I still think the best way to write a good story is to keep pitching it to friends, as I say in my book. However, just like other writers, I'm bad at doing it. But I finally finished off the long version of Unseen
, almost 15 pages. Now I'm retelling it in 5, hopefully, off the top of my head. And, I think, it's getting better. Faster. More streamlined.
It's tough to tell a story off the top of your head, but if you can, it's a better story than if you can't, I think, and you find yourself rearranging scenes in much better order as you do it. Sometimes you realize you have as you do it, sometimes you don't realize it until later, but the order that comes to mind off the top of your head almost certainly makes a better story.
The exception here is things you need to set up in advance. But you can mention them in your short form where they come up ("... a guy we've, I forgot to mention, seen snooping around in earlier scenes") and stick them in their proper place when you start writing pages.