EG Monthly published a great article of my second book, Eden’s Revelation and the on-going AFWS film project of my first book, The Second Tree. Shooting is starting in Uganda next month. Thanks Kate Phillips for a great interview!
20160506_182647

5 Tips for Beating Plot Holes

You’re screwed! There’s absolutely no motivation for your villain to kill this hapless victim, but you need him dead. Do you create some contrived deus ex machina intervention or introduce a new character to ‘off’ the poor soul? Meanwhile you need the hero to be in two places at once and the death beam on the alien moon already discharged two chapters ago. You’re running out of ideas and everything seems over-plotted. What can you do?

Here’s what I do:

1. Fill plot holes with potholes: OK, that was pretty hokey but I live in Rhode Island, where VW Bugs go missing on the highway. Despite the potential wheel damage, when I’m stuck on a plot point I get on the road and drive. There’s something about the distraction of highway driving that allows your mind to focus on solutions better. I always keep my (hands free!) phone set to voice texting, and I send myself ideas. Yes, I know there’s probably ten better tools available but it’s what works for me. But make sure to drive alone. And turn off the radio or listen to something ambient with ignorable lyrics. Oh, and avoid traffic. Anger and brainstorming make poor bedfellows.

2. Look to history: Do a little research. Study past news for conditions or locations similar those in your story and you just might stumble across a solution that has already occurred historically. But don’t just copy it – adapt it in a plausible way. This works especially well if your story takes place in a unique setting. In the second book of The Order Series, ‘Eden’s Revelation’, I needed a justifiable reason for the US military to occupy a ready-made base in the Greater Middle East, and I wasn’t super-familiar with the region. I researched the history of military bases in the area and, voila! Enter the Kyrgyzstani Transit Center at Manas, an air base that the US once occupied until poor relations and an expiring lease with Kyrgyzstan forced us out. It worked perfectly as a mechanism to stage US forces in the region under a new, fictional agreement with the Kyrgyzstanis. It also provided the motivation I needed for them to stay in the region despite pressure from the Chinese.

3. Condense the plot on index cards: I’ve used cards or scraps of papers to help myself out of plot holes before, especially when sequencing is blocking me. I’ve written down character names, chapter numbers and even event blurbs so I could lay them out on the table and order/reorder them. This helps visualize the plot holes spatially and better resolve how to fill them. The holes become gaps, and the solutions become bridges. And honestly there’s something