Learning the Art of Storytelling from Pixar by@onyawoibi

Learning the Art of Storytelling from Pixar

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This article explains: The art of storytelling How to plan a story in 8 steps Pixar storytelling formula Pixar Storytelling Pixar formula in 3 steps 22 Rules of storytelling as told by Pixar Dear storyteller
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Celine “Oibiee” Aju  HackerNoon profile picture

Celine “Oibiee” Aju

By 2032 I want to educate 100 out of school children in Nigeria using music, literacy and technology.

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Humans are natural storytellers. Many of us have fascinating lives; finding a way to tell our stories is beneficial. Pixar has successfully presented stories using a structure that works every time; it is a must-explore for any storyteller.

The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling is an art form, but in order to tell a good story, you must first understand the fundamentals of how it works. Storytelling is the interactive skill of revealing the elements and pictures of a story through words and gestures while inspiring the listener's imagination.

How to plan a story in 8 steps?

  1. Begin with a well-defined plot scenario. It can be described as beginning with an elevator pitch, which helps to reduce your scope in a helpful way. You already have a general idea of what (and who, and where) your narrative is about. Your tale scenario must be succinct in order to convey the central 'what if...?' or driving force of your story. This gives a good idea of who the primary characters are, where supporting characters and conflicts might appear, and the story's overall trajectory.


  2. Make a list of the five W`s. By asking questions about the Five W's, you can start organizing and planning ideas like character motivations and ambitions ('why'). Alternatively, the period and place in which your story takes place (where and when).


  3. Create a skeleton cast of characters to work with. It's up to you how much you plot and outline your novel ahead of time versus how much you uncover throughout the writing process. Goals, objectives, and conflict are all useful aspects to start with. What your characters want, why they want it, and how their goals could collide with roadblocks.


  4. Take note of the usual tale beats in your genre.


  5. Keep a list of scenario ideas organized (plus any you scrap). Using a corkboard, physical index cards, or a drag-and-drop tool to create scene summaries is a great way to organize your thoughts.


  6. Write a synopsis in one sentence, one paragraph, and one page. This is beneficial because it helps you arrange your tale ideas, such as the major conflicts that may develop, as well as their probable outcomes and effects.


  7. To see what I'm talking about, try a short narrative version.


  8. As you go through your manuscript, make notes on it. Shorthand annotations can help you organize your thoughts around future modifications.

Pixar Storytelling Formula

Pixar's storytelling strategy is to develop a protagonist with whom the audience empathizes and cares about by the end of the story. Most people are astonished to hear that the majority of Pixar characters aren't based on or inspired by real people.


The Pixar Method is a new way of thinking about your plot and characters, according to Pixar. It forces you to consider the characters from the perspective of the audience. The Pixar Story Rules are designed to assist you in resolving your story problems.

Pixar Story Rules

Something should pique the interest of your main character. This desire could be for vengeance, love, or anything else that propels the plot ahead in the story. In order for the plot to move ahead, a character must have a foe.


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It doesn't have to be a villain, but it should make the protagonist's life more difficult and encourage them to strive harder to attain their goal(s). Every character, no matter how little, requires a defect. This fault will cause trouble for your character throughout the story.


If your character has a weakness and desires something, instead of pushing him or her up against a wall and forcing him or her to battle alone, give him or her opposing forces.


You admire a character more for their efforts than for their accomplishments. You must consider what interests you as an audience, not what is enjoyable for you as a writer.


The opening act is quite important. If you don't hook your audience in the first act, they'll depart before the film is over. This entails more than just writing a good first scene that grabs your readers by the throat—you must establish all you need to know upfront, including context, primary characters, stakes, hurdles to overcome, and a sense of how you'll achieve it (the second act).


Escalation is the theme of the second act. To keep your audience interested, you must raise the stakes at regular intervals. You risk losing your audience's attention and interest if you don't escalate the story's conflict as they begin to look away from their popcorn for anything more exciting to do.


The third act is all about finding a solution. This is where you will resolve all of your story's issues and wrap up any loose ends. If you're too simple, you'll bore people; if you're too sophisticated, you'll lose them completely."

The Pixar Formula In the 3 steps

The viewers will feel as if they are accompanying your protagonist on a journey. They'll be rooting for the protagonist and caring about him or her.


There are three factors that must be present in your writing for this to work:


  1. The protagonist must have a strong desire for something in order to act on it.
  2. Something must be preventing your protagonist from achieving their goals (typically another character).
  3. Your protagonist must go through an emotional arc in which they learn something or grow as a person as a result of their journey, which will ultimately lead to them getting what they seek.

The Pixar Story Structure

In order to use the Pixar formula, each phrase usually starts with a few words and then a blank area for the storyteller to fill in. You have the option of using six or eight steps.

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling (Paraphrased)

  1. Characters should be admired for attempting more than their triumphs have allowed them to.
  2. Remember what interests you as an audience, not what you enjoy doing as a writer. They can be rather dissimilar.
  3. While attempting to find a theme is crucial, you won't know what the narrative is about until you get to the conclusion of it. Is that clear? Rewrite it now.
  4. Once upon a time, there was … Every day … One day … Because of that … Because of that … Until finally … Ever since then …
  5. Simplify. concentrate mix and match characters Detours should be avoided at all costs. You'll feel as if you're throwing away valuables, yet it will set you free.
  6. What does your character excel at or feel at ease with? Toss him the polar opposite. Take him on. How does he handle it?
  7. Before you figure out your middle, come up with an ending. Endings are difficult to come up with. Get yours up and running right away.
  8. Complete your narrative. Allow yourself to let go, even if it isn't flawless. In an ideal world, you'd have both, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Next time, try harder.
  9. Make a list of what wouldn't happen next if you're trapped. The material that will get you unstuck will most likely appear.
  10. Dissect the stories you enjoy. Before you use it, you must first recognize it.
  11. Why do you feel compelled to relay this tale in particular? What is the burning belief within you that your story is based on? That is the crux of the matter.
  12. Take the first thing that comes to mind out of the equation. The second, third, fourth, and fifth—get obvious out of the way. Suspend your disbelief.
  13. Give your characters their thoughts. It's simple for you as a writer to write a docile or malleable character, but it's dangerous for your audience.
  14. What is the crux of your tale? What is the most cost-effective manner of expressing it? You can build from there if you know that.
  15. How would you feel if you were your character in this situation? Incredibly improbable occurrences gain credence when people speak honestly.
  16. What's on the line? Give us reasons to root for the character, and what will happen if he fails? The odds are stacked against him.
  17. There is no such thing as a squandered effort. If it isn't functioning, let go and move on; if it is useful, it will reappear.
  18. You must understand yourself and understand the difference between trying your best and being finicky. The story is being tested, not refined.
  19. Characters find themselves in a lot of difficulty because of coincidences. It's cheating to rely on coincidences to get them out of it.
  20. Exercising the building blocks of a film you despise is a good idea. What would you do with them if you could rearrange them into something you like?
  21. Identify your characters and situation. Don't use the word "cool." What would cause YOU to behave in such a manner?
  22. Putting it on paper just permits you to begin the process of repairing it. You'll never share a brilliant idea if it stays in your brain.

Dear Storyteller

Pixar storytelling is not a quick fix for telling stories, nor is it a formula for producing a single script or story and doing it perfectly. It will assist you in developing, crafting, and refining your story until it is complete.

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