If you are like me, then nothing spoils your day quite like bouncing into a whacking great plot hole as you contentedly follow your carefully mapped route towards the conclusion of your story.
At this point I feel I should point out that I am exploiting the fact that “plot holes” and “potholes” sound very similar here. Not that I am doubting your ability to figure this out for yourselves, but I do feel that, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out my several previous convictions for tenuous comparisons and lame puns.
Anyway, I had this very experience recently and found myself metaphorically sitting dazed in the road wondering how I could have missed a hole that big looming ahead of me (at this point it would be helpful to visualise the author sitting on the ground with cartoon birds twittering around his head whilst a lone buckled bicycle wheel rolls erratically away into the distance). But, as is so often the case, this mishap led on to better things.
I can’t really tell you exactly what the problem was without giving away a crucial part of the story of Lyskerrys, but that in itself should give you an indication of just how big the hole was.
I was pretty annoyed at first, but in my defence, I am writing a fantasy novel, so a good number of the things I am writing about have no precedent in actual reality, so I should probably not be too surprised when things like this crop up, but as it happened, the solution to the plot hole created another story line that has become one of my favourite threads of whole the novel.
Not only does the new thread read really well (and I don’t tend to say things like that about my own writing lightly, but I believe you should write what you love, and if you don’t love it then a) it isn’t really good enough and b) why should anyone else love it?), but it has added a really interesting twist to the story that would never have happened without the plot hole.
So, next time you hit a plot hole, try to see it as a good thing. It actually is a good thing, because if you didn’t find it you can bet your life that someone else would, possibly after all the printing and publication and promotional stuff, but also because the solution may well lead your story on to even better things, and that’s something we all want, right?
If you feel like sharing your own experiences with unexpected plot holes in the comments, please feel free, I’d love to hear them.