Posts Tagged ‘Chekhov’s gun’

Writing with Pen and PaperNo, not my Chapter One. Sorry if I got your hopes up, there. (Did I? I hope I did, actually.)

No, I mean Chapter Ones (or is it Chapters One, like attorneys general?), in general. What are the needs, what are the requirements of a novel’s Chapter One.

A lot of writers paraphrase Chekhov. In essence, If you hang a loaded gun on the wall in Act I, it must go off by the end of Act III.

A lot of writers (mostly newer writers) want the literary equivalent of a movie’s “establishing shot.” They want everything set up in Chapter One–characters, setting, conflict, subplots–everything.

For me, the best advice I’ve ever heard on how to build my Chapter One is this:

Shoot the sheriff on the first page.


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