Pixar’s Rules for Story-Telling

And they’re good ones!

  1. Everyone admires a character who overcomes adversity.
  2. Once upon a time ___. Every day ___. One day ___. Because of that ___. Because of that ___. Until finally ___.
  3. Come up with your ending before you figure out the middle.
  4. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Delete details. It will feel awful, but it will make the story better.
  5. What is your character great at? Throw the polar opposite at him/her. Challenge them, always.
  6. Give your characters opinions, strong ones. Audiences don’t like milquetoast. Think Rush and Howard.
  7. If you were the character, how would this situation make you feel? Be honest. It’s always about feelings.
  8. Give me a reasons to root for the character.
  9. What is the essence of your story? Can you tell me in one sentence? Build out from there.

If you think what you do on-air is not story-telling, I’d love to talk with you, because most effective human communication is always a form of story-telling.

You are a character on your own show, so many of these rules apply to what you produce every day.

I hope you find it helpful.