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Sophie

22 Rules of Storytelling by Pixar Storyboard Artist

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Posted (edited)

 

https://laughingsquid.com/22-rules-of-storytelling-by-pixar-storyboard-artist/

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Former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted a number of valuable storytelling rules during her time at the animation studio.

 

1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

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 til 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’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 character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty 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 & 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 rearrange 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 out from there.

 

Edited by Sophie
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Excellent advice. Really helpful aid memory.

 

Quite timely too as I am trying to work out which of the two ideas I have going around inside my head is the one to go with.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

trying to work out which of the two ideas I have going around inside my head is the one to go with.

Ah, the old fork in the road. The road less traveled?

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My favourite is, "Write down what would NOT happen next."  This gives so much room to play, and play is the rocket fuel of creativity. 

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19 hours ago, Sophie said:

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.

And the reason you're writing it.

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18 hours ago, Shamrock said:

trying to work out which of the two ideas I have going around inside my head is the one to go with.

 

 

15 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

Ah, the old fork in the road. The road less traveled?

 

Yes, probably.

 

I think I have found a way to see which one is the most likely to develop.  Some years ago I bought a book on writing plots but never really read properly.  With 'Demon'  I found it helpful with straightening out the plotline.

The author recommends as a first step writing down a  'Dramatic Throughline'  i.e the goal(s) of the story.  From this you build up your plot.  This is proving to be a challenge but in a good way as it will help me decide which idea can be developed possibly into a story.

 

The 'throughline' is not the same as the TAG line where you sum up your story in sentence.  

It focuses on what the main character(s) want to achieve/overcome. 

 

I can't quote the examples the author gives but if you are interested here is a link to the PDF copy of the book.

 

Story Structure Architect PDFR File

 

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Thank you, Sophie. It is overwhelming, in a good way:)  I am blessed to be in this writing community. The lows I hit don't nag at me quite the same way now since I hear that my struggles are common among writers. The doubts that find a voice in me still pop up but I question them now :)  I still put my foot in my mouth in trying to put feelings about into words - but it's getting easier to remove it. Posts like yours are a blast of fresh air. I guess that means I'm a list person! So on we go! Thanks again!

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7 hours ago, Carolyn W said:

I still put my foot in my mouth in trying to put feelings about into words - but it's getting easier to remove it.

With this kind of writing, you have a real future in words!

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On ‎7‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 12:57 PM, Sophie said:

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.

 

I like this one.

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4 hours ago, Jorge Acevedo said:

Hey Sophie, thanks for posting. Excellent ideas. I'm copying and pasting to my resources as I get ready to write my second book and bring my characters to life.

 

Oh yeah, I agree with Jorge!

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