Monday, October 1, 2012
Mentor Monday: What’s Anton Chekhov Doing With That Gun?
Chekhov’s Gun refers to an actual prop that will be used later on. Barbara’s blog entry mentioned Harry Potter’s wand. It is essential that Harry buy just the right wand. Not only will its power be important, but it will also link him to other characters in the story.
What if the Games did not involve life or death? What if Collins had decided to make the Games revolve around a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament? Katniss’s ability with a bow would have been superfluous: it would be a Red Herring.
Red Herrings have their place in certain types of story, most notably mysteries. Just because the weird neighbor across the street has a Civil War knife collection, it won’t necessarily follow that he’s the killer. But if the victim’s body has stab wounds, the reader will put Mr. Neighbor high on the suspect list. And that’s what the author wants the reader to do. This sort of technique adds tension to the story.
In other words, give your protagonist something to shoot.