So I'm reading through my first draft this morning, and my characters start having this long, random conversation about world-building details that have nothing to do with the story.
That's okay in the first draft. Maybe even important. Those were things I needed to set down for my own information. But now that I'm on the second draft?
Hand me the weed whacker.
For my first draft, I like to throw a bunch of seeds out there, rake the dirt around, water it, and then come back later and see what came up.
Lots of weeds, that's what.
The flowers I planted came up too, but it's hard to see them for all the weeds. So now I've got to go back through my plot and pluck out anything that doesn't add to the grand design. Some of those weeds are pretty, yes, but they're going to have to go.
Great storytelling isn't just about what to say, it's about what not to say. I'll always admire Walt Disney for cutting a couple of really cute scenes from his original "Snow White" film. They were charming, but they weren't needed for the plot.
I bet it was hard to cut those scenes. Pulling out those weeds can hurt. Sometimes their roots are tangled with parts of the story I want to keep. Sometimes I find beautiful wildflowers that I want to dig up and transplant to another book. It's hard work, but when I'm done my plot is going to look great.