Friday, June 22, 2012

The Rules according to Pixar

Summer's here, the sun is shining, the creative process is in full bloom.

Or not.

'Tis the time of year we're willing to ditch our writing corners when we can't squeeze out another paragraph, or when the kids' whining reaches Eleven. Or whatever comes first. In other words, it's MOVIE SEASON. Which usually means, as it does this summer, Pixar. If you, like me, have a daughter who ooohs and ahhhs over commercials for today's latest release, Brave, then you'll soon be sitting in a dark theater, watching the story of a girl who's skilled in archery and who overcomes a variety of obstacles in the gloom and doom of her homeland in the gloomy Scottish Highlands. (And no, Suzanne Collins did not write it.) 

Somewhere during that hour and twenty-three minutes, you'll have serious pangs of frustration. You could have written that story! You wished you could have written that story! Why didn't you write that story?

Sorry, but you didn't write that story. The overflowing idea factory that is Pixar did. Pixar has people. And they have people.

After the popcorn and the resultant sense of failure that lingers en route to the parking lot, you get it. It's all good. In fact, it couldn't be better. Not only were you entertained, your daughter is throwing her own trash away and is humming one of the songs from the movie.

And you got socked with a dang good story. Because that's what we all crave, right? A good story. That's what we try to create ourselves, and seeing a story take on the mammoth proportions of an IMAX screen in 3-D glasses serves only to remind us that it all starts there. On the page.

Which brings me to the helpful email I received this week from Laurie Thompson. It could be the single most important list you read this summer. It could make you roll your eyes, but mostly it is a clear, concise, and useful list of the 22 Rules of Storytelling, According to Pixar.

You will not be disappointed. Though you might wish you were one of the Pixar's people's people.

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