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Monday, 6 December 2010

How to avoid inconsistencies and plot holes.

In case you've missed this.

Tips on how to avoid inconsistencies and plot holes.
When working with first time writers, I get to see them a lot, the little buggers called plot holes and inconsistencies. They sneak into the book, throwing the reader out of the scene, interrupting the storyline. There are minor ones and there are definitely the bigger ones.
A minor inconsistency would be: the character just had breakfast and a few paragraphs later, he sits down to have breakfast. Unless he’s a very hungry person, it’s a little error that slipped in. Perhaps, the author has paused with the writing after the first breakfast scene and doesn’t remember where he or she was when continuing to write.
A major plot hole would be: a new character appears out of nowhere, is involved into the plot, but he or she is not introduced, the reader has no idea who he or she is and what role he or she plays.
Or: a character disappears for a long while without explanation and re-appears suddenly as if nothing happened.
Or: a character refers to something that happened the day before, being in a restaurant, for example. It seems to cause a major impact on a relationship, yet the reader never was in the restaurant with them.
Another one: the book starts in spring, each chapter resembles a day or two, a week maybe and by the middle of the book it’s a year later, without any indication that so much time has passed.
To avoid things like this you could do a few things:
  • write every day in order to keep on top of the story.
  • write a little summary of what happens in each chapter, this is also useful for the synopsis later. Plus, if you need to make changes, you know exactly which chapter has a specific scene. No sifting through the whole book  is needed.
  • do the plotting first. Start with a rough outline of the story and as soon as it manifests more before your eyes, go into details, that should also help when you hit a brick wall.
  • always let another person read your book, it doesn’t have to be an editor, it could be someone who you trust to be able to pick up on inconsistencies.
Happy writing.

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