Author Topic: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar  (Read 1684 times)

Marauder Moe

  • Posts: 12477
The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« on: June 11, 2012, 12:32:30 PM »
It's not entirely applicable, as we can't fully edit/control our stories in Armageddon, but there's some interesting nuggets of wisdom for character development:  http://www.pixartouchbook.com/blog/2011/5/15/pixar-story-rules-one-version.html

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#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 v. 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.

RogueGunslinger

  • Posts: 18710
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2012, 02:07:49 PM »
Wow this is cool. I like it.

Marauder Moe

  • Posts: 12477
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2012, 02:23:06 PM »
Edited for Armageddon applicability:

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#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
This is true of how people remember past characters.  It's not about who got the most done, it's about who tried the hardest.

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#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
A perfect formula for writing backgrounds!  I've used it inadvertantly myself.

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#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
You can't control the world, but you can steer your character towards situations that will challenge them like this.

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#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
Right on!

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#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.
Replace "tell THIS story" with "play THIS character".  Having a theme definitely makes playing more interesting and memorable.

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#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
More obvious to us, but certainly applicable.

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#22: What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Again, replace "story" with "character".

TheBadSeed

  • Posts: 331
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2012, 06:06:26 AM »
Awsome stuff. #13 is spot on, especially in Arm.

Dakota

  • Posts: 1223
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2012, 03:39:55 PM »
Theirs a reason why pixar films are @ such a high caliber. They don't make the mistake of just rushing out a film for markets sake.

PS: anyone here a physicist?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 03:42:55 PM by Dakota »
Czar of City Elves.

Eurynomos

  • Legend
  • Posts: 1468
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2012, 02:48:21 AM »
I like these. Thanks!
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Harmless

  • Posts: 2599
Re: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2012, 04:19:24 AM »
Put it in my sig. These are useful, and thank you for your additions Moe. I really like thinking "what does my character really care about" in particular. Dwarves aren't the only race that can have strong goals!
Useful tips: Commands |  |Storytelling:  1  2