August 7, 2017: Because more isn't always better [Day 7]

So today I've been realizing why, just why exactly, I found Jim Heskett's and Libbie Hawker's books so dang exciting. 

It's because they are, for me, freeing.

Even though it's a lot to take in: I'm wrapping my mind around a new way to think about production and a new way to think about story. But it frees me up because both Heskett and Hawker are teaching me how to simplify.

S I M P L I F Y .

If there's one thing that I never, ever, EVER naturally do, it's simplify. I'm a complexifier. I will overcomplicate anything if you give me five minutes and a pencil.

Which is why I needed their books so badly: 

Heskett's production process has a cut-off point at a certain draft: after that, you stop adding new things to the story.

I read that and just sat there staring at my Kindle with my skin tingling. WHAT? It feels silly, but this would literally never occur to me on my own. NEVER.

If I have a good idea, it goes in. Never mind if the story was fine, if the story was working, without it. ... Which is how I create mega-drafts over mega-amounts of time, and never ever finish! Ha! So I'm definitely embracing the concept of the cut-off.

With Hawker, her take on keeping a story whole and unified all comes down to the main character's flaw. It is so beyond brilliant and I'm convinced it's gonna work beautifully for my stories. But it's simple, at heart. It makes it so clear: what fits, what does not fit. 

Simplicity. I've been haunted by the idea of simplicity in creativity, ever since I scrawled down this quote while watching Chef's Table: France: Alexandre Couillon, in his episode, made the beautiful point that simplicity is where so much emotion comes from. 

He was referring to when he realized his dishes were way too complicated—they were, he said, three or four dishes mashed into one. And diners couldn't make sense of them. (This is exactly how some of my massive drafts sound too! Three or four novels mashed into one.)

But then—actually by accident—when Couillon created a very simple, exquisite dish, it was perfect. Memorable. Classic.

And yes: it even got emotional. 

I scribbled down that story and then added a note to myself: Don't be afraid of simplifying the story. Don't be afraid of drawing a line in the process and saying, no major changes now. Don't be afraid of making sure the whole story lines up and revolves around one main thing. 

Don't be afraid to simplify.