Chekhov’s Gun

Hello Storytellers. Diana here with playwright and author Anton Chekhov to explore the principle of Chekhov’s Gun. I’d love to hear your thoughts at the end. Let’s get started…

Pixabay images unless otherwise noted.

Imagine you’re watching a movie. The good guy and the bad guy are just about to face off in the tool shed. As the camera shifts to the bad guy, you get a glimpse of a pointy meat hook hanging on a chain. Just a glance. But it’s enough to know that someone’s going to get hooked before the fight is over.

This is one example of “Chekhov’s Gun,” though Chekhov was referring to a gun on the mantel instead of a hook in the tool shed.

At the beginning of the year, Beem talked about sprinkling a story with clues for the Big Reveal (Here). This post is a bit of a spin off – sprinkling clues that keep the story coherent and the pace zippy.

Chekhov believed that every detail in a story must be necessary, and everything else must be scrapped. It came from the idea that if a gun is placed on the mantel, it must at some point be used or it’s making a false promise to the reader.

Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, valued inconsequential details and mocked Chekhov’s bare-bones style. He’s not the only one. Other writers have suggested that too much emphasis on “everything must be there for a purpose” can make a story predictable and colorless.

I’m in the middle.

Inconsequential details can serve a story by bringing characters or setting to life, by adding authenticity, and by offering interesting action beats for dialog. The stylish silk suit may not play a role in the plot, but it says something about the woman who wears it. So does the smudge of chocolate ice cream on her lapel.

At the same time, we don’t need a page’s worth of details about a character’s obsession with bicycles if they’re irrelevant to the plot. If Aunt Bertha’s ceramic unicorn collection isn’t going to come up later in the story, avoid spending four paragraphs describing it. The danger, particularly of needless passages of description or backstory, is they might venture into tangents and kill your pace.

With Chekhov in mind, we should weigh the detail’s contribution and adjust the amount of text accordingly. Make Bertha’s unicorn collection contribute to the narrative on some level, or leave it out. That’s what Anton would advise, anyway.

I think there’s a second lesson from Chekhov’s Gun when it comes to writing—Forecasting.

Let’s say you’re halfway through a zombie-thriller. The writer has his protagonist, a business executive named Larry, leaving a meeting about a corporate merger. He’s an ordinary guy, worried about work, his kids, his job, and the growing danger of zombies. He’s wearing a rumpled suit and carrying a briefcase as he hurries for his car.

Then, a zombie jumps out of an alley. Larry pulls a sword from his trench coat and slays the zombie.  Wait, what?  What sword? The writer never mentioned a sword. When did Larry get a sword? And where’d the trench coat come from? He’s wearing a rumpled suit.

Some forecasting for this big moment would have been helpful for the reader. Larry was just coming from sword-fighting class. Yes, this may sound ridiculous, but at least it explains the sudden appearance of a sword! Perhaps he hooked it on his belt before the meeting and covered it with his trench coat—the coat we know he was wearing because the writer showed him putting it on.

Well, you ask, what if the sword was meant to surprise the reader? Surprises can be great when well planned! Remember the Indiana Jones scene where he’s facing an expert swordsman. The action forecasted a swordfight, but Indy takes out his gun and shoots the guy!  It was a great gimmick because it was so unexpected. And we were set up for it. We knew Indy carried a gun, right?

Here’s another example of a need for forecasting. Two teenage plane crash survivors have been trekking through the mountains for days. They’re in tough shape. Stomachs are growling. As far as we know, they have no supplies, no food, nothing for warmth. The writer has written a grim scene. They’re headed toward death. They sit on a rock, and Bob asks Jennifer to pull her gun from her backpack so he can hunt.

Wait, what? I didn’t know they had backpacks. And Jennifer has a gun? Perhaps the writer needed the teens to have a gun so they can scare off the grizzly bear that’s coming on the next page, but she forgot to plan for it… thus the sudden appearance of backpacks and weaponry.

Now, these are extreme examples, of course. But forecasting does get missed, and it pops the reader out of the story when things seem to appear out of nowhere.

I see it sometimes in fantasy where a character suddenly has a new power in order to solve a plot problem. But it’s not limited to the speculative genres by any means. If you’re character is facing a crisis and needs a way out of it, be careful of having just the right “backpack of solutions” appear on the trail, in the closet, or in the tool shed. Set it up ahead of time. If Jennifer has a gun in her backpack, the writer might show her finding it after the plane crash and slipping it into her gear.

And it can be subtle. If Mary’s going to lose her favorite necklace in the subway, have her put it on in the morning. If Ralph’s toupee is going to fly from his head, show us the windy day. If the car is going to conk out, have the character struggle to start it that morning. If Matt is going to shoot lightning from his fingers, maybe he’s had a problem with static electricity!

Back to Chekhov’s point on extraneous details. Not everything needs to be forecasted. Use the principle of Chekhov’s Gun to weigh the inconsequential from the necessary, and forecast the necessary by putting the gun on the mantel. Then shoot.

Happy Writing!

112 thoughts on “Chekhov’s Gun

  1. Pingback: Forensics for Kids — Review & Giveaway – Rosi Hollinbeck

  2. Great piece, Diana!

    Yes, I’m in the middle on this issue myself. I tend to think the principle of Chekhov’s gun, like most conventional dramatic precepts, should be observed by writers still new to or learning their craft. I’m a big believer in mastering the rules first — learning to tell a great story “by the book.” Once you understand the rules, then you can bend/break them artfully. “Inconsequential details” don’t necessarily need to serve the plot, no, but they should be included in a story purposefully. In the narrative arts, there should be a reason, if not a rule, behind every choice.

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    • “…they should be included in a story purposefully.” That’s true of everything we choose to include, isn’t it. Great comment, Sean. And I completely agree that we need to learn the rules in order to understand if and when to break them. The rules exist for a good reason! I’ve found that I bend more and more toward Chekhov than I used to, simply to improve pace. It’s paid off. Thanks for the visit and for adding to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this, Diana. I had not heard the term “Chekhov’s Gun” until the movie “Knives Out” came on TV. Looking into the movie, I found a video (I wish I could remember who did it) explaining Chekhov’s Gun and using examples from throughout the movie. Both were great. Hugs on the wing.

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    • That’s interesting. What a fun way to study the use of forecasting and leaving clues. We can learn a lot for watching the really good movies. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Have a wonderful evening and Sunday!

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  4. They say writers delete more than they keep in the editing phase. Chekhov’s Gun is about that, I think. It has helped me many times to decide if some details should be kept or not. Excellent post, Diana!

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  5. This was an excellent read, Diana! All of a sudden, I now understand why I’m sometimes frustrated when there’s too much that doesn’t seem to move a story forward. Chekhov’s Gun. I’ll remember that and always give you credit for introducing that to me! Thanks! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Mona, for the visit and comment. Writing a decent book requires a lot of technical skill as well as imagination, and it’s something that we learn over years and years of practice, Then add in our own styles and voices and reader preferences… I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Reading.

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  6. Hi Diana, this is a great post. Stephen King is a master at this technique, think about that little old beetle car climbing up the mountain to the Overlook Hotel. Eeek! I agree that stories shouldn’t be to unbelievable with everything coincidentally working out perfectly. I commented about this in a review once and the author said how else could the story work. My thoughts were, if you can’t make it work without making it unbelievable, then go back and do some rewriting.

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    • Great comment, Robbie. I hope that writers don’t take the easy way out and incorporate solutions that come straight out of the blue when their characters get stuck. Writing is work! The nice thing about outlining is that we’re not quite as apt to paint ourselves into a plot-hole corner. And King…. of course he’s a master. Creepy details, creepy forecasting, and creepy misdirection. Lol. He’s got it all. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. As always, you explain things so well. I know I’m guilty of adding inconsequential details, as my critique group will tell me when some off-the-wall point is more distracting than anything. At the same time, I prefer a bit of mystery when reading, so I’m not a big fan of Chekhov’s “everything must be there for a reason.” I think the key is finding a balance. Readers don’t want to get trapped in minutiae, but I think a good mystery is when authors throw in some select details to make us wonder, “Is this important?”

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    • Great comment, Pete. I think most of the readers here will agree with you that somewhere in the middle is perfect for this day and age. And there’s nothing quite so fun as a misdirection and surprise at the end. Aren’t critique groups great? I just love that kind of feedback. Happy Writing!

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    • The more I write, Kirt, the more there is to learn about this craft. I don’t think non-photographers or non-painters really know what goes into good photography or painting. I kind of like that there is knowledge, skill, and an art to… art! Thanks for the visit. 🙂

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  8. When I read mysteries, I like to trace the clues and even analyze why this suspect should be the killer. I get upset when the killer comes from behind or is a faint shadow at the corner. But then when there’re too many details not significant to the story, I get confused and feel overworked to discriminate against them. I like to be in the middle. Thank you for this post and the discussion, Diana!

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  9. An excellent post. I’m with you, Diana. Something half-way between Chekhov and Hemingway.
    I recently had to go back and add some foreshadowing in my current WIP. One character suddenly turned out to be a traitor, but I’d given no clues earlier.

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  10. Brilliant post Diana and I agree, ‘red herrings’ are great but too many and it gets confusing. I also don’t like it when things magically appear during a crisis, especially when it isn’t a fantasy! One of my bugbears with television dramas and series is that they cast the person who is guilty with a famous face or at least well known usually more so than the rest of the cast. Thanks for the conversation piece.. great comments too..♥

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Sally. It’s a balancing act to get just the right amount of detail, keep it relevant, set the stage, and toss about bits if misdirection. 🙂 All the while keeping the reader wanting more. There’s so much to this craft!

      We notice that too with television. We know the famous actors are either the heroes or the villains. And then, if one of them is killed off early, our interest perks right up! “Oh, that was unexpected!” Lol. Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

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    • Thanks so much for the visit, Toni. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I think there’s a lot of room in the middle between these two literary greats. That means we can find our voices and styles as individual writers. 😀 Happy Writing!

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  11. Great post Diana. Absolutely balance in the story sequence is essential. You said it perfectly here: ‘The stylish silk suit may not play a role in the plot, but it says something about the woman who wears it. So does the smudge of chocolate ice cream on her lapel.’ Less is more. The info is there revealing character without describing everything about them. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Debby. Finding just the right details – those vibrant little impressions that are so revealing about a character or setting – seem much more effective and interesting than describing everything a character is wearing from top to bottom. In that regard, I fall more toward Chekhov’s view that every thing must serve a purpose – no needless tangents or excessive details that are irrelevant to the story. Thanks for the visit and comment, my friend. Have a lovely week. ❤

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  12. An essential post, Diana. It really is a balancing act between what’s necessary to advance the story and what’s atmospheric coloring. Lately, I’ve been leaning towards Chekhov’s point of view, but still, I do like to decorate a room. So many good points here!

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    • Thanks, Andrea. It’s one of those areas where there’s some wiggle room, and our own style of prose can thrive. I also think readers’ expectations have changed since Chekhov and Hemingway were insulting each other. Lol. I think the main point is that we don’t want our books to be full of boring tangents, and we don’t want to solve our characters problems with deus ex machina surprises that make them scratch their heads. Glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m in the middle as well on this one. I enjoy reading mysteries where there are seemingly inconsequential events, but they play an important part in the solution. And I agree about not boring readings with pages and pages of details. Great post, Diana. Lots of food for thought.

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    • Mystery readers need to be so good at forecasting, Joan, not only leaving clues for the reveal, but also for all the misdirection! Not easy. And yes, too much extraneous detail can become tedious, too little can take all the flair out of piece. Thanks for stopping by, Joan. Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

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  14. Interesting discussion! I think you’re arguing that every detail must be essential to the story–but not necessarily to the plot, which I agree with–although I do need to guard against extraneous details under the guise of characterization. I wonder if Chekov’s advice applies more to drama than to fiction, as sets are usually pretty minimal.

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    • Great point, Liz, as Chekhov was primarily a playwright. His story-telling tools were different. Yes, “essential to the story” is a good way to put it. I think there’s a sliding scale. The more important something is to the story, the more description it gets and the other way around. Lots of commenters have mentioned subtlety and misdirection too, which is part of setting up surprises and reveals. I suppose the main points are not to kill the pace with irrelevant description and not to create or solve story problems with elements that come completely out of the blue. Thanks for stopping by and adding your observations! Happy Writing. 🙂

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  15. Excellent post, Diana. I am in the middle. I do believe you need to have the necessary items there for the reader, but you don’t have to hit them over the head with it. But when they appear out of nowhere, that makes you pause and scratch your head.

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    • Perfect way to state it, Michele. Clonking a reader on the head doesn’t work either. Lol. Or clonking them over and over again in case they missed it the first time. Readers are smart and subtlety goes a long way. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Writing.

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      • Oh this is meaty! I agree with ‘clonking them over and over again in case they missed it the first time’ but…think some things have to be repeated – with variations – in order to build an unconscious understanding in the reader’s mind so that when something important depends on that understanding, it’s there, ready to go. Character is a good example. Characters are expected to change and grow, but they’re also expected to stay true to their core values. But how does the Reader know what those core values are? Imho, from small, inconsequential repetitions.
        Getting back to Chekov’s Gun though, getting the balance right is never easy.

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      • I know exactly what you’re saying, Andrea, about certain points being essential for the reader to get and remember or the story will fall apart or lose its core meaning. And when that’s necessary, we can show that message in multiple ways. A character can be meticulous or a slob in a lot of different ways without repetition.

        We were talking also a little about forecasting and not clonking readers over the head with “Hey, there’s a gun on the mantel!” Especially if we’re trying to set up a surprise or a twist. Overall, I think we have to trust our readers to get our hints. They’re smart. It’s a reason why another pair of eyes on our work is so vital. 🙂

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      • Yes! I must say when I read that bit about showing the gun on the mantle I couldn’t help thinking it would give the game away and spoil all the tension. As a reader, I get really upset when I can work out the plot from page 2. I want to be surprised, but in a good way. 🙂
        And yes, Readers /are/ smart. 🙂

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      • Oh, yeah, those surprises are great. I think what Chekhov was getting at was don’t put the gun there and then not use it (unless its a purposeful misdirection – in which case if serves the story after all). A writer shouldn’t go on and on about Aunt Bertha’s unicorn collection and then never mention it again.

        On the other hand, we don’t want a gun to appear out of thin air during the big climax. That can make a reader’s head spin. 😀

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      • Yeah, it’s a delicate balancing act, and a lot depends on the Reader’s expectations. Way back when, Prologues, lengthy introductions and exposition in general was accepted as the ‘right’ way to write. Nowadays, Readers want to get straight into the story.
        I grew up on the classics, but I have to admit even I find myself skimming if there’s too much of Aunt Bertha’s unicorn collection. 😉

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  16. Great post and explantion, Diana 🙂 I don’t like those sudden surprises and its likely to pull me out of the story wondering. Its nice to see little hints but with maybe a bit of misdirection so the surprise is still there. It is hard to cut out those character descriptions that don’t move the story forward too. When it all comes together though its magic!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Denise. Surprises are great and they take some extra planning because we need to leave clues to misdirect while at the same time leaving clues so the reveal works! No small task! I just DNF a book that killed the pace with it’s detailed descriptions of everything. It’s sad because the writing was quite good. Yes, magic when it comes together!

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  17. I’m of camp in between as well, Diana. Too much detail can have my eyes glossing over, especially if it’s unnecessary and doesn’t deliver at the end. On the other hand, I’ve read a few books that left me bewildered because the author didn’t do enough set up for the climatic scenes to be believable or they inserted something at the last moment that was all-so-convenient to fit their resolution.
    As a writer, I find it challenge and fun to find that in between balance.
    A most excellent post today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As much as this advice seems obvious, Mae, it does happen enough that we remember reading books that go both ways. Writing is so much more than just having a good imagination. The aspects of craft are huge. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂 Happy Writing!

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    • I love that what we do is nuanced, and that there’s wiggle room. Writing and reading tastes continue to evolve, and differences in genre play a roll too. Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Writing!

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  18. Without “Chekhov’s Gun,” when the sword comes out suddenly, out of nowhere, the word “contrived” pops into my head. I hadn’t heard the expression (Chekhov’s Gun) but I’m aware of the concept, and of course you have to set the stage before you play out the scene. Good post, Diana.

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    • Thanks for reading, Anneli. My husband hears me talking about this so much that when we watch television and the character just happens to have an 40′ rope in her gym bag, he’ll say, “plot hole.” Lol. Clearly no forecasting and way too convenient. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Writing!

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      • We do the same except we compare it to the story of Wolf and the Seven Little Kids when the nanny goat just happened to have scissors and thread in her pocket to cut open the wolf’s belly, freeing the kids he’d eaten, and they filled the belly with rocks instead and sewed him up with that handy needle and thread. Or when Tweety is swallowed by Sylvester and says, “Ooh! It’s vewwy dahk in heah. I’d bettah stwike a match.”

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Interesting post Diana. I like surprises in a story and don’t expect much logic behind the sword or the gun especially in a fantasy. I detest unnecessary details and descriptions. Too much dialogue also sounds difficult to digest but all writers have their own style and that’s what keeps us humored. 🤗

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    • That’s so interesting, Balroop, that forecasting isn’t that important to you. I think there’s a spectrum (especially when it comes to magic) about how much must be set up and hinted at in advance versus simply there as part of the world. In fact I have a post about that lined up for next month (I think it’s next month). Thanks for adding to the conversation! And Happy Writing.

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  20. I think Agatha Christie mentioned Chekhov’s Gun, and she used those clues really well. I always have to work to drop clues at the right time. It’s easy for me to give away too much too soon and have to think about what to put where. Readers are clever! This was a great post.

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    • I’m sure Agatha Christie made good use of the principle. Mystery writers have to be experts at dropping clues, both misleading ones as well as the correct ones. It’s one of the unique things about the genre – those twists and red herrings are all about subtle forecasting. Not easy, which is why I don’t write mysteries. Lol. Thanks so much for the visit and comment, Judi Lynn. Happy Writing!

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  21. I tend to forget that it’s okay to be in the middle, that everything is not always black-and-white. Or Chekov-and-Hemingway. As Staci mentioned above, I love to put clues in plain sight and then spring them out later, when the reader may have forgotten all about them. When readers, like me, enjoy trying to figure out whodunit, it’s only fair for the author to give the reader as many clues as the protagonist gets.

    And btw, I would be the woman with the chocolate ice cream on her lapel. Says a lot about me, don’t you think? 😉

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    • Ha ha ha. Yeah, I tend to wear my food too. Lol. I was mentioning to Jan that the middle seems to be more in line with the preferences of today’s readers, so I think writing that way is a positive. And you’re so right about mysteries and how carefully those clues need to be sprinkled. We want to misdirect with some clues while making sure other clues are there for the reader’s AHA moment. Thanks for stopping by to check out the post, Amy. Happy Writing!

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  22. Wonderful thoughts and advice, Diana. I won’t lie–the first time I ever saw the phrase “Chekhov’s Gun,” I thought it was an old Star Trek episode. 😀 (Seriously.) I enjoyed the bit about Aunt Bertha and her unicorn collection. I didn’t have an Aunt Bertha, but I did have a Grandma Bertha. She didn’t have a unicorn collection, but she did have an ancient poodle named Tipper who had only one tooth which she used for opening beer bottles. Well, some of that is made-up (I’ll let you decide what), but if I were going to write a story about Grandma Bertha, I’d be sure to include Tipper the One-Toothed Beer Bottle-Opening Wonder Dog early on since…well, since Tipper might come in handy later on during the siege of the Budweiser factory. Hm…time to get a-writing… 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ha ha ha ha. Now Tipper and his one tooth is a detail worth keeping whether it goes anywhere or not, Mike. Part of the art of details is finding the perfect ones what sums up the character or setting. Who cares if Grandma Bertha had blue drapes on her windows. But Tipper opening her beer bottles… priceless. That one detail paints a whole picture! Time for you to get writing. 🙂

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  23. I’ve never heard of Chekhov or his smoking gun, but I like your take on this. As a reader, I like some hints and details. A complete surprise is jarring and too much extraneous detail is boring and distracting. To the middle way.

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  24. This an excellent post, Diana. And to square off Checkov and Hemmingway, brilliant! But it worked to show the opposite writing styles of both. I am with you, somewhere in the middle. I think sprinkling clues might just be the hardest part of putting together a story that flows with a pace that keeps readers engaged. Thank you for sharing this. Fantastic writing advice!

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    • I think our modern writing/reading norms fall somewhere in the middle, Jan. I don’t know if readers have the patience for Hemingway’s style these days, and yet Chekhov’s style may be too bare bones for most fiction – he was a primarily a playwright. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Excellent post, Diana. Forecasting needs to be subtle, as you’ve pointed out. Otherwise, the reader knows the story before it is even told — especially if a reader is a writer. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ha ha. Yes, fooling those writers is a hard job. Lol. Your point about predictability is exactly the one that Hemingway was mentioning. We have to throw some nonessential details in there to obfuscate the real clue. Thanks so much for the comment, Gwen. Happy Writing!

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    • Yeah. That Chekhov versus Hemingway debate was interesting to read about. And you know, Hemingway had no qualms about sharing his opinion. Lol. I think a lot of this is obvious, but it’s also a place where writers can mess up if not careful. Thanks for stopping by, Craig. Happy Writing!

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  26. I do like the extra details to add life to a story (hey, I just finished Dickens 😉 ), but there is a lot to say about having things there for a purpose. And you can do both to add a little surprise: Aunt Bertha’s ceramic unicorn collection is next to her stuffed troll toys, which we go into in great detail, as we do her drawings of dragons. We know Aunt Bertha and her 50 cats too well. Until she uses a ceramic unicorn horn to stop the evil goblin. Thinking of forecasting (and fore-arming), I like foreshadowing. I think King did it best in The Shining were several times normal objects (or rooms) scare you half to death only for there to be nothing to it. And each time you approach, you can feel it. And then it does happen…

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    • Ha ha ha. Love your comment about Dickens and details, Trent. A couple of the other people who commented mentioned hiding the forecasting among mundane details (like the unicorns along with the trolls and cats). Then when the unicorn becomes the weapon, the reader will remember it. And great point about King and forecasting – setting it up, misleading the reader, and then springing it. Writing is such fun, isn’t it? Thanks for the visit and comment!

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  27. Great points, Diana. Yes, it’s a challenge to surprise your reader without cheating (such as your example of the backpack with the gun). But readers want to be surprised. It all comes down to getting your head out of writer mode and seeing your story from the reader’s point of view.

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    • A surprise or twist is fun for the writer and reader, Mike, and if that’s the goal, the clues have to be subtle. We want our reader thinking one thing is going to happen, but when the other takes place, they can say “Aha!” and see that the clues were there all along. Your comment made me think about how important it is to have fresh eyes on our books, especially when we’re trying to surprise our readers. Thanks for the visit and comment and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Pingback: Chekhov’s Gun | Legends of Windemere

  29. I love this, Diana. I could not agree more about it being rather disconcerting to have an object or power or whatever sprung on us without warning. When it is planted, either subtly or in plain sight, we, the reader, can go, ah ha! There is nothing worse than reading pages of details that serve no purpose, either. Snooze-fest, here I come and disinterest in the story is nigh…
    Thanks for this great write!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Dale. These points seem like they should be obvious, don’t they? But we do come across such challenges as readers, and they stand out. Chekhov’s advice to keep unnecessary details to a minimum and pay attention to forecasting never gets stale. 🙂 Have a great day and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I completely agree too, Harmony. Forecasting shouldn’t slap a reader in the face. Lol. Subtlety in forecasting is especially important if what you’re forecasting is a surprise or twist. Happy Writing, my friend. 🙂

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  30. With you every step of the way! I like passing details that tell you more about the character but lengthy musings over something irrelevant to to the tale slow down the pace and irritate. I also believe in the carefully constructed pepper trail that justifies reveals – without it, the reader can feel cheated. Great post, Diana! ♥♥

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    • Thanks for checking out the post, Trish. It’s a balancing act, isn’t it? We want unique, vibrant details, but usually a sentence or two is sufficient. Same with the “paper trail.” All the hints need to be there, even if they’re very subtle. Thanks for dropping by to read. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  31. I like to hide my version of Chekhov’s gun in plain sight. If a letter opener is going to become a weapon later, I bury it in a list of items on the desk that the observing character glosses over. If that character doesn’t give it any importance, hopefully the reader won’t, either. Later, when it’s used as a weapon, I hope the reader thinks, “Oh, I remember that from the desk. How did I not see this coming?”

    Excellent post, Diana.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s perfect, Staci. Readers are smart, Staci. We don’t need to knock them over the head, which can be just as annoying as no forecasting at all. Subtle clues, just a mention, are often enough. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

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