Welcome to my series on Pixar’s now-famous 22 Rules of Storytelling. I don’t religiously follow all of these like they’re story commandments, but I do happen to agree with many of them. I thought it might be fun to examine why and explain what each means to me. You can start at the beginning here.
This one’s a goodie.
There is a dearth of originality in fiction. I’m not being overly critical. Not everyone strives for this. It’s very possible to tell a great story without breaking new ground. And clichés can be clever shortcuts. But the number one thing that will keep a reader’s attention is surprising them.
Most of you know that I am a fan of intricate plots. Twists and turns are ways to grip your audience. Nothing sabotages that quicker than allowing your reader to guess the next thing that’s gonna happen. Not only will you fail to score points with them, but they will lose engagement with your work.
If you can’t keep yourself guessing, you won’t fare much better with others. Take the time to move past the first thing in your head.