"Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics” over the past month and a half — guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories: #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."

Remind me to reread this. Often.

The Pixar Touch - history of Pixar - Blog - Pixar story rules (one version)

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