How To Avoid Plot Holes (Part I) and Improve Your Fiction

A plot hole will make your readers unhappy. So how do you avoid falling into a hole? How do you even know there is a hole? Don’t be like my dog (Farley) and bound through the snow, not knowing what’s beneath.

Photo by Kristina Stanley

​Scenes and the order that events take place in your story make up the plot. The scenes occur in a sequence, and that sequence forms the structure of your novel.

You’ll most likely have a main plot and one or two subplots. Your protagonist (main character) follows the main plot. Secondary characters follow the subplots.

Your job as a writer is to evaluate how you’ve written the plot (and subplots) and to edit and rewrite until you’ve created a compelling story for your readers.

If you make each scene great, have each scene flow from one to the next in a way that makes sense to the reader, and pay attention to the key elements of fiction for each scene, you’ll avoid plot holes.

Causes of Plot Holes:

  1. Scenes are not connected to one another or to the story
  2. A character arc is not closed off
  3. Scene locations are inconsistent
  4. The timing from one scene to the next doesn’t work.

​Today, I’ll focus on the first cause of plot holes.

Plot Hole Problem 1: Scenes Not Connected To One Another

When a scene causes a plot hole by not being connected to the story, this usually means the scene doesn’t have a purpose. If you don’t know the purpose of each scene in your novel neither will your reader.

Naming the scene will help you determine what the scene is about.

The purpose of the scene. must relate to the overall story. If it’s not driving the story forward, ask yourself why you included the scene in your novel.

​If you don’t know the answer or can’t come up with a purpose, consider deleting the scene. You can move any important tidbits to another scene if you need to.

Once you know the purpose of each scene, test how the flow of your novel is working. If your scenes don’t flow from one to another, then the plot doesn’t make sense to a reader. This is considered a plot hole, as the reader might fall into a hole and not read any further.

Keep track of how you enter and exit each scene.

For entering each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you enter each scene in your draft?
  • Have a hook that draws the reader into the scene?
  • Anchor the reader in terms of point of view, setting, and timing?

For exiting each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you end each scene?
  • Have a hook that makes the reader want to start the next scene?
  • Use a technique that connects the current scene to the following scene?

We’ll cover entry and exit hooks in the next lesson.

Fictionary Example

The illustration below shows you how Fictionary leads a writer through the process of evaluating plot and looking for plot holes.

Let’s take a look at my work in progress, Evolution. We’ll cover some of the plot elements in the basic mode of Fictionary and start with the scene opening.

Scene Name: I’ve named the scene Daisy Through Ice. This is enough for me to know what the scene is about. The word cloud helped me name the scene.

Story Arc: The story arc is set to yes because this scene is the inciting incident and will be plotted on the Story Arc under Visualize Your Manuscript in Fictionary.

Purpose of Scene: For each scene in your novel, Fictionary gives you two lists to choose a purpose from or you can add your own. This list shows you I’ve chosen the Inciting Incident.

If the Story Arc is set to “No” you’ll see a different list.

Opening Type: This scene opens with action. The first sentence is the character opening the refrigerator door. I’ll keep track of opening types throughout Evolution to ensure I’m not repetitive.

Below, you can read the closing of the scene.

Closing Type: You can see the last line of the scene is thought. “All I had to do was roll over and slide in.” Fictionary will show me a report for the closing type of every scene. I’ll know if I’m using enough variety for my scene endings.

​Let me know if you have other causes of plot holes and how you fix them.


Fictionary is the first online tool for editing your story, not just your words. Think characters, plot, and settings. Find out more at Fictionary.co.

How Fictionary Works

A writer imports a manuscript in MS Word .docx format. Fictionaryautomatically creates a character list, links characters to scenes, plots word count per scene, and draws a story arc.

The writer enters data regarding each scene, evaluates and edits the manuscript based the reports, and then exports the updated manuscript. The reports are dependent on the writer’s input and are created specifically for each manuscript. There are rewrite tips associated with each key element of fiction if you get stuck and need guidance.

Fictionary is designed for the serious author who wants to produce a high-quality manuscript.

Download our free eBook, Story Editing: 15 Key Elements of Fiction To Ensure Your Story Works and learn how story editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story.

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

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