Tag Archives: rules

22 rules of storytelling – according to Pixar’s Emma Coats

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she’s received working for the animation studio over the years. It’s some sage stuff, although there’s nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.

 

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#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.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

 

Read the rest of themThe 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

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Live like Improv

Here are the rules, pulled from Tina Fey’s, Bossypants.

 

#1 – Start with Yes

[author]

“Freeze, I have a gun!”

“No, you don’t that’s your finger.”

[/author]

[author]

“Freeze, I have a gun!”

“The gun I gave you for Christmas? You jerk!”

[/author]

Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says.  But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place.  Start with a Yes and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no.  “No, we can’t do that.”  “No, that’s not in the budget.”  “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.”

 

#2 - Yes, and…

Agree and then add something of your own:

[author]

“I can’t believe it’s so hot in here.”

“Yeah…”

[/author]

Which puts the improv at kind of at a standstill. But, if you add something then we’re getting somewhere:

[author]

“I can’t believe it’s so hot in here.”

“What did you expect? We’re in hell.”

“Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.”

“I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth.”

[/author]

wax figures

 

#3 – Make statements

This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say,

[author]

Who are you?

Where are we?

What are we doing here?

What’s in that box?

[/author]

I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.

This also applies to us women: speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says (cue valley girl):

[author]

I’m going to be your surgeon?

I’m here to talk to you about your procedure?

I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so…?

[/author]

Instead make a statement like:

[author]

“Here we are in Spain, Dracula.”

[/author]

 

#4 – There are no mistakes

Only opportunities.

If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what?

Now, I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel.

I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel-duty” because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field.

Content pulled from: Cedar Sage Marketing, BulletProof Presentations, and PCA2.

Photos: Dracula and Tina & Brad.