If you're a writer you know all about the three act structure. Act 1: things start out normal. Then something happens giving your character a story goal(Disaster 1). Act 2: your character grows in skills and builds and burns relationships all the while in pursue of their story goal. Then something else happens. Something bad that completely changes how your character will reach their story goal(Disaster 2). Act 3: your character accepts the changes(or not) and learns grows, builds and destroys relationships, and works toward his story goal ether with a new approach or the same. Then something huge happens. Something that makes your character's story goal seem impossible(Disaster 3). Ending: your character comes up with a new way to reach story goal. He ether reaches it or he doesn't. The end.
Now you may be thinking. "what's so bad about that? Seems like a good story?" Well here's the answer. Every movie, fiction book, TV show, or short story is written with this three act structure in mind. By knowing this cookie cutter outline for stories absolutely kills things. I'll say I don't even watch movies anymore because I'm always thinking of the three disasters. This also kills my confidence in Imagination. Forget new and exciting! Here's something you should know: There are no new Ideas. Only recycled ones.
Here's another thing becoming a writer has killed for me: talking to people. Why? Because I've to to know people's motives for doing EVERYTHING. I watch my friends and some comments or actions just stick with me until I'm able to discover their unintentional motives. And here's what I've accumulated from this mountain of observations. 1) People Love themselves 2)People love other people Loving them and 3) Jealousy is every where.
How bout an example? My friend and I were discussing a Vocabulary quiz I had missed in English. She said "Me and Kyle studied them a little and they were really hard." Now I studied these words and they didn't seem any harder than usual. Then the question dawned on me. "Why would she have to mention Kyle?" Took me days to mull this over. It didn't seem like an important fact until I remembered I had told my friend I liked Kyle earlier that week. BOOM! Motives = power + Jealousy. I'm sure she wasn't sitting there thinking "Oh let's make Hannah-Beth feel jealous and make me look good!" but is shows a little glimpse of my friend's subconscious. I do need to remember to tell my friend I don't like Kyle anymore but that's unimportant. The point is we are selfish people. In my "Writing Fiction for Dummies" book I read that no character thinks they're minor characters. We're selfish people with a hunger for dominance over something- anything really. I guess that's what motivates writers to write. Writers get a chance to play god, decide what happens. Power thirst.
I've also started obsessing over universal truths. Universal truths are things that apply to everyone. From the queen of England to the 9/11 terrorists. There's a ton of them. Some deal with social interactions (ex. People would rather be asked than told) while some deal with peoples wants (ex. No matter what you do people will always ask for more) I was watching the cooking channel when I realized why there were so many shows about cooking and books on cooking and Italian people who love cooking. It's because EVERYBODY eats-or at least needs to. It's why people get so motivated to donate to feed the children. They couldn't imagine what it would be like to not have this thing they share with everybody. Eating. Now using these universal truths can throw a huge curve ball at your readers making them feel unified with people but these can also make your reader feel blurred and unimportant. Universal truths work well as themes for novels, but you should always keep them in mind when you're writing.
So there you have it. Humanity consists of a bunch of Self centered, power hungry, unimaginative, attention whores. But It's the people who are different who stand out from the crowd though.