Chekhov called it the gun on the wall. Bill Johnson, in his writing craft book, A Story is a Promise, called it just that. When you hang a gun on the wall in Act I, you promise that it will go off sometime before Act III. (And you know, even when I see a literal gun on the wall in a play, and they post that little sign out front: Act III contains simulated gunfire and smoke, I always flinch when its fired.)
Darcy sent me a little scenelet today that I think reinforces one of the promises we made. Actually, I think it opens it up even more. It’s terrific. One of the neat things about this process is getting little presents like that in my inbox.
We’ve also pondered how to show off our guns on the wall. Darcy and I both like subtle. But we’ve discovered that one (or two) person’s subtle is another’s what the hell are you talking about?
So we ponder. We want it organic, natural to the story, not some sort of neon: LOOK HERE! GUN ON WALL! I emailed Darcy the eloquent: Some readers really need a lot of “stuff.” I know we don’t need a lot of “stuff,” but for readers who do, they really need it.
I should write my own craft book. I can call it: Writing Stuff.
Anyway, I think we’ll have our stuff together in the next few weeks. Then maybe I’ll update the blog a bit more (I say that, but watch, I’ll be back tomorrow).
Until then, watch out for guns on the wall–and keep all your stuff together.