If you seek tranquility, do less. Why I left Kentucky Fried Homicide.

Whoa, it’s been a tough, busy spring. But I won’t bore you with the nasty little details of life (and by nasty little, I actually mean big). You can read about pieces of it here and here. Believe it or not, those stories only scratches the surface.

What I want to tell you today is this: you can delete aspects of your story.

I’m talking specifically about an actual story—a novel. But you can use this advice in life, if you wish.

As many of you know, I’m attempting to finish a novel I started a while ago—so long ago that I’ve lost track of how long. This novel will be the fourth book in the Paynes Creek series. It will be a standalone novel set in the town of Paynes Creek (like this one, this one, and this one), and it will feature a few crossover characters from those other Paynes Creek novels.

The big question today is this: Why has it been do difficult to get back into the writing of this novel? I’ve already written 32,025 words of this novel. It’s more than a 1/3 complete.

I could use the usual excuses: I’ve been too busy or life has gotten in the way. Or how about this one? Writing is just so hard.

All of those are true. But here’s the deal… Writing is the job. If I/you want to be a writer, you have to do the work.

Yesterday, I sat my butt in the chair, and I began the process of re-reading through the more than 32k words I’d already written with a critical eye. The story is good, or at least the story is what I intended for it to be. But there was something wrong. As I read, I realized what was making me stall. I had too many messy characters with too many messy plot points.

Too many people causing too much conflict can be overwhelming.

Today, I will be deleting an entire character and all of the conflict that character brings to the story. Don’t worry, there will still be drama, even without this particularly terrible person, but it will be a smoother read (and a much smoother write) without him. It will be inconvenient, but worth it.

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