Make the Simple Awesomely Simple.

I came across this quote by the great Jazz musician Charlie Mingus today,

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” 

I’m not sure I’ve ever thought Bach was simple, however. He certainly made the complex seem effortless, but I’m not sure that is the same thing.

‘Making the simple, awesomely simple’, is the part which really caught my eye.

Take description.

Some writers tell you the hero walked down the street, others tell when the street first became a street and the whole biography of the person it was named after. I confess I veer towards the former rather than the later.

The truth is, anything you mention should move the story forward. If the name of the street is insignificant then why have it? Make it significant. Give it a name which is a clue to something in your story. If it is a real place then its significance is as a direction and you don’t need to elaborate.

I used to know a person called Louis. Guess which clothes designer he favoured? You got it, he had everything Louis Vuitton. I don’t need to describe any of the clothes now do I? You will have a clear picture of how Louis dressed. That’s awesomely simple.

Introducing me to your female violinist character might require some physical description but you don’t need to tell me how good they are at their job. All you need to tell me is that she plays a violin made by Gariel Stradivarius in 1717. Awesomely simple.

What about your plot? Keep it simple. Then use smoke and mirrors to hide that simplicity. Star Wars is a very simple story. Young man becomes part of a fight between good and evil, seems simple enough doesn’t it?

How about this version – young bloke falls in love with a woman he has never met and finds she is being held prisoner by his dad. Or this version – young man gains a mentor who encourages him to fight a foe which he knows to be his father.

Awesomely simple – good guy battles bad guy – the rest is the smoke and mirrors.

So keep everything you write simple – awesomely simple.


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