Linnea Sinclair had a good post about Conflict versus Complication up on Kristen Nelson's blog.
Because I write by the seat of my pants, letting the characters do the exploring and staying the heck out of their way, my first drafts are poster children for this. Very complicated poster children.
For instance, right now the neighbor's dog barks at the hero every time he walks past. The dog's had two paragraphs so far, on the two different times the hero's returned home. Since I try to write with the throttle open and the pedal down, I just stayed out of the way and let that dog bark.
I have an idea that maybe one day, the hero will come home and no dog will bark. The silence will alert him to danger. Or maybe a villain will kick the barking dog and betray his or her true nature.
Or I'll get to the end of the book without the dog ever coming in handy again. That'll get edited out.
In the end, I'm aiming for lean, hard stories. I can't afford an ounce of 'fat', by which I mean anything that doesn't tell the story better.
Linnea also said something awesome right at the start of her post. She mentioned how you can't seperate one element of a story from the others. I get the feeling that'll be my next post...