Plot Hole – Fix it or Cork it? – Candi Wall

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?


Shout out!

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?

12 Responses to Plot Hole – Fix it or Cork it? – Candi Wall

  1. My agent put it very succinctly. Corking it will lead to 1 star reviews. Who wants that?


  2. Jenn, it doesn’t surprise me to hear that Jessica said that!

    Thanks for coming by!
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


  3. Kristen says:

    I open the first bottle of wine when I notice the hole, because obviously I’m going to cork it.
    I open the second bottle when the cork doesn’t quite fit and spiral into despair.
    After the third bottle of wine I’m in full Mr. Fix-it Mode.”Ah what the hell. It’s only a couple hundred pages…”


  4. Kristen!

    I’ve decided your way is my new way!

    And a couple bottles of wine would make the hours of revisions go by much easier.

    Glad to hear so many of us agree on the fix!
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


  5. jbrayweber says:

    LOL. I like Kristen’s attitude. A little wine (or a lot)will fix anything! HA!

    Honestly, with the way I write, I fix as I go. Each chapter is like a foundation to the next. I have to make sure it is sound and stable before I move on. This is one of the reasons I write so slowly.

    Great post, Candi!



  6. Jenn! Right?!?

    Kristen’s got the right idea!

    It boggles my mind that you don’t map out your plots in detail. They’re SO twisty-turny! Okay, I’m carting a mama dog and her eight pups to the shelter, so that explains the twisty-turny oddness above. Lol. They’re so cute!
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


  7. Hey Candi-
    Hopefully the plot point can be filled with the cork, but if it’s a pivotal point something’s gotta give and it’s usually you. If you are truly an aspiring author, you have to be willing to rip it apart to make it the best it can be!
    I’m a total pantster and got away without any major holes in my first story. My second already has a big question and I’m only on page 40 or so. It’s going to take more research on post traumatic stress syndrome before I can iron out the problems. Wish me luck!!
    Thanks for the post.


  8. So true, Stacey!

    But I’ve seen authors ‘cork’ a hole the easy way and it’s so sad. Sometimes, a great story dies because the author isn’t willing to put in the work.

    Best of luck with the research.
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


  9. June Faver says:

    Very good post, Candi. I have a completed novel with a plot hole, and after wrestling with the issues you brought up, I tossed it aside. Now, I will go back and try to make a decision about the plot fix.


  10. Good for you, June!

    Sometimes a novel just needs some time under the bed before it will behave and play nice. Lol.

    Wish you luck on tackling that fix!
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


  11. Don’t Cork it. Craft it! The more impossible the dead end we paint for ourselves, the more unlikely (impossible) the reader will anticipate the clever twist, turn, or climatic redirection we’ll craft. With your creative knack, Candi, I’m sure you thought of at least a dozen possibilities when you felt yourself dropped into that author’s hole.


  12. HA! John, you and the other Musetrackers know better. My creativity might have giv en me fodder for six different stories but it’s quite stingy in the gettin-myself-outta-a-hole arena!

    That’s why my CP’s are invaluable. They know how to kick my butt into gear, and do it well!
    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone


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