While writing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K.Rowling missed her deadline because she had encountered a plot hole so massive, that it required her to scrap and rewrite 22% of the manuscript. Previously up until this point plot holes have simply been called plot holes, but I believe that there are certain levels of plot hole. A simple hole that’s easily fixed with a minor chapter arrangement is sort of a worm hole or an ant hole. Its small enough and probably the type of plot hole that no one would notice unless they were looking really hard. Then there are the larger plot holes, gopher holes which may require you to tear up some of your yard to fix, but usually stay in a fairly localized area. Then, there are the plot holes so massive, that they seem to inhale your entire manuscript. These are plot black holes. 22% may seem more like a gopher hole than a black hole but consider that if in paperback form GOF was 734 pages, roughly 200 pages of the manuscript had to be rewritten because of this plot hole, or about 70,000 words.
In writing my own novel or rather, rewriting for the billionth time, the first in the Immortal Elements series, I decided to make a slight alteration in the prologue, a seemingly insignificant change that since has required me to alter the entirety of the first five chapters, scrapping them almost completely. Of my previously 101,000 word novel the better part of 25k words have had to be rewritten which if you do the math equals out to 1/4th or 25% of the novel now that I’ve had to alter. This seemingly innocuous change has created a chain of events that have completely obliterated some of my plans and have forced me to rewrite the entire first half of my manuscript (or at least alter it greatly) in order to fix the damage that this plot hole has created for me.
Obviously none of this is probably particularly new for writers, in fact, many writers probably scrap 80-90% of their original manuscript during the course of edits and rewrites and that would be one thing, but the trouble is, I didn’t just scrap them because they were unnecessary or in the way, they were now a part of an older plot in which a certain character was alive for longer in the story than they now currently were thereby creating a sort of alternate history in which in one chapter they are dead but some how magically they are alive in a previous chapter. Not to mention that this subtle change in both scenery and a character’s life meant that an entire other character was completely axed from the story altogether. Suffice it to say, I feel that I haven’t been able to do very much editing proper, because all of my work has been attempting to fix this plot hole that as soon as I think I’ve got it covered, manages to chip away in another section. I’m starting to understand why it’s not recommended that you print out your first draft, as several of my chapters have been tossed completely to be rewritten, and now I’ve wasted a great deal of paper and ink for pages that will never see the light of day but will now clutter my office for the rest of eternity because maybe one day possibly, that idea could work somewhere else.
Or… maybe not.
Update: I wrote this a while ago, but I loved the post so much I decided to publish it anyway. However I’m actually going to spread out the prologue into a larger section of a few chapters which will inevitably mean that I’m adding to the book, so my initial calculation of 25% might be a different number with the next draft once all edits are finished.