We’ve all been there at some point. Your story or outline are chugging along, you know where things are headed, and then…BOOM. You get stuck connecting the dots of how you can logically get your character from Point J to Point L without it seeming forced, ridiculous, or taking the reader/viewer out of the story.
Welcome to the Story Hurdle.
A Story Hurdle arises when you can’t quite back the easy leap to how two events in your story can logically connect. There can be several reasons for this, so below I’d like to offer some tips on clearing your Story Hurdle and moving forward with your narrative.
Plot Hole or Story Hurdle?
Essentially, a plot hole is an unresolved Story Hurdle. Maybe the writer accepted the story problem and hoped no one would notice. Perhaps they loved their writing so much that they ignored anyone who pointed out the issue.
You never want to leave the reader or viewer scratching their head trying to figure out how something happened or how a character could get out of a jam or into one. If there’s an open-ended question to be answered later (like in a mystery or thriller), that’s fine. But make sure if there is a gap in logic that it’s responded to at some point.
Your job as a writer is to sew up these issues and figure out how to jump over these hurdles effectively and entertainingly.
You have a story problem. You like both pieces of the story puzzle that happen before and after where the issues seem to be, but you can’t put your finger on what the problem is.
It’s time to ask yourself WHY there’s a problem.
Is it because what happens doesn’t fit the story? Isn’t something the character would do? Doesn’t fit the genre? Is too extreme a leap? Not strong enough of a leap?
Taking a step back and asking yourself why the Story Hurdle exists is a good place to start to work to resolve it. Ignoring the issue could cause more issues down the line if the impact of what happens at the unresolved story issue now causes more hurdles to pop up.
You know what comes before and what comes after. You’re having problems moving forward, so why not move in reverse? Take things step by step and backtrack one moment at a time and see if you can reverse engineer your way out of the Story Hurdle.
Sometimes taking this different perspective can be helpful since it gives you – the author – a new way to look at the problem and see the actions and events in reverse.
What happened before? And before that? And before that? And before that? Can you make your way through the perils of “And before thats?” to get to where you started?
Options, Options, Options
As an author, you are the Creator. What you decide is what happens, so you have the power to write down 10, 20, 50, 100 different ways that this Story Hurdle could be resolved. There are endless options that can be explored, from the boring to the ridiculous.
You have unlimited ways for things to go to get where you need to go. Once you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, go through and highlight the most interesting and intriguing ones. Then go through and decide which makes the most sense for your character and your story.
Taking the time to work through possibilities will help you create a stronger link between the two story sections.
Making a Change
Sometimes you may have to admit that Point H isn’t working, and that’s why you can’t seem to find the needed actions to get your main character to Point J. If this is the case, you may have to rewrite the previous story point or the one after the Story Hurdle to resolve the issue.
Again, you can write out all the possible options and choose the best one. The key is to make sure what you write flows, has logic within your story, and moves the story forward.
Crafting a solid narrative takes time, energy, and creativity. All authors can fall prey to devious Story Hurdles that can affect their momentum and confidence. By working through the problem instead of avoiding it, you can ensure that a stronger and more creative story is written and that plot holes are nonexistent.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!