Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Falling Into Plot Holes


Plot holes.

It's what I'm encountering the most right now during the planning process of The Victor's Blade, and let me tell you, they are a killer. For me as the writer and you as the reader.

Sure, parodies like YouTube channels How It Should Have Ended and CinemaSins get a laugh (and a viewership) out of logical missteps that a story takes, but is there much besides a flat-out bad ending that more roughly rips you out of a storyline? I mean, in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, why DID the Gotham police force send about 99% of their guys underground at once? Or why DIDN'T Lucius put an emergency override on that nuclear reactor?

How It Should Have Ended would say it's "because he's Batman."

Plot holes tear apart the whole "suspension of disbelief" because, usually, they just mean nobody in your story is using common sense. There's no better way to remind us that "Hey, this is a story. A fictional construct of my mind!" than if the characters are running around doing things "just because" that's how it needs to work for the story to play out.

And nobody likes that. We like our stories to make sense. But I think most people also like being lost in a story. Plot holes ruin that.

But plot holes are also a bear to fix. A big, angry mama grizzly bear, to be exact.

I want The Victor's Blade to make sense. So it follows cause and effect quite carefully. For example, I realized that, realistically, if Maddokar the Dark kept hunting down and killing Jaranin's ancestors, not only would they move frequently to try to avoid pursuit, but they'd also take every precaution they could to not being found: namely, changing their last name. Repeatedly. So I had to (actually, still have to) come up with a list of last names they've used over the centuries. And Jaranin couldn't start the tale out going by his real last name of THORANAN. That's like wearing a giant sign that says, "Come kill me now, please!"

But I also have other items in my story I have pre-planned: certain events to raise suspense or drama or develop characters. Aaaaand sometimes they conflict with other ideas. Or sometimes there's just no reason for things being that way. Like, why is Jaranin's hometown so isolated from the rest of the world? Well, I want it to be that way so he grows up in a naive state about the outside world... But what isolates Sinoa in the first place? Mountains? Is it an island? Perilous magical forest populated by killer unicorns?

Oh, but the real doozy is when you discover a plot hole that literally sinks your entire story. Like how there's no way a bookworm turned swashbuckler could manage to sneak past an entire army single-handed in order to get the big bad alone for a duel to the death. Or why the big bad wouldn't just summon said army into the room if the bookworm even got that far.

Ughhhhh.

Plot holes.

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What're your thoughts on plot holes? Do they wreck a movie for you, or do you not usually notice them until someone else points them out? What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) plot holes?

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

From Him, To Him

15 comments:

  1. I'm so exited you're writing this blog. A favor...can you please give me the pronunciations of the characters' names? Sometimes I go through an entire book waffling on how to say the names. I know...a bit goofy, but I'm gonna play the "I've known you over 22 years and used to babysit you" card.��

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  2. Haha! Sure thing! I'll include it in today's post. :) Thanks for the feedback!

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  3. Some plot holes can ruin stories for me depending on the size of them and some really bad ones can add to any unintended fridge horror to something.

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    1. Generally, as soon as I start to make jokes at your story, you've lost me as your audience. And a fault in logic thanks to a very obvious plot hole is one of the quickest ways to lose me.

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    2. Good point. I do make some jokes even if I like something to make sure I don't take myself too seriously and if the moment calls for it. I'm the same way and I've deducted points from stuff because of that reason. At the same time, I wonder how there are some movies, shows, and books that have noticeable multiple plot holes, but they get a free pass. I never understood that.

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    3. I've found myself wondering the same thing. I have a hypothesis that this boils down to one of three scenarios: 1) the audience just doesn't care about plot holes, 2) the audience notices the plot holes but overall cares more about the story than they do the plot holes, or 3) the audience was just having too much fun in your story to even notice the plot holes.

      I know I've certainly found myself experiencing 2 and 3. There have been plenty of times when I've enjoyed a story and only after the fact did someone highlight a plot hole I didn't even notice.

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    4. Those are some good points. I can't pin down an exact answer. I may have noticed 3 the most or 2 if people are in denial or make up excuses. Haha! When I'm affected by 2, I will bring up some or all the plot holes when I review stuff I like. I also think that somehow the plot holes become more obvious if one has a bias or agenda against something they don't like. There have been times where I didn't even realize a plot hole until I re-watch something or if someone brings it up.

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    5. I agree! Especially about biases affecting your perception of the plot hole--either a negative bias making them stand out more or a positive one allowing you to miss them altogether. It's so interesting. Someday I'd love to do a post on how biases affect our likes or dislikes, but I know that'd be a tough one to research, so it's going to have to wait a bit longer!

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    6. I certainly believe biases can make plot holes more noticeable or not. There have been times where I've mentioned plot holes, and some people make up reasons that make no sense or have no context with a story which frustrates me. I also hate the excuse "...but it's a good movie." to just handwave plot holes and flaws away.

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    7. Tsk tsk. Never okay to just handwave plot holes. ;) I try to be fair even in my personal rants in private to point out the good and bad. I think it's important for me to remind myself that good movies can have bad elements or that bad films can have good parts to them.

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    8. THANK YOU! Even with the stuff I like, I call out plot holes. My Iridium Eye format forces me to mention both the good and the bad of what I watch. I remember reading a Cracked article years ago about plot holes that happened to critically acclaimed movies. #1 was Citizen Kane which is considered to be the best movie ever. The iconic scene of the main character Kane saying "Rosebud" as his last word is mentioned. How is it that people knew he said that, let alone knowing what Rosebud was if no one was in the room or within earshot of him saying that in his dying breath? No one can ever answer that which really ruins a major plot point, let it's still shown in film history classes to this day. Why is nobody else mentioning it? Don't even get me started on other plot holes like Glinda not telling Dorothy that she could've left at any time (leading to the "Glinda is the REAL villain" theory) or the infamous Nala incest implication.

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    9. Though I can understand why film classes still have students watch Citizen Kane, it would be nice to at least point out such a plot hole. Maybe it could even lead into discussions about how important (or not!) plot holes are and how they may (or may not!) affect the quality of a film! It'd certainly be an interesting debate.

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  4. Of course. I'm not going to deny Citizen Kane's influence on film, but that plot hole ruins a HUGE part of the ending in hindsight when people are trying to find out what Rosebud was. I know it's not the main thing the movie focuses on, but it's certainly a pivotal one. Besides, that movie like other "acclaimed works part of the academic canon" films is overrated despite some legitimately good things about it.

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    1. Wow! Shots fired! That means a lot coming from a media guy like yourself!

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    2. Hahahaha! Don't get me wrong, it's far from a bad movie. I'll take that over Birth of a Nation all day and any day, but I hate how Citizen Kane is treated like God's gift to cinema.

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