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Creative writing: Does it have to be a box?

Be unpredictable and it won’t just be you who’ll enjoy your writing more, says Steven Chapman

Thinking outside the box goes by many names in the creative world: taking the road less travelled, lateral thinking, a shift in the paradigm... whatever you call it, the ability to keep your readers on their toes is one of the most useful tools in your author’s toolbox.

A lot of writers tend to follow the norms of plotting – which makes sense to a certain extent. After all, it can be scary to differ from the norm, and lucrative to stick to it. As soon as a novel becomes a hit, shops are inundated with similar titles and plots, books boasting almost identical covers in an attempt to cash in on the Next Big Thing, proving that resorting to the Same Old Thing can be beneficial to your bank balance. But by playing it safe, by only working with what you know best, you run the risk of boring your readers. It’s understandable; there’s comfort in the familiar, and with comfort comes easy writing. But since when was writing supposed to be easy?

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Writing Competition Special 2017 – win over £570,000 in more than 200 competitions! Break into young adult fiction Money matters: • How to expand your writing income online • Should you ever write for free? • How much do authors really earn? 20 packed pages of writing opportunities in Writers' News Star interview with Eowyn Ivey, author of international bestseller The Snow Child

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