Monday, November 14, 2011

Do gaping plot holes bother you?

Every now and again I'll finish a book that I really enjoyed, without even noticing gaping plot holes. If a story pulls me in, is fast-paced, and/or has interesting characters, I tend to get caught up in the action and read happily along, totally oblivious.

I write my review, then go blog hopping to find others who have read the book so we can gush back and forth about how awesome it was! Only to discover that others weren't as impressed because they, unlike me, noticed incongruities.

For instance, there was a hot book not too long ago that several readers, me included, absolutely loved. However, there were also bloggers who couldn't get past certain plot holes that I never even noticed until I read their reviews. Once pointed out, I realized that yeah, that didn't really make sense and what the heck was the author thinking? I still thought it was a good book, but it sort of cast a pall over my excitement and I felt a little bad that I never noticed.

So I was curious about what bothers other readers about books, plots, characters, etc?

As already mentioned, I don't seem to have a problem with gaping plot holes, so long as the bulk of the book is strong. But I can't stand typos and wrong words, as they slam into my face at 100 mph and pull me right out of the book.

For instance, transposed or missing letters seem to be common errors. I understand if your fingers can't keep up with your muse, but please go back and re-read what you wrote! Aren't there drafts and rewrites and copy-edits and other boring writer stuff you're supposed to do?

And I hate it when we're talking about a male and the author refers to them as "she", or someone I thought was dead walks through the door (and they're not a ghost/zombie/vampire). I go back and re-read that bit to make sure I didn't miss something. Movies have Continuity Editors, so why don't books? 

Please let me know if I'm the only one who doesn't notice when there are plot holes large enough to drive a semi through! Do typos bug you enough that you can't enjoy the story? How about unlikable, hateful characters? What will pull you out of the story and annoy you enough to set the book aside?


  1. Hmm, interesting questions. I'm pretty much with you on the gaping hole issue. What I don't like is a novel that ends with lots of loose ends. As for typos and poor spelling? Aggggghhhhhhh.

  2. Typos and spelling mistakes don't bother me. The number one reason why I set a book aside is characters. If I can't stand a character I just don't care about what happens in the story. I can't stand whiny, or goody two shoes characters. Annoying!

  3. For me, it depends on the plot hole. Minor ones I can let go of. For instance I adore Harry Potter but there are one or two little things that don't make sense but I'm willing to let it go because the quality of the rest of the series is good and plus it can be explained by the simple fact that it's magic.
    But if there are huge gaping ones I can't ignore then yes, it makes it hard for me to really enjoy a book. That's a huge reason I couldn't get into Twilight because there were huge gaping plot holes and it didn't help that the author tried explaining them through science that made no sense. If she had stuck to the "it's just magic" then I might have been able to let the sparkle stuff go. Plus I just didn't like the characters.
    But it will depend on the book and how well the author deals with said plotholes.

  4. If things are ridiculously inconsistent than I can't handle it, but if it's just that there's some background information that's been glossed over (such as how the world became so messed up in dystopian fiction) I can go with the flow as long as the plot is very good.

  5. I'm usually pretty forgiving of minor things such as small spelling errors. I'm amazed at some of the books that contain them because these books are quality traditionally published books. But there's always room for human error with spelling. What I can't deal with is, as you've said, when dead people suddenly appear again or when the author seems to lose sight of who they're talking about. Continuity is one of my pet peeves. My other big issue is unlikable, selfish characters. Or when the characters do illogical things to get themselves into situations that could easily be avoided. I want to read about people who will inspire me, not people who are meant to inspire but are in actual fact, idiots dressed up.

  6. I can overlook some plots holes, depending on how into the rest of the book I am. But I can't finish a book if I don't like the main character. Antiheroes aren't for me, obviously! I have two really popular books on my Kindle right now that I just don't care to finish because the protagonists didn't gain my sympathy or interest. Oh, and editing issues really do annoy me. I'll keep reading, but I'll make mental notes of all the errors. :)

  7. Petty Witter - Oh, loose ends! Forgot about those, as I prefer the Happily Ever After endings (or at least the chance of one in the sequel)!

    Melissa - Good point! Characters are important! I can forgive almost anything if I like the characters, but those whiny ones really are annoying no matter how awesome the plot.

    fantasylover - Think you're right that some plot holes can be explained by magic. I tend to get so caught up in the action that I'm just along for the ride! *L*

  8. Alyce - I really like the idea of a continuity editor for books! Maybe I could offer my services to the big publishing houses? ;)

    Lan - Publishers may not have continuity editors, but I know they have proof-readers! I don't understand how simple typos can get by all the editors and rewrites! Big pet peeve of mine! And I couldn't agree more about the so-called heroes who do stupid things!

    Sarah - Editing issues are annoying! As for anti-heroes, guess it depends on the character for me, as some I like and some I can't stand. To each their own!

  9. Hmmm...I am not sure about gaping plot holes but I hate typos in books...

    How on earth does that happen when I notice them right away?

  10. Patty - I'm the same way! Could be happily reading along and then BAM! Typo alert! :(

  11. My major issue is characters who do things for no eason other than the author couldn't figure out another way for the plot to go forward. Once you develop a character they need to act like that character or it makes no sense.

  12. Most of the time, plot holes bug me a lot. It really makes me wonder how intelligent writers and editors think we, as teens (I'm a YA blogger), actually are! Do they really think we don't notice! And for me, any kind of hiccup in a book that would get the generic answer like "it's magic" to explain it away really irks me. It's like they're half-heartedly trying to cover their own... well, you know what I mean. Holes won't always prevent me from finishing a book, but they are always noted upon.

    I'm sad to say that there have been a few books that I haven't noticed holes in reading, but notice later on or in someone else's review. Perhaps even the one you're talking about.

    And I know what you mean about misspellings, they pull me right out of the book. It's the same with weird or obviously incorrect grammar. I'll find myself rereading the sentence over and over, trying to make sense of it. I'm not an English teacher or anything, sometimes it's just stupid how obviously wrong the wording is.

    And unlikeable characters only bother me if they are meant to be perfect or likeable. Or if their flaws aren’t mentioned in the book. That will usually tell me whether the author meant for said character to be the way they are. For example, there was a post-apocalyptic book where I despised the main character. I didn’t understand why I should root for her when she’s so selfish, ungrateful, and never satisfied. A lot of people died on her behalf and she didn’t even stop to think about other people. She was meant to be a heroine, but she would have to be one of the most unethical people I’ve ever read about.

    If you didn’t feel like reading all of that, here’s the short version. Plot holes usually bother me but they won’t always stop me from finishing a book. Misspellings, weird, and incorrect grammar will also pull me right out of a story. And unlikeable characters only bother be if they’re meant to likeable or perfect heroines, and are obviously not so. (I tire of characters with PCD, Perfect Character Disorder. They are totally unrealistic.)

    Thanks Alexia for the awesome topic post!

  13. Typos, wrong words, short shoppy sentences, even foul language (sometimes) will stop me in my tracks. Never enough to actually put the book down completely but certainly enough to mention in a review. Good points raised Alexia....well done! ^_^

  14. Like some of the others have said, I am more likely to be distracted by wrong words, poor grammar, and typos. As to whether gaping plot holes would bother me, I would say that would depend on the book. If I love the book, or even the story the author is telling, sometimes it is easier to ignore those gaping plot holes. I guess I have blinders on when I really like a book. :)

  15. If there are a bunch of typos then I usually can't look past it - I wonder how the heck the book was published! However, if a book was good enough to pull me in and I missed something that someone else caught, well I just have to chalk some of that up to the individual reading experience.

  16. If there are a bunch of typos then I usually can't look past it - I wonder how the heck the book was published! However, if a book was good enough to pull me in and I missed something that someone else caught, well I just have to chalk some of that up to the individual reading experience.

  17. Ryan - You're right! It really pulls you out of the story will a character will suddenly behave "out of character" for no reason!

    Emma - I don't mind magical explainations so long as the groundwork has already been laid. Sometimes though I'm so caught up in the story that I don't notice until someone else points out the flaws! Oops!

    GMR - Foul language for the sake of foul language is annoying!

  18. Melissa - I've had blinders on for more than a few books! And didn't mind a bit! :D

    Amused - It's funny how different things bother different readers, isn't it? :)