Dropped Thread?

Perhaps the plot hole problem I see the most frequently, both in my own writing and that of others is accidentally dropping a thread in your story. Using an outline is the easiest way to figure out where you have dropped a thread. Once you've found one, now you have to decide what do with it. Are you going to cut it out or expand it? How does each choice change your book? And how, after having finished the plot can you make that decision?  

Those questions are not easy to answer, because each thread is different. In some ways, I think that question is easier for me when I write in mystery. That's because the answer is almost always add that thread. In fact, the only dropped thread I have ever  deleted in any of my mystery novels is because I wrote a scene that actually belongs in a later novel. While one of the tangential characters made his debut in this novel, the thread revolves around his boss. It's a thread for later, so, I just took it out.

When I write in epic fantasy, I have a very simple answer as to if I should tease out this thread and reweave it, or just cut it. I answer these two questions:


  1. How much work is reweaving to be? 
    1. A lot? Proceed to question 2?
    2. Not a lot, write it in.
  2. How important is the thread?
    1. Extremely, leaving it out creates more headaches, put it in.
    2. Not much damage done, cut it out.

Some headache, no matter how intriguing are not worth it. That's my simple method. In one case, I didn't drop the plot thread, but I did weave it initially into the wrong place. This was the rewrite I was talking about. It served the story much better to break that out into a separate book. And honestly, regardless of if you ever publish your stories or not, do what serves your story. At every turn, worry about what the reader is going to read, and worry if you have done justice to your themes, your plot, your characters. It's that simple and that hard. 

What do you do with your drop threads? Tell me in the comments below.

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