Even some of the best stories we get at Electric Spec could be tighter, meaning they could have the same impact with fewer words, ideas, events, dialogue, settings, and/or characters. Tightening a story is a bit like working on the composition of a photograph or painting. The main subject of your photo is your protagonist, so we need the focus point of the picture to be the protagonist. There should be no doubt the subject of the photo is the protagonist, and it should have lots of detail and originality, making it a fitting subject. Sometimes your antagonist may be nearly as detailed as your protagonist, sharing the focus of the picture. Other times, a secondary character, like a romantic interest, will share the focus. The background should give you a good idea of the setting--what kind of atmosphere are you trying to create? Are you trying to invoke an image of a particular location? The background will be detailed if it is important, less so if it is not.
So, what about everything else in your photo/story? Well, first of all, you need to decide what else fits. The more you throw in there, the bigger the photo (read word count) is, but that does not necessarily make it a better picture. The more you have in the picture, the harder it is to keep the focus where you want it. Even if you do need to include other elements, the more detail you give them, the more distracting they get. So, if something is necessary but not important, be sure it is bland enough to blend in with the entire composition.