gun on the mantle

Ok, so there is this thing in writing called the gun on the mantle concept, aka Chekhov’s Gun.

The idea is that if you mention something in a story and the mention is significant (described in detail), then that object or whatever should be integral to the story at some later point.

It makes sense, right?

Well, to what extent can you mention/describe an object that you don’t have to include it as a major part of the plot?

I see the settings in my stories pretty clearly in my mind, and there are sometimes objects of interest in those rooms that I feel add character to the story or the people in it. Of course I want to leave them there.

But what if those objects don’t come up again in the story? Can’t they just be there for the sake of being there and noticed because they’re interesting?

Can the characters have a brief conversation about, say, a painting and move on with life? That’s how real life works most of the time. We take notice; we move on. Unless that object impacts us emotionally or some other truly significant way, we probably don’t think twice about it. That doesn’t mean it never existed.

What’s the limit on the gun on the mantle thing? A sentence? A paragraph? A page?

I’m putting too much thought into this.

End writing tweak-out.

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