The problem with many books and the majority of mainstream movies is that they use proven success recipes. These recipes work for a reason but their effectiveness to the reader/viewer drops with the number of times they’ve been used. Sooner or later an idea will drop into a full-blown cliche, not because it doesn’t work (cliches don’t become cliches if they didn’t work plenty of times) but because it’s been done to death. When this happens, some screenwriter/writer will try to make tweaks of the original idea, trying to create some variety. This often doesn’t work, party because it deviates from the success recipe and partly because its sole advantage was in the fact it is not the cliche it was trying to avoid. Tweaks are often boring, tedious and as a rule don’t work. When tweaks do work, they do because they aren’t just tweaks but whole new subplots, well developed and well defined.
Lately we’re witnessing a lot of successful tweaks to the original success recipes. That’s because audience is so more demanding today than ten to twenty years ago. Try watching old movies. Even the classics are getting a bit sour. When I look at some older shows or movies I can’t believe I used to be entertained by them. We are not so easy to satisy as we were before.
This is the main reason why an author should read books written by others: to see what works for him and why and to use that in their own writing. If they don’t do it, they will keep using the same old ideas until they turn into cliches. Read books by others, mix those ideas with your own and you will tweak your success recipe before it turns into a cliche.
Anything that deviates from the conventional success recipe runs a serious risk of not working.
Anything that deviates from the conventional success recipe and still finds a way to work has a serious chance of becoming a great story.