How To Avoid Plot Holes (Part I)

A plot hole will make your readers unhappy. So how do you avoid falling into a hole? How do you even know there is a hole? Don’t be like my dog (Farley) and bound through the snow, not knowing what’s beneath.

​Scenes and the order that events take place in your story make up the plot. The scenes occur in a sequence, and that sequence forms the structure of your novel.

You’ll most likely have a main plot and one or two subplots. Your protagonist (main character) follows the main plot. Secondary characters follow the subplots.

Your job as a writer is to evaluate how you’ve written the plot (and subplots) and to edit and rewrite until you’ve created a compelling story for your readers.

If you make each scene great, have each scene flow from one to the next in a way that makes sense to the reader, and pay attention to the key elements of fiction for each scene, you’ll avoid plot holes.

Causes of Plot Holes:

  1. Scenes are not connected to one another or to the story
  2. A character arc is not closed off
  3. Scene locations are inconsistent
  4. The timing from one scene to the next doesn’t work.

​Today, I’ll focus on the first cause of plot holes.

Plot Hole Problem 1: Scenes Not Connected To One Another

When a scene causes a plot hole by not being connected to the story, this usually means the scene doesn’t have a purpose. If you don’t know the purpose of each scene in your novel neither will your reader.

Naming the scene will help you determine what the scene is about.

The purpose of the scene. must relate to the overall story. If it’s not driving the story forward, ask yourself why you included the scene in your novel.

​If you don’t know the answer or can’t come up with a purpose, consider deleting the scene. You can move any important tidbits to another scene if you need to.

Once you know the purpose of each scene, test how the flow of your novel is working. If your scenes don’t flow from one to another, then the plot doesn’t make sense to a reader. This is considered a plot hole, as the reader might fall into a hole and not read any further.

Keep track of how you enter and exit each scene.

For entering each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you enter each scene in your draft?
  • Have a hook that draws the reader into the scene?
  • Anchor the reader in terms of point of view, setting, and timing?

For exiting each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you end each scene?
  • Have a hook that makes the reader want to start the next scene?
  • Use a technique that connects the current scene to the following scene?

We’ll cover entry and exit hooks in the next lesson.

Fictionary Example

The illustration below shows you how Fictionary leads a writer through the process of evaluating plot and looking for plot holes.

Let’s take a look at my work in progress, Evolution. We’ll cover some of the plot elements in the basic mode of Fictionary and start with the scene opening.

Scene Name: I’ve named the scene Daisy Through Ice. This is enough for me to know what the scene is about. The word cloud helped me name the scene.

Story Arc: The story arc is set to yes because this scene is the inciting incident and will be plotted on the Story Arc under Visualize Your Manuscript in Fictionary.

Purpose of Scene: For each scene in your novel, Fictionary gives you two lists to choose a purpose from or you can add your own. This list shows you I’ve chosen the Inciting Incident.

If the Story Arc is set to “No” you’ll see a different list.

Opening Type: This scene opens with action. The first sentence is the character opening the refrigerator door. I’ll keep track of opening types throughout Evolution to ensure I’m not repetitive.

Below, you can read the closing of the scene.

Closing Type: You can see the last line of the scene is thought. “All I had to do was roll over and slide in.” Fictionary will show me a report for the closing type of every scene. I’ll know if I’m using enough variety for my scene endings.

​Let me know if you have other causes of plot holes and how you fix them.

Fictionary is the first online tool for editing your story, not just your words. Think characters, plot, and settings. Find out more at

How Fictionary Works

A writer imports a manuscript in MS Word .docx format. Fictionaryautomatically creates a character list, links characters to scenes, plots word count per scene, and draws a story arc.

The writer enters data regarding each scene, evaluates and edits the manuscript based the reports, and then exports the updated manuscript. The reports are dependent on the writer’s input and are created specifically for each manuscript. There are rewrite tips associated with each key element of fiction if you get stuck and need guidance.

Fictionary is designed for the serious author who wants to produce a high-quality manuscript.

Download our free eBook, Story Editing: 15 Key Elements of Fiction To Ensure Your Story Works and learn how story editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story.

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

Try Fictionary for free. The first 10 days are on us. No credit card required.

Starting a New Business is Like Writing a First Draft.

Hard work and research will help you create the best possible novel for your readers. If you’re an author and an entrepreneur, you know this is true. Part of starting a business is ensuring we’re building an app that solves a problem writers have, and to do that we need to expand our knowledge of how writers rewrite their first draft.

Today, we are  doing our research and knowledge gathering, and we have a few questions about your rewriting process. If you’re already familiar with what the Feedback app will do, you can jump straight to our short survey.

What does the Feedback app do?


With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Once you import your manuscript, Feedback automatically captures information such as word count, number of scenes per chapter, character names, and chapter and scene breaks, using this information to create the first set of reports. Any updates to your manuscript will still need to be completed in the writing app you used to create your first draft.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Thanks for taking the time to read about Feedback. We’d love your input. You can find out short survey here.

Thank you!

Feedback For Fiction | Starting Your Rewrite With A Focus On Plot

Find out where to start your rewrite by focusing on plot first.

You’ve finished your first draft, and you’re about to embark on rewriting that draft, turning it into a novel readers will love. Now is the time to focus on story and structure. Word choice, style,…

Source: Feedback For Fiction | Starting Your Rewrite With A Focus On Plot

FEEDBACK: A New App To Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog and my series called Write Better Fiction, you know I’ve been seriously engaged in creating an automated method to guide me through the rewriting step of the writing process.

I’ve co-founded Feedback Innovations Inc. along with Mathew Stanley and Michael Conn, and together we’re building an app called Feedback-Rewrite Better Fiction.


Feedback helps fiction writers turn a first draft into a great story by providing a new, automated approach to rewriting fiction.

With Feedback, writers can quickly evaluate their own work and complete a comprehensive, structural rewrite.


Creating Feedback began when I (Kristina) finished the first draft of my first novel. By then I’d read over 50 how-to-write and how-to-self-edit books. I’d taken writing courses and workshops, and had 100s of writing and rewriting tips swirling about in my head.

I knew I had to begin the rewriting process and improve the quality of my draft before sharing my work but I didn’t know how to go about it..


How was I supposed to remember the torrent of advice and apply it to each scene? A spreadsheet, that’s how!

I created a spreadsheet with a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene structure. Then I listed the different writing advice I needed to consider for EVERY scene. I ended up with over 75 “key elements of fiction”. I used the reports from the spreadsheet to visualize my novel.


After the hard work of self-evaluating and rewriting my drafts, the high quality of my fiction was validated when my first two novels were shortlisted for prestigious crime writing awards and I landed my publisher (Imajin Books).

My first editor said: “If every manuscript was this good, my job would be so easy!”

The next exciting moment came when DESCENT, my first novel, hit #1 on Amazon’s hot new releases. I’ve since sold the German rights to Luzifer-Verlag for publication in Germany. Imajin Books also published BLAZE and AVALANCHE.


Along came Michael with MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON and THE RIGHT TURN, and we ran the same spreadsheet on his novels. By this time we’d covered the mystery, horror, and young adult genres.

Surely we weren’t the first authors to struggle with rewriting our first drafts, so we searched for an app to address our problem but found nothing. We did discover that many writers struggled with rewriting drafts and ended up using tools such as spreadsheets, whiteboards, or yellow stickies.


That’s when it hit us. We thought other writers could benefit from our immediate approach to evaluating and rewriting first drafts.

The excitement was too much for Mathew to sit by and watch, so he decided to get involved. He knows technology and how to run a business.


Michael, Mathew, and I worked on the concept and developed the prototype for Feedback

Now, we’d love to hear from you, understand your rewriting issues, and incorporate your ideas into Feedback.

Our goal is to launch Feedback in the spring of 2017. In order to create an app that is truly useful to writers, we’d like your input on building Feedback. By signing up to our newsletter, we’ll send you updates on the development progress and ask you the occasional question to help define the product. As a bonus, we’ll send you rewriting tips available only to our subscribers.

Show your support by helping us spread the word and share this post.

Your support means a lot to us, so thank you!

Write Better Fiction: Point of View Character Goal

Feedback iconToday on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover the Goal of your Point of View Character. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor. Check the bottom of this post for links to previous Write Better Fiction articles.

Last week I wrote about naming a scene. This week I’ll cover the goal of the point of view character. Each scene will have a point of view character, and we discussed this in #1 question to ask yourself about plot. ADD LINK

The point of view (POV) character must have a goal. Without a goal, what’s the point?

There are two types of goals:

Internal: The reader isn’t told what the POV goal is.

External: The reader clearly understands what the POV goal is.

Each POV character should have an overall novel goal. The most important goals should belong to your protagonist and antagonist. Of course, these goals should oppose each other.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.28.11 PMThe overall goal drives the character throughout the novel. In DESCENT, Kalin Thompson’s external goal is to find out who killed an Olympic-caliber skier. She has an internal goal that drives her through the first three novels in The Stone Mountain Mystery series, which I can’t share or it would ruin the mystery, but it’s there and influences how I write.

Finding a murderer is Kalin’s main goal throughout DESCENT. She also has goals within each scene where she holds the point of view. In the opening scene her external goal is to go skiing. Her internal goal is to be good at her job. Both goals will be tested very early in the story.

The reader doesn’t know about the internal goal, but it helped me create a focus and drive for Kalin in the next few chapters.

Other characters might have a goal in the scene. In fact, they should and it should be in conflict with the POV goal. This is a different column in the spreadsheet that we’ll talk about later.

Your challenge this week is to review each scene in your novel and determine what are the internal and external goals of each POV character. This will also focus you on the who has POV and give you another opportunity to check you’re consistent with the POV and that you’re not head hopping (unless it’s intentional). Please let me know in the comments if this helped you write better fiction.

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Previous blog posts on Write Better Fiction:

Please me know in the comments below how you deal with the goal of your POV characters? Did you have difficulty defining a clear scene goal?

Thanks for reading…

Write Better Fiction: Scene Naming

Feedback iconToday on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover NAMING A SCENE. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel so you’re ready to submit it to an editor. Check the bottom of this post for links to previous Write Better Fiction articles.

Last week I wrote about the action in a scene. Maybe it seems odd I chose to fill out the action before naming the scene, but I have a strategy for this.

Did you find it hard to describe a scene in three sentences or less? Well, naming a scene is harder, but it help you hone the scene.

Scene NamesNow I’m going to ask you to use one word to name the scene. If you must, you can use two. I confess this sometimes happens to me.

Some writers list scenes with numbers only and that’s fine. For me, the exercise of naming the scene makes me narrow down what the scene is about. Since I already have the scene action defined in one to three sentences, the scene name might already exist somewhere in those words.

The Scene Name column is connected to the Purpose of a Scene column, and will help you discover what the scene is really about. The purpose of the scene is another place to look for hints on what to name your scene. At this point you may want to re-evaluate the purpose of the scene in case you’ve changed your mind based on the scene action and naming the scene.

The names of the scenes might give you insight into the theme of your novel.

Your challenge this week is to name each scene in your novel. Then let me know if this helped you focus your scenes.

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Previous blog posts on Write Better Fiction:

Please me know in the comments below how you name your scene? Is it important for you to have a scene name?

Thanks for reading…

Write Better Fiction: Scene ACTION

Welcome the 2016 kickoff of Write Better Fiction. It’s the start of a new year, maybe you wrote your manuscript during November, took a break for the holidays and are ready to get to work.

But what to do? How about self-critiquing your manuscript?

If you missed the first three blogs in this series, you might want to check them out before reading this one.

Feedback icon

I need a systematic method for critiquing my novels, and I’ve used this method for all my novels. To prove to you it works, here is what Todd Barselow, senior editor at Imajin Books, said about DESCENT.

“My life would be so much easier if all the manuscripts that crossed my desk were as clean as yours.”

Now that I have your attention, today I’ll explain how to use the ACTION column.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.06.20 PM

I keep this entry short. Use only one to three sentences to describe what happens in the scene. If you can’t describe the action in three sentences, maybe too much is happening in the scene, and it could be broken into two or three scenes. A scene with too much happening might confuse or exhaust the reader.

Once you’ve written the action for every scene in your novel, review the entire column and look for repetitions. Repetitions, unless written for a purpose, can be boring to the reader.

For example, your protagonist is hit by a car. In three different scenes you fill in the action, having your protagonist tell another character about the incident. Do you really need to have this happen three times? Could you summarize if the other character needs to know this information?

The action column helps me write a synopsis. After I’ve completed this for the manuscript I cut the column, save it to a word document and start writing a synopsis. It’s only a beginning, but it gives me a framework. And we all know how hard it is to write a synopsis.

Your challenge this week is to articulate the action for each scene in your novel. Please me know in the comments below how you evaluate the action? Do you have a question you ask yourself about action?

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Thanks for reading…