Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Muse: Pixar's Rules for Storytelling

Today's Tuesday Muse is this article on storytelling rules learned from Pixar's writers and animators, because whatever we think of Pixar's politics, I think we can all agree that they know how to tell a darn good story. These rules offer excellent insights on building character, getting your manuscript out of a stuck place, and figuring out story structure. Here are some of my favorites:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

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

#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.

#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.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

Now, head on over to the Pixar blog to check out the rest!


  1. I am constantly surprised by just how good every Pixar movie is. Last night I watched Up--for about the thirtieth time--and I still walked away with exciting ideas for my own story.

  2. Love this post! You know, I THOUGHT there must have been a secret formula for how Pixar always came up with amazing material. And now I know! They have a freaking list! :) Thank you for always finding the most entertaining and inspiring articles. I hardly ever comment to tell you that, but your posts are always fun. I can't wait to apply some of these rules to my own writings.


  3. I love number 11. I spend too much time when I should be writing cringing at the mess I'm making of the great stories in my head. Now I'll just have to remember that it's only the beginning. On to fix- and maybe share!