Plot can be a problem for many an author, including myself.
When I first started writing, I thought there should be no plot holes and that stories should make sense. It’s why we have editors and beta readers. However, once I got into the thick of writing, I realized that some plot holes and wonky details are necessary.
There’s an art to plot. You can’t explain every detail. Not only is it tedious for the reader, it’s also easy to write oneself into a corner. Added to that, most supernatural stories wouldn’t make sense without a few questionable details and purposeful blanks.
For example, I’ve been watching The Originals, which has a huge wonky detail. It’s about a group of creatures obsessed with taking over the French Quarter. Before I started writing my own novels, I would have gotten frustrated with everyone’s refusal to move somewhere else, and would have stopped watching. IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO MOVE! PEOPLE DO IT ALL THE TIME.
As a writer, I know some things have to be written in like loyalty to location. If not, why would there be a show? Everyone would have moved on, been happy, and we’d all be watching families eating dinner and smiling. Not the most entertaining. So instead, the creatures of the night cling to history and bloodlines as a reason to die, repeatedly, as opposed to taking over Paris or New York like any sensible creature would do.
The deliberate plot holes are one of the hardest things to decide. What details matter and which ones don’t. I haven’t perfected it myself. But, whenever I add a detail, I think to myself: Is this necessary? What does it add to the story? How confusing would the story be without it?
When I have backed myself into a corner or gotten bogged down in details, I know I have gone too far. Probably over-explained.
For instance, in The Nightmare Before Christmas, there are numerous questionable details and a plot hole or two. We do not know how Jack got back from Christmastown–how do those doors work? Jack doesn’t know what snow is, but sings about it. The kids were easily able to follow Jack’s directions to the mysterious, previously unknown holiday doors (125 trees forward, avoid the diagonal ones despite this being a forest, and 8 trees left), but could not remember which door to use. Jack manages to deliver Christmas gifts quickly enough to cause chaos despite having none of Santa’s magic. And no one thinks to look for Jack after shooting him down. Can he die? He’s a skeleton, but Halloween town was concerned over his “death.” Speaking of which, I have no idea how no one knew of the other towns, but managed to conjure an image of them when Jack was Sandy Claws. How do those doors work again?
A writer could think of ways to fill in those plot holes, but it would be a terrible story if they did. Imagine a movie where every detail was explained: it’d be three times as long and dull with no action pushing it forward. I love the movie as is.
I have a newfound appreciation for writers with questionable yet intriguing details, and outstanding plot holes.