there any contradictions? Are they consistent? Are there some unresolved storylines?

When in Doubt, Simplify

It can be tempting to go for bigger and more complex plots since it is more fun to tackle and opens many creative opportunities. However, the more likely that holes will appear as you inadvertently spin your gigantic story web. It might be worth considering going back to basics. This might mean cutting out subplots, characters, and events. Simplifying does not entail all gaps are removed rather solve some plot holes. A plot does not have to be big to be engaging and effective for readers. It is always about your manner of storytelling. 

Moreover, don't be afraid of plot holes; there is no getting around it. The important thing is you are prepared to do work and get these holes filled in. It takes work and commitment, not half hearted fixes. Plot holes are not merely obstacles; rather, they are opportunities. They offer opportunities to weave nuance into your story's world and characters. When plot holes gape before you, do not despair; instead, cram with creativity. 

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Gerald L. Nardella got his accounting degree from Montana State University. Before establishing his own CPA . . .

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