My Little Man has a good appetite in that he likes to eat, a lot, most days. He is finicky in that he will only eat a few things. These things change from day-to-day so it is always a surprise and an exercise of patience on both our parts to figure out what he wants. He likes his "apple cookies" and his "purple cookies" (what he calls apple and mixed berry Nutra Grain bars), and he likes the usual munchy food: animal crackers, triscuits, goldfish, and cheez-its. Sometimes he'll want a sandwich - he will only eat ham. Sometimes he wants chicken nuggets or tenders. Sometimes I can get him to eat a fish stick. Sometimes he'll eat beef ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, or even meatloaf. Forget about vegetables. His current favorite is macaroni and cheese - what he calls cheese noodles.
Who can argue with a preference for cheese noodles? They're creamy, cheesy, noodly, fantastic comfort food, warming on a cold day and a perfect complement to fried chicken or burgers at a summer barbecue. And they are versatile - they can be consumed as the main course or as a side dish. There are lots of variations too. You can add ham or veggies or go crazy with exotic cheeses. In the end, they are still cheese noodles. And if it is something my Little Man will eat, I'll make cheese noodles for him for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack all he wants.
What I like about cheese noodles is its versatility. Make it with cheddar and add ham, and you have good old-fashioned American Mac & Cheese. Make it with fontina, provalone, mozzerella cheeses and add sundried tomatoes, and it's Italian. See what I mean? The basics are the same, its just how you choose to mix it up. But use good stuff because if you don't make it tasty, your family won't eat it.
That's like writing. The basics are the same - plot, structure, protagonist, antagonist, tension, sub-plot, climax, denoument. What makes a story unique, is the ingredients. And they'd better be good because if the audience doesn't like them, they won't read it.