Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rabbit holes

Well, really, plot holes.

I was watching a rerun of "Castle" last Monday (boy do I ever covet that man's office) and I got to thinking: They never resolved one issue in the case they dealt with.

My knee-jerk reaction to this: "It must have gotten left on the editing room floor." Happens a lot in movies and television.

But sometimes it happens in best-sellers. *coughtwilightcough*

So that's when you need a really good reviewer/crit buddy.

The plot hole in Castle goes like this: The case they were working on involved a woman on the lam for years following a bombing on an oil tanker that she was involved in. Said woman turns up dead in the opening scene of the episode. Eventually we come to learn that one of the accomplices, the only one ever found because the third was killed in the blast, was turned in to the FBI by a female caller. The cops that Castle shadows assume it to be the woman whose murder they're investigating.

Then they discover that the woman presumed dead in the original explosion wasn't so dead after all.

And then the plot hole hits. They never resolve whether it was the woman who was murdered in the beginning of the episode or the woman who was presumed dead but turned out to be the killer was the one who turned in the other accomplice.

So, how does this relate to writing a novel or to crit buddies? Well, we need them so little threads like this don't end up on the editing room floor. Readers aren't stupid and they will pick up on the little plot holes and things we leave dangling. If we're writing a series, they'll forgive us the occasional dangle because they'll assume it will get wrapped up before the series ends.

But if we're writing standalone works and there won't be any crossover beyond characters from book to book then we have to make sure we plug the rabbit holes and don't cause our readers to fall through and disbelieve anything we've written because of one little thing.


  1. Maybe it's a running theme? Actually I do notice that in books. Unless it's a series I wonder why the author wasted my time.

  2. Whoa. I know of a plot hole in Twilight. One of the characters named Victoria was said to have red hair, yet in the third book in the Twilight Series, Bella says it was orange. Odd???

  3. First, I love Castle. Love it. Second, you're totally right. My crit buddies ask me questions and I'm like, Uh, um, well, I don't know. And then I know I have to go back and fill the holes. :)

  4. I feel like that last kid picked for the team in regards to Castle. But it's made for at least one interesting night a week this summer because not having watched it during its regular season means every re-run is new! It's a fantastic show.

    As for the plot holes, I'm sure there are gonna be tons of them in mine when all is said and done.

    The first time through writing this book I hit a chapter and I wrote in the beginning that the character had lost her father to a "bone disease" i.e. leukemia or something but then later in the chapter her dad dies basically in front of her.

    Oops! That was a plot hole I caught myself. And I corrected. But they do slip by you sometimes.

    As for continuity issues, that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

  5. Never seen Castle, but you are so right. Critting partners are great for helping spot those gaping plot holes!

  6. I'd recommend Castle. Sometimes you want to hate the man, but you just can't cause he's so magnetic.

  7. Thank God you said that about Twilight. You are now officially my favorite blogger. You're awesome. :)

  8. I don't watch tv so I haven't seen the show. I hope I'll see those holes in my plots when I revise though..

  9. Here's a bigger Twilight plot hole for you, Stef: In book 4 the Voltari tell everyone that the Quileutes aren't true "children of the moon" rather they're just simple shapeshifters. Never explains this, never hinted at it or foreshadowed it, etc. Hello, plot hole!

    SF, your life is probably a lot freer of distractions than someone's who watches tv. And it's all we can do sometimes, is hope that we catch them. If not, we have to hope an editor will (be it a beta reader or one actually getting paid to read our work).

  10. It drives me crazy when I read (or see) one of these.

    I know I'm guilty of them as well. I've smacked myself in the head too many times to count when I reread early chapters.

  11. At least we can catch ours before publication. There's not much we can do about the ones in tv or other stuff we read.


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