Filling in story plot holes in a Steampunk book
My critique partner pointed out a plot hole that my Beta Reader found and I haven’t fixed yet. That’s not a good way to write a Steampunk book.
She also found another plot hole I missed.
It is not easy to fix plot holes. It takes work and time. I did not come up with the ideas needed to fix these holes in an hour or a day. It took a couple of weeks.
I did not sit around for weeks waiting for ideas to come to me, nor did I work writing and rewriting everything I could trying to fix the plot holes. I had plenty of other edits I needed to do to the book, plus I was working on the next book.
What I did do was; step one. Define what type or style of idea I needed. The heroine of the story needs to find or be given some information that she doesn’t realizes what it means till the end of the book but is of vital importance. The villain, the greatest assassin on the Continent, is trying to blow up Castle Windsor. But she is doing it not to kill Queen Victoria, but to kill emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II (OK I know that Kaiser and emperor mean about the same thing but how else am I suppose to say it when I am trying to emphasize that an emperor out ranks a queen). This would upset Queen Victoria greatly, she doesn’t play second violin to anyone, even an emperor. Besides most people who tried to kill her used a hand gun. Anna, my villain, the Lithuanian widow maker, is going to use tons of gun powder not just one barrel of it like Guy Fox.
Step two, know the limits of the idea. My heroine has her limitations. She is a spy in training. There is no school for spies. Spies are the scum of society. She doesn’t have year of experience like James Bond, and is not a genius like Sherlock Homes. I have too many characters in the book to have a new one pop up and tell her the Kaiser is coming.
Step three, make a list of ideas, mash up ideas, kick around ideas. Follow the thread of an idea and see how the fallout of something happening would impact the heroine.What would happen if the Kaiser was coming for a visit? The Kaiser was the grandson of Queen Victoria. He did visit England often even thought he hated the English. What would be the normal things a big shot would do?
He would send scouts to make sure things were acceptable for his arrival. He would send a cook. The rick can afford to have a home cooked meal on the road. Back in the late 1890s people would visit for months at a time. The problem is why and how would the heroine meet the foreign cook. Would the foreign cook even speak English, he’s Prussian? Introducing the cook adds another character to an already crowded story.
Step four, what would make the idea plausible? Using real people and facts, helps a lot. I went and looked up who cooked for the Kaiser. Did the Kaiser have food taster? Found information on what Prussian’s eat at the time of my story, but nothing on the cook for the Kaiser.
I went over the part of the story where the heroine breaks into Castle Windsor, gets caught and escapes looking for a place where she could meet the cook. There’s not any room for her to meet the cook, she’s trying to escape not visit. She doesn’t stay long enough for dinner. Well she does but she is locked up and not fed during her stay. I have a bad crutch of having the characters eat a meal together and exchange information at the meal. A bad case of telling.
The heroine escapes in the back of a milk truck with the help of a couple of prostitutes. What are prostitutes doing in Castle Windsor? You’re going to have to buy the book to find out. The driver of the milk truck tosses an empty milk can into the back of the truck. He sees them in the back and locks them in the truck and drives off with them for his own nefarious purposes.
How can I change this to show (show is the key) the heroine getting information that the Kaiser is coming? If she couldn’t meet the cook, then what if she saw some of the food that was being sent for the Kaiser’s visit. What if instead of a empty 5 gallon milk can the driver tossed in two boxes of food marked for the Kaiser? What if the cook was selling the food as a side hustle, he always made sure he had too much food just in case the Kaiser decided to stay longer than planned so he would have food to spare and sell? Everyone had a side hustle back then. We call it embezzling, they called it saving for retirement.
How would the heroine know the food was for the Kaiser? Well big shots like to stamp their name on everything so the boxes would have the Kaiser’s stamp on them to warn people not to mess with the boxes.
That fills in the plot hole, now for some embellishment. What if the crazy lady prostitute was the daughter of a minister for the Bismark of Prussia (she doesn’t like the Kaiser, he caused her father to live in semi-permanent exiled)? I needed someone who could read the Prussian wording on the boxes. This also fills in some back story of the prostitutes. Two birds with one stone, or box of food.
So I have filled that plot hole. Steam rolled it flat and painted a stripe down the middle of it. Now on to the next plot hole.
Notice there are a lot of “what ifs” above. There are many more what ifs that I tried and threw them out when they didn’t work.
This is work, but it does work.
Stay strong, write on, and try a few “what ifs,” but know what you’re looking for.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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