Plot Holes

How I wish I had the literary equivalent of a plaster which I could apply to any plot hole to cover them up.  Alas there is no such thing which leaves me the difficult task of correcting the error.

Plot holes are fine and dandy when they are small but when they look like they could scupper the entire story, then you have a problem.  That’s what I’m facing now and I’m not finished editing the Prologue yet!

For some reason I decided to peg my story in the real world.  Okay, so its a fictional story but what surrounds it is real.  The problem comes when reality doesn’t quite match up with what you have in your head.

The best way to get around it is to do more research until you find firmer ground.  In the last couple of days I have been lucky enough to find some, however, it is nebulous at the moment.  For one thing it brings the prologue forward by five years.  The second issue revolves around the location.  The world can change a lot in five years.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, after all the next firm ground occurs a further seventeen years into the future.  Picking that would incur a whole host of problems (aka re-writes).  I have already come to the conclusion that the more I edit, the more I have to learn.

 

 

Photo from shutterstock.com

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The Night Manager: Episode 4

Now that Pine is deep inside Roper’s crew he can be trusted to own one of Roper’s companies and it is here where we start.  His meddling has not gone unnoticed by Corcoran who has taken more than a dislike to Pine.  Threats ensue especially after a nighttime liaison.  While at the time there was nothing untoward going on between Pine and Roper’s girlfriend, they soon develop a more intimate friendship.

Angela’s back-up source has been getting cold feet and needed persuading to help once more.  His fears are realised later on when he is found dead.  The information he gave was pivotal in more ways than one.

For a start Angela’s team, with the help of a mole, (I use the term loosely here) is able to discover who is set to gain from Roper’s deals.  Shockingly the people are senior members of MI6.  To make matters worse, a member of the government is embroiled in it too.  Wheels must turn which results in the aforementioned death.

While this is going on Roper and Co. make their way to Istanbul.  It is here that Pine must carry out his first transaction of his new company.  As expected, all goes smoothly.

Then we come to a scene which I felt was unnecessary. We know that these deals involve weapons, through dialogue as well as carefully photographed documents, so why show Roper and Co. visiting the ship the weapons arrived on?  Perhaps it is to add an air of excitement or danger to the proceedings.  Without actually seeing the weapons the story could come across as being lukewarm.  I can only guess.

Pine’s antics with Roper’s girlfriend were not as secret as you might think.  Angela’s team have discovered the affair and they order him out.  Panicking, Pine informs Roper of a police presence and they escape just in time.

This episode, despite the earlier reservation, was very good.  The plot twists and turns, never quite going where you think it is.  It helps that brilliant acting brings the story to the fore.  While I have taken the time to highlight the main cast, the supporting members are excellent too.  Even the dinner guest who lost a lobster salad to Corcoran’s antics was well played.

 

photo courtesy of intheequation.com

The Young Montalbano: Death on the High Seas (2/3)

Like earlier episodes, last night’s consisted of a main plot and two sub-plots.  The main plot revolved around the death of a fishing boat mechanic while out at sea.  By all accounts, he was shot by accident.  On investigation, it is revealed that the fleet the boat belongs to, has been drug trafficking for the Mafia.

The first sub-plot concerns Fazio and a woman he has known for many years.  The woman in question had been dating a man who, it transpires, is a hitman for the Sinagara family (Mafia).  When he goes on the run the police, through Fazio, offer her and her father, protection.  The hitman, offended by this move, sets a firework factory belonging to one of her father’s friends alight.

The second sub-plot is about Montalbano’s wedding.  While attending a fancy dress party with Livia, Motalbano spots the hitman.  Leaving her when the hitman walks out, Montalbano tracks him down and a gun battle ensues.  Having watched Montalbano leave, Livia follows.  Livia now realises what sort of person Montalbano is like and the wedding is put on hold.

While the second sub-plot is probably the most familiar cliché when it comes to detective dramas, it is revealed in a different way.  The earlier series (Inspector Montalbano) showed that they are still friends.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other detective who remains in contact with a former fiancé.

The main plot is a nice touch as it is usually the case that the death is suspicious.  Using it to reveal the drug trafficking is an extra twist to what could have been a bland tale.

This story was a lot easier to follow than ‘The Man Who Followed Funerals’, which is great as I do like watching this series.  Saying that, I get the feeling that the producers have gone for more drama this series.

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Okay let’s get this out of the way right now shall we?  I love Jeremy Brett’s version of the famous detective and have steered clear of Benedict’s rendition for a few reasons which I shall name later.

When I saw the trailer for this one-off special, I was delighted to see it was to be set in the Victorian era (despite the Suffragette movement being founded in 1903), oh joy.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I found it wasn’t.  But was it?  No, it wasn’t.  But maybe…Okay guys, I think you over did the flash-back/mind palace plot device here, I got it quite quickly as I’m sure most of us did.  It’s a shame as I was getting into the story and the idea of linking it with the Suffragettes was an interesting one.  The concept of using Mary to basically drag our intrepid duo onto the right track felt poorly thought out though.

It left me thinking that Sherlock was a blusterer prone to jumping at the wrong conclusion just to show how good he is.  And now I come to the reason why I don’t watch most versions of Sherlock Holmes.  Those who adapt Conan Doyle’s stories centre on Holme’s abruptness.

When you read the stories however, you come to understand that he is a more rounded character than his acidic side seems to suggest.  He is quite capable of compassion, calming overwrought witnesses and winning over people to get the next piece of data.

To me, Holmes is prone to moments of theatre, incredibly vain (which certainly goes against his purely logical, non-emotional brain we are led to believe), sometimes vulnerable, observant like no other man before or since, harsh of himself and others and briefly joyous.

Jeremy Brett’s version shows Holmes’ patient side, his brotherly love with Watson as well as his confidence that goes beyond arrogance.  This is more to do with the writers than the actors.

Getting back to the show, Benedict’s performance is exceedingly good and I can see why people watch him.  He is ably assisted by Martin Freeman but I’m not going to watch a show entirely based on the actor’s performances.  The writing on the other hand, while full of brilliant touches, left me feeling confused.

Overall then, I liked the Victorian setting and the suffragette movement plot twist.  The ‘mind palace’ and the addition of Moriarty were unnecessary.  Looking back at this review, it feels like it is vitriolic in nature.  It’s not like I hated the special, I just think they could have done a better job.

Additional:  Avid followers of the series, please can you answer this question for me; is Holmes solely based on his sharp manner or is there more to him than what appeared last night?

The third fundamental pillar of writing

And so I come to the third and final pillar of writing; the plot. There are essentially two ways to tackle the plot.  You can either write the plot out beforehand, or you can go with the flow.  Each option has it’s advantages, and depending on the sort of writer you are, it will help the writing flow.

The first option, is to write the plot first.  This can be achieved in a couple of ways, either to write it out completely, or chapter by chapter.  Having the entire plot set out in front of you, can look intimidating, especially if you are prone to veer of track once in a while.  However, the plot is just the basic framework which the story can be guided around.  The beauty of writing, is that you do not have to stick to the plot, it is entirely up to you.

Be warned though, veer too far from what you are trying to say, can cause plot holes to appear later on.  Sometimes they are easy to fix, others could potentially lead to re-writing half the story.  If you veer away, be mindful that you are able to bring it back again.  These moments of inspiration need not be feared, as they can turn the story in surprising ways.

Chapter by chapter plotting allows for a sense of freedom that would not otherwise be found using the complete method.  A feeling of excitement can be had when about to start a new chapter. Writing without a plot is more risky than with one.  You are far more likely to wander off the beaten path and yet, as I have already discussed, these can lead to some wonderful gems.  Characters that do something surprising, or where new secrets are revealed can hook the reader into wanting more.

Like characters and the world, if you plan on writing a plot, make sure you spend some time on it.  Write down a list of characters appearing in a chapter.  Write down a paragraph, at least, of what you’d like to happen in that chapter.  Then answer these questions; what are the implications for the story and how does this move the story on? They may sound similar, but they are subtly different.  For example, an implication would be that the story moves to a different place.  In doing so, it brings the characters to the place where you want the action to take place.

All three pillars, characters, the world and the plot, put together will help create the best story you can write.