I read an article earlier about how Hollywood blockbusters are getting increasingly formulaic (gasp!), and what’s more, how there’s an actual play-by-play formula that everyone is following.
How very, very sad.
Guidelines can be useful, and I have no problem with artists leaning on the wisdom of their predecessors. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. But if you have to follow a plot-by-numbers guide to do your work, you’re not doing it properly. You’ve ceased to be an artist, ceased to be someone who creates great stories, and become something replaceable.
Yes, I realize this is easy to say and harder to live by. Movies are expensive and risky to make, whereas my own fiction is cheap to produce, even counting all the time I spend on it. Easy to say, hard to do.
Nevertheless, I say it.
Artists may steal, but they don’t copy. If you are following a guide like it’s the outline to a test, you’re not doing it right.
Go off the rails. Try something new. Create art. It may fail, but it may succeed beyond your wildest imaginations. Go find out.