Chekhov’s gun #AtoZChallenge

Let me begin by saying I’ve never studied literature.  I’m making a bit of an assumption that many of you have heard of Chekhov’s gun and already know what this post is about.  This post is not for you.  It’s for those readers who, like me, don’t know what is being referred to when the term ‘Chekhov’s gun’ is used.  I use the term all the time with myself while I write now.  I’ve yet to read Chekhov but I have watched a number of his plays, many years ago now.

My interpretation of the term is that anything introduced in writing needs a purpose.  If a yellow car is introduced early on it’s memorable enough to need to have a purpose later in the novel if not immediately obvious.  If a knife is mentioned lying on the table it needs to be there for a reason later on.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned a knife.. yet but I have got a yellow car in ‘Holiday Stories’.  Sometimes I mention things because I like them and I then need to find the purpose.. since I’m not published (have I mentioned that already? 😉 I don’t yet know if doing that works yet.

gun hanging on wall

Questioning the extra elements that are in the novel and why they’re there is something I now do all the time.  You might want to add things to distract the reader.

Do you have any other tips like Chekhov’s gun?  I’d love to hear about them.
My AtoZchallenge posts are about writing, parts of my novels or some research I need to do for them. I’m not allowing myself to write about anything other than topics linked to the books, my books. The current titles that I’m writing about are ‘Bags’, ‘Holiday stories’ and ‘Dream Gardener’.

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12 thoughts on “Chekhov’s gun #AtoZChallenge

  1. It’s funny you mention Chekov’s gun, because I’d never heard of it until recently when my editor referred to it in regards to an issue in my current manuscript. I’d never given thought to it before, but it’s a great point.

  2. In a similar vein, I was told that every word you write needs to move the story forward. If a word doesn’t help the story, get rid of it. I don’t always follow that advice as I know I could end up getting rid of too much :/

  3. Thanks for clearing up the term. I can see how such items would need to have pertinence. I hate it when something is mentioned, but then never has any pertinence.

    • Many thanks. I’m working on my first second and third books and the rest are desperate to emerge too! Seem to have got to a bottle neck.. Can see my B post for AtoZ 2014 emerging too!

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