In my last post, I discussed how to create memorable characters the Pixar way. This one has some more writing tips from No Film School. This one includes several tweets from Director and Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats (@lawnrocket). I hope you find them useful!
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- What is your character good at; comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations. What would make YOU act that way?
- What are the stakes? Give us a reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against them.
- You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. These can be two very different things.
- What’s the essence of your story? What’s the most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
- 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.
- A story is basically this: Once upon a time, there was ___. Every day, ___. One day, ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
- Exercise: take the building blocks of a story you dislike. How would you rearrange them into what you DO like?
Ending your story tips
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Endings are hard; get yours working up front.
- You won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- 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.