I like to crochet. My grandma taught me, but I’m not very good because I haven’t done much of it over the years. I started trying it out again recently. Part of crocheting, at least for me, is knowing how to follow a pattern. When a pattern has errors, it can cause some frustration, even…anger. I’ve been working on this one pattern, and it has this one spot that just isn’t quite right, so I have to fix it every time I hit that spot in the pattern, and it just makes me so mad! Rea smash! Oops, well now I need to make a new coffee table. Another post for another day.
Here’s where the literary application comes in; your plot has a pattern. What exactly does that mean? Well, what that means is that errors of continuity in your plot, holes if you will, can cause Hulk-like anger in your readers when you don’t fix them. Surprises will only work if the one who is surprised is the character in your fiction…not the reader. Let me clarify. If you surprise your reader, you need to do it within the context of the world you’ve created and not because Joe the Destroyer teleported into the next chapter using never before seen technology you were supposed to set up earlier in the story. And who is Joe anyway? Wasn’t the villain’s name Phil? I’m so confused. Let’s move on.
Third person omniscient point of view, for example, is used so readers get an objective birds-eye view of everything: emotion, character thoughts, and plot developments so they can put it together for themselves and feel brilliant. Don’t you love that feeling? If an author does a good job creating their pattern, as the reader you’re not aware of being manipulated into forming conclusions, or if you are, you are having so much fun you really don’t care because it’s smooth and fluid without any snags. When someone drops continuity errors into their work, however, that flow is disrupted.
In crochet, that big goose egg of a pattern hole you didn’t bother to fix leaves your project looking kind of funny to people who see it. It wrecks their enjoyment, and because nobody can focus on anything but the mistakes, all your hard work is for nothing, and then you have to frog it. Nobody likes to frog something they’ve spent hours, days, weeks, or even years on. You don’t have to be formulaic, of course, and you can make up your own patterns, but be logical and consistent and in the end hopefully neither your crochet nor your plots will have any holes, and you won’t have to frog anything again. Ribbet Ribbet.