Simplify

So often the biggest thing wrong with a story is that there’s too much going on in it. Short stories need to be very compact, have one thing they’re trying to do. Ever noticed that a short story or novella works much better as a movie plot than a novel does? You just can’t fit it all in. Movies made from novels tend to have so much cut out that the reader can’t recognize it anymore. Something like ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ or ‘The Lion King’ works well, getting most of the story in. You need eight hours of movie to properly do a trilogy. That’s right, I mean you, Mr. Jackson.

But all that’s beside the point. What I started to say was, simplify the story. Even for a novel, the writer frequently has so many things being juggled that it won’t fit into a book a person can hold in one hand while eating spaghetti with the other, to choose a non-random example. And often this leads to the crime of epic series–okay, that was a joke. I suppose we’d all like to die like Robert Jordan, with our current work unfinished. After all, the alternative is to be finished, and know we’re finished, that there’s not another book in us. No thanks.

And I’ve veered from the point again. I seem to be a trifle veery today.

There’s a difference between having a satisfying number of side-plots, all of which you wrap up tidily (with any luck, in an interconnected way)… and having too many balls in the air and no hope of catching them all before the end of the book. That’s all I’m saying.

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