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Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling

Bloggers are not necessarily novelists, but they are all storytellers. In light of that, I wanted to shre these great tips for you writers out there, because many of these tips apply to all of us.

Thes are from Pixar’s visual presentation, but I had so much trouble accessing the presentation that I’m posting the core thoughts here. Please click over to see the full information. Great ideas! 

  1. You admire a character for trying more than their success.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about till you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was __________. Every day __________. One day __________. Because of that, __________. Because of that, __________. Until finally __________.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th — get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell this story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your charter, in this situation, how would you feel? Honestly lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on — it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How’d you rearranged them into what you do like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write “cool.” What would make you act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build from there.
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Ravi Kumar October 20, 2013, 8:55 am

    Very well written. Nice rules for storytelling. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • vpshunt November 1, 2013, 5:54 am

    Hey thank you for sharing such a great tips out there. I will definitely keep all these points in my mind…

  • anup November 10, 2013, 8:19 am

    this post is very helpful for all people . i like this post

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