Depending on the complexity of the story, premise or cast, there can be dozens of characters, multiple planets and/or time zones, internal rules of magic and science to keep consistent, and several backstories to reveal.
You have to pay attention to pacing, phrase things in a way that's immersive and compelling, keep the characters in-character, and try to prevent steam from escaping from your own ears.
When you have that much to think about, it's important to have simple methods in place to keep track of all the story's myriad minutiae.
Here are 3 methods I use to avoid creating plot holes:
1. Create character profiles.
In my larger and more complex writing projects, I create a list of all the characters. Each character has a profile with their appearance, list of current injuries if any, abilities, backstory, and personality.
To make it easier to find each character's profile, I put an asterisk before their name in the headline of their profile.
That way, when I use control+f to search for them, I can type in "*Kadian" and go straight to Kadian's profile, so I don't have to pick through every single instance when the name Kadian is mentioned in other characters' profiles.
2. Create concept art.
When I'm not sure what a character, weapon, location or other entity or item looks like, or the appearance is nuanced enough to give me a lot to keep track of, I'll tend to make some simple concept art that I can refer to as needed.
For example, when I first started writing Heroic Lies, I wasn't sure what Zorei looked like, and that uncertainty brought my writing to a screeching, visually ambiguous halt.
I ended up solving the problem by doodling until I produced this:
I also sometimes do this with locations. Because Catgirl Roommate takes place mostly inside a single house, it's important for me to keep the layout of said house consistent.
To help me do this, I made this rough diagram:
3. Map out the plot in advance.
I learned a few years ago that when you want to get a bird's-eye view of the entire plot, it's MUCH easier to look over an outline of the key scenes than to sort through hundreds of pages with a fine-toothed comb.
As I commented in a recent blog post, writing all the scenes in the order in which they appear in the book, without first creating a plot outline, is a recipe for stale scenes, writer's block, and limited plot intricacy.
It's also a recipe for plot holes.
That's why, whenever I start a new writing project, one of the first things I do is make a list of all the key scenes I can think of, in the order in which they happen.
That way, I can see the whole overarching plot at a glance, and make sure everything fits together logically before I start to write the actual book.
Do you have any plot-hole-busting tips of your own?