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Chekhov's Gun

I recently took a trip to Southwest Colorado and rode the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. I highly recommend the experience.


Silverton is a quaint, touristy little town, and the people there are kind and welcoming. One in particular, Bob Boeder, has a great little shop called the Train Store, and a fascinating personal story about how he found a diary in a drawer when he bought the business, and this diary told a romantic tale of the previous owner, who had a crush on one of the train operators.


It's a cute little story, and it's perhaps best told orally, because once it was put into print it became bloated and unreadable.


One of my readers once complimented my first short story by telling me that I had "mastered the principle of Chekhov's Gun." I'll be honest, I had to look up that principle; when I did, I was flattered. This principle states that every element introduced in a story must be necessary. I suppose in my first 10K-word story, this was a fairly easy accomplishment.


Train Store Diary fails this principle in nearly every way. The author describes horribly mundane details, such as the lunch habits of the store owner and every last rock and tree along the D&SNGR route. I finished reading about 20% of the book with no clue where the narrative was taking me and no interest in reading further details of the characters' simple, uninteresting lives. These details are entirely unnecessary for the story.


I appreciated the research and experience that went into this book, but at the end of the day, it is a work of fiction, and this book needs more fiction. Some interesting, dynamic fiction, to captivate the reader and leave him wanting more.


I stopped reading at 30%, and wanted much less.