June 08, 2011

Plot Holes and Story-killing Trolls



For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on what I’d hoped was the final edit of “Enchantment.” I was doing a quick skim this morning when I realized that I’d created a huge plot hole when I allowed “truth spells” to exist in Channie’s world.
This might have been okay if lying and deception weren’t so important to the plot. It wasn’t as hard to fix as I thought it’d be, but now I can’t help but wonder what else I’ve missed. This is the fourth draft of this story. It’s been beta-ed and edited several times by multiple people and OMG why didn’t anyone catch it? 
I have a theory … 
Before a novel is published, story-killing trolls cast invisibility spells over plot holes, hiding them from the most astute beta readers and professional editors -- but after publication not only do these same evil little creatures uncover the holes, they shine spot lights on them. I can guarantee that if I’d published “Enchantment” as is … the first person to purchase it would have found the truth spell plot hole immediately and left me a nasty (well deserved) review.
To be fair, my editor, Carol, actually did catch the truth spell plot hole, but since she doesn’t usually read (or enjoy) fantasy, she assumed it was just a problem with the genre and didn’t mention it. “If the characters can use magic, why don’t they use it to solve all their problems?” Good question. And one as a writer I need to address constantly. 
It’s not all that hard to create a world with magic and characters with paranormal abilities but it’s damn hard to limit those abilities and magical properties in a way that makes sense and allows conflicts to endure through the length of an entire novel.
Story-killing trolls haven’t singled me out. I’m not the only afflicted writer. The ones most often targeted seem to be writers of post-second-season television series. I loved the first few seasons of “Heros” but I was about ready to throw the remote through the TV by the time it was cancelled. “Vampire Diaries” is starting to piss me off too. And don’t even get me started with “Secret Life of the American Teenager.” I mean, come on … does everyone get pregnant the first time they have sex? 
Question … What books, TV shows and movies have you found with story-killing plot holes? What were they and how would you solve them, or are they unsolvable problems? (It’s easy to write yourself and your characters into a corner with no way out).

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