Why Tell the Story and Other 22 Rules of Storytelling
Writing would be much easier if there were some simple rules for storytelling, right? The real magic happens when a writer can spark a reader’s imagination by making the characters like them or people they know and seemingly interactive. Pixar Studios has demonstrated some amazing storytelling elements in their animated features, so when Emma Coats, a Pixar artist, formulated 22 rules for storytelling, I had to read them. Now, I understand why so many of the Pixar characters and stories are so beloved–my favorite being Up.
Reviewing the 22 rules, I noticed that these aren’t standard advice to novice writers–like X needs to be in chapter 3, Y in chapter 10, and make sure to use the Z plot structure. Instead, the “rules” are thought provoking and human guidelines such as admiring the character for trying (1), giving them opinions (13), identifying with your character/situation (21) and knowing yourself (18). Know yourself? That is definitely different advice. But, it is true that understanding the internal motivation and being able to translate that into a character makes them real.
Furthermore, one of the Coats’ rules stood out to me: number 14. “Why must you tell THIS story?
What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.”
When I think about our characters (co-author), they have lives that need to be seen and experienced. I struggle and laugh with them as they make their way through the mystery and adventure through treacherous plot twists. In the end, the characters manage to find their strength in the midst of the rising action which often brings tears to my eyes. The characters tell the human story of finding inner, super power and using it to help others. They are people that I love reading about and adventuring within a story. There is tremendous joy in being able to share them with the world; that is why I must tell the story. These stories have chosen to be birthed and cultivated in the art form of a novel. It is a sacred duty and a struggle to be sure, but one worthy of the effort.
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