Friday, June 29, 2007

The Dreaded Plot Hole

I'll admit it. I'm wound too tight when it comes to plotting stories. I'm terrified of plot holes. You know, that cute little a short-circuit in a story which makes the whole dream world flutter down like a house of cards.

The strange thing is, I'm far more forgiving of plot holes missed by other authors. Let's face it. Plot holes are everywhere. There are plot holes in life.* They're simply called senior moments, or forehead slappers, or mistakes. We don't always see the obvious solution or inconsistency.

I have to let this fear go, because it makes me miss out on the chance to create some truly inventive stories. Every single angle doesn't need to square up. Heck, if J.R.R. Tolkien is guilty of a major plot hole, I can certainly hazard one. Check out this all-too-true parody of Lord of the Rings:

That didn't occur to me. Giant eagles were a deus ex machina device used twice in the series. Why not use it right up front?

I think Tolkien just groaned in the grave.

It's okay, man. Really.

(*Like the time I got horribly lost in the woods in winter. The whole traumatic experience could have been avoided if I thought to follow my tracks back through the virgin snow.)


Michele said...

Ack! Jason, you just wrenched a memory out of me that I thought I had buried nice and deep.
How embarassing!!!
It was the words "follow the footsteps in the snow".
My only defense for my own actions was that I was NOT alone and we both had tunnel vision. I can share the ... stupidity?

Car broke down. Not too far from entry ramp.
Started to walk...NOT back towards the ramp but onwards with the flow of the traffic, LIKE A CAR! I was still in driving mode even though I was on my own two feet. walked for five miles.
I was 19 and very stupid ... and much blonder than I am now.
Can I use that as a mental crutch ?
And will you believe me?

Have a wonderful weekend coming up, Jason!!!

Jaye Wells said...

Now that's funny.

suzanabrams said...

And yet plot holes sound seasoned and affectionate. :-)

Maria said...

Hi Jason,
not sure how i managed to bloghop to ur space but i'm a plot-hole obsessive too - that's why i have one unfinished novel and am working on my second one. why? WHY? u know who does best at covering plot holes? John Irving. He blunders around with the plot for half his book and fills in the gaps in the other half and rounds the story up with the most overused line in the book. it's good.
my brain has to work a little harder though to write like that.

apprentice said...

Follow that logic and a whole lot of trees would feel safer.

I loved the snow story, but I'm sure lots of great discoveries wouldn't be made if we all did the blindingly obvious.

Have a good weekend

KG said...

The video makes a really good point...

It seems that every writer fears something. It's the process of overcoming that fear that is part of our growth as writers.

My personal belief: Holes were meant to be filled in...later! (Like in round 2 or 3 of editing and rewrites.) Sometimes I can't even begin to fill the holes until I've gotten the first draft of anything out onto paper. When I look at it, sometimes hole-filling material becomes clear.

Best of luck on your quest!

Verilion said...

Phew right up until that last comment I was thinking plot holes, plot holes... I don't like them, they have ground me down before, but then KG spoke sense: editing. Phewy.
Thought the video was really funny though.

Anonymous said...

Michele, it's very easy not to be in tip-top shape mentally when we're stressed. I understand. My own defense/excuse is that I was 9. I got panicked pretty fast. After that, I was done.

Jaye, there are a bunch of these animated shorts on YouTube. How Braveheart should have ended is my favorite.

Suzan, I suppose the best we can do is make friends with them. ;)

Maria, glad to have you over! I've covered a few plot holes in my day. :D They can be edited out, but my particular problem is that a story for me has to have a soul, and overall feel. Patching plot holes, especially big ones, can threaten that vibe for me.

Apprentice, I like that thought. A good many things were born from mistakes. Penicillin for one. ;)

KG, probably worst ones are the holes someone find after we feel the story is complete and tidy. Those are holes that feel like a wavy splotch of asphalt when cover them.

Verilion, then there's the whole-premise plot hole. Tolkein is treading near that one. **Oh my, I wish I didn't think of that one. I just added another year to my therapy.

Anonymous said...

You know, even when I was a kid I thought the eagles were sort of lame. At least make them cool, like giant dragonflies or something.