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.
There are two ways to look at this coin.
The first is through the lens of emotion. If you have a protagonist who has just been in a shootout, or just saw somebody die, you need to consider their emotional state when you are coming up with their reactions. Then inject yourself into the equation, and think about what you would do. Sure, your character is a different person than you, but you can’t be dishonest if you write what you know.
Another way I like to look at this tip is to specifically think about minor characters and antagonists. Sure, it’s easy to think of yourself as the hero and to make sure that they have reasons for their actions. The bad guys? Not so much. If their motivations are simply ‘being evil’ then you’ve got some work to do to make them believable.