Pixar Storytelling Tip #4

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.

Whether you subscribe to the Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat!, or this tip, it all feels a bit too much like Mad Libs to be respectable. I absolutely never follow a template with my stories. I’m not saying that anything I write creates a new paradigm, just that I cringe at any formulaic creation process. Stories should attempt to feel different. That’s why I’m a self-published author, after all.

However, let’s look at the good that this tip provides.

The first is the Status Quo. There needs to be a setting. There should be some level of normalcy at the beginning of a story. Some way to let the reader understand the way things have been.

Next is the Exception. The Trigger. One day, something different happens. It can be that the droids get jettisoned to Tatooine, or a kid gets bitten by a radio-active spider. Some key events kick off the story and begin the entire conflict.

Finally, the Resolution. It’s not spelled out, but this tip implies that something will be different in the end. Usually, protagonists will need to learn something. Sometimes, the world changes.

I would never say that every story needs to be structured this way. Think of this more as a simple tool to brainstorm.

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