We all know that feeling. You're part way through your draft, or even maybe into your edit, when you realise something horrible, awful, terrible. You have no explanation for why the evil baddy is determined to exterminate your character from the face of the earth or die trying. Of course your whole plot hinges on the fact that he wants to, so you can't change that, but you need a reason, and a good one.
If you can't come up with something, no matter how hard you try, where do you go next? These are my four suggestions for ways to climb back up out of that plot hole.
1. Talk to a friend – Either a writing friend, or a reader. My first stop is usually my sister, who's a big reader, followed by a few online writer friends. Sometimes, they give me a great suggestion, other times, just talking about the problem helps me come up with my own solution.
2. Stream of Consciousness – This is something I rarely do, but when stuck in a plot hole, sometimes you have to give anything a try! I write down my problem, and ‘talk' out problems as I write, something like this:
What if my main character picked on his sister when they were kids? No, that won't make my character likeable! How about if the baddy thinks the character picked on him, when in reality, the character meant something completely different? That might work. But how can he make that sort of mistake?
And so on. You get the picture. This one has helped me out of a couple of more complex plot holes.
3. Research – if your plot hole concerns a technical, science, or medical issue, do some research. You might just find that there's a solution out there already. I did this when I realised that Marlee's canning seals would never have lasted 20 years, and found out there is already a product that does!
4. Take a break – If all else fails, take a break from the problem, go for a walk, listen to some music, or catch up on some of that housework that's been being put off for months. (No, I don't do that here, I'm just… guessing… yes…) You might find that the solution comes to you when you least expect it. Usually when you don't have a spare hand, or a piece of paper, to write it down! Be prepared!
Have you ever tripped into what seems like an inescapable plot hole? What do you do to climb your way out again?
Thanks for the suggestions. I find the that taking a break does help.
Yes, sometimes you just get too close, and can’t make the leap to something different that you need to do to find a solution.
Funny, #4 happened to me today while taking a shower at the gym and nothing to write the ideas down on, ugg! Luckily, I ran home and got them down on paper.
Yes! Happened to me while driving too. Luckily the one line of dialogue I wanted to remember came at the end of the trip, and I managed to write it down before I forgot! Glad you got yours down too.