Pixar Storytelling Tip #1

This is the start of 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.

This axiom is so simple yet so true.

It’s great to be able to rely on a character. To have them be so cool and so bad-ass that they can always solve the riddle, win the fight, and get the girl. But it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that their success is a necessary part of the equation.

When characters lose, often they gain something in return. Humility. Humanity. Relatability. These all sound like great devices for developing a sympathetic personality. Basically, don’t give your characters everything they want, and they’ll be more interesting. But we can take this tip further than that.

Sometimes, we can outright admire a character because we know they’re going to fail.

That’s right. The soldier who locks a door behind him while facing ten armed enemies can be a hero. The small boy who stands up to a bully to protect his friend can be respected, not only if he loses, but because we know he doesn’t have a chance.

Think about the layers of texture these acts can provide. Whether they are noble, stupid, or puzzling- staring into the face of failure in compelling.

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