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Thread: Plot Holes

  1. #1
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Plot Holes

    While I can appreciate a good book, I'm more of a manga reader (not the sexually explicit stuff which is sometimes involved but the good story telling science fiction), and I've been following this manga for several years now. With roughly 1 chapter (which is generally 18 - 20 comic book pages) a week, this story has gotten rather long. Chapter 566 came out just last week. One of the issues that this manga is now starting to face is plot holes. The story has become so long that it's difficult to throw in well explained plot twists without something from the past contradicting it. I'm not sure if any of you here have ever written a long series, but have you ever had a lot of trouble with plot holes? If so, what do you do to overcome them?



  2. #2
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Well, there are plot holes and there are plot contradictions (and then there are just plain bad plots, but that's fodder for another thread).

    You get plot holes when something is unexplained, or where something occurs that doesn't have any basis in the previous portions of the story. Think of a character that somehow manages to get out of a tight spot, without the author actually describing how it happened. ("Whew," said John McMacho, "that was a close one.") Or an object or device that conveniently shows up when needed, without first establishing at least a plausible reason for its existence. ("Good thing that skeleton key was hidden inside that randomly selected book on the shelf.") In some cases, of course, these sorts of occurrences are deliberate, in order to convey a sense of wonder or mystery. These are fine as long as the explanation happens somewhere along the way, but it's easy to get too cute with this sort of thing.

    Plot contradictions, to me, are the result of sloppy writing, where the author has stated something in direct conflict with earlier passages. I've run into this myself on occasion, where I changed my mind about some point as I was writing, and either forgot to go back and make everything consistent, or simply forgot that I mentioned it in the first place. In my latest novel, Simulated Assault (quick plug here ;-), I decided to remove one of the major subplots after I finished the initial drafts of the story, and I had to sweep through several times to catch all of the places where the story was affected by the change. Even then, I nearly missed a few spots just before I submitted the supposedly final draft. Even before then, I apparently couldn't decide on how many murder victims there were, since the number switched between six and seven within the same chapter. How do you stop this? Careful editing, attention to detail (check back, and then check again), and, if there's one available, a trusted soul with a good pair of eyes.

    Your manga example, to some extent, strikes me as more of a lack of imagination than anything else. Certainly, it can be challenging to make the new chapters consistent with the old, especially if the writers change over time, but some poor soul who's familiar with the entire arc from start to finish should be able to catch the errors. The length of the previous works should not matter with respect to keeping the story exciting, with enough imagination. There are always opportunities to add new characters, new locations and new events to keep the audience engaged. I'm slightly concerned about my own story arc as I ponder where I go in the next installment, not so much that I'm concerned about plot holes or contradictions, but because what I've written to date forms the foundation of what happens next. Had I realized that I would end up where I am, I might have made some different choices earlier on. (I don't like "Westfield" as the name of my main city, for example.)

    To sum it all up: everything you mention should have a purpose, and everything that has a purpose should be mentioned. Make sure that names, places and dates are consistent throughout the tale. Make sure that motivations and sequences make sense. If you ever get a "Huh?" reaction reading through the story, there's something wrong.

  3. #3
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Some great points. The writer for this manga is actually the creator, and has written and drawn out all 566 chapters. Pretty impressive, and his imagination goes beyond many, but there have been times when you can tell he's really stretching the explanations of new twists in the story to make it somewhat fit with what has already happened in the story. As I said before, after that long of a story, I would imagine that it gets very difficult to keep from forming any holes or contradictions at all.

    This is why I like to plan everything out well in advance. The less time I spend fixing errors the better.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    I've tried to plot things out beforehand, as a guide to myself as the story unfolds, but I find my narrative usually takes on a life of its own before the first chapter is done. Going back to read my original story outlines is like reading a description of completely different book. I just don't work that way. I know where I want to end up, I'm just never completely sure how I'm going to get there.

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    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    I find myself doing the same thing sometimes. You have to be able to allow some extra creativity. It's hard to get a full scope of a story just with an original outline. Once you get so far in and situations are happening, characters are growing, it's hard not to think twice and expand on what's there.

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    If I find that I can't cover something with the past, I will create a scene in the 'future' to justify its existence. In the skeleton key example - I will let the hero use the key first then have him meet with the person who had left the key there (or find a diary). This will usually create a new story arc for me because then the key will become the focus of a mystery or a curse.

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    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Man it's good to be back. Was in the bed for a week.

    Quote Originally Posted by gmowe View Post
    If I find that I can't cover something with the past, I will create a scene in the 'future' to justify its existence. In the skeleton key example - I will let the hero use the key first then have him meet with the person who had left the key there (or find a diary). This will usually create a new story arc for me because then the key will become the focus of a mystery or a curse.
    Do you ever find that you have trouble making use of that scene later?

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    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Welcome back, sorry you were feeling under the weather.

    I discovered, in the course of making some last-minute punctuation fixes for my ABNA entry, that I'd made some unfortunate continuity hiccups of my own between the first and second novels in the series. I had a minor character named Chris in the first book who I'd completely forgotten about, and that's the name of one of the main characters in the second book. (D'oh!) I've also apparently changed the name of some of the key technology supporting the sims (holo projectors vs. holo cameras). They're not something most people would notice or care about, but now it's going to bother me forever (or at least until I go back and update the novels to version 1.1).

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    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilfindel View Post
    Welcome back, sorry you were feeling under the weather.

    I discovered, in the course of making some last-minute punctuation fixes for my ABNA entry, that I'd made some unfortunate continuity hiccups of my own between the first and second novels in the series. I had a minor character named Chris in the first book who I'd completely forgotten about, and that's the name of one of the main characters in the second book. (D'oh!) I've also apparently changed the name of some of the key technology supporting the sims (holo projectors vs. holo cameras). They're not something most people would notice or care about, but now it's going to bother me forever (or at least until I go back and update the novels to version 1.1).
    Thank you, glad to be back. Turns out livers are fairly important.

    I'll be honest, I'm kinda surprised you could forget an entire character. Either you have a ton of characters in the story, or you only mentioned this poor Chris fellow once in a tiny part.

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    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    lol, he only appeared on one page and was never heard from again. In the eventual rewrite, he'll become "Aaron", for no particular reason other than the fact that I definitely haven't used that name elsewhere.

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