Chekhov’s Gun is Bullshit

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

‘Chekhov’s Gun’ is a dramatic principle for writers, meant to teach us that ‘every element of a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed’ (Source).

In its most basic form, it famously states that if there is a gun on the wall in one chapter, it must go off in a later chapter. Otherwise, it should not be there.

What a load of bullshit!

While certainly well-intentioned—for it is good to avoid the extraneous, and reductive editing is almost always the surest route to perfection—the principle at its simplest entirely ignores the myriad reasons to include such an item in a story.

To say that a gun must go off or not exist at all is to limit the writer’s freedom and usher all creative narration into cookie cutter niches of content. Guns must equate to shootouts. Attraction must result in sex. Loss must evoke retribution or vindication. It’s all very formulaic, and in the end we end up with a far less promising array of potentials.

The notion itself only attempts to force stories and thought into a more linear pattern, allowing less growth in exchange for more action. It’s predictable, trite, and self-limiting.

Let us look briefly to an example. The Bruce Springsteen song ‘Galveston Bay’ (Link) tells the story of two Americans with very different experiences of the Vietnam war and its resulting influx of immigrants. Le, a native of Vietnam, flees his war-torn country for the alluring promise of America. Billy sees the immigrants coming and changing the life he’d always known. When, at the end of the song, Billy waits for Le in an alley with a Ka-bar knife, Checkhov’s principle would clearly state that the knife must come into play.

But it doesn’t. Billy slips the knife back into his pocket and lets Le pass—finally understanding the joint nature of their struggles, and realizing that his destructive impulse was not a true solution.

This is a far more interesting and dramatic narrative than another simple back-alley knifing. Had the knife not been included, we would struggle to understand the tension and conflict of Billy’s mindset. Had it been used, we would not see his development.

So, dear writers, while catch-all principles can serve as useful reminders, let us not fall into the habit of taking them as sacrosanct. Tiny details can serve to develop character, and show choices far beyond their most obvious functions. Guns aren’t always fired, hurt doesn’t always result in glory, and kisses, sadly, aren’t always forever. Sometimes, they are simply experiences we must pass through, learning what we can.

After all, owning a gun can tell you a lot about a character, but the decision not to use one when provoked can show you far more. We should always be mindful of this.

-Brad OH Inc.

Brad OH Inc.—Now Taking Requests!

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpg

Each week at Brad OH Inc., we endeavour to present a fresh new article for our readers to enjoy. These come from myriad different inspirations, and include such a broad range of topics as politics, philosophy, poetry, music and more. In this effort, we have tried not only to create varied content, but also to represent a broad swath of perspectives and opinions. After all, we believe it is a far more useful goal to explore the diversity of thought and the benefits of thinking outside the box than to push for a single perspective to the detriment of critical consideration.

But what we here at Brad OH Inc. have been wondering is: What do you want? That’s right, today we’re reaching out to our readers to better understand what’s most in demand. Do you want to see more of any particular article type? Perhaps you’d like to see a familiar issue covered from a unique perspective? Well, for a limited time only, we’re open to your suggestions!

Rest assured, we have a lot of potential topics coming down the pipeline, along with some unexpected surprises. But being the caring and commercially motivated Corporation we are, we thought it only prudent to also reach out to you, our dear readers.

What type of article do you prefer? What crucial issues would you like us to resolve for you and the rest of the world? If you have any general topic, or even a specific perspective you’d like to see the infallible brain-trust at Brad OH Inc. elucidate, then send us an e-mail or leave your input in the comments section. The comments section is found by scrolling to the very bottom of this page, and there’s a direct link for e-mail below… So try it out, because you never know…we just might answer!

Direct E-mail

-Brad OH Inc.

Will vs. When: In Defense of the Muses

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampToday, in continuing our celebration of the release of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, we are happy to share with you a submission from our former anthology, ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’.

This anthology was released back in March of 2013, and much like ‘Between the Shelves’, was edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, and featured submissions by members of ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’.

Below, you’ll find the Brad OH Inc. submission from ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ in its entirety. We hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to pick up your copy of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’ in either Kindle ($2.99), or Paperback ($12.50) copies. All proceeds are to be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverWill vs. When: In Defense of the Muses

A Discussion on Timing your Productivity

-By Brad OH Inc.-

 In many ancient cultures, art was considered the work of divine inspiration, imparted unto chosen individuals by the muses. In some accounts they were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne—the goddess of memory. Some myths hold that there were three muses, while other accounts say nine. In some legends they are each given a separate artistic domain—ranging from poetry to tragedy, and even encompassing such arts as comedy, astrology, and dance.

I am not a historian, and cannot claim a comprehensive knowledge of the muses’ origins. All that I can say with certainty is that I have yet to meet a muse, and by this fact I am somewhat perturbed. They would be most useful for anyone in a position for which creativity is a prerequisite, and I can certainly imagine that if they existed—whether there were three or nine—all art would cease, as all artists began a bloody battle for possession of one.

When writing, I often feel there is a similar conflict being waged for my productivity. This conflict is recalled to me whenever I hear other writers planning their efforts—particularly when the discussion drifts towards overcoming the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. It is the battle of will versus when.

There are myriad opinions on the matter, for there are many different writers. It might be that the ‘will’—that indescribable drive to write which often settles upon us at the most inopportune times—is lacking. This inevitably leaves us throwing crinkled papers angrily across the room, cursing our lack of creativity before giving up entirely.

On the other side is the issue of ‘when’. Writing is a demanding occupation, and we are bombarded constantly with conflicting expectations which encroach on time that might otherwise be spent churning out vast tomes of flawless material.

This conflict happens to us all. Every writer finds themselves challenged by one of these constraints—if not both. Often enough, ‘will’ and ‘want’ will double team us—a sudden brilliant idea will strike us, and we know that as soon as we’re at our desks that this cathartic flash will become the breakthrough plot of our burgeoning career. That’s the setup.

But chores abound, and when finally we find ourselves seated in our office chair—that imagined place were high art flows from our pens like fountain pop at a child’s party—we find ourselves abandoned. The words don’t come, or worse, the idea is in hindsight pretentious or cliché. That’s the knockout punch.

Wherever you turn, you’ll find advice on the matter—and I remember trying it all. I’d sit at my desk for hours uncounted as the chair constricted around me. The blinding snowstorm of my blank screen burning my tired eyes as I’d reassure myself: You just have to sit and force it, dig deep and find where you’ve got it buried.

Nothing would come.

I’d sit until I was certain to develop bedsores, and finally push away in disgust—positive there had to be a better way.

Of course, this attempt at forced productivity was duly compensated for. Weeks would pass in an apathetic malaise—I’d tell myself I was recharging or that I needed to be in the right place to write. That place wouldn’t come either.

It made me wonder why I started to write. I certainly don’t remember sitting down with an empty word processor, thinking: This is the life. I’m not sure any writer ever has.

So how did I start to write then? In fact, I can’t recall now that I look back. What I am certain of is that it happened gradually, most likely as I came to realise that I had a lot I wanted to write about—and more important still—that I enjoyed doing so.

How do we as writers find ourselves at this impasse? Whether walking the streets reflecting moodily on our recent lack of productivity, or sitting with an empty sheet regretting our inability to find the words, we are constantly relegated into the unwilling pawns as our inspiration squares off with our discipline in a match which can end only with the death of our aspirations.

When writing is such a struggle, it can be a feat to remind ourselves that frustration is an integral aspect of any endeavor, and that no matter how it may try us, we write because we enjoy it.

Enter the muses—shy ladies, they come unlooked for—bringing a sudden smile as the words fall together in your mind. Like the building of a song, the bridge of some happenstance occurrence meets the chorus of obscure connections, until we are left awestruck by the crescendo of a promising plot.

It’s not something you can look for. That’s not how the muses operate. But I do know that when I sit at my desk calling for them, there is seldom an answer. Nor do I fare better playing hard to get, pushing them from my mind hoping they’ll sneak up from behind.

Rather, we must allow ourselves to receive these inspirations when they come, yet know where our efforts are best aimed when they do not. Being a writer is a surprisingly multi-faceted pursuit—editing, marketing, research, organization, plotting, learning—all of these and more are required to find success, but not all of them demand the attention of the muses.

Productivity may be achieved even when creativity lacks, yet we must be vigilant for creativity when it does arrive. In an age of limitless accessibility to technology, it’s easy to be prepared: phones, tablets, laptops, or even a good old fashioned notebook. When the call sounds, there’s little excuse not to answer. I’ve found many of my finest periods of productivity coming unexpectedly—one idea branches into many, and I eventually get home with a notebook brimming full of hasty scribbles to decipher.

These brief triumphs don’t end the battle. Perhaps it’s not the sort of battle which is meant to end. There will never be enough time, and what little does come up will still all too often be spent futilely. But if we remind ourselves why we write—what passion for wordplay or prose grew within us to foster this mad pursuit—and in so doing maintain a positive and open attitude towards our craft, then surely we’re on the right track.

It may be an offhand remark of a friend, an unexpected sight, a nagging question whose answer plays out in our minds, or just a whisper on the wind. However it comes though, we must be prepared. For the muses—rare and mysterious as they are—still speak in ancient tongues. It is up to the writers, and indeed all artists of the world, to be ready to translate them.

-Brad OH Inc.

“Between the Shelves”- Release and Interview with Brad OH Inc.

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday marks the official release of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, an anthology edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen. This anthology is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc. entitled ‘Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All things’.

The theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond. The anthology is available now via CreateSpace in both digital ($2.99) and hard copy ($12.50) versions. All proceeds will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

You can purchase your copy here:

BetweenTheShelvesCoverTo celebrate this release, we have an interview conducted by Hal J. Friesen with Brad OH Inc. about the content of the anthology.

  1. First things first: do you believe that people should be Corporations as well as vice versa?

That’s a great line of inquiry, and we here at Brad OH Inc. are thrilled to see your appreciation for such crucial issues. Really though, we think this may be two questions, and therefore we would be remiss to provide any less than two answers.

I’ll answer the second first, as it’s the easier answer. Let it be abundantly clear that the question of whether or not Corporations are people is no question at all: just ask Mitt Romeny! If you ignore the blathering after his key statement, we believe the point is made abundantly clear. But if you need it better articulated, you’ll find just that here.

Yes, there can be no doubt whatsoever that Corporations are not only people, but they are the very best of people. They are the creators and providers, they are the ones who inspire and build where others only talk and dream. This of course leads us to your other, more relevant question. Namely: Should people be Corporations?

This too is an easy answer—although again it requires some clarification…perhaps even a moderate touch of filibustering. Specifically, we need to discuss the word ‘should’. If we’re to take it in its proper sense, then we can say at the least that all people should endeavour to be Corporations, even if they will not all be able to achieve it. Obviously, people should strive to be their very best. Corporations are the best possible expression of humanity, and therefore we would encourage every person to strive to grow into a Corporate person. The benefits alone are outstanding: tax breaks, immortality, and utterly no risk from bankruptcy just to name a few.

Now, you may expect me to quote Ayn Rand here, but I’ll do you one better. In ‘The Republic’, Plato encourages a group of enlightened elites to lead the demos. What better expression of an enlightened elite than the Corporation? Our goals, clearly, are more evident and better pursued than the fickle worries of ordinary humans. That alone should suffice to illuminate the pressing need for Corporate leadership. Therefore, it behooves us here at Brad OH Inc. to encourage all basic people to aspire to greater accomplishments—namely, becoming Corporate. After all, an increase in Corporate presence is the highest hope for humanity…at least until we can achieve the end-goal of Corporate Suffrage.

  1. Have you or any members of Brad OH Inc ever had any embarrassing moments in a library? Any responses will be strictly off the record.

Here at Brad OH Inc., we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of behaviour. Furthermore, we have a team of legal professionals on call at all times, ready to denounce responsibility for any perceived transgressions; so that clearly precludes the possibility of any officially acknowledged embarrassment.

With that out of the way, there is one incident we recall that may fit your need to publically deride the creative origins of our Corporate-Personhood. When we were just a young Corporate Human, we were reading aloud at a public library to a table of peers. Our chosen book was something about ‘Gnus’—those abominable animals that can’t quite decide what they are. The entire point of the book was that the word ‘Gnu’ sounds just like ‘new’ and ‘knew’, however this point was missed on our still developing phonetic-mandates. Therefore, we pronounced the word ‘Gnu’ as ‘Ga-noo’—entirely destroying the already limited humour of the book, and causing us significant lasting shame.

  1. Is Neve inspired by a member of Brad OH Inc?

Yes in fact, very astute of you to see this. There was a young girl we kept down in the copy room, from whom the name and likeness of the titular character are entirely derived. Have no fear however, the process was entirely by the books.

You see, Neve owned a small rat named Clarice, who one day managed to saw through one of the printer cables with its savage little teeth. Neve’s salary was insufficient to pay for the damages, and so, mercifully, we here at Brad OH Inc. appropriated her legal name and likeness, knowing well that we’d sooner or later find some way for it to pay off her debt. The story in this anthology is the fulfillment of that debt.

Neve has since been terminated.

  1. At what point in your own reading development did you move like Neve away from purely “happy” stories?

Looking back, we’d have to say that happened pretty early. Certainly, there were a number of happy-go-lucky stories read to us before we were officially granted our Corporate-Sovereignty, but even then, some our earliest official recollections involve having ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ read aloud to us—and those are bitter-sweet at best.

If you’re at all familiar with our efforts—which you certainly should be—you’ll know that creation and meaning are imperative to the purposes of Brad OH Inc. To that end, we’ve found that simple, happy stories do little to address the questions so essential to the human/ Corporate experience. It’s through struggle that we grow…and heedless expansion is one of the key goals of Brad OH Inc. after all.

  1. Which Corporation has had the greatest inspiration on Brad OH Inc.’s mission statement?

That’s an interesting question. As far as our Corporate structure is concerned, we’ve worked hard to emulate all the greats: Enron, Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan Chase…all the essentials.

As far as our personal, creative goals, you probably already know that our Corporate Summary Statement is: ‘A thought conglomerate founded on the fundamental imperative of expounding erratically extreme philosophic tenets firmly grounded in hubristic narcissism.’ …it doesn’t get much more clear than that!

As for companies that inspire us on these grounds, the best example is probably Psychopathic Records. The self-founded label of the Insane Clown Posse, this label has succeeded not only in developing them from a tiny local rap act in metro-Detroit, to an international force to be reckoned with. Their dedication to the absurd has helped launch countless acts throughout their existence, and their passion for ethical-provocation and philosophical exploration is admirable. At Brad OH Inc., we hope to be as successful in providing such varied, yet philosophically consistent material.

Brad OH Inc.’s story “Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All Things” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil

DontChewPencil_750Here at Brad OH Inc., we are excited to announce the upcoming release of a brand new, collaborative project—because at Brad OH Inc., we know that many hands make less work… yet that the bounty may remain undivided.

We know that many of the loyal Brad OH readers come to our articles, and find themselves wondering how they can be more like the contributing minds behind Brad OH Inc. Well, now is your chance! ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ is an anthology produced by the Edmonton Writers Group, edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, and also featuring an article by Brad OH Inc.! This book is a collection of heartwarming stories for current or aspiring writers, or any readers looking to find the writer in themselves. Look for ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ to release here on Brad OH Inc., as well as sites for other Edmonton Writers Group members, on March. 5th.

-Brad OH Inc.