Limitations or caps, are generally seen as restricting or detrimental to artistic vision, but I genuinely believe that applying it, at least to some extent is beneficial.
Creating a fictional piece is as much a subtractive process as it is an additive process. Aka: the things you don't include are equally as important to the creative process as the things you do include.
Originally, when I was creating my published story, it had 30 chapters, but after years of rewrites, my editor artist and I have managed to boil it down to 17 in total, whilst simultaneously making each scene more meaningful and dense.
I propose, that a good technique to employ is selective limitation, that is to say: limitations that allow for creative solutions to typical narrative situations. Limitations, whether they be:
- restricting the characters' resources
- putting characters in situations that require lateral thinking
- capping the power of plot devices, vehicles, weapons etc.
- limiting character interactions to only it's most necessary or interesting
- re-utillizing old characters instead of constantly introducing new ones
- Having scenes with multiple characters interacting at once instead of having character wait their turns to speak their lines of dialogue
- limiting the information the characters know
- limiting the number of total chapters
- fusing scenes together: Montage, flipping
- Having more meaningful scene transitions
- limiting the information the audience knows
Add spice to a narrative.
Having too much liberty to enable plot progression, is what form narrative conventions and stereotypes, paradoxically hinder and limit creative possibilities within a narrative.
And restricts a project to being average at best.
(at least for most genres and stories)
This technique can be most clearly seen with established and tried genres such as romances and fantasy.
Why do you think most romances always add a forbidden love, external conflict or romantic triangle to the mix? If an author didn't the story would be almost entirely predictable.
- it's easy to predict an outcome when the hero has a final showdown with the antagonist, whilst wearing armor and a magical sword, but much less predictable when the protagonist is deprived of their weapons and has to resort to tactics.
In this example the asymmetry of the conflict forces a shift in perspective, making the protagonist be more unconventional or employ tactics to defeat the antagonist.
- It's easy to predict what will happen when two romantically interested characters meet, but much less so when, say... one of the romantic partners is a sentient keychain that threatens to annihilate humanity if it doesn't get thrown into a volcano after a week.
In this example the addition of the limitation: a sentient mass destructive romantic keychain is the main source of the conflict, the romance with the keychain and the other romantic partner serves as a secondary source of conflict.
But in both examples the limitation is what makes the story more interesting than the sum of it's genre.
With the technical aspects, much the same principle applies, the shorter a narrative's length, the more emphasis placed for each scene to be meaningful and to serve the plot.
Limitation and overcoming this is also a large reason why, at least as a rule of thumb, films tend to be more critically received, and remembered by history than TV Series. And are used as examples in film and writing theory.
If you have a different perspective, or wish to add to this, I'd be very much interested in reading your comments and will be happy to edit this thread.
I hope this helps with your creative projects!