When you are a novice, experimentation is a useful tool for growth. Once you are established, however, experimentation is more likely to produce failure than success. You've created expectations for your work, and deviating from these expectations to try something new carries the risk that you will write stories you can't sell, or, if they do sell, stories that will disappoint your existing fan base.Read the whole thing. Of all Maxey's suggestions, the one I find most useful is to cultivate an awareness of your personal techniques and tropes. So often we unconsciously write within private comfort zones, and those can easily become boring and provincial. Understanding the ruts in which we run is the first step toward evaluating whether or not they give our readers a smooth ride -- and if we need to pop out of them.
But there's a competing truth: It's seldom a compliment to call a work of art "formulaic." If you rely on formula to produce your fiction, you may produce technically flawless stories completely devoid of passion or heart.
I've written and sold stories based on formula rather than passion. I'm not going to single them out; I doubt that the casual reader of my work could spot which of my stories were labors of love versus which ones I built from my insta-fiction toolkit. That's another danger that awaits artists: Your audience may not be able to tell the difference between work you are passionate about versus work you simply got paid for. Why bother with the passion if it adds no economic value?
I would argue that it's this very same logic that leads some people into becoming prostitutes.
(Picture: CC 2009 by Ted and Jen)