Chekov’s Gun

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

Anton Chekov

If you place a gun in your first act, it should go off in the next.  Every element should fit into the story, or its presence there is deceitful.  I realise, since the beginning of this “story”, I have figured a relapse into it.  And it’s making me nervous now.

There’s a meeting at 8 but I’m in London and I’m not sure when everyone will be back.  I hate having to account for my absences.  This, though, is what it will be like when I move back here.  I’ll be jobless, have no money to go out and no reason to.  I won’t have people to bump into in the library, or go for coffee with.  I won’t have that support.  That period, that little absence, is when I will relapse.

Can you scratch a gun out of a story?

3 thoughts on “Chekov’s Gun

  1. Corollary to Chekov: if there is a gun on the wall of the first act of your story, it needs to feature prominently in the third act, although that does not necessitate it going off in actual fact. Your story can be that of how people kept on talking about how that gun on the wall was dangerous, they really should move it off the wall, it is difficult to move guns about the room so, oh well, we might as well leave it there, but, you know, Cousin Eddie’s temper is terrible and your brother Anton is so clumsy, so it’s clearly inevitable that it will go off, guns always do, you know… culminating in people deciding not to fire the gun after all, or the gun jamming, or someone picking it up but not firing. You’ll be okay. And you won’t be utterly alone in London, you know that- I’ll be there for at least part of the year.

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