3 Gigantic Screenplay Plot Holes: How To Find Them & Destroy Them
Plot holes. Who needs them am I right?
I think it’s important to note that I recently found a big plot hole in my latest script and felt awful about it. Until I persevered and got rid of that ugly void for good! If I know anything about plot holes and… I think I do… It’s this: Plot holes are going to happen. Do NOT fear them. Learn from them. Every one you find is a victory. Your readers will thank you.
1. LOGIC LEAPS & MISSING INFORMATION
That single word is essentially every screenwriter’s worst nightmare when it comes to reader reactions. Logic leaps reek of lazy screenwriting technique. You may have missed a particular plot hole and that’s okay but don’t glaze over a plot point because you can’t be bothered to explain it. There’s nothing more frustrating than crucial missing information in a screenplay. A screenplay is your chance for readers to experience the story that’s in your mind. You’re cheating if details remain in your brain and not on the page. Quit it.
I suppose the one loop hole is the concept of intriguing unanswered questions. (Example: The Joker’s Scars) You may be attempting to create a similar mysterious effect but it can be costly if it’s not done right. If you’re having trouble spotting logic leaps in your screenplay try reading it with ‘new’ eyes. Imagine yourself reading the script for the first time and try to keep track of all the information. Analyze every moment. In the end, if you know your characters & your story, the holes will appear. Then… You must crush them.
The Fix: It’s okay to write yourself into a hole. Writing screenplays is supposed to challenge you after all. Placing a couple sticks over the hole won’t help. Readers will fall through regardless. Passion, dedication & creativity will lead you to the answers.
Your Screenplay Should Make… Sense.
2. TIMELINE TANGENTS & STRUCTURE STABILITY
Structuring your screenplay is tough enough so don’t get caught taking short cuts. Risks are okay but not short cuts.
Moving scenes around and breaking up your narrative is an easy way for important story information to get lost. You never want a reader to wonder if he/she missed something. Remember, every scene must move the story forward. Leave the fast forward button alone.
Outlines = Plot Hole Kryptonite
When it comes to your timeline, make sure that dates and times work. (Watch time travel movies for good and bad examples of this.) If you have to create a timeline to keep track then do so. Track your story. Every date, age & time informs your characters motivations and decisions. Your timeline and structure should be sound. It’s crucial to allow your characters to exist in a believable world.
3. CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS
Every decision a character makes should reflect who they are and not what the story demands. Every time a character makes an ‘out of character’ decision, a reader loses interest and may even vomit. Don’t take the easy way out. If a character needs to make a particular decision, it’s up to you to explain to us why he/she made the choice. This is especially true if you are writing a character that changes sides mid way through your screenplay. What SHOULD be a clever twist can quickly become tangled if motivations and subtle hints aren’t clearly built into the script.
The Fix: Develop your characters and get to know them. Let them inform the story not the other way around.
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