What You Leave Out Of Stories

I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately. Which, you know, is nothing new. I was going to start this next sentence by saying “what is new is…” but none of this is actually new. I’ve been thinking about story craft for decades at this point and recent years have only seen the amount of time I spend on it increase. In the past, I’ve mostly thought about the way books are written and how stories are told in that format, from what gets included to what gets left out and how not enough of either one can make an otherwise enjoyable story unpleasant. My go-to example for that has always been the level of unnecessary mundane detail that started getting included in the Wheel of Time books after the conclusion of what was originally intended as a trilogy. There are only so many times I can read about characters’ individual hygeine habits in a two-week period that was initially skipped over before it was returned to so the author could describe what happened during that period in detail. For as many memorable, cool story moments I remember from the series, I have an equal number of gripes about frustrating repeated details that shouldn’t have been included.

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