To be honest, the hummingbirds came about as a personal dare. I always challenge myself to do difficult things in my novels – I wrote a 93,000-word zombie story without mentioning the Z Word; the ghosts Thomas Usher sees are never allowed to speak to him; and with The Concrete Grove I set myself the task of making a hummingbird, surely one of the most beautiful sights on the planet, scary.
I have to admit that I’ve yet to read McMahon, so I can’t judge his success.
However, the whole concept of restriction, of arbitrary rules, is of key importance to good storytelling.
Restriction breeds creativity.* Restriction forces originality, it forces change. Rather than binding thought, restriction enlivens the final story – whatever the genre. It engages the writers’ craft.
It would be like encouraging new growth by cutting back dead wood, but I’ve restricted my use of plant metaphors in this post.
You can’t use them in the comments, either.
* As MaRo proclaims.