Reducing or Distilling

I’ve been reading (or listening to) a lot of memoirs.  I’ve even been thinking that writing my own or a fictional one is something I’d like to do.  In either case, the key question seems to be whether you “reduce” or “distill” the stories from the whole.

“Reducing” implies that you are taking something greater and bigger and diminishing it.

“Distilling” implies that your are concentrating something and heightening its impact.

Good storytelling distills (like reducing my post-divorce dating experiences into humorous stories for each guy or situation) and reducing becomes merely factual, often without context.