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  • Writer's pictureMegan DiMaria

Why plot holes are a big deal

I love to get caught up in the fictional dream, and one of the worst things that can happen is a gaping plot hole. It doesn't matter if it's a book, a movie, a TV program, or even a commercial—if I feel that there's a hole in the plot, I'm done.

Plot holes are a big deal—they jerk the reader from the fictional dream.

According to Wikipedia, a plot hole is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story's plot. Such inconsistencies include such things as illogical or impossible events, and statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.

If I stop the action of a scene to question the logic, and then find that logic lacking, I've fallen through the plot hole and the piece of fiction has failed. At least it's failed me. I'm out of the fictional dream and disappointed for the experience.

I remember a conversation once about the plot hole in The Shawshank Redemption. Remember how Andy dug that hole from his cell to freedom? The warden found the hole by throwing a stone at the movie poster that hid the tunnel. BUT, how did Andy tape the poster back in place from inside the tunnel? Plot hole!

Recently I've seen a Lowe's TV commercial that has two particularly annoying plot holes. It's one of "The Moment" commercials. This one is The Moment you Realize you are Not the Most Original Gift Giver.

Plot hole number one is when the woman, who I assume is the wife, is wrapping a Christmas present. The gift is a pair of pajamas. She holds the PJ top up, and it's not at all packaged. Come on, we all know that the garment would be perfectly folded and held together with pins or clips or in a plastic bag. Three seconds in, and they've lost me. The credibility of the commercial has fallen apart.

Plot hole number two comes from my assumption that the woman is the guy's wife. In a subsequent scene, the family is sitting around the Christmas tree opening presents. There's mom, dad, and the kids. So here's the plot hole: in the first scene she's wrapping the PJs that are an exact match to what the man is wearing. If they're married, wouldn't she know what PJs he owns? Wouldn't she have seen him sleeping next to her in the same PJs?

Writers, don't allow plot holes to slip through the editing process. Most readers won't overlook it. They're deal breakers and ruin the unwritten contract between the writer and the reader. If I read a novel with a plot hole, I'm unlikely to pick up another book by that author.

What's your reaction to a plot hole?


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