I have this thing I do when I'm writing. It's especially common when I'm just noodling my way through a story, with no particular goal in mind, but it happens even I have a pretty clear idea of where I want to go. Basically, my brain just throws a new story element into the mix, and then refuses to let go of it.
Case in point: the formal dinner in The Hunter Prince. It popped in at the end of "A Chest Full Of Grabby-Monster", because apparently my brain decided that writing an age-appropriate story for Firstborn about a prince trying to figure out what to do with the grabby-monster in his room... just wasn't complicated enough.
All right, I thought to myself. I can deal with this. I'll just work it in. So I bravely soldiered on, and set the scene with "Two Views of the Great Hall". So what was I setting the scene for...?
No idea. Absolutely none. I've played with a few, but none of them really work for me. (Probably the best of them was the idea of visiting noble's daughter, who enticed Caijar's cousin into putting the beast in the prince's room as "a prank" - but that places her as part of a larger conspiracy, which means mapping out backstories and motivations for both factions and individuals, and honestly I have neither the time nor the interest for all that. This was meant to be a collection of interrelated short stories, not a full-length fantasy novel. Sheesh.)
My general attitude to writing is to let the story lead, and the writing follow. That means, basically, letting the story play out in my head, and then figuring out how it all fits together, and putting it all into words. There's nothing wrong with that approach in itself, but... well... over the years it's become increasingly obvious that my imagination, when left to its own devices, is ambitious. Hugely ambitious. Wildly ambitious. Ambitious far beyond the scope of the resources I have available to actually, you know, finish my writing projects.
So while I agree with the idea of Following Your Intuition in principle, in practice I really need to learn when (and how!) to rein it in.
In this particular case, the whole formal dinner element was a colossal mistake. I should never have tried to include it. Trying to include has effectively caused the entire story to grind to lurching, ugly halt.
So it's coming out. That's the plan. It means going back and editing "A Chest Full Of Grabby-Monster" and essentially deleting "Two Views of the Great Hall" (though I may add that back in at some later point, in some other story). It's a bit of a pain, but it will also allow me to continue the story, and - dare I hope!? - perhaps even finish it someday.