on Writer Unboxed:
I’ll admit, that’s a strange post title for a site called Writer UN-Boxed. But stick with me. In certain circumstances, you may want to write inside a box.
By that, I do not mean a box of expectations, as in slavishly following storytelling “rules”.
Strict adherence to genre rules, for instance, might seem to please genre fans, but actually only results in cookie cutter novels.
Universal story templates such as the Hero’s Journey or three-act structure are meant to inspire but, treated too rigidly, can also constrain.
Really, any kind of imitation results only in routine novels.
To be effective, fiction must to some degree be original.
Thinking outside the box is helpful, no question.
That said, I sometimes meet writers who are overwhelmed by their choices.
They have a buffet of possible projects and a plethora of intentions.
They agonize over what to write and swim in a sea of directions in which to take their stories.