On Chekhov’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.
This is important for any storyteller in any medium. Only write what
has relevance and make sure you fulfill your promises to your
I never watched Lost but from what I heard the audience was left with
a lot of unanswered questions and that left the viewers disappointed
by the time the final episode aired. They have since learned their
lesson as they write Once Upon a Time, but this is something you
don’t want to do with their audience.
Another example: in Volocio I wrote how one character bought a
necklace with the intent of having it show up later. Upon rereading
it, I found that I never did anything with it like I had planned. So
now I have to make a decision, do I go back an incorporate it like I
had planned or do I get rid of it all together? I decided to keep it
and use it as a small detail that will help with a bigger plot line
later. I looked at my notes and found it entirely possible so that’s
what I will do.
You don’t have to sit down and carefully outline every little detail
before you start writing. This goes back to my ‘Revision’ post; write
every thing – get it out there. Then go back and fine tune your
details. But don’t worry, if you miss those details or forgot about
them then chances are your Beta readers will see them and point them
out to you. Don’t fret.
But remember, dear readers, don’t go too crazy and write yourself so
many elements that you can’t keep track. Remember the advice I got
from a publishing house: You have great ideas just too many.
Have plot twists but also try to keep it simple.
Until next time,