Narrative Development - Avoiding Plot Holes
February 16th, 2022
by Christopher Wehner
(Republished May, 2016 Article)
When your story ends the unfolding of the narrative needs to have been logical. It doesn't always have to be evident at the time of the character taking action, but once the narrative is resolved the audience needs to experience that "Ah ha" moment. The narrative should be logical at its conclusion.
One of the things you can do as a writer is to always ask yourself, "What is the motivation" for my character to take action? Make sure the driving force is logical and doesn't use a Deus Ex Machina (The Hand of God) action. Meaning it you are asking your audience to take a leap of faith, it better be grounded in something tangible and self-evident by story's conclusion.
If you have to use some kind of contrived (or illogical) intervention, than you have a problem in your narrative thrust. For example, one of the biggest narrative plot holes of recent memory occurs in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. Perhaps the most important development in the story is when they need to get Khan's super blood so they can save Kirk. This sends Spock into action that really resolves the narrative and brings the movie to its conclusion. However, why did they need Khan's blood only? They literally had dozens of Khan's frozen kin on board in the torpedo tubes, remember? Seems reasonable they would have the same super blood that Khan had.
That hole derailed the story for me and left me puzzled about how no one seems to have questioned that narrative development in the story? Also, sometimes it's a good idea to use the Backward Design approach with your story. Meaning, write with the conclusion in mind and build the narrative plot points backward from there so they are always logical in their outcomes.
This is especially useful when you're dealing with a complex story with numerous plot twists. Often times these action beats take place and raise questions that need to be answered. Make sure you answer them logically and without a contrived development. It's a fine line between showing (or giving away) too much and not showing enough. Happy writing.