I have an interactive fiction game that should really be a short story, and merging the branches seems to make sense. The story as I've set it up is fairly linear with lots of split-and-merge patterns. The outline I've written is longer than my list of ideas to fill it and greater than my motivation, so I'm thinking it ought to be a short story. The branches really amount to a few general routes/endings. I think I can merge the three together with a focus on the most interesting and developed branch and make a short story out of it. Done is better than exactly like I imagined.
I'm wondering now if this could be a useful approach in general. That is: Try out a few different variations as if it's a branching game with separate paths/characters and then meld them together to get one thing that is richer than any of the pieces. I vaguely recall something like that in Film Critic Hulk's book.