Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

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Regan Leigh
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Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Regan Leigh » September 8th, 2010, 10:42 pm

I think I've made like three threads tonight alone. Can you tell I'm avoiding writing? ;)

So I just did a blog post that I'll paste in here, in case you all might be able to help. (Won't force you to my blog. ;))

****

Yes. I’m stuck. Like that scene in The Money Pit, you know? Where Tom Hanks gets stuck in the rug, through the hole in the floor? Yep. ”I’m right HERE!!”

Actually, my MS (one of them) can be compared to the movie. Oh, look! There is a shiny idea, beautiful characters and a lovely setting…and then you notice a crack or two. And then you worry about the foundation for that idea, those beautiful characters and lovely setting. Could it end up like this?



*You really must watch it to the end. The BEST laugh ever recorded. Ever.*

Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating. But I do have a problem. What if you love your MS, your characters and idea, but there is a hole? A plot hole that you’re stuck inside of. You can work on everything around it — pretty up the perimeter and pull out weeds — but eventually you’ll have to fill it in. Do you think it’s worth cleaning and beautifying other parts of your book when you’re not sure you’ll ever have the ability to fill that hole? Is this a common issue?

Am I making any sense?
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cheekychook
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by cheekychook » September 8th, 2010, 11:39 pm

It's hard to answer that without knowing what the hole is, how big it is, whether or not it's growing, and if you have anyone who can toss you a line.

Is it a huge hole? Something you can't cover with a small throw rug? Has anyone read your manuscript to tell you their impression of how noticeable the hole is?

If you love everything else about your story and your characters it seems like you can probably come up with a way to fill this hole...but maybe some time sprucing up the yard will help in the meantime. I'd recommend getting a new set of eyes of two for objective comments on how gaping the hole is. And I'd avoid standing near the edge of the hole for a while, lest you fall in and really get stuck. I'd also recommend excessive amounts of chocolate, because, well, chocolate is good.

BTW, starting new threads counts as writing in my opinion. As does posting. ;)
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HillaryJ
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by HillaryJ » September 9th, 2010, 12:19 am

Have you started making tiny paper airplanes out of dollar bills? If so, please send some my way.

If you're so stuck that you're not able to write anything, then crack open another WIP or something that you finished, even if you didn't think it was that great. Often, while aiming creativity or criticism at a different target, your brain will give up the goods. At least, that used to work for me. Now I have to do the dishes. My best work-throughs arrive while I'm standing at the sink. You should see my cuticles. Atrocious.
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Margo » September 9th, 2010, 12:24 am

Yeah, I've definitely had that problem. In my case, it usually means some piece of the plot is still cooking on the back burner. After much rumination (brooding, fretting, whining), I suddenly realize the plot is great but I have the wrong character as MC or the events are in the wrong order. When the pivotal piece is finished cooking, it fits into place and locks all the other pieces in a coherent order.

Maybe you're not stuck in The Money Pit. Maybe you're in one of the Bravo channel's cooking shows.
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Margo » September 9th, 2010, 12:25 am

HillaryJ wrote:Often, while aiming creativity or criticism at a different target, your brain will give up the goods.
Yes, the eureka moment when focus is directed elsewhere. True for science, many times over.
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by wonderactivist » September 9th, 2010, 1:27 am

I just wanted to agree with Margo on the back burner. With mystery issues, I'll make a chart and list ideas, but I don't force the resolution because it usually will evolve naturally over time. One technique that saved my current book was rewriting entire chapters from a different POV...or just sort of spending the day with a particular character in the back of my head.

Keep writing and that hole will just fill itself.

Love The Money Pit- thanks!

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by xouba » September 9th, 2010, 7:35 am

Regan Leigh wrote: Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating. But I do have a problem. What if you love your MS, your characters and idea, but there is a hole?
Plot holes don't exist. It's just that there are some things that you don't know about your story and your characters yet.

I'm somewhat on a middle of a plot hole now (a MC that has no real motivation to do what I want him to do), but I think that the way to solve it is to go deeper into your setting, your plot and your characters. Think more about it, and you'll find something that helps you to overcome (or get around) that hole. In my case, yesterday I "discovered" that the MC has a special profession (sort of a police inspector, but within a Ancient Roman-like army), and that untied several knots. I just have to work a bit more to untie the rest.

Of course, I'm no expert and not even remotely a writer, so my advice should be taken with cartloads of salt. But my point is: don't give up your plot even if it has holes. Working on the elements of your story, they'll make sense in the end. Give it a time limit so you don't get stuck forever, but understand that the solution is inside you and your story.

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by GabbyP » September 9th, 2010, 8:11 am

Hi,

Here's my take on plot holes: when you identify them, take care of them ASAP! Your plot is like the engine on a jumbo jet. If there's a hole in your engine, and you are lucky enough to still be on the ground (and haven't taken off yet), then you haul everyone off the jet, get the engine manual out, and fix that hole before trying to do anything. Once the engine hole is fixed, and you've tested the engine to make sure it works, then you put the passengers back on the plane and take off. There is no use focusing on handing out peanuts and free drinks and movie headsets to passengers if there's a big old hole in one of the engines. No matter how good the peanuts are, and how riveting the in-flight movie is....none of that will matter one iota if the hole in the engine causes trouble 35,000 feet in the air (over the Atlantic, during a snowstorm).

So I suggest having a look at the problem now. Maybe it isn't even a hole. Maybe it is a piece of plot that has become loose. Or was put in a little off-center. And it might just need to be realigned. Maybe it is a small hole that is easily patched. That's what writing is all about. We don't so much sit down and actually put pen to paper and create new ideas on the page 100% of the time. We are more like story engineers. We spend lots of time drawing things on paper, re-jigging scenes, tweaking characters, smoothing out the plot and consulting other stories to see what makes them tick so nicely.

When your story is complete and polished, it will look simple and beautiful, but you, the writer, will know all the hard work and re-jigging that went into engineering the thing. Your friends who do not write will not understand the difficulty of engineering a story. This is why they will read your story and say: wow, this is great. I think I'll write one too in my spare time because it looks so easy! And this is why you'll just smile and wish them the very best in their endeavors (but in your mind you'll be laughing maniacally at the thought of how 'easy' it is to write a story)

Oooh. This got a bit long-winded. Hope this info helps a bit. Best of luck!

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Down the well » September 9th, 2010, 10:08 am

I agree that working on something else for a while might free your brain up to sort out the problem. Also, I've found that getting out of my everyday rut helps trigger my brain to come up with new stuff. Go to an art museum, or a baseball game, or a live theater production. Do something that will force your brain to exercise a different set of creative muscles. You might come back to your plot problem with a new perspective.

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by dios4vida » September 9th, 2010, 11:32 am

HillaryJ wrote:Often, while aiming creativity or criticism at a different target, your brain will give up the goods. At least, that used to work for me. Now I have to do the dishes. My best work-throughs arrive while I'm standing at the sink. You should see my cuticles. Atrocious.
Washing dishes is a miracle for me, too. That and showering. I have a grease pencil in my shower so that I can jot down those brilliant ideas I get before I lose them with the warm water.
cheekychook wrote:Is it a huge hole? Something you can't cover with a small throw rug?

...but maybe some time sprucing up the yard will help in the meantime... And I'd avoid standing near the edge of the hole for a while, lest you fall in and really get stuck. I'd also recommend excessive amounts of chocolate, because, well, chocolate is good.
LOL!!! That's just perfect! I love the image of throwing a small rug over my plot holes. :)
GabbyP wrote:Your friends who do not write will not understand the difficulty of engineering a story. This is why they will read your story and say: wow, this is great. I think I'll write one too in my spare time because it looks so easy! And this is why you'll just smile and wish them the very best in their endeavors (but in your mind you'll be laughing maniacally at the thought of how 'easy' it is to write a story)
Oh, isn't that the truth?!?!


I agree with what everyone's said so far. Just keep writing and it will come. (I'm saying this hoping that it's really true, because I'm stuck in a lackluster mood with no passion for writing anymore. It's a sad, sad thing.)

So, some advice for all of us, in the words of Dory: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Regan Leigh
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Regan Leigh » September 9th, 2010, 9:18 pm

Oooh!! You guys are great! :) I have so many ideas and things to think about from here and from the comments on my blog. Wonderful stuff. I promise to try a few things and let you all know what ends up working. Cause something WILL work, right? ;) Thank you for the support and willingness to help. It means a lot. :)

*and don't be shy if you think of something else* :D
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Steppe » September 12th, 2010, 2:22 pm

Great topic and advice.
I keep track of my plot holes and view them landing as meteorites.
I drag them forward on a separate sheet-file that is the engine pulling the train down tracks.
A serious plot hole comes from a time or emotion break in the process when you get pulled away from the flow of writing.
While polishing the 3rd in a four book series I came up with the solution for all the plot holes suddenly and made a small map book by folding stiff manila
envelopes into a trimmed mini-book wide felt pen inscriptions.
There was one plot hole that I'm not sure I should fill. Two characters that detailed the workings of a crime-spy networks operations. Each had two sentence iconic descriptors and were viewed in action by a MC. So that hole where the MC watches both characters walk off a plot-cliff is open if I want those two characters to briefly reappear and walk off another cliff.

Serious deeper plot holes are very important.
They drag the story forward in remarkable ways,
forcing you to wait for a pure intuitive answer that is already suggested by the logic
of the earlier chapters. The mind never sleeps even when the body does.
Practical suggestion is to watch movies, some similar and some dis-similar and then keep a blank crib sheet device by the bed and kitchen table.

You'll find your way.
You always did before.
For me writing is similar to a video game, you just never know the exact route to the finish line of the final act, Its always a mystery.

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 12th, 2010, 4:07 pm

Great video, Regan. That happens all the time in my house. And I laugh just like that every time. BTW, is there a prize if we guess what language the subtitles are in?

You could just leave the hole open, tidy up the edges, rail it off, and call it a light-well. Or am I taking this metaphor a little too far?

Chocolate again, Cheekychook? I hear we chocoholics are getting our own listing in the new DSM-V handbook of disorders...

Otherwise, I agree with the other commenters. Action, inaction, and distraction can all refresh our view of our stories.

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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by sierramcconnell » September 12th, 2010, 8:21 pm

I had an immense plot hole.

Back when I was writing the first couple drafts of Chasing Miracles, I had NO PLAN. I just started free writing it for NaNo. So the original idea was basically just to get Thomas back to restored life. So I know all about those plot holes. I had no idea what the Key did. No idea how Carmine got his servant back to life. I had no idea how Bezaliel even got in the freakin' icehouse.

One year later? Every single hole has been filled with side quests and all sorts of mayhem.

If I can do it, starting with no plan. You can do it. Just ask questions. Put yourself in the place of your characters. Or walk away for a while.

Breathe deeply. And it will come.
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Regan Leigh
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Re: Hi, my name is Regan and I’m stuck in a plot hole.

Post by Regan Leigh » September 13th, 2010, 1:27 am

Steppe wrote: Serious deeper plot holes are very important.
They drag the story forward in remarkable ways,
forcing you to wait for a pure intuitive answer that is already suggested by the logic
of the earlier chapters.
....

You'll find your way.
You always did before.
Totally agree and I'm also hoping that I'll find my way like I have before. :)

J. T. SHEA wrote:Great video, Regan. That happens all the time in my house. And I laugh just like that every time. BTW, is there a prize if we guess what language the subtitles are in?

You could just leave the hole open, tidy up the edges, rail it off, and call it a light-well. Or am I taking this metaphor a little too far?
Oh, that would be a good contest. :D

I do wonder how much of a hole I can leave... ;)

sierramcconnell wrote:I had an immense plot hole.

Back when I was writing the first couple drafts of Chasing Miracles, I had NO PLAN. I just started free writing it for NaNo. So the original idea was basically just to get Thomas back to restored life. So I know all about those plot holes. I had no idea what the Key did. No idea how Carmine got his servant back to life. I had no idea how Bezaliel even got in the freakin' icehouse.

One year later? Every single hole has been filled with side quests and all sorts of mayhem.

If I can do it, starting with no plan. You can do it. Just ask questions. Put yourself in the place of your characters. Or walk away for a while.

Breathe deeply. And it will come.
Yeah, I write without an outline. I write VERY fast and I'm more prolific than I need to be. ;) I usually feel my way through a novel and then clean it up on round two.

****

You all are giving great advice. :) Thank you!

I do think I should clarify my struggle a little better...

My characters and plot are set. I mean, REALLY set. It's almost scary to me how they all fell into place in such a cool way. So of course I still end up with a problem, right? ;)

There is a group of people in my book -- the main characters that the plot revolves around -- who are "special". ;) Not in a vampire way. :D I won't go into details, but they do have certain enhanced abilities. One of my issues? WHY do they have those abilities? I know everything about the plot and characters, but when it comes to explaining why they even exist in the way that they do? Why their world is a certain way? Yeah, I'm empty. :D (And btw, it has a tiny bit of fantasy/paranormal, but it's mostly set in reality. Not some created world. Think more magic realism kind of feel.)

Anyway, I know on some level I don't have to explain it all. But really? NO explanation? ;) I know, I know...that's what magic realism does...


Wow. I'm too tired to explain this properly. I think I'll go to bed and try again later. :D

Thank you all for your help. It has been wonderful!
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