What counts as a Plot hole

#1
I'm currently writing my story and I have discovered a few things I don't want to mention right off the bat for suspense and well it's literally for later. However, it brings up the question of is a plot hole that I need to plugin somehow. I haven't gotten to it yet in my actual fiction that I've posted but it's coming up rather soon.

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#2
From my understanding, a plot hole is an event or piece of information that goes against what has already been pre-established in the story, or is something that can't be soundly explained or reasoned. For the most part, a key factor in it seems to be consistency. 

For example, let's say your story claimed that there was a sword that was unbreakable by any metric (force, magic, durability, etc.) and then several dozen chapters on, it gets broken. Firstly, whatever broke it would need to be portrayed to be fairly powerful in context, otherwise, the plot hole that it can't be broken becomes glaring, and then, later on, or even immediately after, the reason it was broken needs to be addressed. If only one or neither of these are followed, then it becomes a plot hole.

Another case could be that you state that a secret organisation of knights reveal themselves to the world after an indeterminate amount of time in hiding. If you don't have any reasoning as to why they suddenly revealed themselves, it's a plot hole. If you do, then it's not.

TL;DR To avoid having plot holes, events or information must be consistent with what has already been established in the story. If not, it must have believable and sound reasoning. For the most part, a plot hole can be prevented by presenting the why of the subject in question.

Sorry for the rant.

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#3

R. Wrote: From my understanding, a plot hole is an event or piece of information that goes against what has already been pre-established in the story, or is something that can't be soundly explained or reasoned. For the most part, a key factor in it seems to be consistency. 

For example, let's say your story claimed that there was a sword that was unbreakable by any metric (force, magic, durability, etc.) and then several dozen chapters on, it gets broken. Firstly, whatever broke it would need to be portrayed to be fairly powerful in context, otherwise, the plot hole that it can't be broken becomes glaring, and then, later on, or even immediately after, the reason it was broken needs to be addressed. If only one or neither of these are followed, then it becomes a plot hole.

Another case could be that you state that a secret organisation of knights reveal themselves to the world after an indeterminate amount of time in hiding. If you don't have any reasoning as to why they suddenly revealed themselves, it's a plot hole. If you do, then it's not.

TL;DR To avoid having plot holes, events or information must be consistent with what has already been established in the story. If not, it must have believable and sound reasoning. For the most part, a plot hole can be prevented by presenting the why of the subject in question.

Sorry for the rant.
Oh and for the original part of your post where you mentioned that you were going to leave the explaining of the plot hole until later, that should be fine. It's not a plot hole unless it's addressed. If it is addressed, it then becomes a plotline.

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#5
Example: main character is a water mage in hiding. There's a drought. A close friend is in desperate need of water after being ostracized by the rest of the village.

If MC commiserates with friend but does nothing to help, and the friend dies, readers will be going '???! But MC is a water mage! Why didn't they do anything?' That's not suspense; that's frustration, and will be called a plot hole. After all, there are any number of ways water mages of various types could save a single close friend during a drought. It doesn't matter if your magic system only works on water with a sufficiently high sodium content, that there was nothing they possibly could have done to help, in the moment it'll create dissonance and it doesn't matter if you slap a 'oh, but they were actually helpless' on later.

But if it's been established that MC can only do magic with seawater, and they still go out to the dry well and try their best to stretch the limits of ability, straining and sobbing while the friend quietly wastes away in a fever or whatever happens when you die of dehydration, then it's not a plot hole, it's a plot point.

Most 'plot holes' could be explained in a few sentences if you have the characters address it, attempt to do something and fail, etc. Sometimes it's something that genuinely shouldn't have happened, and the writer just didn't think of it at the right time. In those cases, retroactively patching the hole is sometimes trickier.

Really, it depends on the specifics. If someone should have been able to do something and doesn't even consider it, is that a plot hole? Or is it a character making a mistake? Well, that depends on whether they eventually do think of it, or someone else in the story points it out, and how they deal with that. If no one ever thinks about or mentions it again, it's probably a plot hole the author forgot about.


Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#6
Plot holes are contradictions in your universe.  A common one is a side character who in one chapter is described in one city, and then latter on described in a different city, at the same time.  Another common one is characters traveling (often on foot) distances that isn't physically possible.

Most books on here have big plot holes around food.  How does the character get enough food to eat.  We don't think about it normally, (food is  common and cheap for readers), but in the midevil type universe most books here are set in food took most of the waking hours and land, and there couldn't be vast wildernesses around cities as that is where food was grown.

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#7
Key Wrote: I'm currently writing my story and I have discovered a few things I don't want to mention right off the bat for suspense and well it's literally for later. However, it brings up the question of is a plot hole that I need to plugin somehow. I haven't gotten to it yet in my actual fiction that I've posted but it's coming up rather soon.
More specifics would have been nice. I'll largely echo everyone else though with the caveat that the perception of a plot hole is more important than whether or not there actually is a hole.

R. Wrote: For example, let's say your story claimed that there was a sword that was unbreakable by any metric (force, magic, durability, etc.) and then several dozen chapters on, it gets broken. Firstly, whatever broke it would need to be portrayed to be fairly powerful in context, otherwise, the plot hole that it can't be broken becomes glaring, and then, later on, or even immediately after, the reason it was broken needs to be addressed. If only one or neither of these are followed, then it becomes a plot hole.
A good example would be where the sword is only ever talked about as being unbreakable and then, when it's used, it breaks.  On the other hand, if we see it used twice beforehand to break very hard objects, and then on the third use it breaks, then it's harder to reconcile. 

hank Wrote: Most books on here have big plot holes around food.  How does the character get enough food to eat.  We don't think about it normally, (food is  common and cheap for readers), but in the medieval type universe most books here are set in food took most of the waking hours and land, and there couldn't be vast wildernesses around cities as that is where food was grown.
I tend to think a lot about food production, which is probably weirder than I expected. Like do we eat monsters that get killed? If so, then do I even need livestock? How many acres of farmland do I need in order to grow grains, fruits and vegetables? Can I use magic to boost productivity per acre? 

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#9

luda305 Wrote: I'll largely echo everyone else though with the caveat that the perception of a plot hole is more important than whether or not there actually is a hole


This is actually the more important point. I'm not clear the question of OP, but I think this will apply to that. I've experienced this myself. I write something that contradicts something in the story - now, it is supposed to be a foreshadowing of a wild twist that will be revealed in the future, however, many readers can take that as plot holes in your writing. This becomes a problem to webnovels serialized release because a reader may come upon what was supposed to be a clue but they took it as a plot hole and could lead to them dropping the story. If it was a completed book, the reader will just continue and have their minds blown when the reveal comes, not so with a scheduled chapter release. 



Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#10
The most obvious ones to me are when a problem has a simple/trivial solution that the character's don't think off, and they go ahead with some vastly more complicated solution the author envisioned. It breaks immersion when a "Why didn't they just do X???" isn't answered. Like if a character has teleportation powers then "Why didn't they just teleport into the castle?" can be a plot hole, if they instead spent three weeks digging an elaborate tunnel beneath it. (And it's never stated why teleporting in there wouldn't be possible)

Re: What counts as a Plot hole

#11

Ararara Wrote: The most obvious ones to me are when a problem has a simple/trivial solution that the character's don't think off, and they go ahead with some vastly more complicated solution the author envisioned. It breaks immersion when a "Why didn't they just do X???" isn't answered. Like if a character has teleportation powers then "Why didn't they just teleport into the castle?" can be a plot hole, if they instead spent three weeks digging an elaborate tunnel beneath it. (And it's never stated why teleporting in there wouldn't be possible)
Agree on this point, but as a writer, i think it's better to view it as an aspect of worldbuilding. Every unnatural power that you give your fantasy character has to be considered for allowing them to accomplish something otherwise not possible. That is, what is the total phase space for how that power can affect the world. Teleportation is one of those examples where it can lead to really unintuitive results. A really good twist on this are those fantasy stories where the protagonist has a single flexible and narrow power used in increasingly creative ways.