Monday, January 4, 2010

Watch Out . . .

. . . for gaping plot holes! Yes, plot holes!

As any driver knows, pot holes are bad, very, very bad, especially depending on the depth of the pot hole. A tiny pot hole might cause a slight jolt as a driver hits the pot hole. A medium pot hole has the potential to cause a bit more than a jolt, perhaps a flat tire. A major pot hole can cause even more damage.

The same goes for those lovely plot holes that sometimes appear in writing.

So, New Year's Eve and Frank and I are watching the latest incarnation of Star Trek on DVD. Love the movie. Love the revitalization of the franchise. I'll definitely watch the movie again.

You know what I didn't love? Yes, you guessed it, the gaping plot hole!

Now, before anybody reads any further I must make the following disclaimers -

  • MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
  • MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
  • MAJOR SPOILER ALERT

STOP READING NOW IF YOU ARE EVER GOING TO WATCH THE LATEST INCARNATION OF STAR TREK . . . EVER!

Okay, now that the disclaimers are out of the way. Oh, wait, one more: I'm not dissing the movie. I loved the movie.

Okay, we now return to the topic of plot holes.

In the latest incarnation of Star Trek, the movie opens with a giant ship emerging from a black hole. It is soon learned this ship is from the future. Flash forward 25 years. The ship is still out in space causing havoc. No problem here. Suddenly, future Spock is telling a young James T. Kirk about where the ship came from - there was a space anomaly that created a black hole that transported the large ship into the past, and Spock's ship as well. It only took Spock's ship seconds to come through the black hole and . . . yes, the big ship was waiting there to capture Spock and his ship. Oh, did I mention that the crew of the big ship hadn't aged a day . . . in 25 years! Not a day. They all looked exactly the same as when the movie first started. Exactly.

Okay, any one notice the gaping plot hole???

Oh, and somehow, for 25 years, no one in the Federation noticed this ginormous ship. Oh, and somehow, the crew of the ship was able to find fuel, food, etc., . . . for 25 years while patiently waiting in the same exact spot they appeared for Spock's ship to appear. Yes, the exact same spot.

So, by now you should see the gaping plot hole. Yes, a certain suspension of disbelief occurs when reading or viewing a movie. A certain suspension, not total.

The logistics of the non-aging crew, the ability to find fuel, food, etc., is too much of a suspension of disbelief . . . at least for me. I can fill in the blanks about food and fuel, etc., just not the non-aging part and the fact that nobody in the Federation ever encountered this huge, huge ship that allegedly stayed in the same place in space 25 years waiting for Ambassador Spock to appear.

For me, the impact of the movie was lessened by the realization that the crew hadn't aged at all and the ship was miraculously able to sustain itself, its crew, and remain undetected for 25 years. Up until that point, J. J. Abrams had me! I loved the movie, I loved the new premise, and I could see the potential for great new adventures for James T. Kirk and crew since their destinies had been changed by the appearance of the huge ship 25 years earlier.

Okay, he still has me, I'll still watch future incarnations of the franchise, but . . .

So, the lesson here: fill those gaping plot holes. Don't let them exist and make your readers go: Huh!!

15 comments:

Robyn Campbell said...

Plot holes. Great post my friend. And guess what? I fixed one of those little darlin's in my MS not a month ago. It's so easy to overlook stuff when you're looking at the big picture and not focusing on the little stuff.

Thanks for filling us in. I hadn't watched it yet. I will though. I have meant to, but I've been so busy with hospital stuff.

Marybeth Poppins said...

This is the exact reason I have beta readers. I needed to make sure my story holes had been filled in.

I actually LOOK for plot holes in movies. I'm weird :)

Great Post. Good think I don't watch Star Trek!

Tess said...

So clever... plot holes. hehehe.

And, I missed that movie, but my sweetie and I used to watch Star Trek back in the day ... ah, good times..

Ann Elle Altman said...

I haven't seen the movie and I can't believe you ruined it for me! Why didn't you write at least five 'Major spoiler alerts!' Just joking.

Anyway, great blog. I think that was a big plot hole and I know for me, sitting and watching movies with those holes ruin it for me. After the movie, my husband and I discuss it non-stop...thus further ruining it.

ann

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh, thanks for the reminder to watch this one! I just made a mental note! And once I do, I'll be watching for that plot hole!

It has grown increasingly harder for me to accept plot holes the longer I write. Like you said, we can overlook the bumps. But when they jar us from the story too much, then that's when I usually put the book down.

Happy New Year, Scott! (Love your profile picture of your dog!)

Scott said...

Robyn - thanks. The little plot holes are easy to overlook, the big ones not so much. There's a reason I try and map things out in my mind before starting out a story. For whatever reason, I'm able to recognize the plot holes before I begin if I lay on the couch, dogs sprawled across me, and just let my mind meander along the pathways of a potential story.

Marybeth - yes, you are weird. Sorry, but had to agree with you on that one. : ) This is the first time I've noticed such a major plot hole in a movie. I'm sure I've missed some here, there, and everywhere, as well as some in some of my work. Sigh!

Tess - I try to be clever every now and then. I loved the original and next generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise were ok, just never grabbed my attention enough. Oh, the original was in reruns, thank you very much! The new revisionist version of Star Trek is good and definitely has potential.

Ann Elle - sorry, but I gave fair warning! This huge, gaping plot hole only diminished the movie a bit, but still . . . I can't believe someone, somewhere, didn't see this ginormous plot hole.

Jody - plot holes are a necessary evil of writing. We, as writers, just have to notice and fix (not with a band-aid, but careful surgical technique) those plot holes so that are readers aren't forced to go 'huh, wait a minute now, this just doesn't make sense'! Oh, and that's my Jesse. I'll switch and put a picture of his brother James up at some point - equal time and all that jazz!

T. Anne said...

I've noted a few of my own while editing and they made me go huh? I guess i'll keep editing till I get it right.

Lady Glamis said...

Scott, I like your logic here! I remember thinking the same things as I watched the movie. However, my husband is a huge, huge Star Trek fan and for the sake of friendly debate here are some points that dispel the plot holes.

Aging: Romulans are genetically related to Vulcans, to the degree that in this movie that even a trained Xenolinguist may not be able to tell their dialects apart (Uhura could, though!). Still, they look similar, and as far as lifespans go, Romulans age like Vulcans do. Vulcans live for centuries, and so do Romulans, so someone who lives for centuries wouldn't age much in 25 years. Not enough to show in the movie, in my opinion.

Waiting: As for the plot of them waiting, yes, as the movie it is edited, you're right. They don't make any attempt to explain where the ship was for 25 years. So you're right, yeah, that's a plot hole. However, if you watch the deleted scenes in the two-disc version of the movie, there's a scene where it shows that they were capture by Klingons for 25 years, then escaped, got their ship, and went back to the place.

So there you have it.

But, as for your post, I agree with you. Plot holes are a huge problem. I've run into these so many times in my own writing, and I've spent months and months before trying to patch things up that people have found.

Hehe, hope you don't mind me going on and on about Star Trek stuff. I like Star Trek. :D

Scott said...

T. Anne - it's all part of the process.

Lady Glamis - I guess if I had watched those deleted scenes! Well, at least it gave me inspiration for the post. Yeah, I remembered the connection between the Vulcans and Romulans. And, now that you mention it, Uhura did make a comment about an escape from Klingon. But, wasn't that whole escape thing explained off as part of a trap?? Hmmm, must watch the movie again.

So they conveniently escaped after 25 years? And the Klingons hadn't dismantled their ship? Uh, I see another gaping plot hole looming on the horizon!

I also love Star Trek and like that they've taken this revisionist turn with the franchise. I really was wondering how they were going to retell the stories of the Star Ship Enterprise. I also liked how they still had Capt (Admiral) Pike end up in a wheelchair. That was a good nod to history.

Now, what I didn't really like was the many ideas borrowed from the Wrath of Khan. They were just too obvious, and not done in a new manner. The insect and the appearing behind the moon thing. : )

S

Lady Glamis said...

Haha, Scott! More great thoughts. It's a great movie, I think, even with plot holes. I need to see the Wrath of Khan!

Scott said...

Lady Glamis - how can you have survived this long without seeing The Wrath of Khan?? It's probably the best movie in the Star Trek franchise. Absolutely Fantastic. The whole tie in to the original series was great - even the Kobioshi Maru (I know I'm spelling that wrong) reference that made it in to the movie. Classic Trek.

J. J. Abrams did a great job with reinventing the franchise . . . even with the plot hole!!

ElanaJ said...

I have too many plot holes to even comprehend, so when I'm watching movies, I just go with the flow.

But you're very very right about that movie!

Davin Malasarn said...

Having plot holes in my story is probably my biggest fear. I'm so worried that I'll publish something that ends up making absolutely no sense! Sometimes I feel like I need to hire some sort of fact checker to make sure everything worked out the way I intended it to.

theresamilstein said...

If you want to see a take on gaping plot holes, read this post and watch the video series on the Star Wars prequels:

http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/12/22/GreatStorytelling101OrWeveForgottenHowToTellStories.aspx

Scott said...

Elana - can't you just wave your magic wand and fix all those plot holes?? : )

Davin - there's a reason I don't write stuff where I have to check the facts. : ) I think plot holes are a fear of every writer. Try as we might, edit to the point of insanity, I think we're always going to miss something. I just hope that any future editor catches what I miss.

Theresa - I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the link.