Whether you’re a Pantser or a Plotter, or a little of both – like me, plot holes are inevitable.
The question is, do you Fix it or Cork it?
Let’s face it, we can use ever tool, trick, chart or graph to develop an amazingly intricate and mind-boggling plot with enough subplots and turns to keep a reader spinning until the end.
Well, we can, IF we make sure all those little odds and ends are useful, substantial, and of course, tied up neatly in the end.
I was reading a really great historical romance last week, written by an author I’ve read before and liked. I won’t mention the author or the title, because this isn’t a review. I actually found the novel very well written and thought the author did a great job in all things throughout the book, except when it came to the plot.
When it came to a pivotal point in the story, a moment when I was sure the author was going to throw in a switch-a-roo plot twist that I would find outstanding, I was super excited and…then…it…just…fizzled. I actually stopped at what should have been the ‘hook’ end of the chapter and went “Huh? Wait a minute. What just happened here?”
Leaving a reader confused is fine if you have a great way to bring them around quickly and blow their mind with your brilliance, but when a reader is left scratching their head because they can’t understand why the story took the turn that it did, and you don’t give them a damn good reason, you’re in trouble. Better yet, your story is in trouble.
But – I think most of us know that. As writer’s we know what it feels like to be let down by an author. We know what it means to read through hundreds of pages and come out on the other side feeling like we were cheated. But what happens when we, as aware authors, find that plot hole?
This is when the question of Fix it or Cork it comes into play.
Do you take the easy road? Cork that hole with a quickie, author-created issue/cure for the problem? You know what I’m talking about. Change two scenes, alter the plot ever so slightly so that the hole you originally created is chock full of just enough substance to keep it from leaking?
Or do you take the rougher, OMG am I really going to have to go back and rewrite this, this, this, and holy crap even THAT portion of the novel to fix the hole I left? Do you nail, hammer, sand, and re-adjust until not a grain of sand can slip through that sucker?
Boy, oh boy, doesn’t the cork cure sound tempting?
Folks, this is where you define yourself as a writer. This is when you decide if you’re going to put your heart and soul into your writing, or if your going to give just enough to make it passable.
Yep, cork will take less time and probably fix that hole in an acceptable fashion. It’ll hold up under most pressures. But is that how you want to define yourself as an author? Is that how you would want to be treated by an author. Unfortunately, we see this more often than we would like.
As authors, self-pubbed, e-pubbed or through a small/big house, we owe every reader as close to perfection as we can offer. We owe them a story that’s refined and clean and solid. Opinions can’t be changed. If someone doesn’t like our writing, so be it, but why give them any reason to find it lacking?
Sure, the Fix it cure will cost you hours, days, weeks of work and editing, but in the end, which product would you want for your money? The quick fix, or the streamlined cure?
What’s your take on fixing plot holes, big or small, and have you read something lately, like I did, that made you think the author decided on Cork it rather than Fix it?