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Don’t Sweat the Small-Stuff “Plot Holes”

Have you ever heard the argument that an omnipotent God can’t exist? It’s the one that starts and ends with the question: “Can God create a boulder so big that he can’t lift it?”

The answer from a Christian is probably going to be that, “No, God can’t create a boulder so big that he can’t lift it.” That then leads to the great “gotcha” moment since, in that case, God isn’t omnipotent: There’s something he can’t do.

Even if the Christian tries to backpedal with, “Well, maybe he can,” the response is still the same: that God isn’t omnipotent. Therefore, there is no omnipotent God.

As a Christian myself, I gotta tell you… I always thought that was one of the dumber anti-God arguments out there. It’s so juvenile. Like a little kid saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” on repeat, thinking himself so clever.

If you really want to try to stump a Christian, there are plenty more intellectual questions to ask.

In the same way, I’ve never been impressed with people who go out of their way to nitpick movies. If something has a glaring plot hole or other fault – or a whole bunch of them – then, by all means, point it out.

(*cough.* *cough.* *Star Wars: The Force Awakens.* *cough.*)

But if you have to take a magnifying glass in order to reveal its plot holes and other faults? Then I’m going to point out a much more obvious fact.

That you really need to get a life. writer Ken Miyamoto summed it up quite well when he said, “Plot holes are either the result of bad writing, bad editing, or audiences that are engaged or enraged enough about a movie to pick apart every little nuance and detail.”

The first part of that is why we had yesterday's Writing Challenge. And the latter mentality is why the following Writing Rule needs to be stated as well.

Some plot holes aren’t worth finding or fixing.

Are you old enough to remember when Titanic came out? Love it or hate it, the set, the costumes and the props they used to make that movie were phenomenal, turning it into a true cinematographic masterpiece. Yet people nitpicked it anyway, finding out-of-place dimes to disparage.

When you’re not working with reality (i.e., when you’re working with fiction), there’s only so much you can control: only so many details you can master. At some point, you have to do what you can do and let the rest be what it will be.

With Titanic, for instance, if you want to rip the writers to shreds for having Jack and Rose run into I-don’t-even-remember-how-many locked doors down in steerage… be my guest. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, by the time they hit the last one, I was rooting for them to drown.

But feeling all high and holy because you found a non-period coin in a single scene?

I’m pretty sure that’s the mark of an utter nerd… and not the cool kind like I am.

Speaking of nerds, that reminds me of working on Maiden America – the first book in the series that just ended with Proving America, published last month.

Before writing chapter 1, I did three months of research, pouring over six significantly sized books and numerous websites. Why? Because I wanted to make it the most accurate historical fiction I possibly could.

And because I’m a nerd. There’s that too.

Yet despite that and all the additional research I did after that, I still know I messed up a detail or two. Those flaws came to light while I was researching the sequel, Designing America.

Again, I was careful. And committed. And perhaps even obsessive.

Problem is, that isn’t good enough. I’d have to be omnipotent as it were – or at least omniscient – in order to see the big picture and portray it with 100% accuracy. Which I’m not.

Neither are you.

So the moral of this story is to do the absolute best you can do without sweating the teeny-tiny stuff. After all, the only people who will call you out on that minutia can be much more easily nitpicked themselves.


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