Last year while reading, I came across a couple books that acknowledged something that occurred in the book was illogical and left a gaping hole in the plot…then shrugged it off and moved along with the story with either a poor explanation or no explanation at all. I suppose the authors (and editors) felt the acknowledgment of the issues was a sufficient means of addressing them, better either than ignoring the plot holes or correcting them, but personally I was dissatisfied. I’ve written before about valuing logic in the books I read, and a nod to the fact that there was a lapse in logic, without actually fixing it, didn’t feel like enough for me.
In one of the books, the plot hole came when the protagonist decided to have a steamy sex scene with a guy she was not actually on good terms with (in fact, they were on terrible terms, and not in some sort of joking fake-enemies way). Pages after the scene, she herself reflects on the fact that it was really weird she decided to get intimate with a guy she hated so much, and then…nothing. The book moved on, and I was left wondering what on earth I’d just read. Was there a need for that sex scene? Is there a quota for romance novels, and it just had to occur??? Is some explanation going to be offered in the sequel? I have no idea, but I would have been happier if the protagonist had just remained righteously angry and not slept with the guy. In this case, just eliminating the scene would have kept the book running smoothly.
In another book, the plot hole was rather major; in fact, most of the plot hinges on the unlikely event and illogical explanation for it, which likely explains why the author didn’t fix it. In brief, much of the plot hinges on the character not knowing something that she should have easily been able to find out. In fact, she is researching the very subject…but never comes across the relevant information. Some characters note it is odd she didn’t find the (not really that rare) information and then carry on, plot hole noted and ignored. I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes because this simply does not make sense.
And the brief acknowledgment that it doesn’t make sense reads like the kind of half-hearted revisions I would sometimes make when professors pointed out gaps in my research papers in college. Maybe they would write feedback on a draft like, “What about the possibility the character didn’t do this out of charity but rather out of jealousy?” and then I’d “revise” my paper by writing two sentences starting with, “Some readers might think the character did this out of jealousy, but that’s not true because of [really brief reason]” instead of fully revising the paper to engage with the jealousy argument in-depth. My professors generally didn’t go for it, and I don’t go for it either as a reader.
Mostly I find it frustrating when authors acknowledge their own plot holes and then leave them because it indicates they know about the hole but think I, as the reader, won’t really care. Apparently the hole is egregious enough to note, to tell the reader, “Yes, I did in fact notice this problem! I didn’t completely overlook it!” But for some reason it’s not important enough to fix. They assume I, as the reader, will be too swept away by the rest of the story to truly care. There might be a gaping hole, but I can be trusted to buy the book and like it well enough anyway.
What are your thoughts? I think, in an ideal world, we’d all say that authors should fix the plot holes. But if they don’t, should they acknowledge them? Or gloss over them and hope no one notices?