plot holes

Star Wars

I haven’t had a good rant in a while. Buckle up, kids. This one’s overdue.

First, yes, I’m writing about Star Wars: The Force Awakes. Even though the movie’s been out for weeks, you won’t find any spoilers here. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it. In the meantime, you can read this article in safety.

You won’t find any conspiracy babble here, either. I have no desire to add to the cultural noise that SW:TFW theories have become. Seriously, I’m fucking sick of the hair-brain, stupid things people are proposing about possible plot twists (just to get clicks and page views).

Instead, this article is about something (else) that’s driving me nuts. Namely, the number of people claiming the most recent installment of Star Wars is chalked full of plot holes. I’ll happily concede there may be a few. Rare is the story that doesn’t break down when analyzed to death. However, most of the stuff people I’ve seen people pointing at aren’t disconnects in the narrative at all.

They’re unanswered questions. You know, the kind that build suspense. The kind that you’ll find in literally any decent story, and certainly in any tale that spans multiple volumes.

But there are an alarming number of people losing their shit over alleged holes in the narrative. It’s as though every story they’ve ever heard ended wrapped in a neat little bow, even it it was a part of a series.

Every movie can’t be Twilight, thank God.

[insert belabored sigh here]

Part of a writer’s job is to create intrigue. The only reliable way to do that is to withhold information from the audience. Sometimes that information is disclosed later. Sometimes it’s never disclosed.

Take Pulp Fiction, for example. We have no idea what’s in the briefcase Vince and Jules recover for Marsellus. Sure, you could call that a plot hole, but calling it one won’t make it one. Not knowing doesn’t break the story. It’s not a weakness. On the contrary, it makes the story stronger. All we know is that people are willing to risk their lives for the contents of that case.

That’s it, and that’s more than enough.

So why all the uproar? Part of it’s for attention. Like wild theories about new Star Wars characters, any hardcore critique of a well-received movie is likely to draw in a few on the basis of morbid curiosity alone.

But I fear there’s something else at work, too. I’ve seen more than a few Facebook posts from non-critics that rip Episode VII to shreds. They aren’t trying to drive traffic to their walls. What’s the deal there?

Laziness.

Any reader/viewer who expects to be spoon-fed every detail leaving no unanswered questions is one sadly apathetic soul. Good fiction prompts more questions than it answers. That’s why we’re still enthralled by the original Star Wars film almost 40 years after its release.

For the sake of contrast I’d really like to name a movie that didn’t leaving me asking questions when the credits rolled, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head. And really, that’s kind of the point.

Don’t be a lazy audience member. Be okay with mystery. Know that it enhances virtually any tale.

And when you write your own stories, resist the temptation to tell your readers everything you know. What you don’t say is every bit as important as what you do say.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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