Are you afraid of the following: You’ve spent a lot of time crafting a wonderful story, but when you read it over, you find something that doesn’t agree with something else — a plothole.
I’m pretty sure it happens to every writer at some point. It’s certainly happened to me. The question isn’t weather writers are going to find plotholes in our work, but what we’re going to do when we stand on the edge of one.
There’s no sure way to avoid or prevent plotholes. You can outline, try to be meticulous in your writing, but people can and do make mistakes. Besides, what if you’re a Pantser like me and find that you need to just write in order to be able to tell a story? No. Don’t run. Don’t give up on writing fiction. Even the plotholes don’t want that!
What would happen if every chef in the world gave up cooking because they were afraid of burning their fingers? No more Chicken Cordon Bleu, coq au vin, or coconut rice. No restaurants would serve Caesar salad, spring rolls, or sushi. What a sad place that would be! The same is true of writers. If we ran at the thought of a plothole, then Stephen King couldn’t keep us awake all night, Tolkien wouldn’t have inspired generations of fantasy writers, and J. K. Rowling wouldn’t have told magical tales of wizards and muggles (well, okay, muggles aren’t magical, but you know what I mean!) That’d be terrible, but luckily for their Readers, they didn’t let the fear of plotholes rule them, and we shouldn’t either.
A plothole is nothing more than a problem with a plot. Like potholes, they’re not nice and they need to be fixed, but they can be fixed, so let’s fix them!
How to fix them depends on your story, but in general, they go away when you revise. Change one thing to match the other, and the problem disappears. Back up, call the concrete company, and fill ‘er in. Smooth the top until it’s invisible in the road that is your story. Nobody will ever know or even suspect that it was once there. It takes time and effort to fix them, but they can be vanquished, just as the chef who burns their fingers plunges them into cold water for a bit of damage control, your pen (or keyboard) does the same thing for your story. Unlike burning yourself, plotholes don’t hurt anything except possibly our pride, but that will respond to what doctors call tincture of time.
So what are you gonna do when you spot a big ol’ plothole? That’s right. Fix it!