A few writery links, just for you

Here, have some links to entertaining articles about writers and writing.

First, Kate sends this link to the TV Tropes entry on Chekhov’s Gun.

“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.”
—Trope Namer Anton Chekhov (From S. Shchukin, Memoirs. 1911.)

Chekhov’s Gun is a literary technique whereby an unimportant element introduced early in the story becomes significant later on…. Many people consider the phrase “Chekhov’s gun” synonymous with foreshadowing (and they are related), but statements the author made about the Gun can be more properly interpreted as “do not include any unnecessary elements in a story.”

Recently I used Checkhov’s Gun to explain why a movie some friends and I had just watched felt disastrously disappointing. The film was about two men repainting lines on country roads in Texas after a wildfire in the 1980s. It opened with a written introduction that said: The fire was arson. The perpetrator has never been caught.

Cut to: two guys having coffee over an open flame before they get to work in the fire zone. Hmm.

But no. The movie was just about two guys painting lines on country roads.

TV Tropes’ list of items stocked in “Checkhov’s Gun Depot” is entertaining. Kate particularly likes “Checkhov’s Volcano.” As do I.

Second, check out these pages from the official 1967 Star Trek writers’ guide.



We open with action, always establishing a strong jeopardy, need, or other “hook.”  It is not necessary to establish all the back story in the teaser. Instead, we tantalize the audience with a promise of excitement to come. For example, it can be as simple as everyone tense on the bridge, hunting down a marauding enemy ship… then a tale-telling blip is sighted on the screen and the Captain orders “ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS.” Fade out, that’s enough.

Fantastic stuff, says she who has only once worn a Starfleet Captain’s shirt to a Star Trek exhibition. Honest.

Finally, 30 Pieces of Wisdom from Stephen King Novels.

It’s a great list of pithy quotes. Such as this one, from Wizard and Glass:

Fools are the only folk on the earth who can absolutely count on getting what they deserve.

There’s also a quiz. Enjoy.

6 responses to “A few writery links, just for you

  1. “The movie was just about two guys painting lines on country roads.”

    Andy Warhol lives!

  2. No no no. Do not tempt me with TV Tropes. I have a life to live and things to do.

  3. I’m all for unnecessary elements. When an author notes that the proverbial bartender has one blue and one brown eye, because it adds flavor to the story. That it is not salient to the story is immaterial. It sets a scene.

    Sometimes a gun on a wall is just a gun on the wall.

  4. So, Chekov’s Gun would be just the opposite of a MacGuffin?


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