Plot Hole Doominess

Okay, I was supposed to do something about plot holes last week and got a bit sidetracked. My apologies. It’s not every day I get that distra- oh, shiny!

Plot holes are the bane of George Lucas. Smart readers and fans will find plot holes in your work faster than water and toilet paper, then proceed to mock you mercilessly for your forgetfulness, no matter how much they profess to enjoy your work. Case in point? When I rode John Ringo when he messed up the last name of a character who changed names three times in one of my favorite series of his. I mean, it wasn’t the last name either… and to this day whenever I see him at cons, I ask “So is it Bryce or Annabel, John?”.

How do you get rid of plot holes, anyway? They’re almost a fact of life in writing, that one small comment you make early in the novel and forgetting all about it later on when it should be explained. A good editor will normally find the mistake or omission, but it’s more enjoyable (for you and editor both) for your first readers to find them before submission. Another example? When Travis Taylor first wrote One Day On Mars, he had written “dessert wars” instead of “desert wars”. While this is more of a typo than a plot hole, it still made for a hilarious discussion amongst us readers who wondered what sort of weaponry one would bring to a dessert war. I think the winner was a portable cupcake launcher…

Okay, I’m losing track of this again.

One of the simplest and best ways to avoid plot holes is to write everything down. Every little nuance, back story, history of the character, world, etc… all could and should be written down for future reference. I had the problem of having five villains (not counting the mysterious stalker) in Corruptor, yet at the end I only had three brought into custody after one of them died. I never even remembered about the fifth villain until just recently, two years after I finished the book. I scratched my head and realized I needed to mention something about him in the end, about how nobody knew who he was or what happened to him. It works for the sequel as well, in a way. But if I hadn’t caught it, I would have had to deal with the possible deluge of people screaming “What happened to (insert name)?” It’s a plot hole I really, really wouldn’t have been able to explain after the book came out.

What techniques do you use to avoid leaving plot holes big enough to drive a star destroyer through?

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