#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
This is another tease that we must think write and then rewrite. A famous quote attributed to many literary experts says something like “I wanted to send a short letter but he didn’t have enough time.”
One of the benefits of understanding the themes and story as a whole before rewriting is that it becomes vividly clear how certain themes and characters affect the story. This understanding is paramount to clarity and creating the best story possible. The cost of simplification is the trimming of unwanted words and topics. However, in order to simplify you must first complete.
After finishing a story you really understand the main themes and where they join together. Completion allows you to loose the more difficult to follow sections that are likely to confuse or make the audience work to understand them. A good story must ebb and flow taking the reader on a journey that they can not escape from. How can you reveal the detours and short-cuts without first finishing the work and experiencing it for yourself?
Its like driving to work everyday. When you travel the same route everyday it is inevitable that you will find little short-cuts and simplifications that make your travel a little quicker, a little more comfortable, a little more pleasant. Story telling is just like this. As the creator you must traverse the tightrope with one foot between compelling and overkill and the other between just enough detail and boring the audience with stats.
Once you finish the story, just hop over the difficult parts, create your own short-cuts and and simplify the complex so that it is easy to read and understand. Certain characters do not add significance or benefit anything considerably. These can be omitted or their minor roles combined to make another character more interesting. Anywhere you feel that you can save a word or two or make something clearer, don’t be afraid to leave the “fluff” on the cutting room floor.