Story Element

Story Element #9

How to Avoid Plot Holes

Knowing what the Point of View character learns in the scene will help you form the character arc and make plot choices. It will also help you avoid plot holes and avoid confusing your reader. A plot hole is an inconsistency in the narrative or character development of a story.

Thus video teaches you how to keep track of what the point of view character know and ensure you don’t create a plot hole.

Next Story Element: Characters in Motion

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Video Transcript


Hi JoEllen, welcome back. We’re covering the 38 elements of fiction writing and we’ve been digging deep into all the character elements that help us build very solid, strong, interesting, and captivating characters.

So again, as we go into this.  Last week, we covered the seen impact and how that’s moving with the point of view of the character and the multiple different points of view. As we do that, this one we want to talk about is our point of view with the knowledge gain. So I’m going to let you take us into this thought.


Okay. Terrific. So hopefully everybody’s following along and not feeling too overwhelmed. I’m sure by now both an editor and a writer can see an organized process is extremely important for doing this properly, that a full revision and story edit takes a lot of work and a lot of brain power.

So we’re, we’re going to continue giving you specific actions that you can take each week as you’re working on a story. So as JoEllen said, this week is Point of View Knowledge Gained. So let me just talk a little bit about what that means.

It’s basically your point of view character. As they’re going through this story, you need to keep track of what they know in the story. And I don’t mean little details, but I mean, key revelations, key backstory, clues, red herrings, anything related to driving the story forward as you go through.

And it’s important because you want to make sure that they’re not acting on something they don’t know yet. And it’s easy when you’re revising to move scenes around to mistakenly go oops. They don’t actually know this little piece of information yet.

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Plot Holes and Character Arc


So we’re keeping track of this to make sure that there’s no plot holes in your story. Right?




So this, this is going into the character arc where we’ve been talking about, right?


Yeah. It’s not so much the character arc because that’s more about their personality. It’s really about keeping track of what the character knows throughout the story so that they are acting on things they actually know. And it’s very easy when you’re writing a story that something happens off scene. Well then the character can’t know it. They have to be in the scene where it actually happened.

So if you’re writing multiple points of view and you know, I always think maybe a specific example helps. So let’s say two characters are rummaging around in an attic. And they find a letter from their grandmother that reveals that their father is not really their father, it’s somebody else.

Right. So that’s a big moment. And the only those two characters can know about this. So if there’s a third character who has a point of view scene and they’re acting on that information, well, that’s not fair because they haven’t actually been told about it. They weren’t part of that scene. So either they’re part of that scene, or one of those  characters has to let them know, or they find the letter in a different way, but they can’t act on something that they can’t actually know about in the story.

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What are the Best Revision Techniques


Right. Right. So as a writer, how are we going to put this into use? How can we evaluate this right now?


So this comes back to what I said at the very beginning about being really organized when you do your revisions and revise with purpose. So when you read your scenes, you just keep a note of what that point of view character knows. And so for each point of view, character, you’re going to have a little tag that says character A knows about the letter. And then you’ll know when in the story they knew about that letter. So if you move scenes around and you bump one scene earlier, and they know about the letter, well, they can’t know, because that scene didn’t happen until five scenes later. So it comes back to being organized and actually listing the key things.

And I mean, key things don’t try and list too much because you can’t keep track of it. Just the biggies that are truly related to the plot and are driving the story forward.

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How POV Knowledge Relates to Story Elements


Excellent. Excellent. And is there anything that an editor can give advice in this that would be helpful to them beyond the keeping notes? How can they help a writer through the editing process with this?


This is a really good point because quite often it’s the editor who sees it, that the writer gets too lost in their story. And maybe they haven’t gone through the process of actually writing these things down because it takes work and it takes time.

The editor is keeping track of key revelations as they go through the story. And we’re going to talk about that story element a little later. They’re keeping track of backstory and they’re keeping track of flashbacks. And so all of that together goes into what the point of view character knows, and the editor is going to catch it and say, Hey character A doesn’t know about that letter. So they can’t mention it. They can’t act on it. And the editor’s job is to pull those things out. And often when you read a book for the first time, it’s much easier to see than it is for a writer to see themselves.

How do you get Readers to Trust you?


That is fantastic. It’s very important though, again, to make sure it’s all organized so that we know exactly what is being shared and what’s relevant so that, you know, you got to keep it true and real for your readers because the moment you lose validity, you’ve lost your audience. And that’s a shame. So it is an important element not to be overlooked.


Yep. And you know, you just made a really, really important point. The reader is trusting you with hours of their time. And so you don’t want to let them down by them finding a big plot hole and they’ve already invested two hours and now they put your book down and they’re annoyed. So it’s super important. What you just said.


Exactly. Exactly. Well, let’s not annoy our readers. Let’s get them involved. Let’s make sure we’re covering all this. That is why we’re covering the 38 Story Elements of fiction writing. And we hope that this helps you become a better writer and a better editor out there.

And we look forward to talking to you again next week as we end our character section here, and we’ll be talking about all of our characters emotion again, Kristina, thank you for joining me. Okay. Terrific. We’ll see you next time.

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