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Blogs / For Writers / How To Avoid Plot Holes – Setting (Part III)

How To Avoid Plot Holes – Setting (Part III)

Setting in a story must elicit an emotional reaction and must not cause plot holes.

Let’s look at how to make the most of your settings and avoid plot holes.

Causes of Plot Holes (Articles I to IV)
  1. Scenes are not connected to one another or to the story (read here)
  2. A character arc is not closed off (read here)
  3. Scene locations and settings are inconsistent (Today’s post)
  4. The timing from one scene to the next doesn’t work (read here)

Plot Hole Problem 3: Scene Locations and Settings are Inconsistent

Think of your setting not just as a location of a scene but as a way to add depth to your story. Your readers should know where the characters are, what they feel (using the senses), and when things are happening.

Settings can cause a plot hole by confusing the reader with inconsistent locations, empty stages, or timing issues.

An inconsistent location can happen if a reader doesn’t understand where the characters are or doesn’t understand the transition from one location to the next.

An empty stage occurs when a reader can’t visualize the setting. A scene that doesn’t contain objects or senses will appear flat to a reader. Picture two actors on a stage without props. The sensual experience will be lacking.

Timing issues can also cause a plot hole by confusing a reader. If we know in one scene it takes 30 minutes for a character to drive from home to the office, but in another scene, they only take a few minutes, we have a plot hole.

Fictionary Example

In Fictionary, use the Setting Elements per Scene report to make sure you’ve been consistent with your locations throughout the novel. If you’ve moved locations from one scene to the next, check the reader will understand this.

You can see below, that my story changes location in Scene 3. I’ll go back to the Evaluate page in Fictionary and re-read scene 3 and make sure the change in location is clear to the reader (is the scene setting anchored?), and does it make sense to use that location at this time in the story.

Note that you can use the above report to help solve plot hole problems caused by timing, too.


Empty Stage

Problem: Your readers can’t visualize your settings and are not moved emotionally by them.

Are you using senses and objects to fill the stage? You’ll know quickly if your stage is empty, and an empty stage means unengaged readers by looking at the objects and senses in the Setting Elements per Scene report on the Visualize page.

Confusing Timelines or Missing Objects

Problem 1: Your readers are lost in time or complaining they can’t keep track of time.

Problem 2: You’re not sure where key objects appear in your novel.

You can keep track of the time in which a scene takes place. You can also see which scenes important objects appear in. If you want, you can even add a row that shows which characters are in the scene, too. Then it’s clear who knows about the objects and when they know about them.

Setting in a story

If you’d like to listen to an in-depth discussion on story editing, check out Story Edit Like A Pro.


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StoryTeller is creative editing software for fiction writers. Transform your story, not just your words. Successful stories depend on your ability to edit, improve, and revise your work. Only when you master story editing, can you master storytelling.

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