Checkov’s Gun

Anton Chekhov is universally accepted as a master of the short story.

His control over tension has much to do with this. as does his restraint.

Chekhov is famous for championing a dramatic principle now commonly called ‘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.”

Anton Chekhov

This is some of the best and most actionable writing advice I’ve ever tried to incorporate.

I used to be an over-writer.

When I couldn’t think of the right word to express something, I would to add words I didn’t need instead of putting in the work to find specific ones.

I would use adjectives in every sentence because I thought they made me sound smarter than I was.

In short, I used to waffle.

Our writing can’t afford to waffle because when we waffle, people stop reading.

Tension is the driving force behind all writing, and waffling kills tension.

Luckily, it’s easy to fix a waffling habit.

Writing is only waffle when if doesn’t add value, so every word you write must be completely necessary.

As should every plot point, line of dialogue, character choice, and element of setting.

If you know you’ve waffled, or you’re in doubt, ask these two questions;

Is this word required?

Is there a better option?

Answer yourself honestly, then make a choice.

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