“You’re halfway through a chapter and you start to notice that something seems to be a bit off – a bit contradictory perhaps. “Wait, this doesn’t make any sense if ____ just happened a while back.” Trust me, I’ve been there, and sometimes you have an idea you want to incorporate so much that you forget that it really takes away from what your story really is all about. Well, you’re about 25k in, and you’ve just concluded the chapter and upon rereading you notice that there are just one too many holes in the plot. What do you do now?”
5 WAYS TO FILL PLOT HOLES EFFECTIVELY
1. Unsure About a Character? Don’t Kill Them, Build Them
I know it can be tempting, especially if you’re writing a murder mystery/thriller, however, if there’s one thing I’ve noticed it’s that I rely a bit too much on my mystery plot fixes with a murder that happened before or after the timeline of the story I’m currently working on. Or, if I don’t know what to do with a character – I use them as a vehicle in the story by killing them off and building up another story around them. This can’t happen every. single. time. People are going to catch on, trust me.
So, let’s say you’re halfway into your novel, and the plot is moving along fine, but you eventually come to a standstill in the story and you need a bit of filler before you jump right back into the action (because action-action-action just isn’t going to cut it for you this time) so you’re probably thinking of killing off another character – don’t.
Instead why don’t you take the time to learn a bit more about that character. Sure, they’re just off to the side, aiding the main characters or making their lives a living hell, whatever it is you wish really. Though, who are they? What are their intentions? What do they do for a living? Are they happy people? Do they want world domination? Building up your characters instead of killing them off might really give your novel the authenticity you may be looking for. Go on, give it a try.
2. Review and Reassess: I Know You Hate It, But Do It Anyway
I really hate rereading my work before the editing process begins. I know how tedious it can be, because it can open up so many things you promised yourself you’d not think about until you got into editing it. However, setting aside those thoughts can definitely be beneficial to you, for it can allow you to take into consideration key points you may have forgotten about upon going deeper and deeper into your novel. When you’re rereading your previous chapters, feel free to take note of key points you may want to remember and potentially bring up later on in the story. Just having a list of a few easy (yet really important) points can really help edge your novel along, in a way that allows it to come full circle and or give you the closure you may seek.
3. Character Profiles: Do You Know Your Character’s Backstory?
I know that when I begin a new writing project, whether that’d be a novel or a short story, I always start with a bullet point list of all the characters’ names, a bit about what they look like, but I never really did delve into what it was they’re all about, and when I am finally faced with a block in the story or a plot hole, I have absolutely nothing to reference (except of course #2 as in rereading everything I’ve written thus far, which I really don’t want to do too much of until the editing process, still). So, I’ve been keeping a separate document with a little about each of my characters that I can certainly take fifteen minutes after I finish up writing to expand upon, giving myself a bit of a research document to reference. I can really have a space to build them up, and allow their character traits and personalities to speak for themselves without having to insert too much of it into the story just so I’ll remember those key details later on.
4. Forget the Loose, Open Ends. Tie Them Off
Everyone loves a cliffhanger, until your entire story becomes one big cliffhanger with a bunch of little cliffhangers. I never did like doing this when I really thought hard about it, but I found it that it was happening a bit too much and I didn’t really know how to stop it. So, I decided that it’d be best to focus on those loose ends, leave the cliffhangers for the end of a chapter rather than too many sprinkled all over said chapter. This really did help with the flow of the story, and I would take note of each incredibly important, story-changing event so that when I talk about it later on, or have my characters address it, I’ll know what I’m talking about without having to go searching for what happened (since I probably am writing this chapter a little too long after the other ones).
5. The Chapter Recap: Take Notes
One thing I’ve started doing as of late is keeping a little bullet point section at the end of a chapter, similar to the review section after a chapter in a text book to really give me an overview of what just happened while it’s fresh in my mind. So, I have an easy list to look back on when it’s no longer fresh and I’m scrambling for the next move for my characters to make. Chapter recapping can really change the game, and it can certainly boost progress because every time you come back to your story, you’ll have your “beginning of an episode recap moment” where you know exactly what just happened, and you can start working on what comes next.
I do hope that these plot hole fixes helped you somewhat and I wish you good luck in whatever it is you’re currently working on.
Thank you for reading!
(I do not own the photo above)