Anyway, I wasn't one of those young "read literature, write like a genius" kids. I was one of those "read science fiction, keep re-writing Star Wars" kids. If they had had (1) the Internet, and (2) fanfiction, I'd be living in my parents' basement today playing World of Warcraft. And my parents don't even have a basement. Awkward!
I do remember the fun of writing back then, even when what I was writing was bad. Heck, blowing up imaginary planets is fun! Those were the Cool Parts. The planet-blowings-up, the after-parties, the shouting orders when the aliens came home and found your ship there in the rubble and were not happy and started shooting. All Cool Parts.
In between the Cool Parts, however...
I have a vivid memory of being troubled about how to get a character to walk out a door. Seriously, I had to get this guy out of a chair, walk him across a room, and get him through the door. And this was a major problem for me. How to go from one Cool Part (significant story moment) to the next?
Elmore Leonard has weighed in on this. He has famously said that he leaves out the parts that readers skip. Hollywood adores him for this, as do I. But I want to turn this on its head a bit, because it's important.
You can't leave everything out.
I can't remember why it was so important that I show my character walking through a door. I know if I were writing a screenplay, I would leave it out. Audiences are great at filling in that kind of elision. Novels have more complicated issues of pace. Sometimes someone needs to leave the room, and the reader needs to see it happen.
So what have I learned over the years? In fiction, if a scene isn't a Cool Part, make it cool. How? Write it cool.
When you can write the non-cool parts so well that the reader won't skip them, well then folks, then you're pretty damn good.