When I first started thinking about possibly writing a novel, my writer friend Amy gave me some excellent advice. At the time I thought I understood what she was saying, but only later, deep within the guts of writing, did I really comprehend what she meant.
The advice: If something is boring to write, it is boring to read.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Kind of obvious. Self-evident. Doesn’t even need to be said. Ah, but no. It is excellent and subtle advice indeed. As a writer, how many times have you slogged through a passage or a chapter, telling yourself that if you can just get through to the other side, all will be well. That passage or chapter is necessary to the story. It has to be there. So write it, write through it, and get on to the scenes that excite you. This has happened to you many times while writing. Admit it! It certainly has to me.
Every single one of your scenes should excite you. They should be tantalizing to write. If a scene is boring to write, and that scene is necessary, then find a different way to write it. A different tact, a different intensity. Find a way to create tension in the telling. Make that scene interesting to write. And, without fail, it will then be interesting to read.
The great thing is, in being boring, scenes tell you loudly and clearly that they need to be changed. No guess work about it.
To be very clear, boring to write and difficult to write are two completely different things. Some of the best scenes I’ve ever written have been difficult to create. But not boring. They have frustrated, exasperated, infuriated, and exhausted me, made me bang my head against a wall while asking the writing gods why, why, why this writing thing can be so blasted hard. But when writing those scenes, I was there, in the scene, physically, I swear, as if I were standing in the room and observing the characters. I was immersed, like a true meditation, concentrating solely on that one thing, that one place, that one moment in literary time, as the outer world faded far away. And once I’d finished the scene, once it read just the way I’d envisioned it, the feeling of euphoria was amazing.
How do you know if a scene is magical? Perfect? Exactly the way you envisioned it? Easily. No matter how many times you read it, it will affect you deeply. You can read it over and over. And every single time you will feel the emotions, envision the physicality, sink into it in a way that thrills you. Every single time. My favorite scenes that I’ve written? I’ve read them dozens, if not hundreds of times, and they still thrill me.
Another easy test. When editing a story, if you skim over parts because you’ve read them before and they are fine, then you know that those are the parts that desperately need editing. If you don’t want to read them again, no reader will find them interesting.