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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Plot Holes and Predictability

Let's learn about plot holes and predictability through more fun google images.
And just so you know, those are three of my favorite movies. 

Now, I think movies can get away with plot holes a lot easier than books. We get caught up in the visual impact of the moment and don't catch them or think about them until later. And, sometimes, as in Harry Potter, there were so many things going on that I didn't think about the time turner dilemma until someone else pointed it out. What can we learn from that?

1. You can get away with one plot hole when the rest of the book is amazing. 
2. Sometimes the plot hole doesn't change the overall plot awesomeness because it's not the MAIN thread that has a hole in it.

A really great editor can help you find your plot holes and help you determine how to fix them. They can even help you decide if that little thing you put in (that doesn't make complete sense) because you needed to get your character to a certain physical, mental or emotion place is small enough to squeak by. Or if they're really good, they can help you come up with a more plausible way to achieve the same goal. 

Great beta readers and critique partners can help with those things too, but once again I'm a big fan of hiring an editor after the betas and crit partners get finished. 

So, if predictability is boring and the path to failure, how do we make sure our stories are NOT predictable? I mean, we hear all the time that there are no new stories. That means everyone is familiar with the pattern and will anticipate the end, right?

Come on, where's your imagination? Here are a few more things I'm sure you've heard before.

Put your character up a tree and throw rocks at him.
Here's where you get to make a story you're own. Those metaphorical rocks can be anything! Every person, and therefore every character, is different. Their life experience has given them a unique set of fears and strengths. As writer, you play to those. Find ways to challenge that individual regardless of the genre or conflict formula. 

Think of the absolute worst thing that could happen and do that.
Here's the trick. Don't do the first thing that comes to mind. Those are usually cliche and therefore predictable. 
Note for romance writers:
Readers of romance want want thing to happen EVERY time. You have to have a HEA (Happily Ever After). That's what makes it romance. Make the fact that they WILL get together and have a HEA the only thing that's predictable. Try to find unique ways to keep your lovebirds apart and make them fight for every step to being reunited. 

Questions for You

What are some stories with plot holes that bugged you?

What are some stories where the plot hole didn't bother you and why?

How do you feel when you know exactly what's going to happen in the end by the first third of the book?

Helpful Links:
How to fix a plot hole by Roz Morris


dolorah said...

One of the biggest plot holes that bugged me, both in the book and movie, is in Harry Potter. There is a segment in Prisoner of Azkaban (and later in Order of the Phoenix) where Sirius explains that Harry Potters family is one of the oldest and most pure bred, a is the Black family. Everyone purebred is pretty much related to everyone.

So how is it that Harry has NO magical relations to help him on his journey? And how is it that the Weasley's boast no magical relations either?

A story that impressed me with a twist to the predictable was Maleficient. Spoiler alert: it wasn't the prince who kissed her, and I was practically doing a happy dance in my theater seat for that one.

Charity Bradford said...

Ha! Loved Maleficient and the way it played out. However, I called who the kiss would come from 30 minutes before it happened. *sigh* my family doesn't like watching movies with me. But I still loved that movie.

Liz A. said...

Can't think of anything right now. I'm sure I'll think of something later. I don't know if predictability is so bad, really. Many of us read for comfort, and certain outcomes and tropes are comfortable. But there is too predictable.