How to plot like Pixar: “Brave” animator tweets secrets of storytelling

If you have a hankering to make a blockbuster classic animated film, one of the people behind the new Disney/Pixar hit “Brave” has been tweeting what he learned at the drawing board.  From the Wall Street Journal:

For the past five years, Pixar has served as my film school. As a storyboard artist, working mainly on “Brave” but more recently on other projects, I had the privilege to collaborate with an incredible creative team.

As we hashed out the details of our narrative, I learned a lot about the basics of storytelling, and I have used Twitter to share them with others. Here’s some of what I’ve road-tested from my work trying to bring Princess Merida, other Pixar characters and my own creations to life.

1. You admire characters more for trying than for their successes.

2. Remember that what’s interesting to an audience can be very different from what’s fun to do as a writer.

3. Theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about until 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 are your characters 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 and let go, even if it’s not perfect. Move on, and do better next time.

9.When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. Often the material to get you unstuck will show up.

10. Pull apart the stories you like. You’ve got to recognize what you like in them before you can learn from them.

There’s much more.  Check it out.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X