Chekhov’s Gun – How to Make this Technique Work for You

The term Chekhov’s Gun refers to a literary technique built around playwright Anton Chekhov’s assertion that, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” (This quote is found in endless variations. This particular version is from Gurlyand’s Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No 28, July 11, p. 521)

Though this pearl of wisdom may be quite clear and helpful to you the next time you find yourself designing the set for your local community theater’s production of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, perhaps you are currently wondering how Chekhov’s advice could possibly benefit you as a novelist.

Read the rest of the post on Let the Words Flow, here.


  1. Absolutely, great advice by you and Anton. Like, if you mention in excruciating detail the doilies on the back of Aunt Renilda's couch, then we'd BETTER see those doilies play an important part in the novel later on!!

  2. @Carol - Yes! This was something that I was a bit naive about when I was learning to write. I always thought detail was a good thing, while overlooking the importance of relevance of details. I don't know if you're a fan of THE HUNGER GAMES, but if you are, go back to the earliest description of Gale and what makes him uniquely talented. Not a single bit of detail is a "gun" that doesn't go off later in the trilogy. Anton would be proud. ;) Thanks for commenting.

  3. What are these "guns"?? Email since they'd obviously be spoiler-y? :)