This concept is a simple, yet important one in any type of fiction. Nothing in fiction is irrelevant and if an object is shown or described in a scene, even in the background, it must have importance to the story.
Or as Anton Chekov put it:
`If, in the first chapter, you say there is a gun hanging on the wall, you should make quite sure that it is going to be used further on in the story.’
There are at least two ways to consider this literary technique:
1. Relevance – Only write about things that further your story. Yes, of course, you need valid descriptions for your setting but don’t place IMPORTANT objects in view if you don’t intend to use them.
2. Foreshadowing – Sometimes, seemingly random objects are set up as props early on in a story only to have great importance later.
One example of this is in the new Karate Kid film. In an early scene, Dre walks in and asks Mr Han if he knows there’s a car in his living room. This car seems irrelevant at this point but is actually integral to Mr Han’s back story and a large part of an important later scene. It is integral to the story though we may only vaguely notice it’s existence at first.
Image belongs atroszko at sxc.hu.
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