Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

pixars-22-rules-for-storytelling

Since I nominated today to be a Get-Back-To-Writing day, naturally it was only a matter of time before old habits returned and I found myself rummaging around the deep dark corners of the Internet through articles, pictures, gifs and Pins related to writing, rather than actually just getting on with the writing itself. To add further insult to injury, I also, for a time, managed to convince myself it was all in the name of “research”.

Ah, brain. How you love to vex me.

While my disciplinary skills have clearly disappeared down the drain, it appears my procrastination skills remain in fine working order. As such, I successfully stumbled across this little gem of a list at Aerogramme Writers’ Studio. Originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist, these rules were the little kick-up-the-backside I needed to get back to work today.

May they be equally motivational to your own storytelling adventures.

  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.

Now get back to it!

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Facebook and Twitter’s shiny new lovechild

The result of a forbidden love

I recently had the pleasure of being invited by my blog buddy Kate, to trial the new social networking site Google+.

I have to say, when I got the invite I was fairly excited.  I don’t like to be behind with new technology and for a number of weeks previous to my royal invitation, it seemed that everyone was talking about their exclusive participation on Google+, with me behind the red carpet ropes, jumping up and down screaming “pick me! pick me!”

It wasn’t that I had heard anything particularly special  about Google+, with some people happy, others not and a decent amount of expected new technology confusion.  It was more the exclusivity of the whole thing.  By not offering it to everyone but leaking out enough information to set chins wagging, people (myself included) got curious.

Well played Google. Well played.

So, now that I’m a member of this cool new club, what do I think?

Well, at first I was confused.  It sort of looked like Facebook, but with more colours true to the Google logo style, so I felt slightly deceived when I tried desperately to communicate on someone’s wall, only to discover that walls don’t exist in Google+ land.

After much exploring, tinkering and many scratches of my head, I finally figured it out.

Facebook and Twitter defied the odds, fooled everyone into thinking they were arch enemies, grand rivals, wild adversaries!  When in fact, they were snogging in the back seat of the car, concealing their unrequited love, and stealing passionate embraces in the deep of the night.  One thing led to another and then it happened.

Facebook and Twitter had a baby, and they called it Google+.

As is customary with brand new celebrity babies, it was bestowed with a ‘unique’ name, following the likes of Sunday Rose and Suri, and hidden from the media spotlight until it could be all but guaranteed that its first public appearance would bring great profit, stardom and popularity to said VIPs.  I know you’re wondering how this is different to any other superstar couple popping out an overindulged lovechild, and I’m not sure that it is. I can say with confidence only that I’m neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed by this new celebrity rug rat.  I’m just, whelmed?

From the onset you can see that it’s all very sleek and pretty.  Like Facebook, you can update your profile information and provide more about yourself than twitter has ever consented to.  The design closely resembles Facebook, with a few tweaks and changes, such as the +1 button where Facebook instead has the like button.  But for the most part, it acts like Twitter.  You can post on your own ‘wall’ but not on others.  You can add friends to circles (the Google+ equivalent of ‘following’ people on Twitter), meaning you will follow their posts (the ones they make public or available to your circle, anyway), without their having to reciprocate the friendship.

There is a new feature called Circles, which essentially requires you to compartmentalise your friends into categories, which I’m still a little shady about.  I haven’t yet figured out if those people can see the name of the ‘Circle’ you place them in, so be wary about your labels (I’m thinking ‘enemies’, ‘boring’ or ‘losers’ are probably not appropriate).   Truth be told, I still don’t know much at all about the ins and outs of the Circles yet, unsure what happens when you have friends in more than one category and what exactly their purpose is, but I think it comes down to your posts and being able to easily manage what groups, or Circles, can see each of them.

As with any newborn, Google+ is experiencing the usual teething problems as he tries to make his mark on the world, but I haven’t found it too painful to deal with yet.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether Google+ is heading for the bright lights of fame and fortune that it’s famous parents have been blessed with.  I love how clean it is, the simplicity, but as with anything, without the people there really isn’t much to look at.  Currently, I have five lonely Google+ buds, which makes for a pretty slow and dreary post feed as we all walk around aimlessly in circles, bumping into walls and occasionally each other, trying to figure it all out.  There is a distinct echo in the room.

There are a few other features, including the new group video chat ‘hangouts’, which I haven’t yet had the chance to experience, probably due to the aforementioned unremarkable number of Google+ buddies, but if you would like to know more about it, and other various features of Google+, you should definitely check out this very entertaining post at terribleminds.  Here is an excerpt:

I’m also afraid that if I somehow turn on my webcam, the first thing I’m going to see is someone masturbating at me. Which is why I am prepared instead to masturbate at somebody. Fight fire with fire. Fight Onanism with Onanism. I have a very clear “first strike” policy on webcam jerkoffery. Once again, the need for “Circle Jerk” to enter the Goo-Plus parlance is dire. Dire.

Continue reading here

Meanwhile, I’m feeling optimistic enough to stick it out for the time being, although I’m mildly aware that having three platforms to post on is somewhat absurd, and that somewhere along the line, something will have to give.

N.B.  I think it should be noted that I’m resolved on one thing further; at the slightest whiff of a Farmville, Zombieland, Vampire eating, sheep throwing, masterchef making, pirate ninja war battling piece of spam making game, I can safely say that I will lose all respect for this royal lovechild.  I’m hoping his parents will have the decency to teach him the error of their ways and save us all the spammy theatrics.

~storytelling nomad~

“F*ck you Autumn!”

"f*ck you Autumn!"

I’m pretty sure, to the point of being certain, that this tree is saying “F*ck you Autumn”.  Not that I often go around assuming the private conversations or filthy language of inanimate objects, but, well, this one really seemed to be trying to say something.  While the other trees are fighting Autumn with their still lush greens, and others embracing it with their warm reds and golds, this one right here, this one is not having any of it.  I believe it transpired as follows:

***

Mr. Tree: What’s this?  I seem to be changing colour.  My leaves are drying up and I’m getting quite the draft up my lower trunk.

Fellow Tree: But of course!  The sunny season is withdrawing and we now prepare for the big white. Welcome to what the tiny two leggers call Autumn! It seems you are an early bloomer Mr. Tree.

Mr. Tree: It gets worse?!

Fellow Tree: Oh yes, but look how handsome you are.  You wouldn’t happen to be free for a sway in the breeze later would you?

Mr. Tree: Huh? Look, I’m really freaking out about this big white, slash, Autumn business you’ve just dumped on me.  What use am I like this?! How can I shade the tiny two leggers, or house the little flying animals that sing, or filter the air? This is really inconvenient you know.

Fellow Tree: Just go with it Mr. Tree.  You look hot.

Mr. Tree.  I’m not hot.  I’m bloody cold, and now you’re telling me it’s going to get worse.  Well, F*ck you Autumn.  I’m not interested in any of this in between nonsense.  I want to be at my best dammit! [Cue shedding of leaves]

Fellow Tree: *gasp* But Mr. Tree! What have you without your looks?!

Mr. Tree: My dignity!

***

I sympathise with Mr. Tree, I really do.  I often feel that if I can’t be my best, show my worth and exhibit my finest leaves, then well, I’d rather not show anything at all.  I think this often makes me try harder, and attempt to better myself and my writing, because I only want to be my best.  But what I often forget, like Mr. Tree, is that sometimes, even when you’re not at the top of your game, someone out there like Fellow Tree, might appreciate it and even on occasion like it more for what it is.  So, even though I respect Mr. Tree for wanting to be his best, for defending his dignity, I do believe it’s just as important to embrace the ‘flaws’, the bits in between greatness and defeat. After all, someone out there might just love you for it.

N.B. No trees were harmed in the making of this story.

~storytelling nomad~

Procrastination As Always (via Dreams Of Late)

I love this…

No, hold on, that line of text is not wrapping correctly and it looks funky when I preview it.  The words bleed over onto the side color of the page.  I’ll have to change it.  Hold on a minute, novel.  I’ll get to you.  There, it’s fixe…nope, hold on.  One more click, yes…there it’s done now.  How the hell am I expected to have people read this blog when it looks like crap?  It’s not professional.  It’s not how I’d like to represent myself. F … Read More

via Dreams Of Late