My favorite advice about writing fiction is never to forget that you can “make shit up.”

Eventually, the story you’ve created will take over the controls. The characters will insist on having their way. But until that happens, be open to every alternative, alteration or elimination.

To the point, here’s John Updike’s poem about moving “forward” in fiction:

Marching Through a Novel by John Updike

Each morning my characters

greet me with misty faces

willing, though chilled, to muster

for another day’s progress

through dazzling quicksand,

the march of blank paper.

With instant obedience

they change clothes and mannerisms,

drop a speech impediment,

develop a motive backwards

to suit the deed’s done.

They extend skeletal arms

for the handcuffs of contrivance,

slog through docilely

maneuvers of coincidence,

look toward me hopefully,

their general and quartermaster,

for a clearer face, a bigger heart.

I do what l can for them,

but it is not enough.

Forward is my order,

though their bandages unravel

and some have no backbones

and some turn traitor

like heads with two faces

and some fall forgotten

in the trench work of loose threads,

poor puffs of cartoon flak.

Forward. Believe me, I love them

though I march them to finish them off.