4 Questions to Prevent Plot Holes

How peachy would the writing life be if we didn’t have to prevent plot holes. Just imagine—you could write anything you wanted to, and every single thing would make sense. No need to worry about the fact that your two awesome scenes actually don’t make sense side by side. They get to be in the book simply because they’re awesome and fun and you had a blast writing them.

Alas, this is not the way of things. Unless you’re writing what George Eliot rather wistfully referred to as “home-made books,” with no readers to please other than yourself, you will eventually have to confront problems of logic that at times seem positively algebraic. As in the famous quote attributed to Tom Clancy:

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.

And here we thought we were writing fiction to escape reality….

Plot holes, in a nutshell, are those lapses in a story world’s logic when authors either bend their own rules or invent convenient new rules at the last minute in an attempt to explain away seeming incongruities. In a medium as complex as fiction (especially long-form fiction such as novels), it’s little wonder plot holes are relatively common (Jack dying in the Atlantic, anyone?). Sometimes stories are good enough in all other respects for audiences to forgive the lapses—even using them to spawn elaborate fan theories. Other times, plot holes are so problematic or even obviously contrived that emotionally invested audiences respond with downright anger.

At any rate, we all recognize that a master storyteller is one who is capable of telling a complex story that sustains its own logic throughout, avoiding plot holes. This challenge, perhaps more than any other difficulty of writing fiction, is why we turn to tools such as story structure and theory to help us create cohesive and resonant storyforms. But even when our story structure and character arcs are solid, we can still end up struggling with the particular logic of our own stories. This is true of stories set within—and therefore confined by–the real world, and ironically perhaps even truer of speculative stories that offer the fun of creating their own rules of reality—and the often strenuous logic of sticking to those rules.

The longer and more complex a story—especially if it branches into a series—the more difficult this can become. This is why TV shows often end up jumping the shark; if they’re to sustain the characters and story world for multiple seasons, they may have to rewrite their own rules to (try to) keep the conflict fresh and the stakes high.

The other significant difficulty of lengthy fiction (as I’m discovering in writing my first trilogy) is that when you don’t know how the story will end, or even simply if you don’t know some of the major events that will happen before the ending, you will not know how to properly set up your story’s logical parameters in the beginning. And that, right there, is the recipe for plot holes.

4 Questions to Prevent Plot Holes

Whether you find yourself at the beginning of a new story or trying to figure out why your current fictional effort seems to have gone off the rails, here are four questions you can ask to help identify, rectify, or prevent plot holes.

1. Do You Know Your Story’s Ending?

The ending is in the beginning. This is the essence of narrative fiction. Exceptions inevitably end up feeling like my five-year-old niece’s idea of a hilarious joke:

Niece: Knock-knock.

Me: Who’s there?

Niece: Banana.

Me: Banana who?

Niece: Banana… nose! [dissolves into hysterical laughter]

There is a certain joy (and realism) to the “and then!” type of episodic storytelling that throws one event after another onto the stage, but the effect eventually ends up feeling pointless and/or ludicrous (which, granted, can be the point in some types of story). My niece’s jokes are funny enough on their first outing just because she thinks they’re so amusing, but by the time she gets to the fifth one… not so much.

Storyform in general is designed to make a point—to present a cohesive picture of life that, whether explicitly or implicitly, says something meaningful.

This only works when the story’s beginning and ending are part of a whole. The beginning asks a question which the ending answers. The beginning sets up the pieces which will play out in the end. Indeed, entertainment aside, we could argue that the entire point of everything that happens in a story is to set up the pieces necessary for the Climax to play out.

In turn, this means the Climax must play out in a way honoring to everything that has come before it. If the Climax is about noses, then the chapters leading up to this end had better be about noses, mouths, and eyebrows—not bananas. Too many stories meander through their first two acts, only to do a sharp right-angle turn into a Climax that, at best, seems patched on. There is nothing more powerful for readers than the experience of a Climax that flows inevitably and sometimes inexorably from the cause-and-effect of solid setup.

When we do not know how a story may end, we too often end up writing ourselves into corners via our own story logic. For example, by the time you reach the story’s Climax, you may realize you need a character you killed off at the Midpoint. Or you may realize the story’s most resonant ending is going to be tragic rather than happy—which can be problematic if not properly foreshadowed. Or if you’re writing speculative fiction, you may realize your established story physics make it impossible for your fleet of spaceships to reach the climactic battle in time. Whoops.

Sometimes this is unavoidable. As authors, we are not omniscient, even (especially?) about our own stories. Revisions will almost always be necessary at some point in order to make sure every piece of the story works in unison. But the more we understand about how the story will end, the more likely we will be able to avoid writing ourselves into tricky corners.

2. Do You Have a Purpose for Every Character, Setting, POV, Relationship, Scene, Etc.?

No story avoids loose ends altogether. Indeed, those that do, or that try too obviously to do so, often lack verisimilitude because they feel too manufactured. It used to be the fashion to include an epilogue that spelled out the remainder of the characters’ lives, but this robs the story of a sense of continuance. At the very least, it’s often beneficial when a few minor subplots are not completely resolved, so readers get a sense of the characters living on even after the story’s ending.

However, in order to create a story that leads solidly, inevitably, and even profoundly into its Climax, every major piece within the story should be there because it contributes in some crucial way. This is true primarily in the sense that you want every piece to act as a catalyst, propelling the plot to its final end. But it is just as true on the deeper level of theme and symbol. If any particular story “piece”—whether a character, setting, POV, relationship, or scene—exists within the story without expanding upon the theme in some way, it is probably extraneous and perhaps even deadweight.

This becomes more important the more emphasis you put on any particular piece. For example, if early chapters spend a lot of time detailing your protagonist’s relationship with her mother, readers will anticipate this relationship is important to the storyIf, however, the relationship does not figure in creating the Climax or, worse, is never returned to at all, then the loose end becomes a plot hole. Readers were led to believe, even if just subconsciously, that the mother was important—and then… she wasn’t.

This, too, can be very tricky, since we sometimes follow rabbit trails in early drafts without fully understanding where they will lead. When they end up leading nowhere, they can already be so deeply woven into the fabric of early chapters that removing them creates other lapses of logic or linearity. This is why it is so valuable to see characters and other story pieces as not just individual pieces but as parts of a whole.

Ask yourself:

  • What archetypal role is this person, place, or thing playing within the overall storyform?
  • If it is a role already being filled by someone or something else, can this piece be deleted or combined?
  • Is it a necessary catalyst and/or symbol?

The tighter your understanding of your story in the beginning, the less likely you will create unnecessary “pieces” that end up going nowhere and creating plot holes.

3. What Is Your Antagonist’s Throughline?

We often forget about the antagonist. He’s a plot device—the stereotypical “bad guy” whose primary story role is to get in the protagonist’s way and create some fireworks in the final showdown. But if we don’t understand the antagonist’s motivations from the very beginning, we cannot set him up properly in the Climax. And if we can’t set up the antagonist in the Climax, it won’t matter how well we’ve set up the protagonist.

This can be particularly challenging when you’re dealing with an off-screen antagonist or with a “Big Boss” antagonist operating from a national or global level. If the antagonist is not the primary relationship character (and this often isn’t the case), then the archetypal dynamic of the conflict can become tricky to represent in a cohesive and resonant way.

Some of the worst plot holes arise because the antagonist is neglected until the Climax when he’s suddenly supposed to show up and counter-balance the protagonist’s thematic argument in a grand finale. Even more obviously, if the antagonist’s motives or methods are phoned in, the story logic almost always suffers. In some ways, the antagonist is the most important factor in creating a coherent storyform. If what the protagonist is resisting and why she is resisting it doesn’t hold water on both a practical and thematic level, the story as a whole will weaken.

When examining the role you envision the antagonist playing in the Climax, it is important to step back and ensure you’ve set this up throughout the story. The stronger the antagonist’s motivations and the more realistic his methods, the more powerful your story’s final meaning. Just as with the protagonist’s actions, the antagonist’s should form a solid line of dominoes, interacting with the protagonist’s throughout the story, until they finally and fully interact—in a logical way—in the end.

4. What Is the Simplest Way to Set Up Your Characters’ Backstories and Motivations?

One of the final problems with not knowing how your story will end is that you may find yourself making up your characters’ backstories—and thus their motivations—on the fly. You know you want your protagonist to be and do certain things because you’ve already envisioned him being and doing those things in specific scenes. So you write the scenes and make up the backstory as you go.

So far, so good. But sometimes, as the story keeps on trucking, you find your character being and doing other things—which require new backstory explanations. Before you know it, you may end up with an extremely complicated story.

The problem of on-the-fly explanations can become even more obvious when you find yourself making up reasons for events, whether it’s the effects of your fantasy’s magic system or just the political ramifications of spycraft.

The best stories may be complex, but they are never complicated. What your characters are doing and why they are doing it should always be simple; you should be able to explain both in a single sentence or phrase. If you find yourself using multiple “and’s,” reconsider whether your story’s background explanations may not have outgrown themselves.

Aside from causing undue complications, this “explanation train” and its multiple cars risks running away from you. If there comes a point when even you can’t keep track of all the whys and wherefores you blithely created along the way, you will almost inevitably end up creating lapses in logic and other thinly veiled (or even gaping) plot holes.

***

Ultimately, all of these questions point to the same solution: creating a storyform that is cohesive from beginning to end and building it with the fewest pieces necessary. When we can do that, we’re not only less likely to create plot holes in the beginning, we’ll also have a much easier time spotting and then figuring out how to prevent plot holes in the long run.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Do you find it difficult to prevent plot holes? What challenges are you dealing with right now? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Thanks for another interesting and useful article.

    I tend to think in terms of one or two incidents in the antagonist’s past which make them the way they are, and more important make them justify what they are doing. If I can get an antagonist blowing up planets, torturing prisoners and killing bystanders, and at the same time believe passionately that they are on a moral crusade but everyone else is wrong, I’m very happy.

    I also tend to leave a few loose ends, minor ones, to make the ending feel more real. “He had a gun, we don’t know how he managed to conceal it, but he had one.”

    This is how Arthur came to be an antagonist:

    (Moira, antagonist’s ex-wife) ‘And if you’d a lad who preferred his books to a ball, who’d sooner be reading than running around a muddy field, what would you do?’
    (Annette, Space Fleet officer investigating) ‘Give him all the encouragement I could?’
    ‘Exactly. You’d not beat him because he wasn’t like the other lads. But that’s what Bruce Kelso did to his son, beat him till all that was left in the lad was hate.’
    ‘That’s dreadful.’
    ‘And you don’t know the worst of it. Bruce would come up beside the lad, hold his hand, and then turn on him. That was why Arthur could never stand my holding his hand, not if he wasn’t expecting it.’
    ‘Arthur—what did he do?’
    ‘He tried to run away, he scraped together enough for a ticket to Madoc—but your spaceline turned him back.’
    ‘That must have been dreadful for him.’
    ‘It was—but I can understand why. They saw a fourteen year old boy with a pile of creased stellar mark notes at a spaceport. Of course they looked for his parents—and found Bruce. They asked Arthur if everything was all right, but he was too frightened of Bruce to say it wasn’t. That hurt him. Late at night, if Arthur had been in drink, he’d say to me that one day he’d break the space line, and he’d decide where he went, not somebody in a uniform.’
    ‘That’s exactly what we go to a lot of trouble to prevent. But this time we were the cause. I’m really sorry.’
    ‘No, it’s not your fault, it was that wicked man Bruce, may the devil rot his soul. Blame must go where blame is due, and he was cut short.’

  2. Very helpful article, thank you so much! Regarding the #3 point, do you think it’s necessary to write what antagonist is doing at each point of the story, even if those scenes won’t be in the book?

    I also always have trouble with setting up the climax/ending before actually sitting down and writing the story. I noticed that my favorite thing to write is always the first act, a.k.a. the setup. I suppose I love the promise of intrigue, not so much setting up revelations or other climatic moments. This happens even if have very detailed notes about backstories, secrets and their revelations. Thanks to your blog posts series on how to structure the novel, I can at least organize my ideas into proper “folders” – first act, second act or third act, but I still struggle writing anything for the second half of the story. I wonder if other aspiring writers exhibit a similar preference for the setup phase and are not as enthusiastic about writing the second half of their stories. If so, are there any tips and/or techniques to bring joy in writing past-midpoint?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s important to know how the antagonist is interacting with the protagonist in the push-pull of goal-obstacle, even if the antagonist is not on stage. It is not, however, strictly necessary to show what the antagonist is doing. Readers can experience the antagonistic force solely through the protagonist’s perspective. This can necessitate some creative writing, but in many instances it can create a stronger reading experience.

      As for the second half of the novel, personally I find that focusing on the pinch points is very helpful for guiding the Second Act: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/what-are-pinch-points-and-how-can-they-make-your-book-easier-to-write/

  3. I have been going over an old story of mine -what I count as my third novel. Unfortunately, when I wrote it I was just getting a handle on the idea of fantasy world-building. The basic plot is solid, but the setting is a wild mishmash of random elements I threw in because I thought they sounded cool. Never mind if they fit or made sense. I am still very proud of that book because, as I said, the plot was solid, it was the first book I wrote entirely in first-person, and (bragging a little here) I got a personal rejection for it (yes I really, truly believed at the time that the poor thing was publishable). But I have since learned that if you want to write a story that holds together, you have to actually think about your setting for more than two seconds before you plunge in.

    • Staci Ana says

      You are not alone. Setting is definitely my weakness. I just get so excited that I simply start writing and I later realize that I need a change of location. Usually I imagine all of the boring books I’ve read before and (try to) remember what about them was so boring. Usually for me it’s long chapters, irrelevant conversations and topics, purposeless scenes and lastly, repetitive settings.

      I would suggest -to anyone really- that you imagine all of the boring books you read and try to remember what lost your interest. What was the book missing or what did it have too much of? Then use that to change your own work.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally agree, and I’m glad you brought this up. A cohesive and conscious use of setting can be an extremely powerful way to unify the story on every level.

  4. Staci Ana says

    Right now, I’m dealing with the challenge of writing the climax. I’ve made a mess for myself, actually having beta readers while still writing the draft their reading. I send them a few chapters every week and although I’m chapters upon chapters ahead of what they’re actually reading, it gets stressful.

    Their insight has proven very helpful in finding areas that don’t make sense, but at the same time I am pressured beyond belief to make a perfect climax. I have dozens of ideas of what it could be like, but I’m not sure which one’s right. Initially I had thought that my antagonist would turn to the “light side” in the end, but it’s as if he doesn’t want to. Does that even make sense? And also, how am I supposed to fix his “Lie” (which is the same as the protagonist’s) by the ending if I want him to be an arch-antagonist throughout the series of continuing books? And how do I keep the novel sounding compact and whole as one unit when the antagonist still roams free?? I have his motivation thought out clearly -thank God- but these questions keep popping up.

    This is a great post. I don’t think I can read enough on your website. It’s amazing!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Everyone works differently, but personally I learned early on that I don’t like sharing unfinished drafts. It’s fun to share the enthusiasm, but, as you say, it can be stressful and it can also distract you from your own feelings and instincts about how you want to finish the story.

  5. Plot holes are definitely the reason it takes me so long to get past the outlining stage of any story. I tend to struggle most with my antagonist. I’ll write a killer plot for my protagonist, and then take a look at my antagonist’s motivation and character arc and realize it’s a series of disconnected fragments.

    • Christine says

      Dear Katie and Grace. Can a novel have two protagonists and no antagonist? There is much suspense between them, but neither is the ‘bad guy’. Please point me in the right direction?

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        Christine: It’s important to realize that “antagonist” isn’t synonymous with “villain.” The antagonist is simply whoever or whatever is opposing the protagonist’s goal, throwing up obstacles, and creating conflict. As such, it’s totally possible to have two prominent “good” characters with opposing goals who generate conflict between them. Romances are a particularly pertinent example, since the two romantic interests are, in fact, each other’s antagonists throughout the story until they resolve their differences and reach the mutual goal of sharing a relationship in the end.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Haha. Totally relate. :p

  6. I tend to spontaneously add things into my book while rewriting, which makes for a LOT of plot holes that need fixing. For instance:

    I decided the plot would be better off if one of the characters were dead, so I murdered her, but then I realized that I have no idea who the murderer even is.
    I was rereading my book and I realized that I had cursed my main character and then completely forgotten about it.

    How I fix this is by writing down a list of things that need fixing, and then try to answer them. It helps to figure out which of my spontaneous ideas are actually helpful, and which ones confuse the story too much.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is one reason I like to stop writing the first draft every 20k words or so and re-read what I have. It really helps reorient me in the existing story so far.

  7. Good advice. I find a timeline, in addition to an outline, to be helpful in avoiding plot-holes and inconsistencies in general.

    Also, words per day can be a deceptive measure of progress. I believe that every story has its own natural pace of development. Faster is not always better; in fact, it can be dangerous.

    The writer’s mind is not a microwave; it’s more like an imu, the pit used to slow cook an entire pig. It takes time for the conscious mind and the unconscious mind to work together to cook up a fully-balanced, consistent story. Many writers underestimate the importance of mulling scenes over and brainstorming alternatives before putting words on paper.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “The writer’s mind is not a microwave; it’s more like an imu, the pit used to slow cook an entire pig.”

      Love this.

    • jguenther5, I like your imu analogy and share your philosophy. When tending to routine chores, sitting in traffic, or waiting for a medical appointment (life!) eat up my computer time, I’m still writing, in a sense. Times like those provide invaluable “noodling” time: I let my brain wander and relax; and it often rewards me with an “aha!” idea. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Another great article. jguenther5, I liked your analogy about the imu. I’m having a quirky day, so I immediately thought – hey, isn’t there pork in bologna? No offense, as I totally agree with the slow-cook method, especially for pantsers who have to get the whole thing (kind of) in their minds and then – wait, seems I’m more like an emu at that point, running hither and thither, only to bury my head in the sand? I’m missing 40,000 words in the muddled middle of the third book of a trilogy. Plot hole doesn’t begin to describe it. Question #2 helped immensely!!!

  9. “And here we thought we were writing fiction to escape reality….”

    Apparently, we’re writing fiction to make sense of it. 🤪

    Questions 2 & 4 resonated with me. I recently discovered that character interviews are more informative (& fun) than character questionnaires. I learn more than I expect, especially in their reactions to the questions, not just the answers. The plot in the (mg) book I’m writing now has been difficult to nail, but as I explore the characters in interviews, the relationship dynamics grow more interesting. I expect that this will strengthen the purpose, backstory, and motivations of the characters, as well as the plot. But I was in the same quandary as Christine regarding the antagonist, because it’s the mc’s best friend. And then I read this…

    “…it’s totally possible to have two prominent “good” characters with opposing goals who generate conflict between them.”

    This was super helpful!
    But now I’m wondering if there can be a second antagonistic element, abstract or physical, or both, as long as it’s complementary to the conflict between the protagonists.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, but it needs to be pertinent to either the thematic premise and/or the climactic resolution–preferably both. For example, romances that tack on a suspense subplot with an extra antagonist too often do it at the expense of cohesive structure and true thematic resonance. This is not to say it can’t be done, but all the elements need to be planned as part of the same ultimate big picture.

  10. Katie, thanks for another helpful article. I’m working with a great coach (http://www.maureensappey.com/), who has covered all of this. However, I know these things about learning: Often, we have to hear or read something multiple times (seven, I’ve heard) before it really sinks in; and, hearing or reading about a concept in different ways, from various sources, makes learning more effective.

    Keep writing these articles, Katie. I’ll keep reading (and absorbing).

  11. M.L. Bull says

    When I outline the plot of my story prior to writing the first draft, I usually don’t have any problems with plot holes, especially if I didn’t have to do a lot of research. I pretty much already know how my story “The Pact” is supposed to end, I just haven’t said it. But I don’t wanna spill the beans, you know? 🤔Um… no offense, but the only challenge I’m dealing with right now is feeling like the first draft of my current WIP is supposed to be flawless and perfect. (Sorry, lol…🙈😄) I’ve had a rough 8 weeks, and since the summer semester is ending now, I simply want to finally bring my WIP to an end. I can do any revisions later. (But I appreciate your concern😊).

    Maybe “The Pact” isn’t extremely action-packed, but should it really? The story is pretty self-explanatory as was the “Harriet” movie and other slavery films. These characters in my story, including Millie are just trying to keep from being recaptured, survive from day to day, and be able to live a happy and safe fulfilling lives, which is their human rights. It’s a historical fiction, adventure story build on faith.

    For movies, it’s easy to keep the antagonist shown throughout, but for a first-person view book, it’s typical for it to be a little less frequent as you mentioned happens sometimes. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Even in third POV, there’s not much I could write other than an antagonist shooting and killing someone or selling somebody back into slavery. (What else is there? Millie’s father (Wade) nor the overseer or Chauncey would go on the journey because…who would watch the other slaves back on the plantations?🤔)

    All of them could run away with no problem, which would defeat the purpose of Noah and the other abolitionists going back to North Carolina on the Crabtree/McMillian Plantations. Lol…) It’s not meant to be a complex story; yet, a young, teenage Southern Belle who’s the daughter of a slavemaster and assists in the Underground Railroad network to free slaves from her *own* father’s plantation is still extraordinary and not very much heard of.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      In some stories, the antagonist may actually be more of an “antagonistic force”–represented by the many different obstacles the characters encounter. In your story, if the human antagonist is not present throughout the story, the true antagonist may be more abstract in order to encompass all the many obstacles between your characters and their freedom. Although the antagonistic force may be personified into one particularly villainous or obstructive human, it may be that the structural conflict is actually more about “Man vs. Society” or “Man vs. an Institution”–slavery in this case, which creates an environment in which everything and everyone seems to be against the protagonist’s goals.

  12. Another outstanding post. I especially liked what you wrote about the antagonist’s motivations helping to define the meaning of the story–that rings very true to me!

  13. Thanks for posting your very interesting article. Fortunately, plot holes haven’t been a problem for me, largely because my novels and short stories are only written after completing detailed outlines and character sketches (that include motivations and goals) — those outlines and sketches reveal plot issues.
    Your website is excellent. Good luck with your writings.

  14. ingmarhek says

    This is helpful. I noticed several plot holes in novels, particularly series, and wonder if the author will address them eventually.
    I also heard authors speak live and tell the audience the fans keep them straight with long series, telling them which character is which. Some fans keep series Bibles and wikis with all the characters and relationships. Yet, most of us are not big name authors with legions of devoted fans.
    Thanks for the tips. Another excellent post, K.

    ~Ingmar Albizu

  15. Dennis Michael Montgomery says

    ARRRGGHH!

    I wish you wrote this essay six months maybe then I’ve wouldn’t have made the mistake I’m struggling with now.

    The mistake: how am I going to end my story? I’m towards the end and I’m still uncertain if I’m going to kill off the protagonist or keep her alive.

    I have excuses for this; one: I can’t far think far enough ahead to create a story structure and when I do I end up not following or changing it. Two: I like the challenge of writing on the seat of my pants. It forces my lazy brain to think. The downside of this it can cause writers block.

    Writers’ block is bad because you become angry at yourself for not producing.

    However, I’m not going to give up on this story because I have some positives. One: I have a theme. It’s about glory. Two: I have good characters and I think that includes the protagonist (I been working to make her more than one dimensional). Although after listening to your essay I may need to define the secondary characters more. Three: I’ve put in too much work into now to quit. Four: I’m stubborn and most of the time I don’t when to quit.

    Thank you for your essay. I will copy and paste it in my writing tips.

    Bye the way, I missed you last week.

    • Staci Ana says

      Dennis, I know how you feel. I’m in the same situation with my story’s ending. I have no clue what’s going to happen. My climax has to be big and strong, more emotional than any of my other scenes. But I’ve been asking myself, how do I end the story if I seriously don’t want to kill of the antagonist? And if I don’t kill him off, how will my story be one unit if he lives on? Won’t the ending be too loose?

      These sort of questions always help me figure things out. I’d suggest writing as many possibilities as you like and then choosing which one feels right for the story. What I do is open a Word document and type “BRAINSTORMING CLIMAX” at the top. Then start asking questions and answering them. It’s actually my favorite part of writing.

      The possibilities really are endless when it comes to writing your ending!

      • Dennis Michael Montgomery says

        It’s nice and sad at the same time to know that someone else is having the same problem as me.

        What questions would you suggest?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I hear you. I wish I’d written it a couple years ago for myself. :p I’m in the midst of turning a long-published standalone fantasy novel into an unplanned trilogy. I wrote the second book with only a vague outline for the third. I *thought* I knew how it would end, but it turned out to be far too general a “hurrah-hurrah-and-the-good-guys-win-the-final-battle” kind of an idea. The mechanics were far too vague, and I ended up writing myself into all kinds of troubles.

  16. All of this advice not only helps with plot holes, it helps to deliver a fuller and richer story. Sharing your stories with good set of beta readers and/or a supportive writing community. All of this makes writing a more rewarding experience.

  17. “The ending is the beginning”. I’ve had the ending since the beginning! And I had my beginning. At least, I thought I did. Now I understand why it was so flat, and so hard to move on from. As so often, you’ve given me a bright flash, thank you. I can’t stick your books up on my wall, but I can stick these little gems right where I can see them when I sit down to write.

  18. Wish they had taken this advice when making the latest star wars trilogy with ray!

  19. Scott McGlasson says

    “(Jack dying in the Atlantic, anyone?)”

    Exactly this. Everyone knows he died in The New Yorker.

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