How does a good fiction writer reveal the truths that reality obscures? There are two ways: by what she tells us, and by what she leaves out of the story.
The story the reader finally reads in your book is like the 10% of the iceberg above the waterline. The rest, the 90% below water is the blood sweat and tears that went into the 10%. All the things the writer knows about the story but left on the ‘cutting room floor’.
So what should be left out? Big blocks of back-story, The boring bits, the mundane everyday things that happen, the bits of dialogue that translate to ‘Hello, how are you?’ and the ‘Fine thanks. Hasn’t it been hot lately.’ Unfortunately, there’s always lots of interesting information about the characters, lots of intriguing research and darling little scenes. But, anything that slows the pace of the story, anything that drops the reader out of the story, anything that allows the reader to remember that sleep is essential, that phone calls need to be made, housework must be done, that’s what’s left out. Padding, filling, fluff, waffle, anything repeated…you got the idea.
So, what’s in the tip of the iceberg? The story, the whole story and nothing but the story.