Chekov’s gun


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.

In My Next Post: What’s a MacGuffin? Clever or Copout? or see Vampire Diaries: Parallel Scenes for more info on literary techniques.

Image belongs atroszko at sxc.hu.

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3 thoughts on “Chekov’s gun

  1. Hi Bardicblogger,

    I just discovered your blog by random chance, and wanted to say that it’s very, very good stuff.

    I have been writing since I was 17 and those writing tips are something I wish I had known a long time ago. And the examples are pretty cool too. I hope you’ll keep on posting articles, I’ll read them 😉

  2. Pingback: Fiction Writing Tips: Keep it Relevant « bardicblogger

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