What are Plot Holes and How to Avoid Them

Filed in Writing Tips by on August 5, 2021 0 Comments

Plot holes can typically go undetected. To start identifying plot holes within your work, you have to know what you’re looking for. The different types o...

Plot holes can creep up in any book genre, and typically go undetected for a while. To start identifying plot holes within your work, you have to know what you’re looking for. There are a few different types of plot holes:

  1. Continuity errors
  2. Something takes place that is impossible
  3. Storylines are unresolved at the end of the book
  4. Contradictions are embedded in the writing
  5. An illogical event takes place

Now, that we know what plot holes are, we need to know how to avoid them. The most helpful way to avoid plot holes is to revise your work with strong attention paid to the storyline and characters. Read your story as a future reader will. Question everything you come across as you read and leave notes for yourself to go back and revise.

Here are 7 other ideas to help you eliminate plot holes:

1. Keep detailed notes about your characters and locations.

These types of notes help you avoid continuity errors. Something as simple as accidentally changing the hair color of one of your characters can confuse readers, so continuity in your story is important.

2. Maintain revision notes for each pass you do.

With each pass of revisions, you’re likely going to make tweaks that may affect future chapters in your book. To avoid big plot holes later, keep detailed notes during each revision cycle that detail exactly what you changed and in which chapter the change occurred. This is an extremely helpful index.

3. Question the logic of your plot as you self-edit.

One of the best ways to check your plot is to question it as you go. Ask yourself “Does this make sense?” “Would my character do that?” “Am I moving the story too fast?” By asking yourself questions as you go, you are able to confirm that your writing choices are on point or if you have areas that need extra work.

4. Be objective about your writing.

We all guard and protect our writing, and that’s a good thing. When it comes to making your writing better, however, you have to look at your work through a critical lens to ensure it is high-quality work that others will want to read.

5. Make a list of your subplots.

Your subplots are another aspect of your writing that needs to be tracked. If you make a small tweak to a subplot in chapter four but don’t connect the dots to the subplot in chapter eight, you’ll accidentally create a plot hole that you may not notice.

6. Use beta readers to help you identify what you can’t see.

Find readers you can test your manuscript with and ask for their honest feedback. These first-time readers will be able to spot any plot holes in your writing that leaves them guessing. These marked locations by beta readers will need extra attention from you during your revision process.

7. Hire an editor.

The final step in ensuring you’ve worked out all of your plot holes is to work with a developmental editor. This level of editing is the only type that will heavily focus on the big picture of your manuscript and identify areas where you have more work to do.


Need an editor? Learn more about our editing services.


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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett is the Content Manager for Xulon Press. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade and her passion is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands. You can also find her writing on XulonPress.Substack.com.

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