Plugging a Plot Hole

Plugging a plot holeWriting across a series, rearranging the jigsaw pieces often reveals some missing; that means plugging a plot hole. Or several.

Revising an early draft of Book One uncovered a hole in the main character’s arc, a vital piece of back story. In this case, an incident to be shown in full, not just told in a passing reference. It was obvious a traumatic event from the main character’s childhood needed to appear as a mid-point crisis. Not as an incidental flashback buried in Book Two. The scene existed, so I moved it into Book One.

Given the character has Second Sight and a tricky relationship with past and future memories, it’s a convenient device to throw in the occasional dramatic flashback. And this is probably the darkest point in the book because the main character is a child. It’s not a scene I like. It wasn’t easy to write. It is necessary and character-forming on multiple levels.

Problem solved: Problem moved.

Coming back to revise the draft of Book Two, the hole left by that scene uncovered a different issue. Structurally the book has a scene missing, that’s problem number one. It’s not a plot hole so much as a missing obligatory scene: meet the villain. We’ve met him earlier in the book, he’s clearly the villain. He catches up with the MC later and for the final battle. But there’s no face-to-face confrontation, nothing to explain why the protagonist and antagonist hate each other as vehemently as they do. Problem number two.

To that point, the relationship of the two characters was outlined in passing. Our villain turned up occasionally, but he was as flat as a cardboard cutout. What if there was an incident in the past that allowed our villain to spit his self-righteous malice in the main character’s face? And where does that lead her in turn?

Assembling the pieces already in the backstory, the new scene almost wrote itself. In a dark confrontation, the principle villain suddenly comes centre-stage, with nothing the main character can do except try to survive it. A dark place that deepens the existing plot. Again, it’s a necessary character revelation.

Lessons Learned

At this point in the writing journey, what’s more important? A vital scene and a huge chunk of character arc went missing in the original plotting, not once but twice. That’s a novice error right there. With some solid writing craft plugging a plot hole, all’s well that ends well. Maybe not for the main character. Her troubles continue.