Did You Know? “Chekov’s Gun” Must Go Off


Anton Chekov was an acclaimed Russian playwright and short-story author. He was also famous for the writing concept of “Chekov’s Gun.”  Jane K. Cleland, mystery author and writing teacher, explained it as the writing principle that everything mentioned in your story must serve a purpose. She attributed this to Chekov. “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you stay 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,” wrote Cleland.

(“Mastering Suspense Structure & Plot” by Jane K. Cleland, published in 2016 by Writer’s Digest Books.)

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