How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot with Chekhov's Gun | David T. Shank
If you're a writer, then I hardly need to explain Chekhov's Gun to you. However, I didn't know about it for a long time, so I can't just go without explaining it at least briefly for anyone who might be unfamiliar. We all know what they say about assuming, right? Chekhov's Gun is a literary device popularized by playwright and short fiction writer Anton Chekhov. The old expression is some variation of "If there's a gun on the mantle in the first act, it must go off by the third." It doesn't literally have to be a gun, however. It could be as grand as a nuclear warhead or as minor as a speck of dandruff. The point is, once it is introduced, it should play a role in the story by the end. That speck of dandruff could be the final piece of evidence in a murder case. I stumbled upon this principle by accident before I'd even heard the term. In fact, I started referring to it as the "buried gun" early on. Funny how we all land on guns for these terms. I used this effect as sort of a way to