Storytelling rules from Pixar

One Pixar artist offers an interesting set of 20 storytelling rules.  They are aimed at fiction, but most can be thoughtfully considered for nonfiction as well.

For example,

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#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.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

and

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

(thanks to Nancy Duarte)

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One Response to Storytelling rules from Pixar

  1. johoward says:

    Useful rules – I will apply them to http://www.helenaandthemothership.com. It certainly needs something! I’m just starting a major edit, so this is the time! There are so many gaps and inconsistencies at the moment, but I’m on the case.

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