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The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time Excerpt from The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time

by Joseph Bates

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plotholes_excerpt

Checking for Plot Holes
By Joseph Bates,
Author of The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time


There's a famous story that illustrates how even masterful storytellers can end up with glaring holes in their plots. It concerns Raymond Chandler's classic detective novel The Big Sleep in which the killing of a chauffeur helps launch a series of complex mysteries involving drugs, pornography, blackmail, and murder that Chandler's hero, Phillip Marlowe, must solve. When the novel was later made into an equally classic film starring Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe -- with a screenplay by William Faulkner -- the crew realized during production that there was one last question to resolve: Who killed the chauffeur? As the story goes, director Howard Hawks first called Faulkner wanting to know, who had no idea, so Hawks wired Chandler, the source, and asked him who killed the chauffeur. Chandler's response, as he later recalled, was to-the-point: "Dammit, I didn't know either."

To make sure your plot is as solid as it can be -- before some legendary film director discovers a plot hole while trying to adapt your work -- consider the following questions and see that you have them answered in your novel.


Sometimes we get so caught up in the momentum of our story, in the fun of telling it, that we forget to properly account for, explain, or excise inconsistencies along the way; even Raymond Chandler can let a dead chauffeur slip past him. But the smallest plot hole might still be big enough for your reader to fall straight through, so be mindful that your plot be as solid as it can be. And if there's anything in the story you can't reconcile, you may want to consider what the offending element is doing there in the first place.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time by Joseph Bates. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Joseph Bates, author of The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time.