I'm going to muse here for a moment on a phrase that I detest. It's not because I don't accept it, quite the opposite, I understand implicitly where it comes from. "It's all been done before." Sure, okay, certain aspects of every story, when boiled down to their most coherent morsel of digestibility, have been done. Movies devour this ideal with reckless passion, and there is an obvious stagnation at the blockbuster-level where they excise all extraneous hero-story elements with scalpel-like precision. Let's talk about books. That's what we're here for right? Specifically, I'd like to talk about Game of Thrones (which I brought up on a different thread, and it set my mind in motion.) I feel George R.R. Martin set out to upset the status quo, and not just of Fantasy novels, but of books in general. It breaks every "rule" I can think of, and people cherished him for it. There is no clear protagonist or antagonist (in point-of-fact, they switch between those roles so effortlessly we're kept on our toes in the simplest conversations.) I feel a book series like Game of Thrones has not been done before and feel free to disagree with me. I could think of a few political stories that deal in similar themes, but there is a certain distance at which something can sit where leveling "it's all been done before" is distinctly not true anymore. Again, this is just me railing against a peeve. But we're novelists, right? We have the one unmolested medium where new ideas can be given to an audience. We should be pushing whatever boundaries we feel like. Does a story need a single (or any) protagonist? Should a story have a traditional structure? I only bring this up (dangerously probably, having only been posting here for a couple of days) because I cannot think of a more deconstructive thing to tell a writer starting out. You might as well just tell them, "why bother?" We write because we know it hasn't all been done before. There is only one rule that need following: Write for an audience.